The Best air Filter for Home Furnace Tucked away in your basement or attic, the air filter for your HVAC system is something you probably don’t give much thought to. But a good air filter keeps your furnace and central air conditioner running, protecting the mechanisms from dust and debris. And the best filters trap indoor pollutants like dust, pet dander, and pollen, helping to clean the air in your home.
This is important because the concentration of air pollutants inside your home can be two to five times higher than the concentrations typically found outside, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Below are the best air filters from CR’s tests (grouped by thickness and sorted alphabetically). We rate how effective an air filter is at removing dust, pollen, and smoke from the air, and see how freely air flows through the filter at any fan speed. We also calculate the annual cost of replacement filters, based on the manufacturer’s recommendation on when to change them (note that prices may vary by the retailer; it may also be cheaper if you buy filters in bulk).
“The thicker filters do better in our tests and we found they don’t have to be replaced as often,” says Dave Toni, who oversees CR’s air filter testing. But not all heating and air conditioning systems can accommodate a thicker filter – the most common size is 1 inch thick – although you can adapt the ducting of some systems to accept thicker filters.
Another thing you should keep in mind when buying is the degree of filtering provided by the manufacturer. The most widely used system applies to each filter a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) number, developed by ASHRAE (formerly American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers). But 3M and Home Depot have developed their own rating systems, called MPR (Micro-Particle Performance Rating) and FPR (Filter Performance Rating), respectively. “Whatever the rating system, the higher the number, the better the filter will be at removing contaminants from the air,” says Toni.
To learn more about air filters, including some models to avoid, check out our complete air filter buying and sorting guide.
Which Filter is Best for Furnace?
- Filtrete 1900 maximum allergen reduction | Best home air filters
- Filtrete ultra allergen reduction 1500 mpr | Best air filters for home
- 3m filtrete 2500 smart premium allergen ultra fine particles s-eax22dc-6 | Best furnace filters is the best air flow furnace filter
- Aprilaire healthy home 213 merv 13 | Best filtrete filters 2022
- Carrier ez flex filter cabinet | Best filters for allergies
- Filtrete healthy living ultra allergen 4 mpr1550 | Best furnace filters for allergies
- Lennox healthy climate carbonclean 16 | Best ac filters for allergies
Complete Review of The Best Air Furnace Filter for home
1. Filtrete 1900 Maximum Allergen Reduction
The Filtrete 1900 Maximum Allergen Reduction filter is impressive at removing dust, pollen, and smoke from the air when the HVAC system is running at full fan speed, earning an Excellent rating in that test. But at the lowest speed, the filter is only mediocre at removing those same airborne particles. Airflow through the filter remains strong in both cases. Filtrete recommends replacing this filter four times a year.
2. Filtrete Ultra Allergen Reduction 1500 MPR
The Filtrete Ultra Allergen Reduction 1500 MPR filter is rated Very Good at removing smoke, dust, and pollen from the air with the system running at high fan speed, but is only mediocre when running at its lowest speed. In both cases, the airflow through the filter is strong. Filtrete recommends changing this filter four times a year at an annual cost of $68.
3. 3M Filtrete 2500 Smart Premium Allergen Ultra Fine Particles S-EAX22DC-6
When we found out that 3M was making a “smart” air filter, we had doubts: an air filter is as low-tech as it gets. But adding a sensor to the filter that you can read with an app on your smartphone turns out to be a good idea because it takes the guesswork out of when to change the filter.
In our tests, the 3M Filtrete 2500 Smart Premium Allergen Ultra Fine Particles Filter S-EAX22DC-6 effectively removes airborne particles with the system running at maximum fan speed, earning a rating of Excellent. However, at the lowest speed, particle removal is only average. The manufacturer recommends replacing the filter twice a year, at an annual cost of $60, although the sensor may indicate that it needs to be changed more or less frequently.
We also tested two other 3M Filtrete 1-inch Smart Filters, the 3M Filtrete 1900 Smart Premium Bacteria & Virus and the 3M Filtrete 1500 Smart Bacteria & Virus, which have a lower MPR filter rating than the previous 2500 Smart Premium.
4. Aprilaire Healthy Home 213 MERV 13
The Aprilaire Healthy Home 213 MERV 13 4-inch thick filter earns an Excellent rating for removing dust, smoke, and pollen when the HVAC system is running at full fan speed. It does almost as well when running at the lowest fan speed, and air flows freely through the filter. The annual cost is $41, based on Aprilaire’s recommendation to replace the filter once.
We also tested the Aprilaire Allergy & Asthma 216 4-inch filter, which gets a similar score. But you will pay $184 yearly cost because the filter costs more and Aprilaire recommends replacing it twice a year.
5. Carrier EZ Flex Filter Cabinet
Carrier’s 5-inch thick EZ Flex Filter Cabinet with a MERV10 filtration rating earns a Very Good rating for removing dust, pollen, and smoke from the air when the system is running at full fan speed, but it only gets a fairly good rating when the heating and cooling system is running at the lowest speed. It has no problem maintaining airflow in either case. Carrier recommends replacing this filter twice a year, which translates to an anniversary cost of $128.
6. Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen 4 MPR1550
The Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen 4 MPR1550 4-inch thick filter is another one of the best performers, removing dust, pollen, and smoke with both the heating and cooling system running at the highest speed as to the lowest of the fan. This filter provides almost unrestricted airflow. Filtrete recommends replacing this filter once a year, and at $29 per filter, it’s one of the cheapest in our tests.
7. Lennox Healthy Climate CarbonClean 16
The 5-inch thick Lennox Healthy Climate CarbonClean 16 filter effectively filters dust, smoke, and pollen when the system is running at both the highest and lowest fan speeds, with little noticeable restriction of airflow. air through the forced air system. The list price for this filter is $100, although we have seen it sell for less. Lennox recommends replacing it once a year.
-Frequently Asked Questions-
How does a furnace filter work?
Furnace filters protect the fan and coils from dirt, debris, hair, and other household particles that collect in the system and air ducts. The pleated (and sometimes electrostatically charged) material helps capture and hold those contaminants against the filter until it’s time to replace the old one.
What are your furnace filter needs?
Depending on your needs—allergies, odors, pets—you’ll want to shop for and select the right furnace filter for your home and indoor air quality.
Material: Most fiberglass filters provide minimal protection to your HVAC system and allow various allergens to pass through the filter. Protect your system from costly repairs and dirt buildup while cleaning indoor air with a pleated air filter. Pleated air filters are denser and provide adequate protection to the fan, coils, and air ducts. Electrostatically charged pleated filters are preferred by households with pets, smokers, and allergy sufferers.
MERV or MPR Rating: Check the MERV rating of the filter brand. The higher the MERV rating, the best the filter is at perishable allergens and particulates. If you are considering one of the 3M Filtrete filters, check out the MPR classification that suits you best.
Size: Furnace filter sizes vary depending on the type of HVAC system you have. Look up the recommended size in the heating and air conditioning system manufacturer’s manual, or locate the dimensions of the old filter used in the system.