Are There Different Types of AC Filters?

HVAC expert will tell you how important it is to regularly change the air filters in your HVAC unit.

Any HVAC expert will tell you how important it is to regularly change the air filters in your HVAC unit. This might be easier said than done without understanding how air filters function and why it’s important to care for them.

First and foremost, are there different types of AC filters?

Yes. There are a variety of air filters available on the market that are suitable for your HVAC. The bigger question is, which filter is best?

Most air filters are judged by the MERV Rating, but what is a MERV Rating?

MERV is the abbreviation for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. A MERV Rating is a system used to evaluate the efficiency of an air filter based on how effective it is at catching particles of varying sizes. Basically, the higher the MERV rating, the higher the air filtration capabilities of a particular filter.

As a point of reference, hospitals rely on MERV ratings of 9 or higher. Most households benefit from filters with MERV ratings ranging from 5 to 8. 

A MERV Rating is a system used to evaluate the efficiency of an air filter based on how effective it is at catching particles of varying sizes.

Take a look at common air filters on the market.

Fiberglass Air Filters

Fiberglass Air Filters are typically the most cost-effective filter on the market and often the least effective in filtering dust particles. For families that are prone to seasonal allergies, fiberglass air filters are not the best option. The MERV rating for fiberglass filters is usually a 4. While this is low, these filters are a less expensive option and are advantageous for those who don’t suffer from allergies. 

Pleated Filters

Pleated filters are made of cotton and polyester making these filters more expensive and more effective. A step up from fiberglass air filters, these filters are designed with pleats that increase the effectiveness of air filtering. Most pleated filters have a MERV rating of at least 5. As a bonus feature, pleated filters are known to reduce the noise of the HVAC system due to their thicker material. Unfortunately, pleated filters require the HVAC system to work harder to push air through. 

Reusable Filters

Reusable or “washable” filters are both effective and sustainable. When washed according to manufacturer’s instructions, reusable filters can last as long as the HVAC unit. This means homeowners benefit from cost-savings and an environmentally-friendly product. However, without proper care there can be mold build up making the filter entirely ineffective. MERV Ratings for reusable filters typically begin at 6. 

Reusable or “washable” filters are both effective and sustainable.

With every filter, there are pros and cons. The best filter is the one that meets your home’s top priorities. For households most concerned with allergies and air purity, pleated filters and reusable filters are a great choice. For households that are not easily irritated by dust, fiberglass filters are a reliably cost-effective solution.

Now What?

Consider investing in an air quality reader to benchmark your home’s air quality. After understanding your home’s current air quality status, learn which filter your HVAC is currently operating on. During your annual maintenance appointment, your tech can advise on the best filter for your home and system as well. 

To learn more about affordable indoor air quality tests, take a look at our previous blog on this topic.

If your question isn’t answered here, contact the Pierce Refrigeration team and one of our experts will guide you in finding your solution.

Need 24-7 emergency service? Looking for advice on improving your everyday air quality and comfort at home and at work?

Contact the friendly staff at Pierce Refrigeration at

800-696-1088

info@piercerefrig.com