Trying to select the right air filter for your Orlando home can be a daunting experience. Which brand is best? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a couple of the questions that make selecting home air filters so 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 determine how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Set the filter horizontally, then taking common table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter and see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you can assume that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You really should upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.
Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home.
1) Filter Size
Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Orlando home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, 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
Filter efficiencies are given a number from 1-16 called the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
To help explain the scale of this system, these are some common MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to read the filter manufacturers’ information when buying 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 offer better filtration efficiency, it is very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also require more to operate your HVAC system. The higher the MERV, the more restricted the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your aim is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Consider 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 Orlando 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 subject to the advice of your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning representative to ensure your system has the capability of moving the suitable amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family deals with allergies or respiratory problems and needs a high MERV 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. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Orlando area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!