No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and size, and some have specifications that others don't. In most situations we recommend using the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your unit.
All filters are classified with MERV ratings, which range from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.
A bigger value demonstrates the filter can grab finer particulates. This sounds great, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become obstructed faster, increasing pressure on your equipment. If your system isn’t made to function with this model of filter, it may restrict airflow and create other troubles.
Unless you reside in a hospital, you probably don’t require a MERV rating greater than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC equipment is specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Sometimes you will discover that decent systems have been designed to work with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.
All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should catch most of the common annoyance, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional remove mold as opposed to trying to mask the issue with a filter.
Sometimes the packaging indicates how frequently your filter should be exchanged. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added expense.
Filters are manufactured from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters trap more dirt but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.
While you could be interested in using a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC unit. It’s extremely unrealistic your system was created to run with amount of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Calgary, think about adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works in tandem with your HVAC system.