Disposable Air Conditioner Filters

Are Pleated Air Conditioner Filters Really Better Than Disposable Fiberglass Filters?

As air conditioner filters continue to advance, many people still choose to stick with their traditional disposable fiberglass filters. However, this no longer makes sense. Here is a quick overview of why you should throw away your fiberglass filter for the last time and pick up a new pleated filter.

Fiberglass Air Conditioner Filters

Filtration Efficiency

Throwaway fiberglass filters have been proven to only hold a maximum filtration efficiency of 8%. This makes that useless for more than pre-filtering air or screening out the largest of airborne particulates. Within the industry, they are known as the “bugs and birds” filter. In fact, with their specific composition and spacing, they are not even technically classifiable as filters, but rather particle impingement devices.

With impingement, dirt and dust can only be caught if they directly strike or attach to a fiberglass fiber. A common demonstration that you can do in your own home is pour a packet of sugar over a fiberglass filter. The sugar will pass right through it.

Fiberglass filter Max Limit

Once dirt is captured at the front side of your fiberglass filter, the filter will eventually reach its maximum limit. At this point, additional particulate will then dislodge the already filtered dirt and carry it through the filter. In extreme cases, the filters themselves have actually collapsed and then the fiberglass particles are disbursed through the furnace or air conditioner and spread throughout the entire house.

Don’t Touch that filter

Disposable fiberglass filters are notorious for dumping a ton of dirt and dust as soon as you touch it. If the filter is disturbed in any way, dirt will fly off of it (you have probably noticed this when replacing your filter). Just think about how much dirt you are putting back into the air every time you change your filters.

Mold and Bacteria in fiberglass air conditioning filters

Recently, concerns have been raised because the adhesive that is used to bond the fiberglass to the frame of filter. The adhesive has been proven to be a very good place for mold and bacteria to attach and grow. This means that your filter is actually creating some of the most dangerous airborne particulate in the house.



Pleated Furnace Filters

Increased Filtration Efficiency

While fiberglass filters have proven to be at best 8% effective at filtration, pleated filters have an average efficiency of 25%-30%. Some have even been shown to have 45%-50%.

Increased Air Flow

With increased efficiency comes increased air flow. Initially, this created a unique problem that lead to their current efficiency. To make the filters more sturdy, they use V shape pleating that increases the total square footage of the filter within the same frame size. This means that it is much more durable than a fiberglass filter and can filter out much smaller and much more particulate.

Benefits of pleated air conditioner filters

The increased filtration leads to a serious of cause and effect benefits including:

Increased filtration efficiency leads to…

1. Increased Energy Efficiency because cleaner coils lead to more efficient heat transfer.

2. Decreased Housekeeping Costs – The house is cleaner, thus is cleaned less often.

3. Better Air Quality because it can filter out more pollutants as well as much smaller pollutants.

4. Less Maintenance because the HVAC system is kept much cleaner and consistently operates at maximum efficiency thus minimizing break downs.

5. Cost Savings – Electrical bills are decreased, plus you spend less on the filters themselves because they need replaced much less often.

There are many more advantages than this to choosing pleated A/C filters over their disposable fiberglass counterparts as well. It only takes a moment to realize which is the best choice.

Air Conditioning Filter – Learning The Basics

The air conditioning filter is an essential part of the air conditioning system. In fact, it is what keeps clean not just your AC system, but the air that you breathe as well. Just imagine an air conditioning system that does not have an air conditioning filter. That means all of the dust and debris floating around in the air in your home are just being passed through to the AC and right back into the air YOU breathe!

All aspects of your unit and all of the parts such as its ductwork and refrigerant performance depends a lot on your air condition’s filter’s ability to keep the unit clean. It is essential that you maintain your filters and change them regularly.

A dirty air conditioning filter costs you money as it requires more energy in order to function properly. It can also shorten the life your air conditioning unit to the point that you will have to buy a new unit a lot sooner than expected. And that’s expensive!

It is highly recommended that you regularly replace your air conditioning filter in order to maximize the benefits you can gain from a central air conditioning system. If you are a heavy user of the system, say your unit runs 24/7, changing the filter every two weeks is ideal.



Otherwise, you can change the filter every month or every couple of months at most. Some people compromise their health by waiting for the dust to accumulate before doing something.

There are different kinds of air conditioning filters and how efficiently they work may vary from one brand to the next. Usually, air conditioning filters are 1 ½ to 2 square feet for every ton of capacity for home or commercial property, and they are able to filter particles that are between 3 to 10 microns in size.

Air conditioning filters can be conventional fiberglass disposable, pleated fiberglass disposable, electrostatic, electronic or carbon. Conventional fiberglass disposable filters are available in 1″ and 2″ sizes. These are commonly seen in home air conditioning units and small industrial and commercial air conditioning systems.

Filters of this kind have a disposable adhesive coating that traps dust, so there is no need for you to clean your filter. In fact, you are advised against doing this as it may damage the adhesive coating or the underlying mesh work.

Conventional fiberglass disposable filters are cheaper, unfortunately, they do not work as effectively as the other types of filter.

Residential and commercial establishments usually use the pleated fiberglass disposable filters which are available in 1″ and 2″ sizes. The 1-inch sized filters are more densely woven in order to increase its ability in removing dirt. They have a larger surface area than most conventional filters.

If you are going to use this for your air conditioning system, it is important that you specify this as a mismatch can result to higher maintenance costs and compromise the overall health of your system. Your air conditioning manufacture knows the kind of pleated filter to use for your unit.

Electrostatic filters come in different designs, in 1″ and 2″ sizes, and they also differ in performance. They usually are allergy-free, but may require constant cleaning, more maintenance and blower power.

Electronic filters are so called because they link to an electrical power source. They have a pre-filter that collects larger particles. Most of them are wall mounted, and they do not require a lot of maintenance. In fact, you only have to clean them every six months.

Carbon filters have carbon that controls odor problems. If you have pets at home, using this type of filter can neutralize the odor emitted by your pets.

You can tell if your filter is one of good quality by looking at the MERV ratings alone. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and it measures the efficiency of your air conditioning filter. If your filter has an MERV rating of 12, it means that it is very effective in removing dust particles, pollen, mold and other allergens.

On the other hand, if your filter register gets a score of only 1, it means that it is not effective at all. 12 is actually the highest score and 1 is the lowest. So shoot for a close as you can to a 12.

For the air conditioning filter to work, it must be installed properly. The filter must be placed in theac filter arrow replace direction as indicated by an arrow on the side or face of the filter.

Being in the right direction ensures that the air flows in the same proper direction. You must also make sure that the filter is well fitted to the system. You can use a seal to keep unfiltered air from entering your system, and causing damage to it.

If you have a non-conventional filter that has a higher efficiency but cannot fit your system, contact an air conditioning company or contractor to help you with it.