How To Choose The Best HVAC Air Filters: Top 5 Tips
How do you keep your facility clean, ensure proper indoor air quality, and your HVAC system running smoothly? The answer is simple: HVAC Air filters! Like all major appliances, your HVAC system should be well maintained to ensure its maximum efficiency, and the HVAC air filters play a significant role. They remove impurities such as dust, pet dander, or even bacteria from the air flowing through the system, which not only improves the air quality within your facility but also protects your HVAC system from damage.
Here's a comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about HVAC filters.
Different types of HVAC Air Filters
HVAC Air filters come in different shapes and materials and have different capabilities and prices.
Flat-panel: These filters have fibers (mostly fiberglass) that are stretched over a framework. Although they don't offer the highest quality but are easy to install, disposable, and the most affordable.
Pleated: These filters use dense screens of plastic fibers or cotton to remove particles from the air and are disposable. They are comparatively more pricey than flat-panel filters, but they offer better filtration because of their pleats.
Electrostatic: These air filters are electrostatically charged and trap more particles such as pollen, smoke, or bacteria within their screens. They come in various types such as disposable, washable, flat, or pleated.
Washable: These filters come in both pleated and flat-panel options. Since they are washable, they can be hosed down with water or vacuumed to remove any particle buildup. As compared to disposable filters, they are more eco-friendly.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA):
Any filter that consistently removes at least 99.97 percent of particles in the air that are 0.3 microns or larger is given the title of “HEPA” by the Energy Department. These filters are mostly used in commercial settings that require extremely clean air, such as laboratories, hospitals, and nursing homes.
What's the meaning of all those numbers?
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is the industry standard to rate the ability of an air filter to remove particles from the air. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers has developed a scale from 1 to 16 and designates weaker HVAC air filters with lower numbers and stronger ones with higher values.
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is another rating method that is recognized by the Federal Trade Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. This scale also measures air purifier efficiency, and a lower number indicates low performance, whereas a higher rating indicates higher performance.
Tips To Choose The Best Air Filter For Your Facility
1 - Determine Your Needs
First thing first - determine the specific needs of the occupants in your facility. This will directly correlate with the MERV or CADR ratings of the air filters you need. If you have occupants that suffer from allergies, or there are pets in the facility, or the building is an area that deals with excessive dust, air filters with a higher CADR or MERV ratings are the best choice.
2 - Understand the Ratings
You need to be careful with this. Not all HVAC systems are strong enough to work with more restrictive air filters. If your system does not support air filters with a high MERV rating, using them can reduce the airflow and cause your facility to be heated and cooled less efficiently. Furthermore, this can also take a toll on your HVAC system and lead to hardware damage. To avoid this, consult your HVAC system's manual or call an HVAC technician to determine your model's strength.
3 - Define Your Budget
After narrowing down the rating range you're looking for, the next important factor is your budget. Generally, disposable fiberglass HVAC air filters are the most affordable upfront, while washable filters come with a little higher price tag, but they might save you more money over their lifetime.
4 - Choose The Right Size
Furthermore, you also need to consider the dimensions of your ventilation openings and the spaces your HVAC system is servicing. This will determine what filter size and thickness you'll need.
5 - Select a Filter Made of the Right Material
There are different options to choose from when it comes to filter materials available in the market.
Fiberglass filters are a standard and inexpensive option and are generally an inch thick. However, they are comparatively less proficient at collecting airborne dust particles. These filters need to be replaced almost every month.
On the other hand, pleated filters are normally 4-inch thick, making them better at preventing dust particles and durable. However, this increased proficiency comes with an increased price. These filters will cost more upfront than fiberglass filters.
Another alternative to consider is to invest in a washable HVAC air filter. They are comparatively more expensive, but these air filters are commonly made of polypropylene media and can last years.
How To Maintain An Air Filter
Replacing or washing your air filters is crucial to provide clean air in your facility and keep your HVAC system functioning properly. Maintaining your air filters is easy. In most cases, you can simply slide or swap out the filters to replace or wash them without the help of a trained specialist. However, it is recommended to check the instructions for your HVAC system and your specific filter for maintenance guidelines.
Apart from this, even a high-quality filter can't do its job right if it's clogged with debris. Therefore, you should change filters at least every season, if not once a month.
Hopefully, this article will prove to be helpful in choosing the right air filter for your HVAC system.
Still Not Sure Which Air Filter You Need?
If finding the right HVAC filter seems a little too hard, feel free to call one of our HVAC experts at (877) 776-8228, to make the decision easier. Our experts will help you determine the right fit for your needs and HVAC system after analyzing all the factors
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