If you’ve been reading any of our other articles about taking care of your HVAC, you probably already have some idea of how important filters are. Changing the air filters in your system on a regular basis comes with many benefits and can help prevent costly and inconvenient problems. However, what many homeowners do not understand is that there are several distinct kinds of filter they can purchase for their home air conditioners. Understanding which home air conditioner filter is right for your property and HVAC can allow you to optimize your system’s performance and ultimately enjoy better cooling capabilities at the lowest possible long-term cost.
Below, we’ll break down the different types of home air conditioner filter that you might be able to buy in your area, and discuss their respective pros and cons. By the time you’ve finished reading, you should have a thorough understanding of precisely what you need and know who to contact to help you acquire it.
Different Types of Home Air Conditioner Filter: An Overview
There are three common kinds of home air conditioner filter you will probably have to choose from when you go shopping: mechanical, pleated, and electronic. Each of these varieties may outperform the others in specific circumstances, or when held to particular criteria. As such, it’s important to consider your home and your needs carefully when deciding on which kind of air conditioner filter to buy for your system.
Mechanical: mechanical air filters are by far the most common kind, so there’s a good chance that you already use them at home. They trap dust and debris using small synthetic fibers (generally made from fiberglass) that are woven across the aperture of each filter in a kind of mesh. Almost all disposable filters fall into this category since they are the simplest and the cheapest to produce. While most of these filters are perfectly suitable for use in home air conditioning systems, they have certain qualities that may present drawbacks under specific conditions. For example, the mesh responsible for filtering out unwanted particles can easily be damaged if the filter is handled (especially when someone attempts to clean one). For that reason, it is recommended that you do not attempt to use disposable filters more than once. Buy new ones and remember to change them at the end of each month when you are running your air conditioner. If you’re looking for a convenient type of filter that you can purchase almost anywhere, then this is a perfectly reasonable choice.
- Pleated: the first thing you should know about pleated air conditioner filters is that they’re more expensive than their disposable fiberglass competition—in fact, they tend to cost at least twice as much. What do you get for the extra money? Well, for one thing, you’ll only have to change these filters every 90 days or so. As such, the longevity of using pleated air filters almost always offsets the cost of purchasing them. Pleated filters are also more durable than disposable fiberglass filters since they are usually built with a wire backing that protects the synthetic fibers used to capture particles. They can even catch a broader range of unwanted materials, including pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and bacteria. They may even be able to prevent mold. Pleated filters are a reliable choice for healthy homeowners who wish to protect their homes from a wide variety of potential contaminants.
- Electrostatic: these filters are far and away the most expensive kind you can purchase, but they’re also the most effective kind for filtering out debris that might pass through other filters. As with pleated filters, they only need to be changed every three months or so (although they should still be cleaned monthly while in use, as this can extend their lifespan to six months). They function by using electricity to attract smaller particles than other filters can capture—such as tobacco smoke. If someone in your home has sensitive lungs or suffers from asthma, it may be worth investing in an electrostatic filter to make sure they can keep breathing easy.
Learning More about Which Home Air Conditioner Filter will be Right for You
There may be additional factors to consider depending on where you live and the type of home you own, so it is always best to consult with professionals who will be able to give you more in-depth advice. Reach out to a licensed HVAC contractor at your first available opportunity and speak with an experienced technician who will be able to tell you more about the options available to you. Use this guide as a starting point and find your way to a filter that will help you maintain an efficient air conditioner in the months to come.