Do Thicker Air Filters Really Work Better?

Most air filters are 1 inch thick, but some systems can accommodate filters 2 to 5 inches thick. In our tests, we found that the thicker the filter, the better it works and the longer the replacement intervals. This means it's better for you and your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Thicker air filters may automatically seem like the best option.

After all, thicker means more filtration, right? In most situations, that's the case. Thicker air filters tend to last longer because they have more square feet to capture and retain air particles. To put it into perspective, a 1-inch air filter may need to be changed every month, while a 4-inch air filter can last up to six months. Virtually any HVAC professional will tell you that thicker filters perform better than common 1-inch oven filters. Thicker filters, known as media filters, are generally 4 to 5 inches thick compared to ubiquitous 1 inch filters that you can even buy at grocery stores.

The thicker the filter, the more dirt it can hold. And, therefore, you can enjoy a wider range of filter frequency replacement. Therefore, the oven filter change time will be much longer. It's best to use wide-pleat filters and make sure the vents are free of any material that could block airflow. Alternatively, you can use a 1-inch thick filter in compartments that can accommodate a deeper filter.

MERV (Minimum Efficiency Report Value) is a rating that indicates how well an air filter can collect particulate matter in the air of your home. Therefore, while the pleats offer thicker filter media, the larger surface area allows more free space for air to pass through. These 4-inch media filters can have 20-30 feet of surface area with their pleated (accordion) filter material. And while media filters produce more airflow (less pressure drop) and clog less easily, you should be careful with the MERV rating. But have you ever thought about switching to a larger air filter, such as a thicker 5-inch oven filter? After all, most homes have central HVAC systems that can accommodate large air filters. Household HVAC air filters are rated based on their MERV rating, with most household filters between 1 and 13 (more than 13 are for HEPA filters).

The thickness of the air cleaner ranges in size from 1 to 5 inches deep; some options are more common than others, and your oven can dictate the thickness you can use. It's important to note that larger air filters have higher MERV ratings, leading to better filtration of contaminants and allergens. So, if you choose a filter with a high MERV rating, you'll need to change it every month or two when the oven, heat pump, or air conditioner gets a lot of use. That's why it's important to use only air filters with the MERV rating recommended by the HVAC system manufacturer. Reducing the thickness by one inch shouldn't be a big deal; for example, you should be able to use a 4-inch filter instead of a 5-inch filter. In summary: thicker air filters work better than thinner ones because they have higher MERV ratings and more square feet of surface area for capturing and retaining particles in the air.

They also last longer than thinner filters and require less frequent replacement intervals.

LaDonna Uccio
LaDonna Uccio

Devoted food advocate. General internetaholic. Extreme beer aficionado. Devoted social media maven. Lifelong tvaholic.

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