Types Of Air Filters: Choosing The Right One For Your Home Or Office

April 20, 2024

When it comes to ensuring the air in your home or office is as clean and healthy as possible, selecting the right air filter becomes an essential task.

With a myriad of options available in the market, understanding the different types of air filters and their specific benefits is crucial for making an informed choice. 

This guide aims to demystify the various air filter options, from HEPA filters renowned for their ability to trap microscopic particles, to activated carbon filters that excel in removing odors and gases. Whether you’re looking to alleviate allergies, reduce pet dander, or simply improve overall air quality, finding the right air filter can significantly enhance your living or working environment. Join us as we explore the distinct types of air filters and help you choose the perfect one for your needs.

Air Filters by Common Size

Choosing an air filter by size is as important as selecting the type since a poorly fitting air filter can drastically reduce its effectiveness. The team behind Air Filters Delivered says that filters come in a range of standard sizes, with the most common being 16″x25″x1″, 20″x20″x1″, and 24″x24″x1″. However, specialized systems may require unique sizes, such as 12″x12″x1″ for smaller units or larger sizes like 25″x25″x1″ for industrial-scale HVAC systems. 


It is crucial to measure the existing filter or consult the HVAC system’s manual to ascertain the exact size needed. A properly fitting air filter not only ensures optimal airflow and filtration but also helps maintain the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC system.

Fiberglass Filters

Fiberglass filters are among the most cost-effective options for residential HVAC systems, widely chosen for their affordability and a basic level of dust and lint removal. Constructed from layered fiberglass fibers spun together, these filters are designed to protect your HVAC system rather than significantly improve air quality. With a lower MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating, typically between 1 and 4, fiberglass filters are less efficient at trapping smaller airborne particles like pollen, mold spores, or pet dander. However, they offer less resistance to airflow, which can be beneficial for maintaining the system’s efficiency. Ideal for individuals without serious allergies or asthma concerns, fiberglass filters require frequent replacement, usually every 30 days, to ensure the best performance and protection for your HVAC system.

Pleated Filters

Pleated air filters offer a step up in air filtration efficiency compared to their fiberglass counterparts. These filters are constructed with polyester fabrics or cotton folds, creating a larger surface area to trap and hold a wide range of airborne particles including pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. Pleated filters typically hold a MERV rating ranging from 5 to 13, striking a balance between improving air quality and maintaining airflow within the HVAC system.


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Due to their design, pleated filters can capture more and smaller particles without significantly reducing airflow, making them suitable for households with pets, allergies, or mild asthma concerns. They also tend to have a longer lifespan than fiberglass filters, with recommendations for replacement every 90 days depending on the environment and usage. While they are more expensive initially, their durability and efficiency may provide better value over time for those prioritizing air quality.

Activated Carbon Filters

Activated carbon filters stand out for their exceptional ability to remove gases, odors, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, making them an excellent choice for improving indoor air quality. These filters use a bed of activated carbon, a porous material with a vast surface area, to adsorb gases and odors at the molecular level. Unlike other air filters that focus on particulate matter, activated carbon filters excel in capturing smoke, chemical fumes, and other gaseous pollutants, which are often missed by conventional air filters.

Ideal for environments where odor control and gas removal are a priority, such as kitchens, laboratories, or areas with heavy chemical usage, activated carbon filters significantly enhance air freshness and safety. While they don’t replace the need for particulate filters, they are often used in conjunction with HEPA or pleated filters to provide comprehensive air purification. Due to the nature of adsorption, activated carbon filters do require regular replacement to maintain their effectiveness, as the carbon pores eventually become saturated. Depending on the usage and the level of pollutants, it’s recommended to replace these filters every few months to ensure optimal performance and air quality.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light Filters

Ultraviolet (UV) light filters represent a cutting-edge solution in the realm of air purification, targeting microorganisms that pose health risks, such as bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. These filters use short-wavelength ultraviolet light (UV-C light) to inactivate airborne pathogens, effectively destroying their DNA and rendering them harmless. This technology is especially beneficial in healthcare settings, laboratories, and homes where maintaining a sterile environment is a priority.

Unlike traditional air filters that capture particulates, UV light filters work by exposure, ensuring that air passing through the HVAC system is disinfected. It’s worth noting that while highly effective against microorganisms, UV filters do not remove dust, pollen, or chemical gases. Therefore, they are often installed as a complementary system alongside HEPA or activated carbon filters to achieve comprehensive air quality improvement.

While the initial setup for UV light filters can be more expensive than conventional air filters, their ability to significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases may offer invaluable peace of mind. Additionally, maintenance involves periodic replacement of the UV lamps, typically every 1 to 2 years, depending on the model and usage. For those concerned about airborne pathogens or looking to enhance their indoor air quality to the highest level, incorporating a UV light filter offers a formidable line of defense.

Selecting the right air filter for your home or office requires consideration of various factors, including size, efficiency, and specific needs. Whether you opt for a basic fiberglass filter or invest in advanced technology like UV light filtration, regularly replacing filters is key to maintaining optimal performance and air quality. With this guide at your disposal, we hope you feel more equipped to make an informed decision in choosing the perfect air filter for your living or working space.


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