When it comes to being comfortable in your home, having an air conditioning system is crucial. Without the ability to control the temperature of your living spaces, you may go crazy when the weather gets too hot and unbearable. Depending on your local climate, the effects could be much worse than you can handle.
However, while air conditioning is a pleasant side effect of modern life, you have to make sure that you maintain your system properly. While components like coolant and compressor parts are essential, what about your best air conditioner filter?
Today we want to look at the top filters as well as go over the various elements to pay attention to when buying one. Filters will help ensure that you get the most out of your air conditioning system, so don’t skimp on this critical component.
What is an Air Conditioner Filter?
Whenever you’re moving air through any type of system, it has to be clean. Unfortunately, particles like to hover in the air at all times, whether it’s dust, pollen, skin flakes, or pet dander. Over time, if these elements are not filtered out, they can dramatically affect both the performance of the system as well as the quality of the air you breathe.
Air conditioning filters are there to scrub the air clean while your system is running. Whether you’re recycling air from inside your house or drawing from the outside, it’s imperative that you remove as many particles as possible. If not, then they can clog the system and create issues with those who suffer from asthma and allergies.
In short, an air conditioning filter is a crucial component that improves quality of life and ensures that you get the best performance overall.
Top 6 Best Air Conditioner Filter - Comparison
Flanders PrecisionAire NaturalAire Standard Pleat
20 x 20 x 1 inches
Nordic Pure AC Furnace Air Filters
20 x 1 x 25 inches
FilterBuy AFB Gold Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter
19.4 x 3.3 x 23.5 inches
Honeywell CF200A1008/E 4 3/8-Inch Ultra Efficiency Air Cleaner Filter
24 x 4.3 x 15 inches
Aerostar Pleated Air Filter
14 x 14 x 1 inches
Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust AC Furnace Air Filter
25 x 20 x 1 inches
6 Best Air Conditioner Filters - In depth Guide
1. Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust AC Furnace Air Filter
When it comes to air filtration, you want to find a filter that gives you the best performance for your system. On the one hand, you want it to trap as many particles as possible, but on the other, you have to be sure that air can flow through. Think about it like this - a piece of cardboard will remove 100% of elements from the air, but it will have 0% air flow. Nothing at all will be the flip-side of that, with 100% flow but 0% filtration.
In this case, we have a set of filters that are on the lower end of the scale. They are rated with 300 MPR, which is a proprietary ranking for 3M products. This is one of the weakest options you can find, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad filters. Instead, they are intended for high-velocity systems where a thicker screen (that traps more particles) will inhibit the air flow too much, creating problems with your air conditioner and increasing your utility bill in the process.
Key features of these filters include the fact that they’re pleated (more efficient than flat models), they are electrostatic-ally charged to trap more dust and pollen, and they last up to three months. This is a pack of six, so you won’t have to buy more for over a year, making this a smart long-term investment.
2. FilterBuy AFB Gold MERV 11 20x20x1
If you’re looking for a higher efficiency air filter that is both affordable and long-lasting, you will appreciate these models from FilterBuy. This American-based company provides you with some high-quality filters that have a MERV rating of eight. This means that they work well for most particles, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander.
The secret to these panels is that they come with densely packed pleats. More pleats mean more surface area, which helps trap more particles and leaves your air cleaner and better for your lungs. However, because they are so dense, high-velocity systems may struggle to get air through, which could cause your air conditioner to shut off and reset.
Another unique feature of these filters is that they are made of specialized materials that are designed to hold up in extra humid environments. Sometimes, too much humidity can cause air filters to break down, but these will continue to go strong.
3. Honeywell CF200A1008/E 4 3/8-Inch
One issue that you may have noticed with lower-end air conditioner filters is that they tend to last only a couple of months. While it may not seem like a short period, having to replace them four times a year can be somewhat of a hassle, particularly if you forget when you last installed your filters.
If you want something that will hold up for much longer, then you will appreciate these filters by Honeywell. While they aren’t suitable for high-velocity HVAC systems, they are incredibly efficient at trapping particles, and they are rated to last up to a year. This means that you can rest worry-free after installing these filters. With a MERV rating of 12, they trap up to 96% of particles from the air, making them ideal for dust, pollen, pet hair, and mold.
4. Aerostar Pleated Air Filter
So far, the filters we’ve been looking at are fixed with regards to their efficiency rating. Thus, if you want to get the same material and size, but adjust your MERV number, it’s a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, these models from Aerostar are a breeze to find a higher or lower rating, depending on your needs. You can choose between the six, eight, and 13 versions, making this a versatile and reliable air filter.
Overall, these pleated units are as good as can be expected. They last up to three months, which means that a pack of six will hold you over for more than a year. The higher MERV ratings are ideal for trapping more particles, including pet dander and smoke. The only downside is that each option is not labeled, meaning that if you did upgrade to a more efficient version, you would have to mark them yourself, so you don’t get them mixed up.
5. Nordic Pure 20x25x1 AC Furnace Air Filters
Overall, these are probably the most high-quality air conditioner filters we’ve seen. With a MERV rating of 12 and a multitude of sizes available, you’re sure to get everything you need from these filters. That being said, if you have a high-velocity conditioning system, you might have to switch to something less efficient.
What we like most about these filters is that they have multiple treatments. First, they are pleated to offer more surface area for trapping particles. Second, the material is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, which helps to kill mold and other allergens. Finally, the pleats are electrostatically charged to ensure that you trap as many particles as possible.
These frames are also recycled, and they’re made in the US.
6. Flanders PrecisionAire NaturalAire Standard Pleat 1-Inch Air Filter, 20x20x1
Our final air conditioner filters are in the middle of the road. They are not as efficient as some of the higher-end models we’ve seen, but they are also better than the basic units that only trap the largest particles from the air. With a MERV rating of six, you can keep most allergens out of your system, including pollen, dust, and lint.
To make these filters even better, they are electrostatic ally charged to ensure that elements in the air cling to them better. They are also rated to last up to three months, meaning that this pack of six will hold you over for at least a year. Overall, if you’re looking for something simple and straightforward, these are suitable filters. However, they only come in one size, so be sure that they are compatible with your HVAC system.
How to Choose an Air Conditioner Filter
This acronym stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and it refers to how thoroughly the filter can scrub the air. MERV ratings generally go from 1-20, with higher numbers usually being better than lower ones.
Simply put, lower numbers mean that the filter doesn’t remove as many particles from the air as those with a higher rating. The material will be a little looser, trapping only the largest components while allowing tinier pieces to flow through.
One thing to understand about MERV ratings, however, is that you want to stick to the number that is recommended by your air conditioning system. For example, if you have a conditioner that requires MERV 8 filters, you may think that installing a 13 or 14 rated model will be better. After all, it traps more dust and pollen, right?
The issue with that is you could impact the flow of air through the system. Higher MERV ratings mean less air can flow, which can force your air conditioner to work harder and use up a lot more energy. In that case, the side effects can negate any benefits you get from the slightly cleaner air.
In addition to MERV ratings, there are a few other terms that can dictate how well your filter operates.
- MPR - this acronym stands for micro-particle performance rating. This is a proprietary ranking developed by 3M, which makes a lot of air conditioner filters. MPR is listed in hundreds, with a range between 300-2800. Again, the higher it is, the more particles it traps.
- High-Efficiency - if a filter can remove up to 85% of elements from the air, it’s labeled this way. These models will typically have a MERV rating of 14-16.
- HEPA Filter - High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters are usually the best at scrubbing the air. They can remove up to 98% of particles, and they have a MERV rating of 17-20.
However, they are not usually suited for air conditioners because they inhibit the airflow too much.
Pleated vs. Flat
The shape of your air furnace filter can also impact its performance. When picking out the right model, you will either see flat or pleated models. The latter option is excellent because there is more surface area, meaning that the filter is more efficient at trapping particles and that it will last longer (because it doesn’t get dirty as fast).
If you’re looking for cost-effective air filters, then flat versions are going to be the cheapest. However, they will usually have a MERV rating of 1-4, meaning that you’re not going to remove a lot of stuff from the air. Pleated versions, however, can be as good as 10-13, depending on how tightly packed the pleats are to each other.
Finally, when choosing the right conditioner filter, you have to make sure that it will fit into your system. An easy way to do this is to measure the size of the screen you’re replacing. If you don’t get the right size, it won’t fit, which means that you will have to find another replacement.
Air filters are usually listed by height, width, and depth. Each number is crucial because they will tell you if the screen is too large or too thick for your air conditioner. Also, while a smaller filter can fit, it may allow air to flow through uninterrupted, which can defeat the whole purpose of its existence.
Overall, just make sure to match the size precisely each time.
Who Needs an Air Conditioner Filter?
If you have an air conditioner or an HVAC system, you need a high-quality air filter. Without this crucial component, you won’t maximize the performance of your air conditioner, and you may put yourself and your family at risk of developing allergies.
If you have a filter in your system already, take a look at how dirty it gets after a while. Then imagine breathing all of that stuff in every day. That’s why you need an air filter.
How to Replace Your Air Conditioner Filter
Compared to all of the other Best Air Conditioner Filter we’ve seen, we have to say that the Nordic Pure models were the best of the best. We appreciate the fact that the material is both hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, making them more efficient and safer for both you and your family. While they don’t last quite as long as other units, they are still an excellent choice for most air conditioning systems.