Best HVAC Filters for Your Home Air Flow and Efficiency

Best HVAC Filters for Your Home Air Flow and Efficiency

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Pollutants, allergens, and microbes tend to plague the air surrounding us and will put some people at constant risk of sickness, respiratory problems, and hypersensitive. The best HVAC filters neutralize and trap the airborne particles to keep them safe and improve air quality.

Air filters will prevent furnace and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems from damage caused by particles that block air circulation. Unfortunately, buying the wrong filter is not only costly but also unsafe.

To help you find the right HVAC filter, we have created this informative buying guide which includes the five best air filters and the features you should consider when choosing the best air filters.

Why Do You Need an HVAC Filter?

Replacing any air filter regularly is recommended because it is the cheapest way to save on maintenance costs and energy. The main cause of a damaged HVAC system is clogging caused by pollutants. When the trapped particles accumulate on the ducts and tubes, air movement is restricted.

This buildup strains your cooling and heating systems since they struggle to push air through and will lead to high energy costs. This will, in turn, cause a complete shutdown or a malfunction of one of the parts.

The build-up can also increase your exposure to diseases, infections, and allergies. This is why changing your air filter on the HVAC system is an expensive and easy way to keep all the residents in your home healthy.

1. Filtrete BD26-6PK-2E, AC Furnace Air Filter

Filtrete BD26-6PK-2E , AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300,...
  • Outperforms fiberglass, washable and non-electrostatic 3-month...
  • Exclusive Filtrete Brand 3-in-1 technology from 3M traps unwanted...
  • Attracts and captures large particles such as lint, household...
  • Filtrete 300 MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) equates to...
  • For optimum performance, change your home air filter every 90...

The Filtrete BD26-6PK-2E, AC Furnace Air Filter is one of the best furnace filters that boasts a three-in-one technology that is designed to trap lint, dust mite debris, dust mites, mold spores, and dust for better airflow.

These filters are made from polypropylene and residential use. They have a pleated design to offer a large surface area in trapping particles in providing better airflow. It is created using 85 percent air and 15 percent microscopic fiber.

Its design involves using an electrostatic charge to attract airborne particles, making it one of the best HVAC filters. This technology allows them to perform better and can be used in an air conditioner, HVAC system, and furnace. In addition, it can last for about three months before requiring replacement.


  • 3-in-1 technology to unwanted air particles
  • Ideal for high-velocity equipment
  • Unique design for effective performance
  • Affordable
  • Good quality
  • Large surface area


  • Cheap feel

2. AIRx ALLERGY 20x20x1 11 Pleated Air Filter

AIRx ALLERGY 20x20x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter - Made...
  • Made in U.S.A. – Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
  • Compare to 3M Filtrete Micro Particle MPR800 and Filtrete...

The AIRx ALLERGY 20x20x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter is a pleated and disposable filter that is designed to provide extra density that helps trap the airborne allergens that trigger allergy symptoms like pet dander, pollen, dust, and smoke.

This air filter comes in several sizes that are one inch thick that fits most HVAC filters and comes with size filters in every pack that makes it easy to replace them when required. This MERV 11 filter features a high pleat count to prevent allergens from circulating in your home.

To get the best and clean air results, it is recommended to use this filter with other allergen-reducing measures like an air purifier and HEPA filter to keep the allergens at bay.


  • Great MERV rating
  • Quality materials and components
  • Improved air quality
  • Optimal efficiency
  • Easy to install;


  • Produces an annoying whistle sound

3. Filtrete 12x12x1, Smart Replenishable AC Furnace Air Filter

Filtrete 12x12x1, Smart Replenishable AC Furnace Air...
  • The first-ever Bluetooth-enabled HVAC air filters for your home....
  • Filtrete Smart Air filters detect changes in air pressure and use...
  • Enabled with Amazon Dash Replacement to make filter replacement...
  • See outdoor air quality information for multiple locations
  • Access information reminding you of your specific filter type and...

The Filtrete 12x12x1, Smart Replenishable AC Furnace Air Filter boasts Bluetooth technology to help monitor the use. It is available in different sizes, and it is a top choice when it comes to an HVAC replacement filter.

It features a proprietary algorithm that helps track the usage of the filter by detecting the airflow. This means that users can worry less when it comes to changing the filter at the correct time. In addition, it is a 1-inch thick filter that is narrow enough to fit most HVAC systems.

As one of the best air filters in the market today, the high-efficiency MERV-12 rating is a great choice for many homeowners, especially those who are hoping to trap as much dust as possible. It uses a 3-in-1 technology to trap pollen, dust, pet dander, lint, mold, and soot.


  • Detects changes in air pressure
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Filtrete smart app available
  • Cleaner and fresher air
  • Captures microscopic particles


  • Poor quality control

4. Aerostar 16x25x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter

Aerostar 16x25x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter, AC Furnace...
  • Nominal size: 16x25x1; Actual size 15 3/4"x 24 3/4" x 3/4"; This...
  • Designed to filter microscopic particles such as lint, dust...
  • Simple to install and a cost-effective step towards a healthier...
  • 100% synthetic electrostatic media for high efficiency with low...
  • Manufactured in the USA by Filtration Group, a world-leading...

If you have pets in your home, the Aerostar 16x25x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter is a disposable and pleated air filter that helps block a good number of airborne particles like pet dander and pet fur.

It attracts and traps particles without creating a low airflow resistance. This high efficiency and electrostatic filter come in a wide range of thicknesses and sizes making it a great choice for different HVACs and return.

However, it is always recommended to change the filter after two to three months in the spring and fall months and monthly when during heavy HVAC system use, for example, during winter seasons.


  • Easy to install
  • Cost-effective
  • Improved air quality
  • Low airflow resistance
  • Can filter microscopic particles
  • Good quality


  • The filters may sometimes come undersized

5. Nordic Pure 16x16x1 MERV 12 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filters 6 Pack

Nordic Pure 16x16x1 MERV 12 Pleated AC Furnace Air...
  • Nominal Size: 16 x 16 x 1, Actual Size: 15 3/4 x 15 3/4 x 3/4...
  • Nordic Pure MERV 12 and FPR 9 is equivalent to MPR 1500-1900,...
  • MERV 12 media is ideal for high efficiency air filtration and...
  • Lasts up to 3 months, depending on your unique home or office...
  • Made in the USA

The Nordic Pure 16x16x1 MERV 12 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filters 6 Pack blocks a great amount of dust and other airborne pollutants that could end up circulating in your home. These filters are hypoallergenic and come with electrostatic fibers that help attract pollutants.

These disposable pleated filters will also help resist mildew and mold growth and help keep the unwanted pollen, lint, dust, and pet dander from circulating in the air. In a typical office or home environment, these filters need to be replaced after every three months.

The Nordic Pure MERV 12 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filters are 1 inch thick and are available in a wide range of filter rangings and sizes. It comes with a MERV-12 rating which is a high filter rating helping it collect the common air pollutants.


  • High-efficiency air filtration
  • Great for normal filtration and those with mild allergies
  • It can last up to three months
  • Helps to filter pet dander
  • Filters out the odors


  • Inconsistent and loud

Types of HVAC and Furnace Filters

1. Disposable filters

These air filters are an inexpensive option; however, they may require changing once a month. Also known as a reusable air filter, the disposable filter can have a MERV rating of up to 16, which is good enough to collect even fine particles.

2. Pre-filters

All premium air filters need to have a pre-filter, which captures particles that are bigger than 5 microns. This means that the main will be able to focus on trapping the finer particles without causing any buildup, increasing the lifespan of the air conditioner filters.

3. Fiberglass

The fiberglass filters are cheap filters but come with a very low MERV rating of 4, or sometimes below. They feature flat and thin surfaces which can remove up to 25% of pollutants in the 3 to 10-micron range.

However, in terms of capturing the small particles, which are the majority of harmful pollutants, these filters are not efficient. This makes these filters not the best for indoor air quality improvement.

4. Pleated

This is a popular type of HVAC filter and is made from cotton or polyester. Its pleated design gives a bigger surface for entrapment and air filtration of airborne particles. When it comes to capturing respirable particles, pleated filters are more efficient than non-pleated ones. However, an increased capacity of pollutants can lead to a fast buildup of debris, and this means frequent replacement is required.

5. HEPA Filter

The HEPA filter boasts the ability to trap small particles of up to 0.3-micron particles. More and more household owners are adopting these filters because of their protection and efficiency when it comes to a wide range of contaminants. This makes these filters ideal for those people who are prone to allergies.

6. Activated Carbon

These filters can be in combination with HEPA filters to trap the impurities and allergies. They are well known for their impressive absorbent properties that eliminate chemicals, odor, smoke, as well gaseous pollutants. Pet owners and smokers will find this air filter quite convenient.

7. Washable

Although some people might wince at the thought of recycling air filers, these are a convenient, economical, and eco-friendly way to improve that airflow. However, they may need some effort when it comes to cleaning, installing, and removing and can also be more expensive.

8. Electrostatic

Electrostatic filters work with electromagnetism, where they attract floating particles in the air like bacteria and dust and pulling them towards the metal in the air filters. The harmful particles will stick to the metal; however, it should be regularly checked if it needs to be cleaned.

9. Ultraviolet (UV)

This type uses UV light to kill the mold spores and is a great choice for people who have respiratory problems. In addition, research has shown that UV lights help reduce fungal contamination in air filters.

What Do You Consider Before Buying the Best HVAC Filters?

1. Size and Thickness

HVAC filters come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. The filter thickness may vary from one to five inches. Ideally, the thicker the filter, the more particle blocking abilities the filter has.

When choosing an HVAC or furnace filter, you will need to check the manual because not all HVACs will accept a thick product. Additionally, as the filter becomes thicker, it means that the HVAC filter will need to work harder to pull air, thereby reducing its efficiency and durability.

2. MERV rating

HVAC filters feature a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) depending on their density. The MERV ratings range from 1 to 16, where the higher rating means greater effectiveness and finer filtration against different particles.

  • 1 to 4: These air filters can capture large particles of 10 microns and larger. However, since most airborne particles are small, they cannot improve indoor air quality.
  • 5 to 8: These filters are a bit decent in capturing the common-sized qualities of 3 to 10 microns like dust mite, pet dander, mold spores.
  • 9 to 12: These filters can effectively remove particles of 1 to 3 microns, including dust, pollen, smoke, etc.
  • 13 to 16: These air filters have the highest MERV ratings, which provide ultimate protection from contaminants, flu viruses, and bacteria that are as tiny as 0.03 to 1 micron.

3. MRP Rating

MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) measures the effectiveness and efficiency of the filter-out particles which are smaller than one micron. A higher value in the best HVAC filters may show improved performance; however, an extremely high MPR may lower the efficiency of the system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on HVAC Filters

1. How often should you change your air filter?

It is advisable to change your filter every two to three months. However, the exact replacement timeline will depend on the type of filter, health status, usage, and the number of household residents. Households with many people and pets may need to change their air filters frequently to handle the dander and dirt that comes from the increased movement.

2. Are thicker filters better than thinner ones?

Yes, but not always. Thick air filters are denser and tend to block more particles and dust but may make the HVAC system work harder to draw the air in. Use only the thickness and the type recommended by the HVAC manufacturer.

3. Do higher MERV filters restrict airflow?

While MERV ratings come in handy to improve the air quality, some of the best air filters with a high MERV rating will provide a high resistance which will mean less airflow.

4. What is the best MERV rating for AC filters?

The best MERV rating and the best HVAC filters vary from one person depending on a number of factors, including the individuals in a household, the size of the home, as well as other important factors. However, the recommended rating for HVAC filters is something above five and something above 9 if you're looking for a more efficient one.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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