Air Filter Media: Choosing the Best for Improved Indoor Air Quality Areej Cheema July 31, 2023

Air Filter Media: Choosing the Best for Improved Indoor Air Quality

One way to improve indoor air quality is by using air filters, which trap airborne particles and pollutants. However, not all air filters are created equal. Air filter media, the material used in air filters to capture particles, can vary widely in terms of effectiveness, lifespan, and cost. This blog will explore the different types of air filter media available, including pleated and non-pleated filters, fibreglass, paper, and carbon filters. We’ll also discuss the efficiency ratings used to measure air filter effectiveness and the benefits of using high-quality air filter media. When choosing air filter media, it’s important to consider factors such as compatibility with your HVAC system, specific air quality concerns, and maintenance requirements. 

By understanding the different types of air filter media available and the factors to consider when choosing them, you can make an informed decision and choose the air filter media that best meets your indoor air quality needs.

Types of Air Filter Media

Air filter media is a material used in air filters to trap and remove harmful particles and allergens from the air. The effectiveness of an air filter depends mainly on the type and quality of the filter media used and the type of material being filtered. Some common types of air filter media are:

Pleated Air Filters

Pleated air filters are made from polyester or cotton and have a longer lifespan than non-pleated filters due to their increased surface area. They can effectively trap particles such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, making them suitable for residential and commercial settings with high traffic or high air quality needs. Higher MERV-rated filters can capture smaller particles, such as bacteria and smoke. However, they are typically more expensive than non-pleated filters.

Non-Pleated Air Filters

Non-pleated air filters are generally made from materials such as fibreglass or polyester and have a shorter lifespan than pleated air filters. However, they are effective at trapping large particles such as dust and debris, making them ideal for residential settings and protecting HVAC equipment from large particles. They are generally less expensive than pleated air filters but offer lower effectiveness and longevity.

Fibreglass Air Filters

Fibreglass air filters are made from spun glass fibres and are the most economical choice. They typically last for about 30 days before requiring replacement and are less effective at trapping small particles. They are most suitable for residential settings with moderate air quality needs.

Paper Air Filters

Paper air filters are made from pleated paper material and are effective at trapping larger particles, such as dust and pollen, but less effective at capturing smaller particles, such as bacteria and smoke. They typically last for about three months before requiring replacement and are suitable for residential settings with moderate air quality needs. They are generally less expensive than pleated air filters due to their lower MERV rating.

Carbon Air Filters

Carbon air filters are made with activated carbon and are most effective at removing odours and certain chemicals from the air. They typically last for about three months before requiring replacement and are suitable for commercial settings, such as hospitals and laboratories, where odour and chemical removal is a priority. However, they are generally more expensive than other air filter media due to their specialized use and effectiveness.

Efficiency Ratings for Air Filter Media 

When choosing an air filter media, it’s important to consider its efficiency rating. The most common efficiency rating systems used are:

  • MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value)
  • CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate)
MERV Rating 

The efficiency rating refers to the ability of an air filter to trap and remove airborne particles of different sizes. The most common rating system used for air filters is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), which rates filters on a scale of 1-20 based on their ability to remove particles from the air. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective the filter removes smaller particles.

It’s important to note that while higher MERV-rated filters are more effective at removing smaller particles, they may also restrict airflow more than lower-rated filters. This can cause issues with HVAC system performance and increased energy usage. For this reason, it’s important to consult with an HVAC professional to determine the most appropriate MERV rating for your indoor air quality needs and to ensure that your system can handle the increased airflow resistance that comes with higher MERV-rated filters.

CADR

The CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) is a rating system that measures the amount of clean air delivered by an air purifier or air filter. It is a standardized rating system recognized by the American Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and is used to compare the performance of air purifiers and air filters from different manufacturers. The higher the CADR rating, the more effective the filter will remove particles from the air.

The CADR rating is calculated based on three categories of particulate matter: smoke, pollen, and dust. Each category is assigned a numerical value, and the overall CADR rating is the sum of the three values.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Air Filter Media
HVAC Compatibility 

The first factor to consider when choosing air filter media is compatibility with your HVAC system. Different types of air filters may be designed for specific types of HVAC systems, so it’s important to choose a filter that is compatible with your system. Some filters may also require modifications to your HVAC system, so it’s essential to consult with a professional before making any changes.

Air Quality Concerns

Another factor to consider when choosing air filter media is any specific air quality concerns you may have. For example, if you live in an area with high levels of outdoor pollution, choose an air filter designed to capture smaller particles, such as those found in smoke and exhaust fumes. On the other hand, if you have pets or allergies, you may want to choose an air filter designed to capture pet dander and other allergens.

Maintenance Requirements 

Finally, it’s important to consider the maintenance requirements of different types of air filter media. Some filters may need to be replaced more frequently than others, and some may require more intensive cleaning or maintenance. It’s important to choose a filter that you can realistically maintain, as neglecting filter maintenance can lead to reduced effectiveness and increased wear and tear on your HVAC system.

Benefits of High-Quality Air Filter Media

Using high-quality air filter media offers numerous benefits for indoor air quality and overall health. One of the primary benefits is that these filters are more effective at removing airborne particles, such as dust, allergens, and pollutants, from the air. This can significantly reduce indoor air pollution, which is especially important for individuals with allergies or respiratory conditions.

Improved indoor air quality can also have a positive impact on productivity. Studies have shown that indoor air quality can have a significant effect on cognitive function, with poor air quality leading to decreased productivity, reduced concentration, and increased absenteeism. By removing airborne particles and pollutants from the air, high-quality air filter media can help to create a healthier indoor environment that promotes better cognitive function and increased productivity. This is especially important in workspaces, where employees may spend a significant portion of their day indoors.

In addition to health benefits, high-quality air filter media can also be more cost-effective in the long run. While they may initially cost more, their increased efficiency and longer lifespan can result in lower maintenance costs and energy bills over time. Additionally, by improving indoor air quality and reducing the need for frequent cleaning and maintenance, these filters can save homeowners both time and money.

Choosing the right air filter media is crucial for improving indoor air quality. We hope this comprehensive guide has helped you understand the different types of air filter media available, their efficiency ratings, and what to consider when choosing one for your home. Remember, always choose high-quality air filter media for the best results.