Trying to select the right air filter for your Tempe home can be a daunting experience. What’s the best one? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a few of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Bob Brown Service Experts attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern.
Here’s an easy way to tell how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Hold the filter horizontally, then taking standard table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter to see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you can imagine 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
Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, or just measure it yourself. Typically home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a variety of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number identifies for the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to capture contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some usual MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to 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 very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you 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 objective should be to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Tempe home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.
The default choice for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Bob Brown Service Experts representative to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed considerably over the past few years. Initially, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Tempe area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a a growing list of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!