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What Type of Air Filter Should I Use?

hvac-filter-change

Your heating and cooling system includes an air filter that plays an important role in the life of your equipment, its energy efficiency, and your home’s indoor air quality. That’s why choosing the right air filter for your comfort system matters. Here’s a look at some available filter types, and how to select one that works for your system.

Typical Filter Types

1. Standard, 1-inch panel or pleated filter

The most basic, standard filter is typically about 1” thick and usually features a pleated filter material, flat fiberglass or polypropylene material.  Some 1” filters are made with a flat washable mesh panel. These types of filters should be replaced (or cleaned) every 1-3 months.

2. Media filter

Media filters also feature a pleated design and are typically available in 2” – 5” widths. Because they have more filtering capacity, they can typically be changed less frequently, about every months or longer.

3. Electronic Air Cleaner / Purifier

Electronic air cleaners apply an electrical charge to airborne particles and then trap them on oppositely charged collector plates or filters. Depending upon the model, these may require monthly cleaning, or, as is the case with the Carrier® Infinity® Air Purifier, require a simple filter change once every 6-9 months.

MERV Ratings

You can compare a filter’s “efficiency” by checking its MERV rating. MERV ratings start at 1 and go as high as 20, but MERV 16 is about the highest you’ll find for a residential heating and cooling system. Higher MERV filters can trap smaller particles like mold spores, bacteria and viruses. But before you decide to buy the highest MERV filter you can find, be sure to check with your system’s manufacturer or your HVAC contractor to see if your system can handle a filter with a higher resistance (pressure drop) to air flow that can be associated with a higher MERV filter. Buying the wrong filter can make the system work harder and potentially shorten the life of the system. 

Selecting the right air filter

Selecting the right filter for your home can be as easy as using the same type, same size and same MERV rating filter that you currently have. If you want to explore an inexpensive upgrade, consider purchasing the same type and size of filter with a higher MERV rating, as long as your system allows for it. Or, if you want to upgrade to a different type of filter altogether, such as moving from a media filter to an electronic air cleaner, contact a local Carrier HVAC contractor for a quote on filtering options that will best complement your current indoor comfort system.

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