Best AC Filter for air flow – Buyer’s Guide

Do you know how much dollars do you spend on cooling and heating your home ? While one may not fully realize this, but the spends on cooling & heating constitute a large part of the utility bill. And this spending varies basis the quality of the air filters in your HVAC systems. And this is where installing the best AC filter for air flow in your HVAC systems make sense. A dirty choked filter restricts the air flow, reduces the system efficiency, and eventually leads to a breakdown. A breakdown will mean more repairs, replacements and more spending.

So if you are receiving low air flow, check the air filters first. It shall be better to replace the air filters of your air conditioners in the nick of time than to spend money on breakdowns and avoidable repairs. And as a rule, look out for the best air filter for AC, always. Let’s start with an understanding of the basics of what is an AC air filter and then move to the list of best Air Conditioner filters in the town.

What is an air filter ?

An air filter is generally made up of pleated paper and is enclosed in a cardboard frame. At times there’s also the synthetic / polyster material based ones. Their basic purpose is to keep the air clean which is circulating in the air conditioner system. AC filters trap various kinds of air and pollutant particles which can potentially affect our health in a negative way. Some of them being:

  • Dust & dirt
  • Pollen
  • Mold & mold spores
  • Lint & Fiber
  • Wood particles, plaster particles
  • Hair & Animal fur
  • Bacteria & other micro organisms

So it is always advisable to regularly check on your AC air filters and replace them if and when found necessary with the best AC filters only.

How to go about choosing the best AC filter for air flow

What are the things that you should consider while going for an air filter? Knowing few things first hand can help you make the right choice to get the best air filter for AC.

You can find the list of best 25x25x1 air filters here

Your own opinion

With finding the best AC air filters for air flow, it also boils down to what you think about your home. There might be an ongoing construction activity in your vicinity and you might need a thicker air filter than the normal times. Or there could be a pollution issue in your area due to which it would be advisable to have better quality AC air filters than what would have been normal.

Your Priority

What is your objective you want to achieve with this filter ? For some the priority no.1 might be to keep the allergens away, while for others it could be to filter out the dust. Think of what you want to achieve with those AC filters in your home and choose accordingly.

Health Issues

For some people with certain allergies, having a heavy duty air filter is of basic importance otherwise they will be prone to allergies all through the season. If you live in a warm place, you might want to filter out the mold so that these mold spores don’t end up contaminating your home. For some others, living without the highest grade of air filter results in danger to their health.

And for some with no health issues, basic air conditioners filters are good enough. The difference in quality has a bearing in difference of pricing too. You can save money on deciding on the right kind of air filter for your air conditioner.

Energy Efficient

An air filter is a variable expense in your budgetary scheme of things. It does not make sense to acquire one which adds to your budget without actually serving the purpose. Getting a restrictive, heavy duty air filter will be great for the quality of air in your home, but it will be a drag on your HVAC maintenance bills.

The smartest way is to strike a balance between the filter quality need and the energy efficiency required. Also having a very restrictive filter quality can result in over working of your air conditioner system, leading to increase wear & tear of the parts. You should go for an AC filter which gives you enough air flow in line with your needs.

Maintenance

It is always good to have AC filters which are low on maintenance. It should not be something that binds you with regular cleaning and frequent replacements.

MPR

It stands for Microparticle Performance Rating, developed by 3M. It scores the best filters depending on their ability to filter airborne particles smaller than 1 micron

MERV

It stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher is this number, the more finer particles the filter will catch. MERV has been developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air Conditioning Engineers. Ask yourself what do you want to filter to arrive at kind of Merv rating you will need.

Merv 1-4:

They are the standard common filters and provide a basic filtration standard at low cost. Good to filter out dust particles.

Merv 5-8:

These are commonly used is residential premises. Generally made of pleated paper to provide better surface to capture fine particles. Good for pollen particles, mites etc.

Merv 9-12:

Mid tier filters of relative better quality and have the ability to capture particles of 1 micron & above. Good for VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds – kind of chemical that can evaporate in room temperature settings and cause breathing issues)

Merv 13-16:

They are among the best rated AC filters and can capture minute particles of 0.3 microns & above. Good for bacteria filtration.

Merv 17-20:

These are good to keep the viruses at bay. In fact anything beyond Merv rating of 15 have the capacity to capture viruses. Super efficient in terms of filter process.

The higher rating an air filter has, the more effective it shall be, the more restrictive air flow it will manifest, and more expensive it will be.

List of best AC Filter for Air Flow

PhotoProductDimensionsMERV RatingsDetails
Nordic Pure Pleated AC filters20 x 25 x 1 12
Honeywell FC100A103720 x 25 11
Filtrete MPR 300 Basic Dust, 6-Pack20 x 20 x 15
FilterBuy AFB20x20x1M8pk420 x 20 x 1 8
AIRx Filters ALLERGY- 6 Pack20 x 20 x 111
Aerostar Clean House Air Filter12 x 12 x 18
Flanders NaturalAire Odor Air Filter 84857.01202020 x 20 x 18
FilterBuy AFB Gold MERV Pleated AFB14x14x1M11pk414 x 14 x 111
Flanders PrecisionAire 10155.01202 E-Z Flow Air Filter20 x 20 x 14

With the above list of the best ac filters, it will easy for you to choose the one that fits into your requirement. Narrow down your list to three-four ac filters and then choose the one that fits into the bill perfectly. Let me review each of these air filters, their features and their high point.

Review of best air filter for AC:

Nordic Pure Pleated AC filters

Nordic Pure best ac filter Merv rating 12Works For

These pleated air conditioner air filters are good for pollen, dust, indoor allergens, pet dander and airborne contaminants

What I like

This Nordic Air pure air filter can be used for residential as well as commercial applications. The pleated air filter has a large surface area to attract and trap various kinds of contaminants so that they don’t enter the circulating air in our homes. This air filter is able to remove dust, pollen, lint, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, smog, smoke, candle soot, exhaust, bacteria and viruses. Among the best AC filter for air flow in the market.

Product Features

  • Dimensions of 25 x 20 x 1
  • MERV rating of 12
  • Works on up to 0.3 microns
  • Pleated
  • Electrostatic charged pleats

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Anti microbial
  • Improves the circulating air quality
  • Good for those with various allergies

Deep Insight

  • This air filter is comparable with MPR rating of 1500-1900
  • It has 12 pleats per foot

Honeywell FC100A1037

Honeywell FC100A1037 Air Filter

Works For

This one works for contaminants like pet dander, tobacco, smoke, dust and dust mites.

What I like

A poor indoor quality of air ranks among the top 4 air risks to individual health. It will only get you to the doctor sooner than later. And the only way to cancel such doctor’s visit is to buy a good quality air filter.

This model of Honeywell FC100A1037 is long lasting and easy to set up. It’s high MERV rating helps to remove all bad contaminants from the air.

Product Features

  • Polypropylene Pleated
  • Weighs a pound indicating the heavy dute pleating
  • MERV 11 rating
  • Dimensions: 20 x 25 x 4.5

Pros

  • Heavy duty performance
  • Improves air quality
  • Easy to replace and install

Deep Insight

In normal weather conditions, an air filter will need to be changed once or twice in a year. In cold or hot areas, you should change the air filters once every three months

Filtrete Air Filter, MPR 300 Basic Dust, 6 Pack

Filtrete 20x20x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, Clean Living Basic Dust, 6-Pack

Works For

It works good for household dust, lint, dust mite debris and mold spores

What I like

This air filter has better performance levels compared to other washable and fibreglass models. It will work for furnaces, HVAC systems and air conditioners. This filter uses 3 in 1 technology patented by 3M. It can be relied to trap air contaminants while maintaining good air flow. Costs less than the others because of its lower Merv rating.

Product Features

  • MERV rating of 5
  • 3M’s patented 3-in-1 technology
  • Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 1
  • Weight: 3.15 pounds

Pros

  • High performance filter quality
  • Traps most air contaminants
  • Non-restrictive high airflow allowance
  • Improves air quality
  • Easy to install

Deep Insight

This air filters is MPR equivalent rating of 300. And you can sign up for a filter change reminder program with the company.

FilterBuy AFB Silver 4 Pack

FilterBuy Best Air Filter AFB 20x20x1 M8 4

Works for

Traps 90% of all airborne particles, dust, lint, debris, pollen, pet dander.

What I Like

With a high Merv rating of 8, you get best of both the worlds. The rating is indication of the air filter’s efficiency in eliminating most of the air contaminants. If you have a pet, this becomes even more useful since it can block pet dander also. Moreover, a Merv rating of 8 is not very restrictive in terms of air flow. You get high air flow with good air filter efficiency. Savings on your air conditioner’s performance as well as low on air filter replacement costs.

Air Filter with 12 pleats per foot

High Quality 12 Pleats per foot

This brand, Filterbuy, has been providing air filters for almost 60 years now. This air filter model is pleated and made of beverage board which can withstand high humidity and temperatures upto 200 degrees.

Product features

  • Made in USA
  • Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 1
  • MERV rating of 8
  • Can lasts upto 100 days
  • 12 pleats per foot
  • Pack of 4 air filters
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds

Pros

  • Better air quality
  • Long-lasting filter frames made of beverage board
  • Great for people with allergies
  • For both commercial and residential use

Deep Insight

MPR equivalent of 600 rating. FilterBuy air filters have greater surface area to trap more contaminants

AIRx Filters ALLERGY- 6 Pack

AIRx Filters ALLERGY Best air filters

Works for

This air filter can trap mold, smoke particles, pet dander, pollen, dust mite debris.

What I Like

This one’s a premium air filter with a Merv rating of 11. This has more pleats per foot than can be found in other brands of air filters. A higher Merv rating and an ability to catch more particles, though, will also mean reduced air flow into your air conditioner system. This one sits comfortably in the company of Nordic Pure that we discussed up in the list.

If you do not need high filtered air, it will not make sense to go for an air filter like this with a high Merv rating of 11. While it has the potential to remove almost all kinds of possible contaminants in the air, it will also result restrict the air flow from your air conditioner. This air filter can be replaced in three months time, but I would suggest to do it 2 1/2 months itself.

Product features

  • MERV rating of 11
  • Dimensions of 20 x 20 x 1
  • Lasts upto 90 days
  • Weighs 0.6 pounds

Pros

  • Good for those with allergies
  • Removes most pollutant particles
  • It uses high efficiency filter media
  • Reduced energy bill
  • High performance

Deep Insight

There are metal wires on the sides of the filter structure giving it much strength for durability. This air filer is also comparable to Filtrete 1200 MPR rating

Aerostar Clean House Air Filter 12x12x1 MERV 8

 

Aerostar Air filters for air conditioners

Works For

It works good to capture allergens like dust mites, lint, mold spores, pollen, dust and pet dander.

What I Like

It has electrostatic charged filters which are able to capture more allergens from the air. It works towards capturing even micro allergens and keeps the air quality in the home safe. The easy to install and easy to maintain process adds to its appeal. And since the airflow resistance in this filter is low, it does not restrict the flow of air inside the home.

People looking for best air filters for AC homes with pets can consider buying this filter. It’s Merv rating does not restrict the flow of air around the home. Depending on the weather conditions, the air filter should be changed within 75-90 days.

Product Features

  • Made in USA
  • Pleated filters
  • Dimesnsions: 12 x 12 x 1
  • Merv rating of 8
  • Electrostatically charged synthetic material
  • Weight: 1.35 pounds

Pros

  • Captures all kinds of small particles
  • Easy to install
  • High efficienct levels of airflow

Deep Insight

The frames of these air filters are made up of cardboard material, making it resistant to bends under pressure

Flanders NaturalAire Odor Air Filter 84857.012020

Flanders NaturalAire Air Filter for AC

Works For

It captures household dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores, odors, dust mites, pet dander.

What I Like

This air filter uses baking soda in its internal structure which neutralizes common household odors. Your home not only gets rid of pollutants but also smell just as fresh. The special qualities of baking soda gives the filter an antiseptic property. Add to this that there is no risk of the HVAC system running under pressure which results in consistent air flow through out the summers.

In case of allergies, I would recommend you an air filter with a rating of above 10, something like Nordic Pure or Honeywell that we covered above in the list.

Product Features

  • MERV rating of 8
  • V pleats with large media surface
  • Dimensions: 0 x 20 x 1
  • Pack of 4
  • Moisture resistant, Clay-coated molded frame for durability

Pros

  • Removes kitchen odors
  • Low air resistance
  • Long-lasting & durable frame
  • Easy to install

Deep Insight

While these filters are not electrostatic charged, the V shaped internal filter design gives it a wider space to catch more pollutants than in a normal design. And all this while keeping the air flow resistance at low level.

FilterBuy AFB Gold MERV Pleated AFB14x14x1M11pk4

Filterbuy AFB Gold Pleated Air Filter for AC

Works For

This one works good to remove lint, pet dander, dust, pollen, dust mite debris, mold spores, smoke, smug.

What I Like

You can use this filter continuously for 3 months before are replacement is required. For some extreme environment, the change of the air filters could be necessitated earlier than the 3 months time. It can used for both residential and commercial purposes. The frame of this air filter is made up from beverage board which makes it stand against humidity and high temperatures.

With a Merv rating 11, it can be used in HVAC systems, furnaces and air conditioners. Good for anyone with issues of allergies, this filter will also reduce the air flow in the home. So if you are not in requirement of a high Merv rating, you can avoid this. But in case you have allergies, this product is worth the price you pay for it.

Product Features

  • Frame made of Beverage board
  • Can Lasts upto 90 days
  • MERV rating of 11
  • Made in USA
  • Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 1
  • Pack of 4
  • Use of synthetic media in the filters
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds

Pros

  • High efficiency in capturing pollutants
  • Long-lasting filter
  • Stable frame structure
  • Ease of installation

Deep Insight

It is comparable with MPR 1200 rating. Can withstand up to 200° F of temparatures

Flanders PrecisionAire 10155.01202 E-Z Flow Air Filter

Flanders PrecisionAire 10155.01202 E-Z Flow Air Filter

Works For

It is good to remove pollen, household dust, lint from the air circulating in your home.

What I Like

A lower Merv rating of 4 ensures that the air flow is not restricted. It works nicely for removing large air particles of dust and works good on both air conditioners and furnaces.

It features a continuous chipboard type design which guards the air filter against corner separation. And the metal media retainer on one side gives the filter good durability.

The low Merv rating works wonders for houses with low filter process requirements. Your concerns of dust and lint will be taken care of by this air filter. But if you need a more strong filtration process or if you have kids at home, then this filter will not suffice. You should then go for an air filter with a higher Merv rating. On the downside, this air filter needs replacement every 30 days. But is priced pretty competitively accordingly.

Product Features

  • MERV rating of 4
  • Chipboard design
  • Lasts 30 days
  • Pack of 12
  • Dimesnions: 20 x 20 x 1
  • Made in USA

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Stable performance
  • Protects furnaces and air conditioners alike
  • Low airflow resistance

Deep Insight

This filter contains spun glass filter medium which increases efficiency of the air filters and provides durability to the product.

Best AC filter for Air Flow FAQs

What is a Fiberglass / Synthetic Filter

These are mostly cheap and a disposable option for the air conditioners and furnaces.  The best synthetic AC filters for air flow prevent dust particles, pollen mold spores to build up on heat exchanges, fans, motors, and other places. The larger particles are captured and eliminated.

Polyester AC Filters for Air Flow

They capture 80%-90% of particles of 5 microns and above. But the price of a polyester fiber generally is five times more than a fiberglass or synthetic filter

Electrostatic AC filters

These use self charged fibers to capture pollutants out of air. You can buy disposable or washable AC filters depending on your requirements. Washable filters come with MERV ratings of 4 to 20, the most general being in the range of Merv 5-13

Pleated filters

A pleated filter will offer higher efficiency in capturing air particles of 0.3 micron in size, like bacteria and viruses. The are very efficient and they last longer than the fiberglass/synthetic ones. They remove more pollutants without compromising on the quality of air flow in your air conditioner system.

Is a higher MERV rating good for air quality & bad for air flow

A higher MERV rating indicates the ability of the air filter to capture the air pollutants. A higher Merv rating will mean more minute particles can be caught starting from household dust and pollen to bacteria and viruses. And it will also mean the flow of air through these air filters will get reduced. One should find his / her own requirements before deciding on the Merv rating.

If you are in a area where dust is your only concern, you can go for a lower Merv rated AC filter for air flow. If you have kids and are prone to any allergies, then you should go for an increased Merv rating for your AC filters. And if the concerns are about bacteria and viruses, you can go for Merv rating 11 and above to filter them out.

Does the air flow get restricted due to air filters

No, the air flow does not get restricted per se due to the air filters. But an increased Merv rating will result in reduced air flow into your air conditions system.

Are more expensive air filters better than the less expensive ones

Generally, this holds true.  And it is because of the ability of the expensive air filters to catch more types of pollutants that they are price higher. Your filtration need should be your guiding principle. If you are not in need of high filtration needs, the cheaper air filters should suffice. The expensive ones are to be used if you have children, allergies, pets in your home.

Is rating of Merv 11 and above very restrictive

Merv 11 is good for those with allergies and wanting to block out bacteria and viruses. If this is not your scenario, it can be restrictive on your air conditioner system.

Is Merv rating of 8 good enough

It works good for mold spores, pet dander, hair spray, dust mites, and other such contaminants. It will not work for bacteria, viruses, smoke, tobacco etc. It’s a kind of best of both worlds for most of the users.

When should you change a Merv 11 filter

An AC filter with Merv rating of 11 generally runs good for 6 months. However, you should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines on this aspect.

Conclusion

Procuring a good air filter is basic. Your efforts for better air quality in your home or office should not end here with the purchase of the best AC filter. You should clean the ducts, change or clean the filters regularly as the case may be, and maintain your air conditioner system. Else, things will quickly come back to where it started from. Mostly, you can save money by having washable filters. Ensure that the quality of the AC filter is good, always.

 

 

 

About the author

Megan

Megan is a passionate home innovator with 20+ years of experience in home improvement industry. She works as an assistant in a home improvement store in her city. Creating innovative home solutions is what keeps her active in her "me time".

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