Disposable VS Cartridge Air Filters – which is right for you?

How is your commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system? Do you feel that it is starting to perform under par? Does it still yield the right amount of heating and cooling that you need?

Believe it or not, Americans spend over $22 billion annually on air conditioning. Spending on HVAC involves not only consumption but also the parts and maintenance.

And when it comes to parts, you cannot do away without air filters.

For the industrial sector, two of the most common options are the disposable type and the cartridge type. In the disposable vs cartridge air filters debate, which one should you go for?

Continue reading below as we pit them against each other.

Head to Head: Disposable vs Cartridge Air Filters

As we mentioned earlier, part of the expenses on HVAC is the maintenance. When it comes to air filters, regular maintenance affects their performance. Regardless of the type of filters you use, they all share the basic functions.

Air filters aim to remove different types of solid particulates from the air. They keep ventilation systems, as well as engines clean.

But there are also pros and cons that you need to consider when choosing the right filters. Let’s take a look at some of their respective benefits and disadvantages. Let’s settle the disposable vs cartridge air filters discussion.

The Pros of Disposable Air Filters

Let us first tackle the advantages of using disposable air filters.

Effective Against Small Particles

Disposable air filters perform exceptionally well when it comes to capturing small particles. These particles include dust, pet dander, bacteria, smoke, allergens, and even viruses.

In fact, some disposable air filters reach a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating as high as 16. Industries use the MERV rating to determine the effectiveness of air filters. The higher the MERV score, the more efficient the filter is in trapping particles.

However, there are certain disposable filters that score low on the MERV. We will discuss these later on.

Low Maintenance

Since these air filters are disposable, they require very low maintenance. The moment their performance dips, you can simply remove them. You can easily buy a replacement and install it with ease.


Generally, disposable air filters are affordable. Though it will require regular replacements, the overall expenses will cost you little.

The Cons of Disposable Air Filters

When we talk about the disadvantages of air filters, it is important to note that some of the cons depending on the type of disposable air filter that you have. Let’s take a look at where each of the downsides falls under.

Low Rating

Disposable fiberglass filters have one of the lowest MERV ratings. They only rate around 2 to 3 in the MERV chart. This is because they only remove big particles from the air.

Though fiberglass air filters are inexpensive, they do not work well if there are people in your factory, office, or home who suffer from allergies. Nevertheless, there are other disposable air filters that sport higher MERV ratings. There are the pleated filters and the electrostatic filters.

The pleated filters offer higher efficiency ratings compared to the fiberglass type. They can capture smaller debris particles without busting your budget.

The same thing goes for the electrostatic filters. These filters are perfect for homes that have children and pets. They also filter smoke, which is useful in homes where there are smokers.

Constant Replacing

Some disposable filters like the pleated ones require more frequent replacements. This is because pleated filters tend to experience faster dust build-up. Moreover, these filters somewhat restrict the airflow toward your HVAC.

To minimize these challenges, you need to ensure the accurate size of your furnace filter size. You should also replace the filters strictly at regular intervals. This will help maintain the topnotch performance of your HVAC.

Costly to Replace

Though some disposable filters are relatively cheap, while there are others that are expensive. The disposable electrostatic filters will cost you quite a bit once they start to falter. Furthermore, there are some HVAC units that require you to customize your filters to meet the required sizes.

The Pros of Cartridge Air Filters

Now let’s move to the advantages of using cartridge air filters.

High Merv Rating

One of the primary benefits of using a cartridge is the high MERV rating. These cartridges easily record a high score MERV 15 efficiency rating. They reduce pressure drop and require fewer cleaning cycles. This means fewer emissions from your system.

Larger Surface Area

Cartridges also allow for larger surface area. This helps enhance the dust release and extend the life of the filter.

Easy to Customize

Depending on your need and specifications, you can order customized cartridges. Some of the key factors to consider are the size of your facility, as well as the type of products you manufacture.

The Cons of Cartridge Air Filters

As for the disadvantages, there are a few that you also need to take note of:

Costly Replacements

Compared to most disposable air filters, cartridges are more expensive. If you need to replace your filters, make sure to you have a budget ready.

The Verdict

If you are using HVAC systems for a relatively small business, you can opt for the disposable air filters. On the other hand, if you have more demanding requirements, then cartridge filters are a good investment.

Choosing the right air filters is the same as picking the best air compressors. You need to consider key factors before making the final call.

Get Your Equipment Right

Though businesses may find the disposable vs cartridge air filters debate a tricky one, having the right knowledge will help you arrive at the best decision. The same thing goes for your other equipment needs.

Whether it is for manufacturing, engineering, or automation, we can guide you in every step of the way. Get in touch with us for your motion control and fluid-handling needs. We provide turn-key solutions that will help take your business to the next level.

You can count on RG Group for excellent quality and service

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