AC Filters for Air Flow – Buyer’s Guide!

How much money do you spend on heating and cooling your home? While you may not realize it, for most people, these activities comprise a significant part of the utility bill. And the bill can go up or down, depending on the quality of the air filter in place. If you get a filter with restrictive airflow, you will end up dishing out a huge chunk of your cash to paying bills.

Also, if the filter is dirty, you will spend a large sum of money. You could also end up spending money on repairs owing to a breakdown of the system. It is best to regularly inspect the air filter for any clogging to avoid amassing utility expenses.

Air Conditioner Filter Replacement

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Here’s a list of top air filters (sorted by size):

What is an air filter?

Here I am going on and on about what affects airflow in your home, without focusing on the critical element in this case: the air filter. What is it?

Well, it is a device that filters the air going through your home, thus keeping it free of allergens and other contaminants. In this way, your heating and cooling systems are more effective, and you can finally bid farewell to those pesky allergens. Picking one might seem easy, and you can do the installation by yourself.

But if you get it wrong, you will end up regretting it owing to the money used in expenses. In this article, I will delve into factors which you should consider in this exercise while highlighting some of the best options in the market. Let’s get started:

How to choose the best AC filter for airflow

What should you consider when getting an air filter? Some people walk into a store and ask for help from the attendants. Sometimes this works if you come across a knowledgeable person. But in others, you are making a gamble with this move as you might not find someone who knows a lot about filters. Instead of doing this, here are some factors you can consider for your next purchase:

What you feel

When is the last time someone asked for your opinion on a matter, no matter how small? Well, with air filters, it comes down to your feelings on the issue. Given the size and air conditions of your home, how much filtration could you possibly need? Maybe you feel the air is clean, and you can make do with a small filter.

Or there could be ongoing construction, and you need a heavy-duty filter. Get something that can work for the task at hand.

Priority

What do you hope to achieve with this filter? For some people, the filter is a means to keep allergens at bay, more so for people prone to allergies. For others, it is a way to keep the home free of dust. Think of what you would like to see in your house and choose a filter accordingly.

Health Issues

For people with allergies, having an efficient air filter is of the essence. Else, they will battle allergies throughout the seasons. Where you live in a warm place prone to mold, you want to ensure that these spores will not contaminate your home. For people with health issues, living in a house without an air filter will serve as a danger.

The filter should also be clean to ensure that it remains efficient as is needed. However, if you do not have any health concerns, you can do without the high filtration needs. And you can save money in the process.

Energy Efficiency

An air filter is in place to reduce your utility expenses. It would thus not make sense if you were to get an air filter, which added to your utility bill. Getting a restrictive air filter may be great for the air quality in your home. But the same will not hold for your utility bill as you will incur a lot of money in maintaining your HVAC systems.

The best way to go about this is to strike a balance between energy efficiency and filtration needs. Note that having a restrictive filter can also overwork the system, leading to breakdowns. Do you want to add repair costs to the already crippling energy bills? If not, you should get an AC filter that guarantees adequate airflow.

Maintenance

The filter should not task you with frequent changes and cleaning. It is best to get something that is low maintenance, especially if you have been forgetful about replacements in the past.

Filtration Needs

What are you trying to filter? For dust, get a MERV rating of 1-4. Pollen, dust, and mites will require a rating of 5-8, while VOCs will need anything from 8-16. Bacteria filtration calls for a rating of 13-17, while viruses start at 15 through to 20. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective the filter will be, and the more restrictive the airflow will be.

Comparison of Top Air Filters for Air Flow

PhotoProductDimensionsMERV RatingDetails
Filtrete 20x20x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, Clean Living Basic Dust, 6-Pack20x20x15View on Amazon
FilterBuy AFB20x20x1M8pk420x20x18View on Amazon
AIRx Filters ALLERGY-202001-620x20x111View on Amazon
Aerostar 12x12x1 MERV 812x12x18View on Amazon
Nordic Pure 20x25x1 MERV 1220x25x112View on Amazon
Honeywell FC100A103720X2511View on Amazon
Flanders 84857.01202020x20x18View on Amazon
FilterBuy AFB14x14x1M11pk414x14x111View on Amazon
Flanders 10155.01202020x20x14View on Amazon

With the factors outlined above, getting an air filter will be easy. All you will need is to cross-check the options with these determinants as you narrow your decision to three to five options. Here are some products you could consider when making this purchase, coupled with their features and upsides:

Review of the Best AC Filters for Air Flow

Filtrete 20x20x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, Clean Living Basic Dust, 6-Pack

 

 

Works for

It eliminates lint, dust mites, mold spores, and household dust.

What I like

This air filter has higher performance compared to washable and fiberglass models. It works for furnaces, HVAC systems, and air conditioners, and operates using 3 in 1 technology. You can thus rely on it to trap contaminants in the atmosphere while ensuring an adequate flow of air. Its MERV rating is 5, which is an equivalent of Filtrete 300 MPR.

Recommendation

If you are in the market for the best air filter for home HVAC, this is a good option. You should change it every ninety days or sooner where need be; else, its performance will decrease. Note that this air filter is for residential use.

Product Features

  • MERV 5 rating
  • 3 in 1 technology
  • 20*20*1 dimensions
  • Weighs 3.15 pounds
  • Filter change reminder program

Pros

  • High performance
  • Traps contaminants
  • Non-restrictive airflow
  • Improves air quality
  • Simple installation process

FAQs

Q: What supports the filter?
A: It has a cardboard frame around it.

 

Review: Filtrete 20x20x1 AC Furnace Air Filter MPR 300 Clean Living Basic Dust 6Pack

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FilterBuy AFB20x20x1M8pk4

 

Works for

This filter eliminates lint, dust mites, pollen, dust, and mold spores.

What I like

With a MERV 8 rating, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. For one, this rating is efficient in the elimination of allergy-causing contaminants in the air. And for people with pets and kids, this is of the essence. Secondly, MERV 8 is not restrictive on airflow. You should thus not experience any impediments in the flow of air if you regularly change the filters and clean the ducts.

The use of pleats adds to the surface area of the filter. It is thus able to trap more pollutants as compared to a filter without pleats. It also helps that this is a reputable company that has been in operation for the last six decades.

Recommendation

For the best furnace filters for allergies, you should consider this air filter. It can last as many as three months before the need for a filter change. Plus, its design works in improving the air quality in your home.

Product Features

  • 20*20*1 dimensions
  • MERV 8 rating
  • Lasts ninety days
  • 12 pleats per foot

Pros

  • Improved air quality
  • Long-lasting
  • Great for people with allergies
  • For both commercial and residential use

FAQs

Q: What is the MPR equivalence of a MERV 8 rating?
A: It is 600

 

FilterBuy 16x25x4 MERV 8 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter

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AIRx Filters ALLERGY-202001-6

 

Works for

This filter gets rid of dust mites, smoke particles, pet dander, mold, and pollen in the air.

What I like

This MERV 11 filter is of premium quality. It has more pleats than you would find in most filters of this range. And this assures users of the ability to capture most particles, with a downside of reduced airflow. It compares to what you would get from a Filtrete MPR 1200 filter.

Recommendation

If you do not have high filtration needs, it would not be wise to get a MERV 11 filter. While it will eliminate most of the pollutants in your home, it will also impede the flow of air. And this can lead to reduced air quality in your home.
This filter will be due for replacement within 90 days. You can get better air quality by replacing it every two months.

Product Features

  • MERV 11 rating
  • Dimensions of 20*20*1
  • Lasts 90 days
  • Compares to Filtrete 1200 MPR rating
  • Weighs 9.6 ounces

Pros

  • Reduced energy costs
  • Eliminates most pollutants
  • Good for allergies
  • High performance

FAQs

Q: What supports this air filter?
A: It features metal wires on the side of the structure.

 


Aerostar 12x12x1 MERV 8

 

 

Works for

This filter captures pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, dust, and lint, among others.

What I like

This filter has electrostatic charges which enable it to attract and capture allergens in the air. It works in capturing small particles such as dust and improves the air quality in a home. The simplicity of installation adds to the allure of this filter. Plus, it has low airflow resistance and will not impede the flow of air in the home.

Recommendation

People looking for the best furnace filters for homes with pets should consider getting this filter. It compares to what you would get from an MPR 600 or an FPR 5. Plus, its MERV rating does not affect the flow of air around the home. Filter changes should take place every 60-90 days, depending on the weather conditions as well as other determinants.

Product Features

  • 12*12*1 dimensions
  • MERV 8 rating
  • Electrostatic charges
  • Weighs 1.35 pounds

Pros

  • Capture small particles
  • Simple installation
  • Efficient airflow

FAQs

Q: Are these filters stable?
A: Yes, they have cardboard framing and do not bend easily under pressure.

 

Aerostar 12x12x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter, Made in the USA, 6-Pack | Review and Discount

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Nordic Pure 20x25x1 MERV 12

 

 

 

Works for

This hypoallergenic air filter is suitable for dust, pollen, and other allergens.

What I like

This air filter works for both residential and commercial use. Its pleats provide an adequate surface area for the removal of contaminants in the air before it circulates through your home. In this way, this filter eliminates mold spores, smoke particles, bacteria, virus carriers, and other such pollutants in the air. Electrostatic charges present in the filter work in adding to its effectiveness.

Recommendation

If you need the best furnace filter for dust control, which also protects from other allergens, how about this filter? It has a high MERV rating and will work on indoor allergens as well as other contaminants in the home. Its manufacturer classifies it as antimicrobial, pointing to its effectiveness.

You should change the filter every one to three months, as you deem fit for your filtration needs.

Product Features

  • Dimensions of 20*25*1
  • MERV 12 rating
  • Works on up to 0.3 microns
  • Pleated
  • Electrostatic charges

Pros

  • Antimicrobial
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Improves air quality
  • Great for allergies

FAQs

Q: How many pleats per foot does this filter have?
A: Twelve

 

Nordic Pure 5" Pleated MERV 12 20x25x5

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Honeywell FC100A1037

 

 

Works for

This filter works in eliminating small particles such as pet dander, tobacco, and dust, among others.

What I like

The poor air quality will earn you a visit to the doctor. And the best way to avoid such a situation would be to invest in a high-quality air filter. This filter is not only easy to install, but it is also long-lasting. It helps that it has a high MERV rating, which will eliminate most of the contaminants in the house.

Recommendation

This MERV rating is best for homes with pets, children, or people with allergies. Else, this MERV rating could prove to be restrictive to adequate airflow.

Product Features

  • Pleated
  • Weighs a pound
  • MERV 11 rating

Pros

  • High performance
  • Improves air quality
  • Easy to install

FAQs

Q: How often should I change this filter?
A: Where the weather conditions are not extreme, you can do it once or twice a year. In hot or icy areas, you can do it every three months.

 

The Honeywell 20" X 25" Media Air Filter (FC100A1037)

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Flanders 84857.012020

 

 

Works for

This filter works in eliminating pollen, mold spores, household dust, and dirt from the house.

What I like

This filter features baking soda in its structure, and this works in eliminating odors in the home. Thus, not only will the air be free of pollutants, but it will also smell fresh. The presence of V pleats works in adding to the surface area of the filter, increasing its effectiveness. The pleats also keep resistance at a minimum, which aids in the adequate flow of air.

Recommendation

This filter has a MERV rating that lies within the recommended MERV rating for furnace filters. With a rating of 8, you should eliminate most contaminants in your home. And you will not run the risk of straining your HVAC system or reducing the quality of air in your home.

Note that this is not the best option for people who suffer from allergies. You should change out the filter every three months or so.

Product Features

  • MERV 8 rating
  • V pleats
  • 20 x 20 x 1-Inch dimensions
  • Clay-coated filter frame

Pros

  • Removes odors
  • Low air resistance
  • Long-lasting
  • Easy installation

FAQs

Q: Are there electrostatic charges in this filter?
A: There aren’t.

 


FilterBuy AFB14x14x1M11pk4

 

 

Works for

This filter works in eliminating dust mites, pet dander, smog, smoke, mold spores, and other such contaminants.

What I like

This long-lasting air filter can last up to three months before it is due for a change. In some environments, the changes may happen sooner than this. It works for residential and commercial use and captures pollutants such as mold spores in the air. The frame is of beverage board, which withstands humid conditions as well as high temperatures.

Recommendation

With a MERV rating of 11, this filter can work for HVAC systems, furnaces, and air filters. It compares to what you would get in an MPR 1200 filter and works for people with allergies. For fewer filtration needs, get something with a lower MERV rating, and enjoy increased airflow.

Product Features

  • Beverage board frame
  • Lasts 90 days
  • MERV 11 rating
  • 14x14x1 dimensions

Pros

  • High efficiency
  • Long-lasting
  • Stable
  • Easy to install

FAQs

Q: I live in a hot area. Can I use this filter in my central cooling air conditioning unit?
A: Yes, you can.

 


Flanders 10155.012020

 

 

Works for

This air filter works in removing lint, pollen, household dust, and other such pollutants in the atmosphere.

What I like

The low MERV rating of this air filter ensures that airflow takes place as needed. It works in removing large particles such as dust and will protect your central air unit and furnace. It features a continuous chipboard design, which adds to its strength and protects it from corner separation.

Recommendation

A MERV 4 rating works for households with low filtration needs. Thus, if your concerns revolve around dust and lint, you can use this filter. However, where you have children and pets or suffer from allergies, this will not be efficient. On the downside, this filter will only serve you for thirty days before it is due for a replacement.

Product Features

  • MERV 4 rating
  • Continuous chipboard design
  • Lasts 30 days

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Stable
  • Protects furnaces
  • Limited airflow resistance

FAQs

Q: On which HVAC system can I use this filter?
A: This filter works with any system with dimensions of 20″ x 20″ x 1″.

 


Best AC filters for airflow FAQs

Does a higher MERV rating restrict airflow?

Yes, a high MERV rating can lead to reduced airflow in your system. Most high MERV rated filters feature dense materials that impede the flow of air. As such, your system will have a harder time circulating air in your home, and this leads to reduced efficiency in your HVAC system.

Do air filters reduce airflow?

The efficiency of an air filter highly depends on its MERV rating and its cleanliness. Where the MERV rating is not restrictive, the airflow restriction could be as a result of clogging in the filter. You should thus change your filter as needed to avoid such occurrences.

How do you install an AC filter airflow?

Installing an air filter is an easy task, so much so that you can do without a professional for this exercise. All you need is to remove the plastic from the filter without altering the cardboard framing. Proceed to point the airflow arrow towards the AC and insert the filter into the slot. It’s that easy!

Do more expensive air filters work better?

The general rule is that expensive air filters will work better than their affordable counterparts. However, where you do not have many filtration needs, you can do without the added expense. Expensive filters are best left to people with allergies, pets, and children.

Is MERV 11 too restrictive?

A MERV 11 filter is suitable for use in a home where people suffer from allergies. Where this is not the case, this filter could be too restrictive. It is thus best to assess your needs before making any decision.

Is MERV 8 good enough?

If you want to filter small particles in sizes of three to ten microns, a MERV 8 filter will work well. It works for mold spores, pet dander, hair spray, dust mites, and other such contaminants. However, it will not work for bacteria, tobacco smoke, and other such pollutants.

Is MERV 13 too restrictive?

MERV 13 is the highest value you would find suitable for use in a residential setting. As such, it has a high restriction compared to other filters, and it reduces air quality in your home. Unless you have high filtration needs, it is best to use lower MERV values.

What MERV rating is HEPA?

HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters will generally have a MERV rating of 17-20. They work on particle sizes of up to 0.3 microns and are highly effective in eliminating contaminants.

Are pleated air filters better?

Yes, pleated air filters offer more value as compared to other kinds, including the best fiberglass furnace filters. If you compared pleated filters to the pros and cons of fiberglass air filters, the former option would win. It owes to their range in MERV values and their ability to filter the smallest of particles. For people with allergies, these are the go-to filters.

How often should you change a MERV 11 filter?

Most MERV 11 filters are due for replacement every six months or so. However, you should adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines. And in doing this, you should also consider the air conditions in your home as they will also dictate the frequency of the changes.

Is MERV 13 better than MERV 11?

The suitability of either of these filters will depend on your needs. If you have high filtration needs, you should go for the MERV 13. Note that this will lead to decreased airflow in your home. For fewer filtration needs, get the MERV 11, which will allow adequate flow of air in your home.

Do furnace filters restrict airflow?

The restriction, or lack thereof, of a furnace filter, will depend on its MERV rating as well as your maintenance practices. You should thus choose a filter with this in mind.

Conclusion

While getting a good air filter is essential, it cannot solve underlying problems. You thus have to clean your ducts, maintain your systems, and regularly change the air filter. Else, you will not do much to improve the air quality in your home. Also, think of the costs you wish to incur in this exercise. You can save a lot of money by getting a filter you can wash, and when doing this, be sure to get the best washable air filter. All the best!

About the author

Jessica Nickson

Jessica Nickson

Jessica Nickson is a keen home and garden innovator with over 25 years of hands-on experience in, home improvement, landscape gardening and all things appliance related to making life easier and more interesting. You can contact her via e-mail - jessica@thehomedweller.com.

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