Air filters are essential for keeping your home's air clean and healthy. There are many different types of air filters available, each with its own unique capabilities. Fibreglass, polyester, washable, pleated and electrostatic filters are all designed to capture different types of particles from the air. Electrostatic filters provide the highest level of filtration for small particles, while HEPA filters are great for those with allergies or respiratory problems.
UV filters use shortwave UV light to kill bacteria and viruses, but they can also produce ozone which can be hazardous to health. Electrostatic filters use magnetism to capture dust and other particles, while washable filters are an environmentally friendly way to save money. Media filters provide the same level of filtration as a high-MERV filter, but without the negative consequences of airflow or static pressure. Finally, fiberglass air filters are disposable and the least expensive type of filter, but they don't do a good job of keeping dust and other smaller contaminating particles away.
When it comes to air filtration, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different types of air filters offer different levels of filtration and come with their own advantages and disadvantages. To help you decide which type of filter is best for your home, here is a comprehensive guide to the different types of air filters available.
Electrostatic FiltersElectrostatic filters use tiny cotton and paper fibers to create static that acts like a magnet for dust and other particles suspended in the air. This 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.
Washable FiltersWashable 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 must be considered an investment that will last for many years. The starting price is likely to be all you'll have to pay, as you can simply wash and reuse the filter over and over instead of buying a new one 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 that remains can cause mold and mildew to form on the filter and to expel it into the air you breathe.
Media FiltersMedia filters provide the same level of filtration as a high-MERV filter, but they do so without the negative consequences of airflow or static pressure.
In contrast, media filters have a larger surface area, successfully preventing significant static pressure while providing better filtration. Media 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 being expelled back into your home. Media filters are also robust and cost-effective, and must be changed as infrequently as once or twice a year. The pleats on these filters give them an advantage over non-pleated options because they increase the surface area of the filter for better filtering.
Filters with more pleats filter better than those with fewer creases and trap even the toughest allergens and contaminants, such as pet dander and mold spores. Pleated filters are also available in reusable and disposable formats, and can help suppress HVAC fan noise.
Fiberglass Air FiltersFiberglass air filters are disposable and the least expensive type of filter. They cause less stress on air conditioning systems by sucking in air and keep large particles out of the system. However, they don't do a good job of keeping dust and other smaller contaminating particles away.
If you or your family members have allergies or have respiratory problems, this type of filter may not be powerful enough to help relieve or prevent respiratory problems. It will usually have a MERV 4 rating.
UV FiltersUV filters are used in air filters that may be integrated into your HVAC system. Using UV light, these filters kill viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms in the air that pass through them. However, they're not as efficient at removing dust and other contaminants, but they're great if you have questions about indoor air quality that an air filter can solve.
Ionic Air FiltersAlso called air ionizers, ionic air filters rely on voltage to charge air molecules.
They usually produce negatively charged ions, also called anions, which then attract particles in the air, in the same way as static electricity. As the particles come into contact with anions, they are deionized and removed from the air stream. Ionic air filters are commonly used in commercial air filtration.
HEPA FiltersHEPA (high efficiency particle absorption) filters are stronger and more effective than ionic air filters at capturing small particles from the air stream. They are commonly used in medical settings where cleanliness is essential for patient safety.
HEPA filters must be adjusted by a contractor to fit your specific HVAC system.