Air Filters: Is More Expensive Better?

Posted on: October 13, 2013

Who Needs Air Filters Most
Air filters are crucial for people who suffer from respiratory illnesses, including asthma and hay fever. If you have pets in your home, the allergens floating around can trigger an allergic reaction that filtering can minimize or even eliminate.

For people who live in a location that has a high level of pollution, air filters are a good idea to help make sure they have fresher air to breathe. In fact, during serious smog alerts, the government will sometimes issue warnings for children, the elderly and anyone else who may be more at risk from the effects of pollution to stay indoors, especially during the hottest period of the day.

If you are staying at home to avoid the health risks associated with pollution, it's in your best interest to find the best filter for your air conditioning and heating system.

The Benefits of Air Filters
Air Filters Provide a Number of Benefits:

  • Clean the air inside your home
  • Control pollution levels
  • Remove microbial growth, bacteria, dust, pet dander, dust, smoke and other contaminants
  • Protect your expensive air conditioning and heating equipment

Understanding Air Filter Choices
When you look at the choices available to you for air filtration, you might not be sure whether the more expensive air filter is better. For example, you might be presented with a choice to get a replaceable 1-inch filter, a 5-inch filter, an electronic air cleaner, or HEPA filtration system.

You can get a filtration system that uses 1 inch or 5 inch replaceable filter media. Doing so requires you to keep track of the last time you put in a filter, such as by marking on your calendar, so that you can remember to replace it according to the manufacturer's instructions. You can replace the filters yourself or have your air conditioning and heating service technician do it for you during routine maintenance and inspection calls.

The top of the line for air filters are those that are designated High Efficiency Particulate Air or HEPA filters. They should remove nearly all airborne particles that are 0.3 micrometers or larger in diameter. HEPA filters are the most expensive air filters you can buy, but they should operate free of maintenance almost twice as long as normal filtration systems.

An electronic air cleaner works hard to remove particles from the air. As an electronic air filter begins to get dirty, it loses efficiency. Periodically the homeowner will need to wash the filter with water, and then let it dry in the sun before putting it back in the HVAC system.  Electronic air cleaners can remove particles as small as 0.1 micrometers in diameter, making them more effective than HEPA filters. 

Another point to consider is that the higher the filter's MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting value, a measure of how well it can filter and trap contaminants), the more resistant it will be to airflow. In other words, your HVAC system will generally have to work harder with higher quality filters. Your AC and heating technician can advise you on the specific requirements and abilities of your specific system and what filter method will work best for you.

Air Filter Cost vs. Benefit
An inexpensive, generic replaceable filter may cost only a few dollars, but it will typically last only a month or so and will be fairly inefficient, trapping perhaps less than 20 percent of contaminants. A medium-efficiency air filter, typically of the pleated variety, will cost more but will usually be designed to catch up to 50 percent of contaminants.

Generally, the more expensive filtration systems will make the air quality of your home better.  More expensive air filters remove more particles. Electronic air cleaners are the most expensive, but they offer convenience and higher cleaning rates by removing smaller particles.

When it comes to the health and comfort of your family, friends and other guests, it is a good idea to get the most efficient air filter you can afford. Not only do filters enable people to breathe more easily, they can reduce odors, making your home a more pleasant place to live.

The experts at David Gray Heating & Air have extensive experience and the knowledge to assist you with your air filtering needs. Please feel free to call if you need more information or are ready to make an appointment to set up an air filtration system for your home.

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