Air conditioning filters are the single best source for keeping your cooling system clean. There are filters that are made up from many materials. There are filters that use spun fiberglass (least effective) polyester and blends that will capture more particulates. All filters use terms called arrestance, and MERV ratings. The general rule the higher the number, the better the filtering qualities will be. The first question is what the main purpose of an air conditioning filter is in your air conditioning system.
Air conditioning filter was first installed in a central air conditioning system to keep the equipment clean and to reduce the maintenance on the system. When air flows through the system the dust and dirt that is in the air deposits on the blower and coil of the air handling unit. The dirt that is build up can cause the blower and coil to become restricted and not move the proper amount of air. The gas or an electric heat system where there is the dirt and lint can build up on the heater and when it goes into the heat mode, it can smoke or burn off.
The solution is to filter the air before it goes into the system; thus, the home air conditioning filters exist. First, filters that were utilized were basic low density filters called Furnace Filters because they were made for heat only systems. If there is no cooling coil on a system they did not need a very efficient filter. The fiberglass filters are very loosely woven and are very inefficient. As the number of central air conditioning systems increases, a better filter is installed and had to be used to keep the inside cooling coils from plugging up with dirt. It catches the big stuffs and some of the smaller stuffs and will keep the equipment cleaner.
If the coils get saturated with water in the cooling process, they become very efficient filters, much more efficient than standard filters. It catches the smaller particles of dirt and dust that the filters do not. With this, the main problem is that the coils catch and hold this dirt and then become restricted and cause cooling problems. These air conditioning filters need to have increased surface area because of their increase in density of the material. They then went to thicker filters so that they could increase the density of the material even more and catch smaller particles. The very important thing you can do to keep your air conditioning and heating system working efficiently is to make sure the air conditioning filters are always clean and are matched to the unit. That way, filters will perform well according to your expectations.