What is the Most Common Air Filter for HVAC Systems?

Most people opt for a MERV 8 filter when it comes to air filters for their HVAC systems. This type of filter is suitable for most residential areas, as it can remove contaminants with MERV 8 to MERV 13. Hospitals, on the other hand, usually use MERV 14 to MERV 20. Compared to The Home Depot's FPR method for sorting air filters, MERV has a wider range.

Indoor air quality is an essential factor for any homeowner, especially if there are family members with respiratory problems. The right air conditioning filters can make the difference between congested air full of pollutants and air that is clean, healthy, and easy to breathe. Understanding the different types of home air filters is the first step to getting the best indoor air quality you deserve. Each of these filters has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which vary depending on your goal for your home.

Some people need HVAC system filters that keep the air free of allergens and other contaminants, while others just need a basic filter to do the job. In general, high-efficiency filters that are also cost-effective are best for homes, but other considerations should include whether there are pets in the home, whether mold or mildew is a threat, and how often filters should be changed. It's wise to talk to an HVAC professional before making any decisions about air filters. To help you gather information and weigh your options, you can compare the basic pros and cons of each type of filter.

Types of Air Filters

Let's take a look at each type of filter and its characteristics to determine the types that might be right for your home. People who live with allergies or other respiratory problems may benefit most from HEPA filters.

These filters must be adjusted by a contractor to fit your specific HVAC system. As the name suggests, UV filters use short-wave ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses. When air passes through the air conditioning unit, UV lamps disinfect it with germicidal radiation. UV filters are great for killing microorganisms that could be hazardous to health, including mold spores. One potential danger of UV filters is that they can transform oxygen into ozone, which can be hazardous to health.

Even low amounts of ozone can cause coughing and chest pain, while higher amounts can worsen existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma. While UV filters are great for eliminating bacteria and viruses, they aren't as efficient when it comes to detecting contaminants like dust. That's why they are often part of a larger filtration mechanism, which includes HEPA air filters. UV light is invisible to the human eye and bulbs usually need to be replaced every year, depending on the make and model of the air conditioning system. By using small cotton and paper fibers, electrostatic filters create static that acts as a magnet for dust and other particles suspended in the air. The magnetism is strong enough to prevent these particles from spreading throughout the house, making them one of the best options for those who need a filter that can combat allergens.

An additional advantage of electrostatic filters is that they are available as disposable and reusable. When it's time to change the filters, you can decide whether to wash and reuse them or throw them away and buy new ones. While certain types of air filters come with reusable and disposable options, washable filters are an environmentally friendly way to save money. The starting price of this type of air filter for air conditioning systems is high, but it should be considered an investment that will last for many years. The starting price is probably all you'll have to pay since you can simply wash and reuse the filter over and over instead of buying new ones every few months.

Washable filters must be well maintained to ensure that they work as they should. As one of the main types of air filters, they come with maintenance instructions that must be followed. It is very important to ensure that the filter is completely dry before putting it back in. Even the smallest amount of moisture left over can cause mold and mildew to form in the filter and expel it into the air you breathe.

Spun glass, while having a low MERV rating, is an excellent long-term investment for someone who doesn't have a strong preference for HVAC filter types and doesn't need any special filters.

Media Filters

When it comes to air filters for HVAC systems, media filters can offer more benefits than standard filters with high MERV ratings. Media filters provide the same level of filtration as a filter with a high MERV content but do so without the negative consequences of airflow or static pressure. In contrast, media filters have a larger surface area which successfully avoids significant static pressure and at the same time provides better filtration.


filters are very easy to maintain and are great for filtering bacteria and other small airborne contaminants.

The filtered dirt is sealed in the filter preventing it from returning to your home. Media filters are also robust and cost-effective and should be changed as infrequently as once or twice a year.


, spun together to create this type of filter which is one of the most common types of HVAC filters. It's one of the best types of air conditioning filters because it's cost-effective disposable and protects air conditioners and ovens from dirt.

Spun glass

, while having a low MERV rating, is an excellent long-term investment for someone who doesn't have a strong preference for HVAC filter types and doesn't need any special filters.


, while not known for improving air quality as they can't work too hard and can only trap some of the dust and allergens, these are not recommended for people who have respiratory problems and need clean indoor air.

Cora Lecy
Cora Lecy

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