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I have a Lennox heat pump which has an air handler with a Lennox X7935 Carbon Clean Healthy Climate MERV 16 Filter installed. These filters are like $105 per at least. When we purchased this whole system from Horizon, they stated we'd only ever need to change a filter once a year. One year later when we had our maitanance, they asked if we ever changed out filter, to which we responded no. Turns out, it's supposed to be replaced every month or couple of months.

I see that there a lot of aftermarket filters out there with the exact same dimensions, but a slightly lower MERV rating. My question is, should I stick to the factor installed filter, or is it ok to go with an aftermarket brand? Some of the ones I'm seeing are as low as $55 for two, vs. $105 for one.

For example, this is one of the aftermarket ones I'm looking at, vs. the standard one I use.

Other than less filtration, is there any other risks I should be concerned about? Would this cause damage to my air handler or other components?

  • These are 6-12 month filters, not 1-2 month (under normal conditions). The after market filter looks like it has about half the filter surface area so the OEM filter is likely to be more effective with smaller particles. But the after market filter won't damage anything. – fixer1234 Dec 28 '17 at 21:41
  • The reason that type of filter is so thick is to provide more surface area, which means it has extended life. Most filters are designed for 3 months. These should go much longer under normal conditions. There's no problem using aftermarket filters, but the lower rating affects air quality and fan life. – isherwood Dec 28 '17 at 22:33
  • ok, thanks. if one of you wants the point, please submit it as an answer and I'll mark it as such. – Eric C. Singer Dec 29 '17 at 22:46
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This question unfortunately can not be answered without a lot of data that is usually very difficult to obtain. First off there is no such thing as a time limit on filters. The same filter may last 1 month or 10 years depending on usage and the amount of airborne particles. If the new filter has more back pressure than the existing one then it has the same effect as a dirty filter, more back pressure. Too much back pressure and the heat pump will over heat. The bad part is most manufacturers do not publish their pressure ratings. The only way to tell is to take pressure readings with a magnahelic gauge and compare the reading to the published air flow for the air handler. As a general rule of thumb the thicker the filter the better the air flow and the base of most air handlers are too small to accept a proper size filter so I generally make the filter cabinet larger than the air handler opening. Sorry I can not give a more direct answer but there is no guarantee that the system was designed properly in the first place and the only thing that matters to your equipment is air flow. Give it enough airflow and the equipment will be happy regardless of what kind of filter. One final thought, people tend to over emphasize their filter. The filter is one small part of keeping dust down. The filter is only doing its job a couple hours a day unless the fan is set to continuous. Only a small percentage of particles actually finds its way to the filter anyway. I would argue that if you had 2 identical homes, one with a MERV 8 filter and 1 with a MERV 16 filter there would be no noticeable improvement in the air quality since most particles are not airborne long enough to make it to the filter. Any filter that fits snugly in the filter rack and provides at least the same air flow will be fine.

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