For many homeowners, choosing and installing a new air filter is an easy task. But there is a lot of controversy around air filters, largely because there are many options to choose from, which makes it a difficult decision to make.
Determining the right air filter for your home depends on a number of factors. In this guide, we take you through the different options and how you can choose the best filter for your needs.
The Best Air Filter Depends on Different Factors
The right air filter for your home depends on a range of variables, including how much filtration you want from your HVAC system. Some people feel like their indoor air is cleaned sufficiently with a simple filter while others prefer a heavy-duty filter. If you have health concerns, such as asthma or allergies, you may want to opt for a filter that is more efficient at trapping mould or pollen spores. Energy efficiency is also something to consider, as restrictive air filters can lower the efficiency of the unit, so you need to find a balance between an effective filtration system and the most efficient option for the HVAC unit you have.
Know What You’re Filtering
For some people, the pollutants caused by pollen, mould or pet dander can be incredibly aggravating to allergies, while others are sensitive to VOCs. There are a lot of things you may want to filter out of the air, so before you select an air filter, consider the filtration properties you’re seeking. The most common system for measuring the capabilities of an air filter is known as MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Lower MERV filters range from a rating of 1-4 and filter out the bare minimum of particles, compared to high MERV filters of 11-16 which are more efficient.
A MERV 1-4 will filter out the basic level of dust to prevent it from circulating around your home. For the removal of pollen, dust mites and mould spores, you should look for filters with a MERV rating of between 5-8. If you’re sensitive to strong odours from cleaning products or household items, the next filters have a carbon layer to capture such odours and will typically have a rating of 8-16. Higher rated filters from 13 and up are best for reducing the risk of bacteria and viruses in the air.
Choosing the Right Type
Pleated fibreglass filters are the most common filter and usually range from MERV values of 4-14. The thing to consider with these filters, however, is that they restrict airflow to your HVAC system so the unit has to work hard which can degrade the quality of the system over time. Media filters are higher performing filters, with MERV ratings of 11-16, and have more surface area than pleated filters so they enable better airflow. They also don’t have to be replaced as often so they’re a convenient option. HEPA filters are the best on the market at removing bacteria, odours and viruses from the air, as well as dust and pollen. They provide dense filtration and as a result, they usually require an additional fan to help push air out of the filter, so they are usually installed as part of the system.
There are also a multitude of different sizes available and so you need to ensure you are getting the right filters for your system, sizes are displayed like this: 19.5×23.5×1 air filter.