Types of Filters Used in Air Conditioning Systems: An Expert's Guide

To measure filter efficiency, experts use the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV).


is a graph that classifies filters based on their ability to capture particles. The rating ranges from 1 to 16, and 16 are awarded to the types of air filters with the best filtering capacity.

MERV ratings

for different types of filters vary depending on their quality and manufacturer.

It is always mentioned on the package. Despite their popularity, these filters don't contribute much to indoor air quality. They can only filter about 20% of particles that are between 3.0 and 10.0 microns in size. Particles of this size only include dust, carpet fibers, and pollen.

The pleated filters consist of a medium fabric made of polyester or cotton. The material is organized in folds to increase the surface area of the filter. Therefore, filters that have more folds are more effective than those with fewer folds. These filters are slightly more expensive than fiberglass filters.

But they are also more effective against contaminants. They even capture smaller air pollutants, such as pollen, pet dander and mold spores. Pleated filters are available in reusable and disposable versions. Because of the high efficiency of these filters, they are popular among people who have an allergy to air conditioning or other respiratory problems.

However, HEPA filters are more expensive than fiberglass filters and pleated filters. UV light filters kill bacteria and viruses with short-wave UV light. The germicidal radiation from the UV lamp in these filters disinfects the air in its path. They're also great for eliminating harmful microorganisms from your space, such as mold spores.

Second, while UV light filters remove bacteria and viruses from the air, they do little to combat contaminants such as dust. As a result, these filters are generally part of a more advanced filtration mechanism, such as HEPA filters. These filters create static electricity by using a mix of cotton and paper fibers. This static then acts like a magnet and traps contaminants inside the filter screen.

Because this prevents allergens from spreading in the home, electrostatic filters are ideal for people who have allergies. Electrostatic filters often also have a carbon filter to improve efficiency. This type of AC filter can be flat panel or pleated. They also come in washable and disposable versions.

Multimedia filters consist of a material similar to paper folded in folds inside a metal cabinet. While the filter is no larger than six inches, the pleated material can cover 75 square feet when unfolded. This larger surface area makes media filters seven times more effective than standard types of air filters. The large surface area also explains the extended lifespan of multimedia filters.

These filters can last up to 2 years, depending on the environment. Experts recommend that people who live in industrial areas or with a weak immune system opt for multimedia filters instead of other types of air conditioning filters. As a general rule, it is recommended to clean air conditioning filters every 250 hours of use. While this cleaning is essential, it can often go unnoticed on your to-do list.

We recommend using smart thermostats or smart AC controllers that send reminders when the next cleaning is due. People who live with allergies or other respiratory problems may benefit most from HEPA filters. These filters must be adjusted by a contractor to fit your specific HVAC system. As the name suggests, UV filters use short-wave ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses.

When air passes through the air conditioning unit, UV lamps disinfect it with germicidal radiation. UV filters are great for killing microorganisms that could be hazardous to health, including mold spores. One potential danger of UV filters is that they can transform oxygen into ozone, which can be hazardous to health. Even low amounts of ozone can cause coughing and chest pain, while higher amounts can worsen existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma.

While UV filters are great for eliminating bacteria and viruses, they aren't as efficient when it comes to detecting contaminants like dust. That's why they are often part of a larger filtration mechanism, which includes HEPA air filters. UV light is invisible to the human eye and bulbs usually need to be replaced every year, depending on the make and model of the air conditioning system. By using small cotton and paper fibers, electrostatic filters create static that acts as a magnet for dust and other particles suspended in the air.

The magnetism is strong enough to prevent these particles from spreading throughout the house, making them one of the best options for those who need a filter that can combat allergens. An additional advantage of electrostatic filters is that they are available as disposable and reusable. When it's time to change the filters, you can decide whether to wash and reuse them or throw them away and buy new ones. While certain types of air filters come with reusable and disposable options, washable filters are an environmentally friendly way to save money.

The starting price of this type of air filter for air conditioning systems is high, but it should be considered an investment that will last for many years. The starting price is probably all you'll have to pay since you can simply wash and reuse the filter over and over instead of buying new ones every few months. Washable filters must be well maintained to ensure that they work as they should. As one of the main types of air filters, they come with maintenance instructions that must be followed.

It is very important to ensure that the filter is completely dry before putting it back in; even the smallest amount of moisture left over can cause mold and mildew to form in the filter and expel it into the air you breathe. When it comes to air filters for HVAC systems, media filters can offer more benefits than standard filters with high MERV ratings. Media filters provide the same level of filtration as a filter with a higher MERV rating but at a lower cost. They also last longer than standard types because their larger surface area allows them to capture more particles before needing replacement.

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