Updated May 31, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

The 10 Best AC Filters

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in October of 2015. 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 recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best ac filter on Amazon.

10. AirX Dust

9. Aerostar Pleated

8. Nordic Pure

7. Water Filter Tree

6. Lennox X6675

5. Filtrete Elite

4. Filtrete Odor Reduction

3. Healthy Living Ultra

2. MaxMerv 9

1. Filtrete Ultrafine

The Dangers Of Indoor Air Pollution

This can be true even if you live in a crowded city or in an industrial area.

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 brand new disposable filter also catches even the finest particles of mold, dander, pollen, and more.

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.

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.

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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Christopher Thomas
Last updated on May 31, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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