The Truth About Air Filters: Are Expensive Ones Really Worth It?

As an experienced HVAC expert, I am often asked about the effectiveness of air filters and whether or not it is worth investing in more expensive options. The answer is yes, but there are a few important factors to consider before making a decision. First and foremost, it's crucial to understand that not all air filters are created equal. The level of filtration needed varies depending on factors such as the number of occupants, pets, and allergies in a household. This is where the concept of air filter longevity comes into play.

Pleated filters, for example, only need to be changed every three months compared to monthly replacements required for unfolded filters. This not only saves money in the long run but also eliminates the hassle of constantly remembering to replace your air filter. So what makes expensive air filters more effective? It all comes down to the materials used. Higher quality options, such as those made from fiberglass, can last up to 12 months. Additionally, the MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting value) is a standard created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to evaluate the effectiveness of air filters.

Generally speaking, more expensive air filters have a higher MERV rating than cheaper ones, meaning they have a larger surface area to filter and can trap smaller particles. One common question I receive is about the difference between pleated and non-pleated air filters. The answer is simple: expensive air filters are made of higher quality materials, last longer, are more efficient at trapping particles, and have a larger surface area to filter. If all dimensions are equal, a filter with a higher MERV rating and more folds per inch will have the same or better airflow than a filter with a lower MERV rating and fewer folds. This is why it is crucial to use air filters with the recommended MERV rating for your specific HVAC system. On the other end of the spectrum, the cheapest air filters are typically made of spun fiberglass, which is not as effective at filtering air compared to materials like paper, cotton, or polyester.

While these filters may allow for good airflow, it's worth considering investing in a slightly more expensive option without breaking the bank on high-quality HEPA filters. At FilterBuy, we offer a range of air filters at different price points for a reason - because they are worth it in terms of quality and convenience. So what MERV rating should you be looking for? Most homeowners will want to choose a filter with a rating between 4 and 11. This is high enough to prevent a good amount of particles from entering your system and home, but not so high that it overloads your HVAC system and causes it to overwork, potentially leading to increased energy bills. It's also important to note that there are key differences between cheap and expensive air filters that may not be immediately obvious. This is especially true for older HVAC units that were not designed to accommodate thicker air filters.