The indoor air quality at home is essential for our health and quality of life. Pollutants, allergens, and microbes tend to cause respiratory problems and put people at constant risk of illness. The best air filters can improve the air quality by trapping the airborne particles.
Whether you use them for the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems or in your air purifiers, air filters have become a necessity.
We recommend replacing the air filter regularly, as air pollutants often clog the HVAC system or air purifier after a certain period of time. As the trapped particles accumulate on the filters, it’s hard for fresh air to get through, resulting in restricted air movement and high energy costs. On the other hand, the build-up of pollutants can also increase the risk of getting diseases, infections, and allergies. This is why replacing your air filter is essential to keep your family members healthy.
With that being said, getting the wrong filter could be costly and unsafe. To help you find the right air filter, we’ve listed the 3 best air filter suppliers, the 5 best air filters, and the features you should consider when choosing the air filters.
Our pick of best air filter suppliers
AAF is the global leader in the air filtration industry.
The air filters from AAF have been the industry benchmarks for quality and performance.
They offer the most comprehensive clean air solutions, from simple roughing filters to the highest efficiency filters used in the most stringent clean environments.
Camfil’s air filters meet the most demanding standards for the most hazardous biological microorganisms according to statutory regulations such as TRBA, BGR 121, ISO 14644, and EN 1822.
Its air filters are widely used in the most advanced microelectronics production facilities worldwide.
And more than 90 nuclear power plants are using camel filters to filter out radioactive particles in the air.
Cambridgefilter provides high-performance air filters, air filtration equipment, and systems for the precision industries, such as nuclear facilities and the microelectronic industry.
Among its product catalogs are high-temperature filter, GIGA filter, chemical filter, v-bank filter, absolute filter, etc.
Our pick of the best air filters
Ideal for high-velocity equipment
Unique design for effective performance
Large surface area
The Filtrete BD26-6PK-2E Air Filter is one of the best filters with a three-in-one technology. It’s designed to remove dust mite debris, and mold spores. The Filtrete BD26-6PK-2E is for residential use. These filters have a pleated design to offer a large surface area and better airflow.
It uses an electrostatic charge to attract air pollutants, which allows them to perform better and provide better airflow. In addition, the suggested replacement time is three months.
AIRx ALLERGY Pleated Air Filter
The AIRx ALLERGY Pleated Air Filter is a pleated and disposable filter that helps remove airborne particles like pet dander, pollen, dust, and smoke.
It’s one inch thick and comes in several sizes. The AIRx ALLERGY Pleated Air Filter features a high pleat count to reach a good purification effect.
We recommend using this with a HEPA filter to keep out the allergens.
Great MERV rating
Quality materials & components
The Aerostar air filter comes in a wide range of thicknesses and sizes. It’s a great choice for different HVACs and purifiers.
Easy to install
Low airflow resistance
The Nordic Pure Air Filters are hypoallergenic and come with electrostatic fibers that help attract air pollutants.
These disposable filters can resist mildew and mold growth and help keep the unwanted particulates from circulating in the air. These filters need to be replaced every three months.
Main air filter types
There are various air filters, each with its pros and cons. Some filters last longer based on their surface area and thickness. Some cost more than the others. And the one you should choose has to do with what works best for your specific needs, budget, and what the HVAC expert recommends.
MERV rating: 1-4
Filters: pollen, dust, hair, and fur
Doesn’t filter: viruses, dust mites, smoke, spores
A washable filter is an option for those who enjoy saving money. These are filters that can be cleaned up and used again. Keep in mind these reusable air filters have a very low MERV rating. It is crucial to dry the filter completely before putting it back into your HVAC system or air purifier.
MERV Rating: 2-4
Filters pollen, dust, hair, fur, and dust mites
Doesn’t filter: viruses, smoke, mold spores
Fiberglass air filters
Fiberglass air filters are constructed from fiberglass material. These filters remove less than 10% of pollutants in the air and get a MERV rating between 2 and 4.
This low-cost air filter is what most people are familiar with. It features layered fiberglass as the filtering media, reinforced by a metal grate. Flat-paneled fiberglass filters typically have low MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) ratings as an entry-level air filter. They can only filter large particles such as carpet fibers and pet hair.
Fiberglass filters are often called ‘disposable’ filters because experts recommend to trash them after a month. It may be the right filter for you, if you don’t have any pets, allergies, or chronic respiratory conditions.
MERV Rating: 6-10
Filters pollen, dust, hair, fur, mold spores and dust mites
Doesn’t filter: viruses, smoke
Pleated air filters
Pleated filters are constructed from polyester material and have a pleated surface to increase efficiency. These filters are disposable. The design of this type of filter is intended to increase the surface area, which improves its filtration efficiency as well. These help effectively remove irritants from the air like pollens, mold, dander, and dust. Their application can be made in different industries like pharmaceuticals, still & 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. These filters are similar to fiberglass filters but typically have a higher resistance to airflow and superior dust-stopping ability.
Pocket filters normally have plastic or galvanized steel frame and contain fiberglass or synthetic media. They are called pocket filters because the media is stitched or sonically welded to form pockets ranging from 10″ -36″ in depth. They trap more particles than non-pleated panel filters and must be changed less often. These filters have a MERV rating of 8 to 14 and efficiency up to 95%. Pocket filters are usually used as final filters in commercial applications or pre-filters in pharmaceutical or hospital applications.
Pocket filters have large & excellent dust holding capacities and good pressure resistance. They are bulky and take a significant duct length to house them. Some design versions are tricky to install and remove, and they are available in a vast number of configurations, ratings, and sizes.
Long service life – pocket filters offer a long service life and can maintain a low-pressure drop for over 8000 hours. While service life depends on MERV rating and environmental factors, it can be extended even further with the use of a pre-filter.
Good air permeability & high filter efficiency
Metal V-form filters. These rugged filters have pleated air filtration media inserted into a channeled metal frame. A number of methods are typically used to create the pleats within the air filtration media, including galvanized mesh adhered to one side of the media and zig-zagged 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.
V-bank filters are known for their v-shaped structure, allowing large amounts of air to enter due to a broader intake area. Its peculiar shape helps trap the contaminants far more efficiently than other air filters. These filters are mainly used in industrial and commercial use due to their high efficiency.
Generally, v form filters offer respectable dust holding, moderate performance, and useful life. The more advanced forms are very resistant to by-pass, so they work at the rated value for all their working lifetime. Metal V form filters are typically available in standard sizes, with custom sizes made to order.
MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) Rating: 8-16
Filters pollen, dust, hair, fur, spores, dust mites, viruses, and smoke
Electrostatic filters use self-charging fibers as material to attract particles from the air. The magnetism of the electrostatic charge keeps the particles from scattering through the entire home. It’s a great choice for people who need to combat allergens.
Unlike other types of filters, electrostatic filters come in washable versions. These cost more upfront, but they usually pay for themselves because you can clean and reuse them. Electrostatic filters may be suitable if you want better filtration with ample airflow. Remember to check the MERV rating since being labeled ‘electrostatic’ doesn’t guarantee a more efficient filter.
HEPA filters can remove at least 99.97% of the smallest airborne particles.
They can help create the cleanest environment for the microelectronic industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the healthcare sector.
HEPA (High-efficiency particulate air) filters are the most efficient available on the market. A MERV 17 to 20, these impressive filters can trap 95 percent or more of mold, fine dust, bacteria, and viruses measuring as small as 0.3 microns.
ULPA Filters are mainly used in:
Medical research laboratories
Pharmaceutical research and manufacturing
Biomedical air filtration and research
Airline cabin purifiers
Medical facilities, like hospitals
Biological and chemical shelters
Ultra-low particulate air (ULPA) filters are closely related to HEPA filters but are even more efficient. ULPA filters are specified to remove 99.999% of contaminants 0.12 microns or larger in diameter.
ULPA filters are used to control airborne particulate levels and stop the spread of toxic agents and infectious diseases.
Activated carbon filter
An activated carbon filter removes gases, chemical vapors, and odor. They are used to adsorb pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and smoke. These filters are made up of small bits of carbon that have been processed to be extremely porous.
You should replace your carbon air filters every three to six months. The replacement time depends on the amount of carbon used in the substrate: the thicker filters, the better the filtration effect.
What features should you look for in an air filter?
1. Size & Thickness
Air filters come in various sizes and thicknesses: one to five inches. In principle, the thicker the filter, the better its filtration efficiency.
When choosing an air filter, you must ensure that your air purifiers or HVACs accept the thick filter. Additionally, as the filter becomes thicker, the efficiency of the HVAC or purifier will be reduced.
2. MERV Rating
Air filters feature a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) depending on their density. The MERV ratings range from 1 to 16, where the higher rating means greater effectiveness and better filtration effect against smaller particles.
1 to 4: These air filters can capture large particles of 10 microns and larger. However, since most airborne particles are smaller, they cannot improve indoor air quality.
5 to 8: These filters capture the common-sized air pollutants of 3 to 10 microns like dust mite, pet dander, mold spores.
9 to 12: These filters can trap particles of 1 to 3 microns, including dust, pollen, smoke, etc.
13 to 16: These air filters have the highest MERV ratings. They block contaminants like viruses and bacteria as small as 0.03 to 1 micron.
3. MRP Rating
MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) measures the effectiveness and efficiency of the filter-out particles smaller than one micron. A higher MPR value in the air filters means better purification performance; however, an extremely high MPR may lower the efficiency of the purifier or HVAC system.
FAQs on air filters
1. How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?
Normally you should change your filter every two to three months. However, the exact replacement timeline will depend on the type of filter, health status, usage, and the number of people at home. Households with many people and pets may need to change their pre-filters more often so that the pet dander and dirt can be cleaned out before the filters are clogged.
2. Are Thicker Filters Better Than Thinner Ones?
Yes. Thick filters tend to block more particles but may result in higher energy costs, and sometimes the HVAC system or purifier doesn’t accept a thicker air filter. You should use a filter with the thickness recommended by the manufacturer.
3. Do Higher MERV Filters Restrict Airflow?
Yes. Air filters with higher MERV ratings mean higher resistance and less airflow.