4 Inch or 1 Inch Furnace Filters: Which is Better?

When it comes to improving air quality in your home, a 4-inch thick air filter has a clear advantage over a 1-inch filter. It offers better longevity, air flow and maximum filtering potential. So, if it fits your oven, then a 4-inch air filter is the better choice. Most air filters are 1 inch thick, but some systems can accommodate filters 2 to 5 inches thick.

In tests, thicker filters have been found to perform better and last longer than the ubiquitous 1-inch filters that can be purchased at grocery stores. These 4-inch multimedia filters can have between 20 and 30 feet of surface area with their pleated (accordion) filter material. The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is a rating that indicates how well an air cleaner can accumulate particles in the air in your home. A 1-inch filter with a high MERV rating could work just as well as a 2-inch filter with the same rating.

Pay attention to what matters most to you and you'll find out which filter is right for you. Filters with higher ratings than that can restrict airflow and damage HVAC equipment. A 4-inch filter provides more surface space to trap contaminants, facilitating proper airflow and continuous removal of contaminants. We also tested thicker oven filters, some up to 5 inches, and they often provide superior air cleanliness and a long lifespan.

These media filters have much stiffer cardboard frames, and some media filters even have plastic “rails” on the top and bottom so you can slide them inside the oven with a very tight seal. But does that mean that 1-inch filters aren't good? Let's dive into the details and find the right solution for your oven. A MERV 13 filter traps lint, dust, pollen, dust mites and their “debris”, mold spores, pet dander, smoke particles and even droplets of moisture from sneezes. As noted, most major brand ovens and air handlers, including Trane, Lennox, Carrier, Rheem, Bryant and Heil, come with 1-inch filter slots. In conclusion, if improving air quality is a priority for you, filter depth doesn't matter as much as the MERV.

A 4-inch filter will last longer and provide better air quality for your home than a 1-inch filter. Virtually any HVAC professional will tell you that thicker filters work better than common 1-inch oven filters.

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