The 10 Best AC Filters

Updated June 11, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. One of the easiest ways to save money on your energy bills and prolong the life of your furnace or AC unit is to keep them clean and free-flowing with regular filter changes. Made mostly of polyester, cotton, and metal media, our list includes options from the inexpensive to the hypoallergenic, capable of trapping pollen, dust, pet dander, and even bacteria and viruses. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best ac filter on Amazon.

10. AirX Dust

The AirX Dust is a great choice for most homeowners, because its low price makes up for its slightly shorter lifespan. As long as a fresh one is installed every two to three months, it performs on a par with many more expensive models.
  • made in the united states
  • doesn't remove viruses or bacteria
  • some sizes fit a bit loose
Brand AIRx Filters
Model DUST-162501-6
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Aerostar Pleated

The Aerostar Pleated comes in numerous sizes and rating levels, so if you have a hard time finding the right fit for your furnace, this might be the one for you. Its low-pressure design is reinforced with cross-pieces and wire mesh for added rigidity.
  • electrostatic material traps dust
  • meets any budget
  • cardboard frame feels a bit cheap
Brand Aerostar
Model 16x25x1 MERV 11
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Nordic Pure

The Nordic Pure is a low-cost, high-efficiency choice that delivers considerably clean air, as long as it's regularly replaced. It comes in a pack of six and is available in dozens of sizes, so there should be one to fit your needs.
  • synthetic material resists mold
  • traps most dust and dander
  • may limit airflow in older systems
Brand Nordic Pure
Model 20x20x1M12-6
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Water Filter Tree

This flexible pad from Water Filter Tree can be cut to any size, so it's suitable for almost any appliance. It's perfect for vents, furnaces, and anywhere else it would be helpful to have an additional line of defense against fumes and VOCs.
  • made with premium activated carbon
  • helps eliminate unpleasant odors
  • may drastically restrict airflow
Brand Water Filter Tree
Model CECOMINOD035486
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Lennox X6675

High-flow HVAC setups with powerful fans often require an advanced insert such as the Lennox X6675. This commercial-grade model boasts a top-of-the-line MERV 16 rating, perfect for mitigating serious respiratory sensitivities.
  • required by many newer systems
  • near the top of the price spectrum
  • may damage weaker blowers
Brand Lennox Healthy Climate
Model X6675
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Filtrete Elite

Though it's on the expensive side, the electrostatic Filtrete Elite features a remarkably high Microparticle Performance Rating of 2,200. This allows it to capture even the smallest particles, ensuring the cleanest possible air.
  • great for people with allergies
  • removes smoke and exhaust particles
  • can cause weaker fans to overheat
Brand Filtrete
Model EA00-6PK-2E
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

4. Filtrete Odor Reduction

3M's Filtrete Odor Reduction line integrates activated charcoal into the standard pleated design, which eliminates smells and volatile organic compounds from the indoor environment, while maintaining a functional and generally safe pressure drop.
  • increases both safety and comfort
  • ideal for homes with pets
  • very affordable for a carbon filter
Brand Filtrete
Model AOR00-6PK-2E
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Healthy Living Ultra

The Healthy Living Ultra is a fantastic option for anyone who needs powerful filtration to combat pet dander and bacteria, and its moderate, 15-percent pressure drop won't majorly reduce airflow, protecting many blower motors from overheating.
  • helps fight pollen and pathogens
  • smart-sensor model also available
  • worth the above-average cost
Brand Filtrete
Model UR00-6PK-2E
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. MaxMerv 9

The reusable MaxMerv 9 is a popular way to increase airflow, as well as eliminate the continuing need for replacements. Its electrostatic action removes extra-fine particulate, resulting in a higher efficiency rating than most other permanent options.
  • easily washed with just water
  • a rustproof aluminum frame
  • filters debris as small as 1 micron
Brand CAS
Model CAS
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Filtrete Ultrafine

Those living in areas with poor air quality, or with significant allergies, should consider the Filtrete Ultrafine. This nearly hospital-grade model traps much smaller contaminants than most, though you will pay a premium for such high performance.
  • exceptional merv rating of 14
  • manufactured by industry giant 3m
  • removes airborne pathogens
Brand Filtrete
Model UF22-2PK-6E
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

The Dangers Of Indoor Air Pollution

It may come as something of a surprise to many to learn that often the air inside your home is much more polluted than the air outside. This can be true even if you live in a crowded city or in an industrial area. Without proper ventilation, circulation, and purification, indoor air can be quite unclean and even unhealthy to breathe.

Indoor air quality, commonly abbreviated as IAQ, is a concern for all of us, but it is a matter of significant importance for the estimated 40 million Americans afflicted with allergies. Indoor air quality is also an issue of heightened sensitivity for the elderly, the very young, or anyone with an immune system compromised by an illness or condition. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 4.3 million people around the world pass away prematurely from exposure to household pollution. It's not a matter to be taken breezily.

The most common indoor air pollutants include microbial contaminants like bacterias and molds, smoke either from tobacco use or from cooking, radon, pet dander, and pollen blown in from the outdoors. It's important to be proactive in both preventing and mitigating indoor pollution problems.

This can be accomplished by regularly cleaning carpets and upholstery that can hold many contaminants easily stirred up into the air. It involves proper ventilation during cooking. When possible, smoking should be avoided indoors (or all together) and any use of flame, as in a fireplace or wood burning stove, must see smoke sent up a chimney and away from living areas.

Ventilation is important, with exposure to fresh outdoor air ideal if you live in a region with clean air. Regardless, indoor air should be circulated and also filtered. If your home has an air conditioning system, it's imperative that you regularly clean and/or replace the AC filters. A clean filter is there difference between you and your family breathing clean air or breathing dirty air that just happens to be a bit cooler.

Choosing The Right AC Filter

When considering the right filter for your home's or business's air conditioning system, first decide whether you want to use disposable or washable air filters. There are, as is to be expected, benefits and drawbacks to both options.

A disposable air filter tends to provide the best possible quality of air flow and filtration when it is first installed. Being brand new and in factory perfect shape, it will permit high volumes of air to pass with ease, meaning minimal strain on your HVAC system and great output from the vents. A brand new disposable filter also catches even the finest particles of mold, dander, pollen, and more. But many disposable filters tend to become laden with contaminants rather quickly. As a filter loads up with the matter it was designed to catch, airflow becomes less and less efficient, and eventually the air passing through the filter can be dirtied by exposure to the build up there. At this point, the filter must be discarded.

Washable air filters will only provide the same high level of air filtration as a brand new disposable air filter at the first use. Thereafter, it will work well each time it is cleaned and put back in place, but it won't provide quite the same level of filtering quality. But a reusable filter can be rinsed off as often as you would like, thus achieving its relatively pristine state over and over. If you are willing to spend the few minutes to wash your reusable air filter regularly, you will enjoy the cleanest indoor air in this manner. Just make sure you follow the cleaning instructions that accompanied your reusable filter carefully so you preserve its proper function, and make sure to replace these reusable units at least annually.

Proper AC Filter Use And Maintenance

It's imperative that you select air filter that fits your air return intake area perfectly. All HVAC systems installed in the past several decades should have one of a handful of opening sizes; take careful measurements and then determine the size of the opening. (It will likely be approximately 20 inches by 30 inches in an average sized residence, for reference.) A filter that does not fit snugly will allow air to pass by it freely, thus defeating the purpose of filtration in the first place.

Most filters are designed with an intended airflow direction, and make sure to install the filter properly so it can perform properly. In most homes, replacing the air filter every two to three months is adequate, but take the time to visually inspect your air filter regularly until you have established your own residential (or business) needs.

Also take into consideration two differing schools of thought. The first approach to air filter use is to choose a top quality filter that costs more but will last longer, performing well for the duration of its use. The other approach is to opt for cheaper filters and replace them more regularly. This second approach is often the better move for homes with multiple pets, because even a high quality filter that catches all sorts of minute particulate pollution can't do its job well when it is loaded up with hair or fur.

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Last updated on June 11, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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