Types of Air Filters for HVAC Systems: What You Need to Know

When it comes to air conditioning systems, one of the most important components is the air filter. Air filters are responsible for keeping the air clean and free of contaminants, and they come in a variety of types. In this article, we'll discuss the most common types of air filters for HVAC systems and how they work. Fiberglass air filters are the least expensive type of filter and are disposable.

They cause less stress on air conditioning systems when they suck in air and keep large particles out of the system. However, they don't do a great job of keeping dust and other smaller contaminating particles out. If you or someone in your family has allergies or respiratory problems, this type of filter may not be powerful enough to help alleviate or prevent respiratory problems. It will usually have a MERV 4 rating.

To measure filter efficiency, experts use the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). MERV is a graph that classifies filters based on their ability to capture particles. The rating ranges from 1 to 16, with 16 being awarded to the types of air filters with the best filtering capacity. MERV ratings for different types of filters vary depending on their quality and manufacturer. It is always mentioned on the package.

Despite their popularity, these filters don't contribute much to indoor air quality. They can only filter about 20% of particles that are between 3.0 and 10.0 microns in size. Particles of this size only include dust, carpet fibers, and pollen. Pleated filters consist of a medium fabric made of polyester or cotton. The material is organized in folds to increase the surface area of the filter.

Therefore, filters that have more folds are more effective than those with fewer folds. These filters are slightly more expensive than fiberglass filters but are also more effective against contaminants. They even capture smaller air pollutants, such as pollen, pet dander, and mold spores. Pleated filters are available in reusable and disposable versions. Because of the high efficiency of these filters, they are popular among people who have an allergy to air conditioning or other respiratory problems.

However, these filters are more expensive than fiberglass filters and pleated filters. UV light filters kill bacteria and viruses with short-wave UV light. The germicidal radiation from the UV lamp in these filters disinfects the air in its path. They're also great for eliminating harmful microorganisms from your space, such as mold spores. Second, while UV light filters remove bacteria and viruses from the air, they do little to combat contaminants such as dust.

As a result, these filters are generally part of a more advanced filtration mechanism, such as HEPA filters. These filters create static electricity by using a mix of cotton and paper fibers. This static then acts like a magnet and traps contaminants inside the filter screen. Because this prevents allergens from spreading in the home, electrostatic filters are ideal for people who have allergies. Electrostatic filters often also have a carbon filter to improve efficiency.

This type of AC filter can be flat panel or pleated. They also come in washable and disposable versions. Multimedia filters consist of a material similar to paper folded in folds inside a metal cabinet. While the filter is no larger than six inches, the pleated material can cover 75 square feet when unfolded. This larger surface area makes media filters seven times more effective than standard types of air filters. The large surface area also explains the extended lifespan of multimedia filters.

These filters can last up to two years, depending on the environment. Experts recommend that people who live in industrial areas or with a weak immune system opt for multimedia filters instead of other types of air conditioning filters. As a general rule, it is recommended to clean air conditioning filters every 250 hours of use. While this cleaning is essential, it can often go unnoticed on your to-do list. We recommend using smart thermostats or smart AC controllers that send reminders when the next cleaning is due. The style of an air filter also plays a role in its efficiency.

Common air filters include fiberglass filters, polyester filters, and ultra-efficient HEPA filters. The most affordable filter you can get for your climate system is a fiberglass air filter. They are disposable but have the least ability to filter contaminants and, in fact, filter the air. This is especially evident due to its low MERV ranking which ranges from one to four.

They work best as a protective layer for your climate system, not as a proper air filter. They are made of cotton or polyester and have a folded pattern to effectively filter and trap contaminants. The more folds the filter has, the greater the filtration. Pleated filters are in the same MERV classification as fiberglass filters, so you may want to consider buying several filters, or changing them to a different type.

Although more expensive than fiberglass or pleated filters, washable air filters can save you a lot of money in the long run because of their sustainability and reuse. Their biggest advantage is that they can be removed from your air conditioning system and cleaned then returned to the system once they have dried. The MERV classification of washable filters, depends on the type of washable filter since they can range from pleated to electrostatic resulting in a varied MERV classification. Being one of the most common types of HVAC filters, spun glass filters, are made of fiberglass threads that are spun together.

Spinned glass filters, are one of the best types of filters, because they are not only cost-effective but they are also disposable protecting air conditioning units and ovens from dirt.


, like spun glass ones can remove up to 99.97% of airborne pollutants and allergens present in your home including dust mold pollen pet dander viruses smoke particles and bacteria However keep in mind that the higher the MERV the harder it will be for your air conditioning system to suck in air.

Replacing Your Air Filter: An Essential Step for Your HVAC System's Health

Replacing the

air filter

, in your air conditioning system is one of the most important steps you can take towards ensuring its health and longevity as well as improving indoor air quality for you and your family's health.

It's important to remember that different types of

air filters

, have different levels of efficiency when it comes to filtering out pollutants so it's important to choose one that fits your needs best.


air filters

, may be cheap but they don't do much when it comes to filtering out pollutants so if you're looking for something more efficient then you should consider pleated or electrostatic



UV light


, may be great at killing bacteria but they don't do much when it comes to filtering out dust particles so if you're looking for something more efficient then you should consider multimedia or HEPA



Finally washable

air filters

, may be more expensive but they're worth it since they can be reused multiple times which will save you money in the long run.

No matter what type you choose make sure you replace your

air filter

, regularly so that your HVAC system runs efficiently and effectively.

Cora Lecy
Cora Lecy

Hipster-friendly internetaholic. Certified organizer. Subtly charming coffee fanatic. Friendly pop culture advocate. Friendly tv expert. Award-winning pop culture enthusiast.