No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have features that others don't. In most instances we recommend installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.
All filters are classified with MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.
A bigger rating indicates the filter can catch smaller particulates. This sounds great, but a filter that stops finer dirt can become obstructed more quickly, raising pressure on your equipment. If your unit isn’t created to run with this type of filter, it can decrease airflow and create other problems.
Unless you are in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t require a MERV rating above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking lower than 13. Frequently you will learn that decent systems have been engineered to run with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.
All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should get the majority of the common nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we advise having a professional eliminate mold rather than trying to mask the problem with a filter.
Often the packaging demonstrates how frequently your filter should be replaced. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the additional price.
Filters are manufactured from differing materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters grab more dirt but may limit your unit’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.
While you may be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s very unrealistic your equipment was created to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Champaign, consider adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works alongside your heating and cooling system.