Trying to select the right air filter for your West Palm Beach home can be a daunting experience. What does my system require? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just two of many of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s an easy way to tell how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Position the filter horizontally, then taking everyday table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter then see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust that same size flow through. You might want to upgrade your filter to higher quality filter that is more efficient.
Home air filter selection depends primarily on three factors: Size, material and MERV rating.
1) Filter Size
Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a numerous standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
To help explain the scale of this system, these are some common MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure 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 ensure better filtration efficiency, it is very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you 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 objective should be 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 West Palm Beach home. That's all-out air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
Your best bet 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 confirm your system has the capability of moving the proper volume 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 has 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. Initially, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. West Palm Beach area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!