What Kind of Air Filter Should I Buy?
Ask three different HVAC Service Technicians what type of air filter you should buy for your home air conditioner and you’ll usually get three different answers. There’s a reason for that and you’ll know why after reading this page.
Magic Touch Mechanical installs electronic air cleaners, HEPA air filters, and other indoor air quality products throughout the Greater Phoenix, AZ Metro area and surrounding cities.
First let’s examine the three answers you will get. These examples all assume none of the technicians asked tested the ductwork airflow or static pressure.
- Tech 1:You should use a disposable throw away air filter. – This service technician is considering airflow and keeping the ductworks “static pressure” to a minimum. We will cover static pressure in a moment. He’s giving no consideration to air quality.
- Tech 2:You should use a pleated air filter like the ones made by 3M. – This service technician is considering partially sacrificing airflow and partially sacrificing air quality – the “middle-of-the-road” approach.
- Tech 3:You should use a hospital-grade air filtration system with a high MERV rating. This technician is considering only indoor air quality and not airflow.
So which one is correct? The surprising answer is they’re all right, and they’re all wrong!
What Type of Air Filter Should You Buy for your Air Conditioner?
The correct answer is; using an air filter with a high MERV rating is best for having good indoor air quality and protecting your family’s health and lungs. BUT, your homes air ducts have to be up to the task! The only way to determine that is to test the ductwork air flow and static pressure.
Disposable filters are meant designed to protect your equipment, not your lungs.
HEPA filters and Electronic Air Cleaners are meant to protect your lungs and clean the air.
What is ductwork static pressure?
The easiest analogy to understand the static pressure of air ducts, is to compare it to blood pressure. If our blood pressure gets too high we risk suffering a heart attack or stroke. By comparison, if an air conditioning system has high static pressure, you risk compressor failure, blower motor failure, and poor performance.
Just as there is an easy way to test your blood pressure, there is an equally easy way to test your ductworks static pressure. Ductwork that is too small, incorrectly designed, or incorrectly installed will typically have high static pressure.
Unfortunately, many HVAC Technicians and Installers don’t understand or completely disregard static pressure. A study conducted by the North Carolina Alternative Energy Corporation concluded that 40% of all new duct systems lacked proper airflow. The study further showed 20% of the systems tested were critically deficient.
How Do I Get the Right Air Filter for my Air Conditioner?
We recommend starting with airflow, duct leakage, and static pressure tests. These tests should be included with a comprehensive home energy audit. If you live within 35-miles of Mesa, AZ., you can schedule this testing with Magic Touch Mechanical.
If you live outside of the Phoenix, Arizona area, we recommend finding a BPI Certified Energy Auditor in your area and asking if these tests are included with an energy audit. Your auditor should explore your reasons for wanting to improve your homes air quality to determine what type of air filter is best for both you and your HVAC system.
We Recommend the Lennox HC16 & Lennox PureAir Air Filters
For the last few years, two of the most highly rated air filters by consumer reporting agencies and the American Lung Association are made by Lennox International.
The Lennox HC16 aka Healthy Climate 16 lasts about 1-year in most homes and has a very high MERV 16 rating.
The Lennox PureAir utilizes the same filter as the HC16, but also includes air purification via UV light technology.
You do not need to have a Lennox air conditioning and heating system to use one of these air filters. Installation costs differ based on the application so it’s best to have your application inspected by a professional to determine what it will take to install one in your home.