HVAC Guide: Disposable vs. Permanent Air Filters

disposable vs. permanent air filtersA good quality disposable air filter is not cheap: on average, they cost $15 a pop, give or take a couple of bucks. That may be a strain on your budget if you have a high-traffic, dusty household where you need to change the filter monthly. Perhaps as a remedy you’ve considered switching to a permanent air filter, but you’re unsure.

So what’s the lowdown on disposable vs. permanent air filters?

Disposable vs. Permanent?

Disposable filters are certainly more common, and they come in a wide range of MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) ratings. The MERV rating is key for finding the right level of air cleaning for your home.

Most experts recommend a MERV of 8-12 for residential HVACs. Any higher, and you may risk slowing down air flow and damaging your system. Any lower, and the filter won’t do a good job of cleaning your home’s air. Smaller particles of pollen, pet dander, hair, dust and dust mites are likely to get sucked in with the return air and distributed with the supply air.

These good quality air filters are usually pleated and made of dense material, and are much more substantial than the flimsy, disposable fiberglass filters.

Permanent filters will cost much more — around $75. They capture particles by emitting an electrostatic charge as they pass through the filter. They are better for the environment, in that you can get about five years’ use out of them before you have to toss them. The hitch is that you have to wash them periodically or they won’t catch airborne particles. They also must be dried thoroughly before being reused.

Unfortunately, most permanent filters are only rated from MERV 1 to 4, and that just helps keep larger particles out of your HVAC, doing nothing for your indoor air quality. However, some permanent filters are now on the market that the manufacturer claims can achieve results around MERV 9.

To learn more about air filters and other HVAC topics, or to schedule repairs, maintenance or installations in the Corpus Christi area, contact CCAC.

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »