Furnace Filter vs Air Purifier

Updated: Jan 12, 2023 2:03 AM
Furnace Filter vs Air Purifier

Comparing a furnace filter vs an air purifier is essential for making sure your breathing air is clean. While the furnace filter is there to help filter your air, it cannot compete with a dedicated system. Whether it’s a whole-house system or a portable air purifier, you’re always better off investing in an independent cleaning system. No matter what, it’s crucial to find the best air purifier for your lifestyle, so keep doing your research.


  • A furnace filter can capture the big stuff, like larger dust particles, but will not filter out the smaller particles air purifiers will.
  • There are several air purification types to choose from, and even whole house units you can install into your HVAC system.
  • Using your furnace fan at all times is leads to larger electricity bills, so having an efficient air cleaning system can help you save money through efficiency.

How Furnace Filters Compare to Air Purifiers

The comparison of a furnace filter vs an air purifier comes down to a few key differences. Furnace filters aren’t as efficient and can’t promise better lung health as purifiers can. If you’re wondering why purification is even necessary, read our article comparing fresh air vs an air purifier. As it turns out, fresh air isn’t always so fresh.

Insider Tip

Look for the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) on an air purifier to figure out whether it’s big enough for the space it will occupy.

The Benefits of High Indoor Air Quality

Poor air quality is a health risk that can lead to respiratory issues. Dirty particles can wreak havoc on lung health, especially in people with asthma. Ensuring proper air filtration leads to better lung health, relief from allergies, and more. Your furnace filter is excellent at picking up large particles, such as animal dander, but falls short in quite a few areas that can affect your lung health. If you’re looking to improve lung health further, look into the H13 HEPA filter vs a True HEPA filter or HEPA filter vs air purifier for more information.

Where Furnace Filters Fall Short

The level of filtration offered by a furnace filter cannot compare to a dedicated purification unit. Furnace filters are not supposed to be your primary source of filtration. Furnace filters are the first line of defense that needs backup. You should also check out how duct cleaning vs an air purifier can be beneficial to the air overall.

Removal of Indoor Air Pollution

Your furnace filter is made to capture larger particles but will struggle with microscopic particles. Almost all different types of air purifiers will clean your air more thoroughly. Even investing in portable air purifiers throughout your home will ensure you are removing more airborne particles. With your air purifier, the type of filter makes a difference. Avoid using a basic air filter and aim for HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air filters) instead.

Overall Efficiency Rating

Air purifier filters are working full-time to provide clean airflow to your home. On the other hand, your furnace fan must be on for the filter to operate. Like with any HVAC system, like air conditioning, running the fan at all times can be costly. Using a purification system, whether with ultraviolet light or electrostatic filters, is far more efficient. This also includes the top-rated air purifiers for allergies and dust.


Ensure that you replace filters regularly or risk poor air quality and even damage the purifier housing it.


Beyond changing out air filters, how can families make sure they’re breathing healthy air?

Poor indoor air quality leads to adverse health effects in humans of all ages. Investing in specific house plants is a low-cost method of having healthier air. You can also consult an indoor air quality expert for a consultation.

What are the pros and cons of having washable air filters?

Washable air filters are great for stretching a dollar, but they are expensive as an initial purchase. However, not buying disposable filters means you’ll save money in the long run. Washable filters are more environmentally friendly, keeping trash out of landfills.

What are air purifiers supposed to filter out of the air?

While every system works differently, there are common airborne pollutants that most purifiers handle:

  • Dirt Particles
  • Dust Particles
  • Pet Dander

What are the different kinds of air filters?

There are a few different types of air filters:

  • Carbon Filter
  • Electrostatic Filters
  • UV Filters
  • Pleated Air Filters

STAT: 3.35 gas warm air furnaces were shipped throughout America in 2020, showing a decrease from the previous year’s sales. (source)

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