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Best Air Filters for Homes

If you’re interested in perfecting the air quality of your home, you’ve probably been browsing air filters for your HVAC system. But how do you know which air filters are the best? What makes a great air filter and what makes an air filter subpar? If you want these questions answered, this article is for you.

Here, we’re going over the best air filters for homes, and why they're so good. We’ll also take a look at some of the worst air filters, and why you should avoid them. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be covering Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV air filters. This essentially shows the efficiency level of an air filter at its lowest possible level of performance.

MERV ratings are based on how well the filter can catch debris and air pollutants. The MERV rating system ranges from 1 to 16. The number is based on the diameter in micrometers of the particles that the filter can capture.

The Best Air Filters: MERV 8-10

Air filters in the range of MERV 8-10 models are the most popular air filters in the United States. These filters are effective for stopping the circulation of pollen, pet dander, aerosol spray particles, various types of dust and dust mites, mold spores, and certain fumes like tobacco smoke. These are the most common filters in homes and businesses because of the broad range of applications they have.

What’s great about MERV 8-10 is that while the filter stops many types of air pollution, they scarcely interfere with the performance of your HVAC system. This will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year in electricity. The MERV 8-10 series of filters offers pretty great energy efficiency, but while its filtration effectiveness is good for a broad range of pollutants, it doesn’t work to stop every pollutant.

While it doesn’t stop everything, the MERV 8-10 is the best option for most households. They’re energy efficient and do a pretty good job of keeping the air quality in your home pure.

Great Air Filters: MERV 10-13

The next class of filters are the MERV 10-13. This range of filters are very powerful, and stop all types of dust, vehicle emissions, they’re even rated to stop the circulation of welding fumes. These filters are a middle ground between what one would need for their home and filters designed for commercial use.

If you or someone in your household has some kind of breathing problem in which they can’t inhale certain particles, these filters would be a great fit for your home. Additionally, if you work an industrial job and want to make sure that any loose particles from work don’t get mixed into your air supply, these filters will work well for that purpose.

This filter is a nice middle ground between home and commercial power. It’s more effective at filtration than MERV 8-10 filters, but they’re less energy efficient. Ideal for homeowners who need to maintain very pure air quality.

Powerful Air Filters: MERV 13-16

These are the most powerful air filters on the market. MERV 13-16 filters are the highest grade HVAC filters that are only compatible with superior HVAC systems. MERV 13-16 filters are capable of capturing airborne bacteria, particles produced by coughing and sneezing, and all kinds of smoke.

These filters are primarily used in hospital surgical suites, or smoking lounges due to how powerful they are. While it’s rare for these to be used in private homes, the need may arise if you or someone in your household has a lung condition of some kind. Additionally, if someone you live with has contracted COVID-19 and are self-isolating in their room, installing these filters may be ideal as they may stop particulates from spreading around the house.

The only problem is that, unless your HVAC system is designed for it, this filter can decrease the efficiency of your system substantially. The HVAC system will have to use more power to push air through the filter, so if your HVAC system is weak or outdated, it may not be able to handle this heavy-duty air filter.

Bad Air Filters: MERV 7 or Lower

Once you get into MERV 7 class air filters and lower, the quality and practicality of the filters decreases. While MERV 7 can pass for most homes, they won’t do a great job of keeping dust, pet dander, and other common contaminants out of your air system as well as MERV 8 and above will.

Lower MERV class filters can control large particles like lint, hair, sanding dust, and carpet fibers. That’s why they’re not really ideal for your home. Sure, they won’t interfere with your HVAC system’s air circulation, but with how ineffective these filters are for stopping contaminants, your HVAC system will be circulating pollutants constantly.

The Worst Air Filters for Your Home: ULPA Filters

Without a doubt the worst type of filter for your home is a Ultra Low Particle Air filter, or ULPA filter. ULPA filters are known to filter 99.999% of particles that measure 0.12 microns, making it the most effective filter on the market in terms of catching microscopic particles.

The problem, however, is that these filters allow very little air to pass through. With an ULPA filter, your home will start to feel very stuffy, as you’re breathing the same air continuously. It turns out that ULPA filters weakness can be defined with a measurement called air changes per minute, or ACH. ACH represents how many times the air in a room has been completely replaced by fresh air in one minute.

ULPA filters always have astonishingly low ACH values, which is not ideal for homes. Additionally, these filters will drive up your utility bills significantly as your HVAC system will need to draw much more electricity to filter air through these extremely tight filters.

In summary, the best air filters for your home HVAC system are MERV type filters that fall between 8 and 13. Any MERV ratings lower than 8 will be ineffective at catching common home pollutants, and ratings above 13 might be overkill and will unnecessarily increase your electric bill.

You can find all of these filters at the Filter King online store. You can even set up a subscription to have your air filters delivered on a regular basis, so you never forget!