7 Types of Air (Vent) Filters – What Each One Does & What It’s For

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Last Updated on July 8, 2022 by Mark P.

There are a variety of air vent filters available on the market and choosing the right one for your home can be a bit confusing. See below for some clarity on which filter is best and what each filter type is used for.

Most Common Types of Air Vent Filters for your Home

We’ve put together a list of the most common types of HVAC & furnace vent filters as well as some filters made for air purifiers so help you make an informed decision when replacing your current air filters.

1. Fiberglass Air Vent Filters

Flanders Precisionaire Fiberglass Filters
Flanders Precisionaire Fiberglass Filters – Credit: Flanders Precisionaire

Fiberglass air vent filters are a common type of air vent filter that is typically used in HVAC & furnace systems. Fiberglass filters are made from a material that is designed to trap and remove airborne particulates from the air. The tiny fibers in the fiberglass filter material work to capture and hold onto microscopic particles such as dust, pollen, and mold spores.

Fiberglass air filters can be used in both residential and commercial settings, and they are often used in combination with other types of air filters to provide more complete protection from airborne contaminants. Fiberglass air vent filters typically need to be replaced every few months, depending on the specific needs of the HVAC or furnace system.

2. Pleated Air Vent Filters

Fitlrete Pleated Air Vent Filters - Filtrete
Fitlrete Pleated Air Vent Filters – Credit: Filtrete

One of the most common type of air vent filter for HVAC systems is the pleated air filter. Pleated air filters are made of several layers of fine mesh material, which helps to capture a wide range of airborne particles. They are designed to improve indoor air quality by trapping airborne particles before they can enter the ventilation system.

Unlike conventional flat filters, pleated filters have an accordion-like pleated design that allows them to trap more particles while ensuring adequate airflow. Pleated filters are available in a variety of sizes and ratings to meet the specific needs of your home or office. For best results, it is important to replace pleated air filters every 3-6 months, depending on the level of contaminants in your indoor air.

3. Activated Carbon Air Filters

LEVOIT Activated Carbon Filter
LEVOIT Activated Carbon Filter – Credit: LEVOIT

Another popular option is the activated carbon air filter. Activated carbon filters are commonly used in air purifiers and rarely in HVAC vents. They are ideal for homes with pets or smokers. Activated Carbon is a type of carbon that has been treated to be extremely porous. This means that it has a huge surface area, which allows it to adsorb impurities from the air. Activated carbon filters are often used in air purifiers and water filters, as they are very effective at removing impurities.

Activated carbon filters do have some drawbacks. Activated carbon filters can only remove impurities that are dissolved in the air or water, so most are are not as effective at removing solid particles such as dust or pollen. In addition, they need to be replaced regularly, as the Activated Carbon will eventually become saturated with impurities and will no longer be effective.

4. Washable & Reusable Air Vent Filters

K&N Air Furnace Filter
K&N Air Furnace Filter – Credit: K&N

Washable & reusable air vent filters are a type of air filter that can be washed and reused. Washable air filters are often pleated but are also made of a woven polyester fabric pad or conditioner foam material. They are most commonly used in AC and furnace vents but can also be found in appliances like air purifiers and even refrigerators. They are mostly used to remove dust, pollen, and other airborne particles from the air. Washable vent filters are available in a variety of sizes and many can be custom-fit to any system. They may also come in a non-cut roll allowing for custom cut sizes at home.

AirThreds Machine Washable Filter
AirThreds Machine Washable Filter – Credit: AirThreds

Washable air filters are an alternative to disposable filters and can last for years with proper care. Washable air filters should be washed in warm water with a mild detergent and rinsed thoroughly. Some brands like AirThreds make filters that can be washed in washing machines and dried in a standard home clothes dryer. Air vent filters should typically be replaced every three to six months, depending on the level of use but washable and reusable filters may last a while longer. Washable air filters are a cost-effective way to keep your home clean and free of allergens.

5. Electrostatic Air Filters

Venti Tech Washable Electrostatic Air Filter
Venti Tech Washable Electrostatic Air Filter – Credit: Venti Tech

Electrostatic air filters are a type of air filter commonly used in furnace vents, air purifiers and HVAC vents. They are commonly made up of a metal mesh material but may also be made of other materials like polypropylene. They work by using a high-voltage electrostatic charge to attract and capture dust, pollen, mold spores, and other airborne particles. Electrostatic air filters are often used in homes and businesses as a way to improve indoor air quality. The term ‘Electrostatic Air Filter” also often refers to a type of electronic air purifier not just a standard vent filter.

6. HEPA Air Vent Filters

LEVOIT Air Purifier 3-in-1 True HEPA Filter
LEVOIT Air Purifier 3-in-1 True HEPA Filter – Credit: Levoit

HEPA Air Filters are high-efficiency filters commonly often used in air purifiers and HVAC systems to remove tiny particles from the air. HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air” and these filters are designed to capture 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger. HEPA Air Vent Filters are available in a variety of sizes and configurations to suit different air purifiers, HVAC and furnace systems. They may also be available as an air vent cover.

The most common type of HEPA Air Filter is a pleated filter, which has a greater surface area than a non-pleated filter, and can therefore capture more particles as the air passes through it. HEPA Air Vent Filters should be replaced regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

7. UV Air Filters

Germ Guardian AC4825 3-in-1 True HEPA Filter Air Purifier for Home Using UV-C Light to Kill GermsUV air filters, a type of air purifier, are designed to remove airborne contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. UV filters are not as common as some of the filters mentioned above. They are effective in using UV-C light to disinfect the air passing through the filter, providing a safe and effective way to clean the air in your home or office.

UV air filters or sanitizers can be used in conjunction with traditional HEPA filters (above) to provide an additional layer of protection against airborne contaminants. UV air filters are available in a variety of sizes and styles to suit your needs.

Now that you know about the different types of air vent filters, it’s time to decide which one is best for your home. Keep in mind that each type of filter has its own benefits and drawbacks, so make sure to choose one that will suit your specific needs. We hope this guide helps you choose the right type of air vent filter for your home and keeps you breathing easy all year long.