Like many homeowners, chances are you haven't taken stock in the type of air filter your air conditioner uses. However, something as seemingly insignificant as an air filter can have an outsized impact on how well your air conditioner performs.
Understanding Air Filter Quality
The type of filtration media used for a typical air filter can have a tremendous impact on your A/C system's performance. For example, air filters that use pleated paper filtration media often have an edge over standard fiberglass air filters, since the former is usually more capable of capturing unwanted airborne pollutants than its more coarsely woven counterpart. It's why pleated air filters found in most new air conditioners make such a good upgrade from fiberglass filters.
In addition to the filtration media used, there are also the filter's own characteristics to consider. Porosity plays a key role – smaller pores keep more airborne debris out of the A/C system, but they can also restrict the amount of airflow the unit receives, lowering its overall performance. These characteristics are sometimes represented in the MERV rating system for air filters.
Air filter manufacturing processes can sometimes make a difference, although the differences between a name-brand and generic air filter are usually miniscule in nature.
Better Quality Equals Better Performance . . . Up to a Point
A quality air filter can provide the best performance for your air conditioning system, but it's all a matter of choosing the air filter that offers the most comprehensive filtration capabilities without being overly restrictive in terms of airflow.
Fiberglass air filters, rated at MERV 1 to 4, are highly affordable and provide the best airflow of all air filter options, but they fall short when it comes to capturing airborne pollutants. Pleated air filters, on the other hand, start out at MERV 5 and top out at MERV 16.
Rated at MERV 17 to 20, in most instances, HEPA filters lie at the other end of the filtration spectrum. These air filters provide the best in airborne particle filtration, but their highly restrictive design requires a more powerful blower fan and custom air filter enclosure be installed to prevent severe performance loss in ordinary A/C systems.
Which Air Filter Should You Choose?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that medium-efficiency pleated air filters rated between MERV 7 and 13 are just as effective as HEPA filters at capturing most types of airborne pollutants. In most cases, such filters are capable of striking a balance between air filter quality and A/C system performance.
For additional help, contact a professional heating and cooling service like JV Systems Air Conditioning And Heating of Tampa Bay Inc.