Having central heating and air in your home can be an excellent part of modern life. Rather than having to rely on fans or space heaters, you can maintain a relaxed and comfortable living situation by setting your thermostat.
However, if you want to make sure that your HVAC system is running smoothly, you have to check and replace all of the components that make it work. One of the most overlooked elements is the air filter.
Today we’re going to look at the best HVAC air filters for home and see how they can not only improve the efficiency of your system but how they can help you breathe easier every day.
What is an HVAC Air Filter for Home?
The way that your central heating and air system works is that it brings air from the outside, treats it, and disperses it throughout your house. However, because there are tons of particles in the air, from dust to pollen to pollutants, it’s essential that you remove as many of them as possible using the furnace air filter.
An HVAC air filter for homes is designed to keep your air clean and to keep the system running smoothly. On the one hand, you have to make sure that air is flowing freely enough so that the motor and other moving parts don’t have to work harder. On the other hand, you also want to avoid clogging up various elements with dust and other particles that are not getting filtered out.
Comparison Table - Best HVAC Air Filters for Home
Filtrete Micro Allergen Defense AC Furnace Air Filter
1.7 x 19.7 x 19.7 inches
AFB Gold MERV 11 20x20x1 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter
19.4 x 3.3 x 23.5 inches
Lennox X6670 MERV 11 Box Replacement Filter
25 x 5 x 16 inches
Honeywell Replacement Media
16 x 4 x 25 inches
Flanders PrecisionAire 10155.01202 E-Z Flow Air Filter
20 x 1 x 20 inches
Best HVAC Air Filters for Home - In depth Guide
#1. Filtrete Micro Allergen Defense Filter
When choosing the right air filter for your home’s central heating and cooling system, it’s imperative that you find the right size. If it’s too small, then it can defeat the purpose of having a filter as air flows around it. If it’s too large, then it won’t fit, and you will have to find a replacement immediately.
With most filters, you can choose the size that’s right for your system. Unfortunately, this set of two from Filtrete is only available in one. That being said, it is one of the most standard sizes, so there’s a good chance that it will fit into your HVAC.
One of the great things about this filter is that it has an MPR rating of 1000. We’ll go into MERV and MPR ratings later on, but this number means that it’s perfect for a wide variety of particles, including dust, lint, pollen, and mold spores. Since many homes can have mold lurking within the walls, being able to filter it out can make a significant difference in the way you breathe, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma.
#2. AFB Gold MERV 11 20x20x1 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter
As we mentioned, picking out the best HVAC air filter for home means that you want it to be thick enough to filter out most of the pollutants in your air, while thin enough to allow your system to work efficiently.
For the most part, HVAC systems work well with a MERV rating of 6-8. However, if you don’t have a high-velocity module, then you may prefer something like the AFB Gold, with a MERV rating of 11. This number means that it filters out more particles from the air, making it ideal for allergy sufferers.
What we like most about this pack of four filters is that the frames are made of beverage board instead of standard cardboard. The reason we like it better is that it’s designed to hold up in high-humidity environments. Other materials can break down and get too soggy to work effectively, but these will stay in pristine condition for up to three months. Since there are four of them, you won’t have to worry about buying new filters for a whole year.
#3. Lennox X6670 MERV 11 Box Replacement Filter
For the most part, if you’re going to buy an HVAC air filter for home, you should stick with the brand of your system. Thus, if you have Lennox-brand central heating and cooling, then you may want to get this model instead of a generic unit.
The nice thing about this filter is that it has a MERV rating of 11. It also has large pleats, meaning that you can trap many more particles with this model than you could with other filters. Overall, more prominent pleats mean more surface area, which adds to the performance and efficiency of the screen itself.
This unit is considered a high-efficiency system because it can trap up to 98% of all particles in the air, including dust, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. Whether you have allergies or not, you will appreciate breathing cleaner air with this filter. You can also buy it in multiple packs so that you can go longer without having to get replacements.
#4. Honeywell Replacement Media - FC100A1029
When it comes to filter manufacturers, two of the most well-respected brands are 3M and Honeywell. Many people have come to rely on Honeywell because they make some of the best filters around. Not only will they trap more particles but they will last longer than the competition as well.
In this case, we have large-size filters that can work with most Honeywell HVAC systems. You can get them in a pack of five to ensure that you’re covered for more than a year, and they each have a MERV rating of 11. This means that particles like pollen, pet dander, and mold are no match for your system. These filters also have large pleats to ensure that you can go longer without having to replace them.
#5. Flanders PrecisionAire Flow Air Filter
For the most part, people want to get HVAC air filters for home that have a high-efficiency rating. However, if your system is a high-velocity machine, then you can’t go too high with your MERV because it could create problems with the machinery. When air can’t flow through quickly enough, it can cause the motor to use up more energy, and it could cause it to shut down altogether.
So, with that in mind, these filters from Flanders PrecisionAire are rated with a MERV 4. That means that they will trap large particles like dust and lint, but mold and pollen can still get through.
One thing that we like about these filters is that they have a sturdy chipboard frame with metal reinforcement. Too often, air filter models are made of somewhat flimsy materials, which means that they can get damaged too easily. That’s not an issue with these units. Also, you get a pack of 12, which should last you a whole year.
#6. Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust AC Furnace Air Filter
Our final filter model is another one designed for high-velocity HVAC system. This pack of six filters from Filtrete are rated with an MPR 300, making them the equivalent of a MERV 4. Dust, lint, and hair will get trapped relatively easily, especially with the electrostatically charged pleats.
Each one of these filters will last up to three months, meaning that this pack of six should keep your system running smoothly for over a year. As long as you don’t need a high-efficiency air filter, you will appreciate the reliability of these units.
How to Choose an HVAC Air Filter for Home
First and foremost, before you buy a new HVAC air filter, you should measure the size of the current one you’re using. More often than not, the reason that a filter won’t work correctly is that it’s the wrong size.
When looking at the dimensions of a new filter, you will see three numbers. Typically, they are listed in order by height, width, and depth, but that is not necessarily the case for all brands. If possible, you will want to stick with the same manufacturer unless the quality of the filter is lacking.
Usually, most HVAC air filters will come in a variety of sizes to fit many different systems, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the right one for your home.
As we’ve seen, filters come with a MERV rating. This stands for minimum efficiency reporting value, and it refers to how well the filter can trap particles in the air. As you can imagine, the higher the number, the more efficient it is.
The other thing to consider is that filters with a higher number won’t allow as much air to pass through, so it’s imperative that you make sure that your system is designed for the rating you choose.
For example, you may swap a MERV 4 filter for a MERV 9, but if you have a high-velocity HVAC system, then it will have to work harder to pump air throughout your home. Overall, you have to find a good balance between filtration and airflow.
Here are some other titles that can determine the efficiency of your HVAC filter.
- MPR Rating: this is a proprietary ranking system developed by 3M. The rating can go from 300 to 2000, with higher numbers trapping more particles. Most filters will also have a MERV conversion rating so that you can make a better comparison between them.
- HEPA Filter: high-efficiency particulate air filters will trap up to 99% of all particles in the air, making them ideal for allergy and asthma sufferers. However, if your system is not designed for that kind of filtration, it can force your HVAC to work harder and drive up your energy costs.
Pleated vs. Flat
One of the simplest ways to determine how well your filter will perform (and how long it will last) is to see if it’s pleated. For the most part, pleated models will be much better at trapping particles because there is more surface area. In many cases, the fibers will also be electrostatically charged so that they attract more things like dust and pollen.
More surface area also signifies that the filter will usually last longer overall. Thus, instead of having to change it monthly, you may be able to go three or four months without having to put in a replacement. However, you should always check your filters regularly to see if they are too clogged. Not only can they stop filtering particles altogether, but they can affect the efficiency of your system as well.
How to Choose the Right Furnace Air Filter
Who Needs an HVAC Air Filter for Home?
Simply put, anyone with a central HVAC system needs one of these air filters. Without it, dust, pollen, and mold spores can get into your home, creating a bad environment for you and your family. Also, these particles can start to collect on the smaller components of your HVAC, which can make it work harder and may even cause it to overheat and shut down. Having the right filter can make a world of difference, so don’t neglect this critical component.
Overall, finding the right air filter is putting the one that fits best into your HVAC. However, comparing the ones on this list, we have to say that we like the Lennox the best. We appreciate the high MERV rating that will trap almost all particles from the air (including smoke), and we like that they are designed to hold up to extra-humid environments. Overall, if your system is built to handle a higher MERV number, these are going to be your best bet.
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