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Pleated Filters vs. Throwaway Panel HVAC/Furnace Filters

by Richard Carrow (Danforth Air Filtration & Air Purification, Buffalo, NY)

The Pleated Filter is many times more efficient, effective, and cost-effective than the’Throwaway’ fiberglass media Panel Furnace Filter. Yet a surprising percentage of professional Building Operators continue to use ’Throwaway’ Panel Filters as their primary HVAC air filtration media. This is partly due to the air filter industry not effectively educating managers on the considerable benefits of upgrading to Pleated Filters. Find out how You can $SAVE$ and improve your HVAC systems’ performance by switching to Pleated Filters.

Danforth Air Filtration & Air Purification and Danforth Indoor Air Quality Division work together to maintain Your HVAC / Air Filters / Air Cleaners / Air Purifiers, and coordinate required periodic testing and preventive maintenance on all types of air filtration & air purification systems in New York State

Why You Should Switch To Pleated Filters

The benefits conferred by switching to Pleated Filters are many, but first let’s consider the disadvantages associated with those Panel Furnace Filters that You may currently be using:

’Throwaway’ Panel Furnace Filters

’Throwaway’ Panel Furnace Filters are documented to provide less than 8% actual ASHRAE filtration efficiency - making them unsuitable for any purpose other than the pre-filtering or screening out the largest airborne debris. Many in the industry call them "Bugs and Birds" air filters. Due to the coarse composition and spacing of the fiberglass media, throwaways are not even technically classified as filters, but instead work on the principle of particle impingement:

  • With impingement, dirt particles are only captured if they directly strike and attach to a fiberglass fiber, leaving other particles to pass right through the mostly open pores. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate the inefficiency of throwaway panel air filters is to actually pour a packet of sugar onto the filter and watch the sugar pass right through it! - Now imagine the dirt and other particulates passing through your panel air filters and heading for your heating and cooling coils, and eventually your occupied building space.
  • Captured dirt at the forward side of the fiberglass media will eventually build-up to the point where it reaches its maximum limit. Additional particulates will then dislodge the previously captured dirt downstream. Under conditions where captured particulates actually span the fibers and increase the dirt loading, the panel filter media can actually collapse into the fan itself.
  • Throwaway Panel Air Filters also dump much of the little dirt they do collect as soon as they are changed, handled, or are in any way disturbed - leaving the dumped dirt behind to be redistributed into the air handling system.
  • An additional concern is the adhesive used to bond the fiberglass media to the throwaway panel filter frame. The components of the adhesive can often act as a growth medium for mold and other microorganisms.

Upgrade To Pleated Filters

The simple solution - upgrade Your ’throwaway’ panel furnace filters to Pleated Filters! Changing from throwaways to polyester pleated filters is both easy and cost effective. Pleated filters generally have an average efficiency of 25-30%, although some such as Purolator’s DMK 80 with Defiant™ media are rated at 45-50%. Compare this to the 8% average efficiency of throwaway panels and it is simple to see the difference.

With increased efficiency comes increased resistance to flow. Filter manufacturers compensate for the increased airflow resistance of their higher efficiency media by pleating it into a deep V shape - thereby increasing the square footage of media within the same size frame.

As an example, a 24x24x2 fiberglass panel furnace filter will have 4 sq.ft. of surface area, the same size high capacity pleated air filter will typically provide 17.6 sq.ft. This results in an almost negligible increase in pressure drop, but provides you with over 4 times more filter media area.

Typically, pleated filters can be installed in any filter bank or holding track as long as you choose the same depth as your current throwaway panel filter. But, unlike that inefficient panel air filter, which may require monthly changing, a pleated filter will last much longer - approximately 3-4 months under normal dirt loading conditions!

Pleated Filter Benefits:

Upgrade from throwaway panels to pleated filters in Your HVAC system, and immediately see these 10 benefits:

  • Higher Efficiency - Pleated Filters are available in 30% and 50% efficiency.
  • Increased Energy Efficiency - Pleated Filters maintain cleaner coils & greater heat transfer.
  • Reduced Housekeeping Costs - Cleaner walls, ceilings, furnishings, etc.
  • Lower Shipping Costs - Filter consumption is reduced 4 times, reducing shipping costs (which may be 50% or more of the air filter price!)
  • Less Storage Room - Air filter inventory and handling costs cut by 3/4.
  • Decreased Health Hazard - Pleated Filters give greater particulate capture, fewer IAQ complaints. and do not promote bacterial growth.
  • Increased Filter Life - Pleated Pre-Filters extend the life of expensive bag filters, HEPA filters, and activated carbon filters.
  • Reduced Maintenance - Pleated Filters maintain cleaner motors, equipment components, etc.
  • Reduced Labor - Pleated Filters require fewer changes.
  • Immediate Savings - Pleated Filters pay for themselves very quickly!

Pleated Filter Media Types

Pleated filters are available with a variety of media types for specific applications:

  • High loft, non-woven cotton/synthetic blends or polyester for most applications
  • Electrostatically enhanced synthetic fibers improve protection from bioaerosols
  • Carbon infused media for removal of odors
  • Anti- microbial agent infused media for removing allergens


A surprising percentage of building operators continue to use ’Throwaway’ Panel Filters as their primary air filtration media, but have much to gain by upgrading to Pleated Filters. Pleated air filters are more efficient, effective, cost-effective, last longer, and are available with a variety of media types for specific applications.

Stop using Throwaway fiberglass Panel Filters - Pleated Air Filters will easily pay for themselves very quickly following installation in Your residential, commercial, or industrial HVAC system.

Danforth is an active NAFA member with over 20yrs experience in HVAC air filtration. We can help you find the optimum Air Filter to replace ’disposable’ panel filters in Your residential, industrial or commercial HVAC system.

$SAVE$ - Discount pricing on quality Pleated Air Filters and all other air filters at Visit the Secure Online Store for standard air filter sizes. For custom-sized pleated air filters, use the Custom Pleated Air Filter Configuration Tool to build and buy your own filter.

Danforth Air Filtration & Air Purification - Replacement Air Filters, HEGA Air Purifiers, & Associated Filters. NAFA Certified Specialist For Residential, Commercial, & Industrial HVAC And HEGA Air Purification

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On-Site Service
(In New York State)

Danforth also conducts HVAC system assessments and provides a detailed 3rd party report using our Aircuity™ HVAC monitoring and assessment equipment.
To Schedule A HEPA Filter On-Site Scan, Test, & Certification In Your Building
Contact Danforth’s National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) Certified Balancing Division
M-F, 8am to 4pm EST
Call: 716.829.1345


Can’t Find What You Need?

Danforth HVAC & Air Filtration Experts can help you find the right equipment or parts.
Danforth Air Filter & Air Purifier Warehouse
We Stock Replacement Air Filters to fit all major brands of furnaces & HVAC systems.
Visit the Secure Online Store
or Call 1.866.581.4999


Contact Danforth Air Filtration & Air Purification
Danforth Air Filtration & Air Purification, Buffalo, NY
Buffalo, New York, USA
Call: 1.866.581.4999