Best AC Filter: The Top 5 Air Conditioning Filter Reviews & Buying Guide 2017
Air conditioning filters are vital components of air conditioner systems. They clean the air coming into the unit before it is conditioned and distributed back into the room to improve the indoor air quality. AC filters don’t simply work as an air filter to ensure air flow and keep the unit from malfunctioning. The filter collects air pollutants such as dust, pet dander, pollen, and other allergens. Collecting dust, debris, and other airborne particles significantly reduces the risk of the unit’s components wearing down prematurely and reducing the efficiency of other parts. However, different air filters provide different benefits. Some AC filters only protect the AC unit while others improve the air quality while simultaneously protecting the unit.
There are several different types of performance air filters on the market. The best filters will have a MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting value). This rating indicates the filter’s ability to efficiently remove the airborne pollutants. The MERV ratings range from one to 20. The higher the number, the better the filter has been proven to perform.
Common Types of AC Filters
As previously mentioned, filters are either designed to protect the AC system or to protect the system and purify the air at the same time. Knowing which filters do what and where they lie on the MERV rating scale will help the consumer find the right one.
HEPA Filter: HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) are top-of-the-line performance air filters and have a MERV rating of 17–20. HEPA filters eliminate up to 99.97% of airborne particles, creating a healthier environment and protecting the AC system. HEPA filters need to be used with an AC system with enough power to force the air through the filter. It is also the most expensive type.
Electrostatic filter: Electrostatic filters are ionizers-releasing a negative, electric charge that attacks particles when they pass through the filter, and this causes the particles to stick to the filter. They have a MERV rating around 15 but are not suited for all AC systems.
Pleated filter: Pleated filters usually have a MERV rating that is between five and 13. There are higher-end versions of pleated filters that can have a MERV rating between 14 and 16. These filters are manufactured with fiberglass, polyester, and other materials that are pleated and this increases surface area and traps more airborne pollutants. Air quality will improve with pleated filters and help protect the AC system, but is not as powerful for air improvement as the previously mentioned filter types.
Reusable filter: These filters have a MERV rating between 1 and 4 and are commonly made of fiberglass or polyester. They are washable so there is no need to buy replacement filters. They are not designed to improve much of the air quality but do aid in protecting the AC system.
Disposable filter: These are the lowest rated on the MERV scale with a one to four rating. They are made of flat fiberglass or polyester and are designed only to help protect the AC system. Disposable filters are the least expensive and need to be replaced somewhat frequently.
The Filtrete Clean Living AC/Furnace Air Filter has earned itself a rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 on the Amazon website. These are made specifically for residential use in an air conditioning unit or furnace. It has a MERV rating of seven and utilizes electrically charged fibers to capture the pollutants. Each filter lasts up to three months before needing to be replaced. This filter is designed to not only protect the unit but improve air quality. The Filtrete Clean Living AC/Furnace Air Filter comes in a pack of six filters, lasting around 18 months.
Verified purchasers have stated the Filtrete Clean Living AC/Furnace Air Filters are a good buy, especially for buying in bulk. One consumer described the filters as “much better than most common hardware filters.” However, some consumers report the filters being too thin or breaking quickly after use.
The Airx Allergy Pleated Air Filter has earned itself a high rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 on the Amazon website. This filter has a MERV rating of 11. The filter uses pleating per inch in order to effectively trap particles. This is ideal for homes and helps improve the air quality by reducing dust, pollen, and allergens. It also helps protect a heating or cooling unit from becoming clogged by dust. These come in a six-pack, and each filter lasts for up to 90 days. The listing has several sizes to choose from as well.
One verified purchaser described the Airx as “perfect” for their home’s furnace, “…at a fraction of what they would cost anywhere else.” Another purchaser says they could tell the difference in air quality soon after putting it in. Conversely, some purchasers have reported the sizing to be wrong and the filter is a bit flimsy.
The Sunpentown Magic Clean Air Filter has earned itself an impressive rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 on the Amazon website. This HEPA filter uses activated charcoal to capture over 99% of airborne pollutants such as dust, pollen, allergens, mold spores, and pet dander. HEPA filters are recommended for those with allergies or respiratory issues due to their ability to freshen the air by eliminating toxins.
One verified purchaser says that the filter helps with their husband’s allergy to dust, saying that she replaces the filter when he becomes congested again. They describe it as “…it is an instant miracle, my husband’s congestion disappeared…” Another purchaser expressed that the filter works fine, but they wish the filter came with installation instructions.
The FilterBuy Pleated Air Filter has earned itself a high rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 on the Amazon website. The filter has a MERV rating of eight and comes in a pack of four. The filter lasts for about three months and removes dust, mold spores, lint, pollen, and other airborne pollutants. The pleats add more surface area in order to trap more particles. The frames are constructed of beverage board, adding resistance against humidity and temperatures up to 200 degrees. Many verified purchasers have stated they are pleased with their purchase and the filter works great. Some consumers report the filter is too small and does not fit too well.
The Web Eco Adjustable Air Filter has earned itself 4 out of 5 stars on the Amazon website. This filter can be washed and reused for up to ten years. The frame is adjustable and can adjust from 14 inches by 20 inches to 20 inches by 25 inches. It captures particles like dust, pollen, and dander. It is rated an eight on the MERV scale.
One verified purchaser has disclosed they had theirs in for 20 years and “…they’ve worked just fine.” Another purchaser loves that the filter is adjustable, allowing them to mold it to fit their old air vents that are oddly sized. Some purchasers say it is too flimsy and is difficult to size.