hvac air filters

The Ultimate Guide to Commercial HVAC Air Filters


Commercial HVAC units are crucial for maintaining comfortable and healthy indoor environments in various settings. A hugely underrated component of an HVAC system is the air filter, despite the part playing a crucial role. A good air filter traps and reduces the circulation of pollutants, allergens, and dirt – maintaining and enhancing the indoor air quality of your facility. 

Use this guide as a resource on commercial air filtration, including its importance, various types, and recommended maintenance. Read on to equip yourself with vital knowledge that will help ensure your HVAC system operates efficiently and lasts longer.

An Overview of Commercial HVAC Air Filters

Air filters are critical in maintaining indoor air quality in commercial establishments. These specially designed filters trap airborne particles such as dust, pollen, and bacteria – preventing them from circulating in the property and causing excess debris buildup. For businesses, choosing the right HVAC air filter is essential as it helps create a healthy environment for both employees and customers.

The Importance of Air Filters

Many people believe HVAC air filters solely remove harmful microscopic particles like dust mites, but they do more than improve the air quality. Not only do they filter out these harmful particles and remove potential lung irritants, but they also protect the heating and air conditioning systems from early wear and tear, contributing to lower energy costs.

The absence or inefficiency of air filters can cause the HVAC system to work harder, leading to higher energy bills and a lower system lifespan.

The Various Types of Air Filters

Just like every commercial facility has different energy needs, so does the air filter requirement. Depending on the quality and type, these can range from basic fiberglass filters that trap larger dust particles to pleated air filters and HEPA filters that capture smaller particles. Here is an overview of the most common types of commercial HVAC air filters available:

Mechanical Filters

Mechanical filters, like pleated air and fiberglass filters, trap particles in a filter media as air passes through. Their effectiveness is often measured by MERV ratings. Fiberglass filters are cheaper but less effective in the average commercial setting, with an average rating of 2 to 3, while pleated filters offer better filtration.

How MERV Ratings Work

All filters have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating, indicating their ability to trap particles from circulating air. Lower MERV ratings indicate less filtration power, which is sufficient for less-sensitive environments, while higher ratings like MERV 13 and above imply better filtration which is best for facilities like hospitals and laboratories.

Electrostatically-Charged Filters

These filters utilize the principle of electrostatic attraction to capture airborne particles like dust, pollen, and allergens. As air passes through the filter, the particles become charged and are drawn to oppositely charged collector plates within the filter, effectively removing them from the air stream. 

This technology is highly effective at trapping fine particulate matter and is often favored for its efficiency, low maintenance requirements, and cost-effectiveness in large-scale HVAC systems. However, they require significantly more maintenance than the traditional mechanical filters, as the charged plates need to be cleaned frequently.

Biochemical Filters

Biochemical filters are specialized filters that use chemical reactions to remove harmful gasses from the air. While they are not typically used in most commercial HVAC systems, they can benefit environments that have a risk of exposure to hazardous gasses.

Want to learn more about maintaining air cleanliness in commercial facilities? Read about the role of HVAC systems in ISO clean rooms.

The Clean Room Requirements

Factors to Consider Before Installation

Along with the differences between HVAC air filter types and MERV ratings, there are multiple factors to consider before making an investment, such as:


  • Size and Fit of Your HVAC SystemThe size of your HVAC filter is critical to ensure perfect fit and effective filtration. Always refer to the system manuals or previous filters for accurate measurements, and remember that the nominal size often differs from the actual filter size.
  • Current Environment and Air QualityEnvironments with high pollutant levels need more efficient filters. Therefore, industrial businesses, restaurants, and medical establishments should go for higher MERV-rated filters.
  • Filter Efficiency and Performance – Check the filter’s capacity to improve indoor air quality, enhancing comfort for occupants. A balanced filter with optimal performance is perfect for reduced energy costs.

Signs That Your Air Filter Needs Replacement

There are several telltale signs your HVAC air filter needs a replacement:

  • An Increase in Energy Bills A clogged filter will make your system work harder and consume more energy. 
  • Reduced Airflow If the HVAC system‘s airflow decreases noticeably, it may be a sign that the air filter is clogged with dirt and needs replacement.
  • Reduced Cooling or Heating Efficiency A filter needing replacement can hinder the HVAC system‘s ability to cool or heat the space adequately, leading to uncomfortable indoor temperatures.
  • Age of the Filter Filters have a limited lifespan, and their efficiency degrades over time. If a filter has been used for an extended period, it may be time to replace it, even if no other signs of wear are evident.

Tips for Replacement and Further Maintenance

When deciding how and when to replace an HVAC air filter, it’s best to seek the assistance of an HVAC professional. Professionals possess the proper knowledge and skills to perform the task effectively, determine the precise filter dimensions, assess the right custom air filter for your system, and perform the replacement without causing further damage. 

After the initial replacement, frequent maintenance should be a priority to ensure the system remains at optimal performance. 

Keep Your Air Filters in Perfect Shape With AirLogix

When it comes to ensuring your commercial HVAC system runs at peak performance, look no further than AirLogix. Our unparalleled expertise in HVAC/R installation, repair, and maintenance sets us apart in the regions of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Partner with us today for cleaner, healthier air and a reliable HVAC system year-round. 

Connect with us today and learn more about our commercial HVAC/R services.

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