When was the last time you changed your home’s air filters? Most pros recommend changing HVAC filters at least every three months. But you might want to do so about once per month if you have allergies.
And while the frequency of changing your furnace filters matters, so does the quality of the filter itself.
Quality air filters eliminate allergens like dust, dirt, pet dander and mold from the air. And upgrading the filters in your home might keep your sneezing in check. However, it’s important to do your research before committing to a product.
When looking at potential air filters, one of the most important details to check is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), which represents the overall effectiveness of the filter on a scale of one to 16. Most household filters have a MERV between one and 13.
You should also check the micro-particle performing rating (MPR), which can range from 300 to 1,900 in most households. A filter with a higher MPR will capture more particles like dust and dander.
You might assume that the obvious choice is to pick up the option with the most protection. Instead, you should think about what needs you actually have. A higher MERV-rated filter traps more particles, which can potentially inhibit the airflow and performance of your system. This will also mean you might have to change the filter more often.
Now that you know the technical specs to look for, here are some of the best furnace air filters to consider for your home.
1. 3M Filtrete AC Furnace Filter
This disposable air filter has a 300 MPRS and MERV 5, which filters out particles without restricting airflow. You can select between two sizes to fit your furnace or air conditioning unit. The electrostatic filter material traps dirt, smoke, dust and pet dander, preventing these particles from circulating in your home. After buying, you can join the Filtrete 365 Program and receive reminders to change the filter every 90 days.
Pros: You receive six filters with your purchase, so the pack may last over a year. The filter is easy to install.
Con: The filter might not fit every system perfectly. This product isn’t reusable.
2. Nordic Pure Pleated Furnace Filter
This filter includes a antimicrobial and hypoallergenic electrostatic material. You can select from several MERV ratings, as the filter is available up to MERV 13. At MERV 12, the filter can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns. The frame is easy to install and made of recycled beverage board paper. For optimal filtration, be sure to change the filter every 30 to 90 days.
Pros: The high MERV is great for keeping your air clean. You can purchase up to 12 filters in one pack.
Cons: The higher MERV can cause restricted air flow, especially in lower power units.
3. FilterBuy Pleated Air Filter
FilterBuy’s produce is compatible with both furnaces and air conditioning units. The MERV 8 technology traps 90% of particles, while keeping air flow steady. This product is made of beverage board, which can withstand temperatures up to 200 degree Fahrenheit and high humidity. You will need to change this filter about every three months. The product is available in a wide variety of sizes, which are rounded to the nearest inch.
Pros: These filters keep air flowing smoothly. You can select three-month auto delivery when buying.
Cons: The filter sizes run small. A poor fit might cause a rattling sound.
4. Honeywell Media Air Filter (MERV 11)
This product includes a cardboard frame and polypropylene filter. The electrostatic fibers capture most household particles without restricting air flow. This filter is 16 x 25 x 4 inches, so check the measurements of your unit before purchasing. In normal household conditions, this product can last up to a year.
Pros: MERV 11 filters are a solid option for most homes.
Cons: The cardboard frame isn’t the most durable. This can cause it to become damaged during shipping.
5. AIRx ALLERGY Pleated Air Filter Box of 6
The word “Allergy” is printed right on the packaging, which is why it’s no surprise that this is a good option for trapping mold, pollen, dust mites and other common allergens that you might encounter. It features MERV 11 protection, effectively trapping particles as small as to 1.0 to 3.0 microns. It’s available in almost a dozen sizes to fit your needs, and six filters are included with each order.
Pros: Value pack of six filters. MERV 11 filtration. Made in US.
Cons: Since these higher MERV-rated filters trap more particles, they’ll likely need to be changed more often.
6. Aerostar Home Max Pleated Air Filter
If you need strong protection from allergens and other irritants, then this filter from Aerostar is a good option. The pleated filter features MERV 13 filtration, effectively blocking everything from mold to tobacco dust to virus particles. The filter comes in a wide range of sizes to suit your needs, and it’s compatible with either a central unit or a wall unit. Each order includes six filters, and the price shown is for the 16 x 25-inch size.
Pros: Powerful MERV 13 filtration. Comes in a pack of six. Available in different sizes.
Cons: Some sizes don’t offer a totally perfect fit.
7. AIRx DUST Pleated Air Filter – Box of 6
AirX conveniently makes filters that are clearly labeled what they’re best used for. These particular filters feature MERV 8 filtration, effectively trapping dust, pollen and mold spores. It’s available in a variety of sizes; this particular option is the 16 x 25-inch size. Each order consists of six filters and can last up to 90 days under regular conditions.
Pros: Good option for trapping dust. Comes in a pack of six. Each filter offers long-lasting protection.
Cons: Some may prefer higher than MERV 8 protection.
8. K&N HVAC Air Filter
K&N’s MERV 11 air filters are available in a selection of sizes, and you can easily install this product in your furnace or air conditioning unit. This product is reusable, and the synthetic filter material is easy to wash. The company has a special cleaning spray available as well.
Pros: According to K&N, the filter can last a lifetime when washed regularly. Reusing the filter will save you money over time.
Cons: Some sizes might be at least a quarter inch too small, requiring an insert to fill the gap.
9. CARTER Lifetime HVAC & Furnace Air Filter
If you want to cut down on waste and save money, this washable filter from Carter is a good option. It provides MERV 8 filtration thanks to the two layers of anti-microbial polypropylene. The filter is designed to be fairly easy to wash; the manufacturer recommends simply running water in the opposite direction of airflow and then rinsing off the other side.
Pros: Reusable, saving money in the long run. Multiple layered filtration provides MERV 8 protection.
Cons: Upfront cost is somewhat high.