Which Is The Best Air Filter For Your Home?

Are you looking for the best air filter for home air conditioner? It is important to change your filters but it’s also important that you understand what type of filters you are getting. It’s a recommended preventive maintenance that you need to do at least every few months. Some people seem to put filters in that restrict airflow and some put in filters that don’t restrict enough airflow that doesn’t pick up the particles of dirt that goes into the coil. When you don’t change it often enough, it won’t filter properly, or worse, you’re not getting the proper airflow.

What type of filter is best for air conditioner?

Depending on the usage, the air filters are divided into two major categories: the primary or pre-air filters and the secondary or final air filters. In several types of HVAC filters on the market, wanting the amount of purification and the quality of air in a home depends on having the type of HVAC filter.

Let’s take a look at the various filter types here. The different types of filters are:

1. Reusable or washable filters are an option for those who enjoy saving money since they can be simply cleaned up and used again. This type of filter is typically more expensive than the disposable kind and has a low MERV rating of between one and four. This makes reusable air filters prone to mold or mildew growth.  This is one of the best air filter for home air conditioner for those who want to get thrifty.

Though this filter can save money, it’s important to know that it is using water to clean it so there is a risk of mold and mildew, and eventually, needs to be replaced with a new filter. Keep in mind that these reusable air filters have a very low MERV rating – between 1 and 4.

2. The fiberglass filters, also called flat-paneled fiberglass filters, are constructed from fiberglass material and have a thin, flat surface. They are designed to protect the HVAC system but not to improve the air quality at home. These filters remove less than 10% of pollutants in the air and get a MERV rating between 2 and 4.

These filters are often called disposable filters because experts recommend trashing these filters after a month. This type of filter is layered with fiberglass that serves as the filtering media and is reinforced by a metal grate. This low-cost air filter is what most people are familiar with. As an entry-level type of air filter, these filters can only filter large particles such as carpet fibers and pet hair. These air filters are the lowest grade and the cheapest of the HVAC filters. It may be suited for a home that doesn’t have any pets, allergies, or persons with chronic respiratory conditions. 


✔️Low on cost

✔️Low-pressure drop

✔️Low efficiency on normal atmospheric dust


❌Filter media materials include metallic wools, expanded metals and foils, crimped screens, random matted wire

❌Has coarse, glass fiber, synthetic fiber, and synthetic cell foams

3. Pleated air filters are constructed from polyester material and have a pleated surface to increase their efficiency. These filters can remove up to 45% of the pollutants in the air and get a MERV rating between 8 and 13 or typically between 5 and 13. They are also disposable filters just like the fiberglass filters.

The design of this air filter is intended to increase the surface area which improves its filtration efficiency as well. These filters help in effectively removing irritants from the air like pollens, mold, dander, and dust. The application can be made in different industries like pharmaceuticals, steel and power, powder coating, cement, chemicals, metals, minerals, and paint production.

Pleated air filters are popular for two main reasons: they are sturdier and more efficient than conventional fiberglass filters they cost less than super-efficient electrostatic filters. Polyester and pleated filters are similar to fiberglass filters but typically have a higher resistance to airflow and superior dust-stopping ability.

4. Pocket filters are also called bag filters that are constructed of a plastic or galvanized steel frame and contain fiberglass or synthetic media. The media is stitched or sonically welded to form pockets ranging from 10”-36” in depth. These filters offer MERV ratings up to 14 and efficiency up to 95%.

The pocket filters have the advantage of having a long service life and can maintain a low-pressure drop for over 8,000 hours. While service life depends on MERV rating and environmental factors, it can be extended even further with the use of a pre-filter. These filters also have high efficiency and good air permeability.

These bag filters have large and excellent dust holding capacities and reasonable pressure resistance that are bulky and take a significant duck length to house them. Some design versions are tricky to install and remove, they are available in a vast number of configurations, ratings, and sizes. The common applications for this type of air filter are for commercial, educational, healthcare, government, and manufacturing establishments.

The air pre-filtration system for the non-dust room, hospital, pharmaceutical factory, electronic factory, spray booth, and other filtration systems are high in need of clean air. The bag-like filter element that is stitched into pockets trap more particles than non-pleated panel filters and need to be changed less often.

5. V-bank filters are known for having a V-shaped structure that allows large amounts of air to enter due to a broader intake area.  Its peculiar shape helps trap the contaminants far more efficiently than any other filter can.  These filters are utilized as main filters in industrial and commercial use due to their high efficiency. 

These rugged metal V-form filters have pleated air filtration media inserted into a channeled metal frame. There are several methods are typically used to create the pleats within the air filtration media, including galvanized mesh adhered to one side of the media and sig-sagged steel cage supports within the frame channel. Some suppliers offer a premium version metal V-form, whereby the pleated filter media is “potted” or bonded (e.g. hot melt sealed) into the metal channel frame to eliminate potential contaminant bypass.

In general, these filters offer respectable dust holding, moderate performance, and useful life. The more advanced forms are very resistant to bypass, so work at the rated value for all their working lifetime. These V-form filters are typically available in standard sizes with custom sizes made to order.

6. The Electrostatic HVAC filters ranging from MERV 2 to 10 feature self-charging fibers that attract particles from the air without increasing the tightness of the weave. This allows air to pass through efficiently while making it possible to trap a greater number of particles measuring 8 to 16 microns. Unlike other filters, these filters come in washable versions, which means this costs more upfront, but because they can be clean and reuse, they usually pay for themselves.

Unlike other filters, these filters come in washable versions, which means this costs more upfront, but because they can be clean and reuse, they usually pay for themselves. These filters may be suitable for better filtration with ample airflow. 

7. The High-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters are the most efficient available. A MERV 17 to 20, these impressive filters are capable of trapping 95% or more of mold, fine dust, asbestos, bacteria, and viruses measuring as small as 0.3 microns. These filters are constructed from a synthetic polyester material that is effective in trapping particles of dust, pollen, mold, and other irritants.

How do these filters work?

Most HEPA filters today are made from a mixture of glass fibers that are interlaced. Particles are captured in one of these four ways in choosing the best air filter for home air conditioner:

1.         Direct impacting is where large particles travel in a straight line, collide, and are trapped.

2.         Interception is where particles collide with fibers and remain attached to the fibers.

3.         Diffusion is when as smaller particles travel, they collide with the fiber and are captured.

4.         Sieving occurs when the particle is too large to fit in between the fiber’s spaces.

8.  Ultra-low particulate air (ULPA) filters are used in air filtration of 99.9% of contaminants and purification systems of 0.12 microns or larger in diameter to control airborne particulate levels and to stop the spread of these toxic agents and infectious diseases.

Where are ULPA Filters Used?

ULPA filter applications can include the following:

  • Medical research laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical research and manufacturing
  • Electronic manufacturing
  • Biomedical air filtration and research
  • Airline cabin purifiers
  • Cleanrooms
  • Medical facilities like hospitals
  • Biological and chemical shelters


Does a higher MERV rating restrict airflow?

MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is basically the industry rating standard on air filters. The MERV rating system is a handy way to compare the performance of air filters so it’s needed in choosing what’s the best air filter for home air conditioner.

A laboratory aerosol generator produces a mist of known particle size or fine dust that is sent through a filter being tested. There’s a particle count done upstream and downstream of the filter. This is repeated several times for each particle size and twelve different particle sizes are tested the filtration efficiency that is stated as a ratio of downstream to upstream particle count. These ratios are ultimately averaged to help tag a filter with a MERV rating.

The MERV rating tells how efficiently the filter removes particulate allergens and other contaminants and promotes good indoor air quality. The MERV Ratings are assigned in values from 1 to 16 just as follows:

  1. The MERV ratings of 1-4 meanmeans the filter will provide the minimum of filtration and protection for the equipment while generally inexpensive. The filters in this range do not promote good indoor air quality.
  2. The MERV ratings of 5-8 covercovers very common pleated filters. They will trap about half of the particles of small stream microns that are effective at promoting good indoor air quality.
  3. The MERV ratings of 9-12 representrepresents better-pleated filters and will trap most particles down to 3 microns. This promotes better indoor air quality in the most popular air filters.
  4. The MERV ratings of 13-16 are highly efficient and collect particles at the sub-micron level. This promotespromote excellent indoor air quality and can also be very expensive.

Do AC filters restrict airflow?

Expensive filters are too restrictive. If you look at a typical 1-inch filter that most people have, there’s not a lot of surfaces area to it and when you buy an expensive one, the material that it’s made out of becomes more and more restrictive. The idea as it filters out everything down to viruses, you can’t get enough air through that filter to serve the needs of the central heating and air-conditioning system.

These filters hurt the performance and efficiency of the system. The system is designed to have a certain amount of airflow and it doesn’t get the airflow that it needs so does the performance or efficiency the system is capable of delivering. It is recommended to have a less restrictive air filter to have a normal airflow throughout the space.

What is the best MERV rating for AC filters?

The most restrictive filter is going to a higher number so a recommendation for one-inch filters is to have a MERV rating of 6 which a pleated fiberglass filter can provide. It’s going to let the system get more air and it’ll still filter better than just a fiberglass filter. The filter on the system isn’t there for indoor air quality, it’s primarily there to protect the equipment.


The best filtration system is the one that fits where it should be located at that allows more air to flow through.  Choosing what’s appropriate and suited for the space when looking for the best air filter for home air conditioner is the main thing to look at.