Trying to select the right air filter for your Charlotte home can be a daunting experience. What does my system require? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a couple of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s a tried and true way to figure out how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Hold the filter horizontally, then using common table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter and see the amount comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You should probably upgrade your filter to something more efficient.
There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; Size, Material and MERV rating.
1) Filter Size
Size is the easiest factor to ascertain. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. Most home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a number of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so make sure you read the filter manufacturers’ information when purchasing specific filters.
Rating Average Filtration Efficiency
MERV 1-4 60-80%
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive)
MERV 5-8 80-95%
Pleated, Media panel, Cube
MERV 9-12 >95%
MERV 13-16 >98%
Be Careful About High MERV Ratings
While a higher MERV number may provide better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also take more to operate your heating and air conditioning system. The higher the MERV, the less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your goal is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would actually be a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Charlotte home. That's all-out air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
The default choice for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used on the advice of your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning service advisor to confirm your system has the capability of moving the correct amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past few years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. Charlotte area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!