Choosing the Best AC Filters for Wildfire Smoke

It’s clear that wildfire smoke is a danger to anyone in its path, and while everyone has a different tolerance for it, it helps to avoid breathing in emissions if you can.

Beyond its devastating effects on land and the environment, wildfires can significantly impact your indoor air quality. Comprised of a complex mixture of fine particles and gases, wildfire smoke travels through your airways and into the bloodstream, causing many adverse effects.

While your HVAC system can double up as an air cleaner during wildfire season, you can further promote cleaner air with the right AC filter.

Here’s what to consider when choosing the best AC filters for wildfire smoke:

MERV Rating

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is a system that tests pleated AC filters and their performance in filtrating particulate matter before circulating air through an environment. The parts undergo assessments against three distinct sizes of aerosols.

These sizes typically range from 0.3 to one micrometer, one to three micrometers, and three to ten micrometers. Most dust and particles you find in your home are larger than a micrometer; however, wildfire smoke particles are much smaller, ranging between 0.4 to 0.7 micrometers.

Luckily, most HVAC systems and furnaces can accommodate high-efficiency filters with a MERV 13 to 16 rating to remove up to 95 percent of fine particle pollution from smoke.

Loading Capacity

A pleated filter’s loading capacity refers to the amount of dust and particulate matter it can accumulate before reaching its maximum pressure drop. Filters with a much higher capacity require less replacement.

For comparison, if filter A has three times the loading capacity of filter B, this would mean that filter B requires a replacement every four months. On the other hand, filter A will only require a replacement every twelve months.

Resistance or Pressure Drop

Lastly, a filter’s pressure drop measures its resistance to air. Your HVAC system may struggle to operate efficiently at a higher pressure drop, simultaneously increasing energy consumption.

This increased effect may prompt your fan to work overtime to regulate air temperature in your home and speed. A filter's pressure drop typically uses a water column (WC) as its unit of measurement.

On a scale from zero to one, with the former being the better number. This means your filter will have tightly woven or thicker media to help trap more particles and contaminants.

Unfortunately, not all AC and furnace filters have the same quality, thus proving the importance of remembering these qualities when choosing the best filter for wildfire smoke. Fortunately, RTF has filters in stock that range from a MERV 8 to MERV 13 rating, so you can prep your home and maintain indoor air quality during wildfire season.

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