Air filter options for HVAC

Aug 14, 2015
I want to get a washable, permanent air filter for our HVAC. I see two options for myself. One is a unit like this, same brand except different size (20x30) at my local Lowes, about $20-25. Nothing wrong with the price, but the company itself has a ramshackle website and I'm not sure if the material is even made in America or if it filters as well as it claims to (Merv 8 rating). My second option is to go with a K&N. I can get a 20x30 for $60 plus, and it is MERV 11, higher than the product I use now. If I do go with K&N, it is expensive, but even at that, I'll break even after 4-5 years, and then I'll make money, as well as eliminate the disposal of an air filter every 2-3 months. So if I have to go that route, I'd be ok. But I am wondering if there is anything in between these two, price wise?. I really don't need MERV 11. I'm fine with the current filters we are running, that are 600 MPR (=8 MERV).
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Originally Posted by nickaluch
I'm not a fan of Merv 11 a little to restrictive on air flow.
Agreed - higher restriction spells mold and frozen coils to me.
Paulri: I tried the ECO a couple years ago. Worked just fine as the main house filter, however, washing that thing was a real pain. Had to do a lot of squirting with hose on full force to get all the fuzzy stuff out of the fibre filter. Then it has to dry awhile. Not much fun when its cold out either. For me, just too much trouble. Expect the same would apply to the K&N. I searched around online and found a vendor of normal style (MERV 8) and bought enough to last a couple years or more, somewhat cheaper than Lowes or walmart.
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Why not stick with the cheapest pleated filter you can find? No need to clean, easy to replace. The filter is there to protect the equipment, not clean the air in your house. They're all paper so no real environmental concerns.
I had them install a 4" filter cabinet. I buy 2 Merv 10 for $36, they each comfortably last 8-9 months. Zero dust on the fan blades without any restriction in the system. When I had the 1" pleated filters, I could hear a little hissing which meant filter time, roughly 25-30 days. I taped a piece tissue paper on a vent in my man cave and you could see for sure when air was restricted. With the 4" filter never a problem, even after 8-9 months. Filters are the cheapest thing a person can buy for their home or car.
Never realized that before. As far as money goes, when compared to the cheapest air filters, it would 7 years for the permanent filter to pay for itself--and as another poster brought up, I would have to take into account loss of water and time. Hmmmm well this is why I post here... smile
Originally Posted by dishdude
Why not stick with the cheapest pleated filter you can find? No need to clean, easy to replace. The filter is there to protect the equipment, not clean the air in your house. They're all paper so no real environmental concerns.
I've had to use one of the the Lowes filter in the past because of an odd size application that I could only find cheap fiberglass filters to fit. It does a great job cleaning the air (the black grid on the back side stayed perfectly clean) but it did seem to be a much more restrictive. It also seemed to plug up relatively quickly. I HAD to vacuum the lint and then wash out the dust EVERY month. Once I was able to get pleated filters in the size I needed I ditched the washables. Too much hassle.
I tried the washable filter and washing them is extremely difficult. The dirt gets lodged deep into it and does indeed stick quite well. They don't seem to filter as well as paper and let some particles past. Not a fan of them. I have not tried K&N and don't recall the one I tried but you had to cut it to size.
Don't use washable filters as they can cause problems with the quality of air in the home. I would just use a quality pleated filter that is not too restrictive and change it as needed. When I changed out my HVAC system I had an Aprilaire filter installed then. They have Merv 13 and 11 rating. I change them once a year. My system is a two stage 17 seer system so the speed can ramp up or down as needed.
Had a friend purchase a washable filter, it caused too much restriction and caused the unit to fail. Use what filters your system was designed for. When I had a restrictive system with a lack of return air, I use a 1 inch fiberglass style filter. My new house has a 4 inch media filter, and that has multiple return airs in the home, and it was designed for a 4 inch MERV 11 filter, so thats what I use. If you have a system with a 1 inch standard filter, there is no reason to do anything but use a spun fiberglass style filter, a case can be purchased for 20 bucks or less to last the year.
My house came with only one air return - a 15" duct connected to a 20 x 20 x 1 filter grille for a 4 ton system. I built a return air plenum onto the unit and connected an additional 10" duct to a 12 x 24 x 1 grille (all my local Home Depot had that day). I use pleated MERV 7 or 8 filters. I replaced the blower motor in 2016 after twenty years of continuous use. The blower fan fins were clean, as was the evaporator coil. I replace the filters when they look dirty. They last me 2-3 months. I've used washable hog hair filters in the past. They work fine but they aren't rigid enough.