If you have ever visited a home improvement store to purchase an air filter for your air conditioner, you may have noticed that you had a lot of choices to choose from. It is important to remember that the wealth of choice is not by accident. Not all air filters are the same, and as a result, some air filters perform better than others. To ensure your home is comfortable, your family is happy, and your air conditioning unit is protected, it is important to learn about some of the factors that separate air filters.
A primary element that separates one filter from another is its MERV rating. MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a measure of the filters' ability to keep particles out, such as dust, dirt, and other debris. Naturally, people often assume that the higher the MERV number the better, however, it is best to use a bit of caution.
Filters with very high MERV ratings, such as those closest to the top of the scale, are not generally designed for residential use. In fact, they can perform so well that air from your unit is barely able to flow through the filter.
In this type of scenario, the blockage that the filter creates can cause problems for your air conditioner. It is best to speak with a professional to determine what rating is best for your unit and home needs.
Standard vs. Pleated
Another element to consider is the standard vs pleated concept. Standard air filters are typically thinner and are available at a very low cost. Pleated filters are much thicker and available at a slightly higher price point, but their increase in cost is often worth it.
Standard air filters have a shorter life span and they typically have a lower MERV rating. As a result, a large portion of the contaminants that you do not want to circulate through the air will be able to float through the system freely.
Pleated air filters on the other hand have a higher MERV rating, and their thicker design typically means that they will last longer. When you choose this option, you keep the air in your home cleaner, and you lessen the impact on your wallet since the filter lasts longer.
If you have additional questions about choosing an air filter, it is always a good idea to speak with an air conditioning contractor for additional assistance.