Navigating the dizzying array of the best types of air filters for your home or business is often a difficult task. There are several important factors to consider like household allergies, the age of your HVAC system, and the frequency you will need to replace each type of filter.

This article is going to help you select the right air filter for your unique needs. We will cover the main types of air filters that you can find on the market. Also, we will teach you a little about the filtration rating that you can see on many brands.

1: Fiberglass Filters

a fiberglass flow heavy duty air filter close-up

One of the most common air conditioning filter types available are fiberglass filters. The fiberglass has multiple layers. They create a patchwork that traps most dust and dirt. They do have the advantage of restricting less airflow. Therefore, you should probably use them with older systems that cannot handle the additional stress a thicker filter may cause. Unfortunately, they do not filter out smaller harmful contaminants like mold and mildew.

Fiberglass filters often have a reinforced metal grating that helps improve their structural integrity and prevent collapse. These types of air filters are more common in apartment buildings. Also, one needs to replace them every 30 days. They are typically one of the most budget friendly choices available and are appropriate options for protecting sensitive HVAC components from dust build up. Their usual MERV rating is between one and four.

2: Pleated Filters

a white Nordic pleated air filter close-up

One can easily identify these types of air filters by their accordion like shape. The reason pleated designs are routinely used is that they have a much larger surface area for air to come in contact with as the HVAC unit is pulling it. This helps improve their efficiency and performance.

The price range for these types of filters varies considerably based on their MERV rating and material type. One of the most common materials used in these filters is polyester due to its abundance and affordability.

One needs to replace these air filters approximately every two to three months depending on the season and can capture much smaller particles like dust and mildew. The MERV rating for pleated filters is usually between five and eight.

3: Electrostatic Filters

an electrostatic washable air filter close-up

These types of air filters often feature a pleated design as well. However, their interior composition is slightly different. It typically has special layers of polyester blends that create their own charge that changes from the inner and outer layer. The outer layer of an electrostatic air filter is typically positively charged and is responsible for transferring the positive charge to contaminants as they enter the filter.

As the particles pass through the inner layer, the negative charge attracts them and traps them inside. These types of filters usually have MERV ratings of 10 or greater making them ideal choices for those of you with severe allergies or other respiratory issues. We must warn you about something! These types of filters can be on the pricey side depending on the size that you need.

4: HEPA Filters

a black and white HEPA air filter

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate arrestance. These types of air filters are one of the most efficient options in terms of air quality control and are capable of filtering out particles as small as .3 microns. The average MERV rating for a HEPA filter will usually fall between 17-20. Some of the most common uses for these types of filters include hospitals and clean manufacturing rooms.

One drawback to this particular type of filter is that you typically need a special HVAC system that can handle the increased load that the filter causes. For this reason, these are not very common in most residential homes. However, these are very common in portable air filtering units that you need for a single room. They are also the most expensive option due to their enhanced filtration capacity.

5: Compressed Air Filter Types

three compressed air filters outdoors

In addition to the residential and business air filters above, there are also several compressed air filters. The main types are particulate filters, carbon filters, and coalescing filters.

5.1: Particulate Filters

Particulate filters work much like the fiberglass filters. These types of air filters have a special design that removes small particles like dust from the air before use in various industrial applications. They are one of the least expensive compressed air filters.

5.2: Activated Carbon Filters

People typically use activated carbon filters to capture miscellaneous gases and odors from the air. The material usually has several layers of carbon composite and one can see it in certain manufacturing facilities where they also produce food.

5.3: Coalescing Filters

These types of air filters suit certain business sectors better than others. They are the most expensive of the three and are capable of filtering out oil and water from air by coalescing them into droplets. Then, this system catches the droplets via a special medium that one must periodically change out.

One Important Fact to Consider Before Shopping

Before deciding to buy one of the best types of air filters, there is one important element you should familiarize yourself with first. Many of the types of air filters for home and business use feature something known as a MERV rating. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and serves as a rating for an air filter’s ability to remove a variety of pollutants like dust, mold, and mildew.

It is important to note that MERV is the only rating category that third party sources test. Also, it is supported and developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. One can use it both domestically and abroad.

Other ratings you may see include MPR and FPR based on brand type. These ratings are not subject to the same standards as MERV and there’s no independent laboratory that tests them. MERV ratings run from 1-20 with higher numbers denoting more efficient filtration capability regarding smaller particle sizes.

Let’s Recap

I hope you will find the information in our guide useful. It will provide you all the background knowledge you need to make an informed purchasing decision. Consider the age of your HVAC system and any allergies your family may have. Then, you are ready to pick the right product from a wide range of best types of air filters.

Image sources: Depositphotos, Pixabay, Amazon