Common Types of Air Filters for HVAC Systems

HVAC systems imageHVAC system stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These systems are installed in homes to help provide these functions without the need for separate units. Many new homes come with HVAC systems to provide families a comfortable living space, and commercial spaces need protective air filtration systems. One important thing to know about these systems is what kind of air filters they use, in the instance that you or a maintenance worker needs to fix it.

There are not that many types of air filters, with a few common ones that are most likely seen in any HVAC system in residential and commercial buildings. According to, the need for reliable air filters is of utmost importance for those job sites/commercial buildings. Commercial air filters have higher MERV rating, meaning they are much more capable of preventing harmful pollutants, which is something to look for in any air filter.

This list will provide you the information on these common filter types for your home or business HVAC needs.

Washable/reusable air filters

The ability to reuse an air filter should speak for itself. When dealing with HVAC maintenance, you would like to have something that can be reused. These filters are washable, which obviously allows you to keep using them with the proper care. It is important to note that these filters can cost more initially, but do save you money or time in the long run.

While they are washable/reusable, you do need to pay attention to their condition before placing them back into your HVAC system, because mold or mildew can grow if they are not completely dry before re-installation.

Pleated filters

With a higher MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting value) than some of the other options, pleated filters offer a great amount of filtering ability. The best thing to look for in a pleated filter is a higher MERV rating, which should be upwards of 5 – 13, and the amount of pleats it has. These pleats increase the surface area of filtration, meaning it can trap big spores and things like pet dander, among others.

UV filters

UV (ultraviolet) filters are good at reducing tiny sized particles that can impact your home. Microorganisms like bacteria float around the air inside your home, and these filters use UV light to reduce that concern.

UV filters are good at reducing these micro particles, but that means that they are unlikely to help your home when it comes to bigger pollutants that impacts respiratory health. Dust particles and hair do not get effectively filtered by this product, so it really depends on how comfortable you feel knowing your home and HVAC system are safe from dust.

HEPA filters

One of the highest filtration efficiency filters, the HEPA filter helps stop some of the smallest particles from entering your home. The filtration system has a very high MERV rating, meaning it can stop small particles such as smoke and bacteria, meaning it is very useful for those that need very clean air. Airborne particles vary in size as large pet dander is trapped by most filters, and bacteria size microns can slip through others.

Even though HEPA filters are very good at trapping or stopping miniscule sized particles, they are also more expensive and require significant maintenance. Installing these filters for your HVAC system should be done by trained contractors or specialists.

HVAC systems image for articleFiberglass filters

Fiberglass filters are cheaper, disposable, but with those benefits comes with some drawbacks. These filters are not the greatest at filter power because they are significantly cheaper. While they are useful, and you should not write them off, it is assumed that you will be replacing them often.

Lower MERV ratings mean that this filter option is good for a home HVAC systems life span because it is used to protect the unit itself, but not necessarily reduce a significant amount of pollutants in the home. By no means are these filters bad, they are still very useful for the lifespan of your HVAC system, and that is a major bonus in keeping it operational for a long period of time instead of relying on constant maintenance.

Electrostatic filters

Electrostatic charge can be used to remove dust particles from the air. These filters utilize that method by drawing the particles in and trapping them, which prevents it from distributing into or around the home. They come in different types that can be reusable, so that is something to consider when looking for electrostatic filters.

Now that you have some knowledge on the common types of air filters for an HVAC system, you can determine which one might be right for you and your home. They come in a wide range of styles, costs, uses (and reuses) that are bound to make sense for your home. Using these air filters is important in keeping your home clean, and your family healthy for years to come.