Why You Don’t Need a 3M / Filtrete Air Filter
We won’t spend this entire resource page talking about the 3M/Filtrete brand of air filters, we just needed to get your attention. 3M/Filtrete are a great example of a well-known brand that people default to simply because they’re the big brand in the air filter industry. Not because of quality, but because of the name and logo.
Ask yourself this: Do you have to buy Kleenex when you need quality tissue paper? Do you have to buy Coca-Cola when you want a soda?
Some brands have been around long enough that their name becomes synonymous with the product itself. Perhaps that is the company’s massive marketing budget at work, but just because a brand is widely known, that doesn’t mean that it’s the only option - or even the best option.
When a brand/product association is that strong, some consumers neglect to consider the alternatives, which might offer better performance at a better price. And that can be costly.
Ultimately, relying on an overpriced, branded air filter can cause the following problems:
- Increased cost for regular air filter maintenance
- More apprehension when buying a replacement air filter, leading to longer intervals without a proper replacement (bad for your HVAC system)
- Restricted selection in available size of air filters
- Low quality construction for a higher price point
Air Filters & HVAC Brands: What You Need to Know
How many homeowners know the brand of their HVAC system off the top of their head?
Some might if they have the unit installed and chose it for specific reasons. Others might not.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer and moved into a previously occupied home, you might not know the brand of AC unit you have, as those types of things aren’t necessarily discussed during the homebuying process.
Often HVAC models come with a specific branded air filter. The owner’s manual might even recommend replacing the air filter with a certain brand to ensure “optimal performance.” The problem for those unfamiliar with home air system maintenance is that they’re most likely going to pull out whatever brand air filter they had in place and search that exact same one on the web to see where it is available, without looking for alternatives.
There are many non-branded air filters that work just as well as popular brand air filters. In some cases, another filter brand can be much more effective at clearing contaminants from the air and keep the HVAC system running smoothly.
At the end of the day, the brand of the filter doesn’t matter if the replacement air filter is the proper fit and the right specs.
Why a Company Like 3M/Filtrete Charges More for Their Filters
Some consumers wonder why a Filtrete air filter would cost more than non-branded air filters if it doesn’t offer better performance.
It all comes down to the overall cost to produce and market the product and how much profit the manufacturer wants to make with each sale.
It requires a lot of expensive marketing to make a brand like Filtrete a household name and keep it at the forefront of consumers’ minds. That’s one reason why brand name products tend to cost more: the marketing expense is passed on to customers in the form of higher prices at checkout.
There are additional costs to running a major corporation that also often get passed on to the consumer, like legal teams, c-suite travel expenses, massive marketing departments, and more. Ultimately, major brands just have a higher operating cost, often increasing the cost of their goods.
When you pay that extra $5 - $15 for a branded That’s an added cost each time the air filter is replaced. A non-branded air filter with the same quality materials will cost less and perform just as well so long as it fits properly.
Some branded air filters also cost more because the manufacturer has a lot of overhead costs.
The massive corporations behind branded air filters have a lot of resources, but their operations are so vast, efficiency isn’t usually a strong suit. Again, that added cost is passed along to the consumer.
The Case for Non-Branded Air Filters vs Filtrete Air Filters
Air filters are just like most other products - a brand name does not equal better quality.
You may feel better about it because you are familiar with the brand and that provides some assurance, but it’s far from a guarantee that it will provide the best value or performance for your needs.
In addition to the cost factors mentioned above, size is another advantage for non-branded air filters. If you are limiting your options to just 3M / Filtrete air filters, a lot of air filter size options aren’t available. And good luck trying to get a custom-sized 3M/Filtrete air filter. Because their product is produced at such a large scale, they’re not agile enough to offer custom sized solutions to their customers.
A big-name brand like Filtrete cannot offer the custom air filter sizes that you’ll find at a direct-to-consumer manufacturer like Filterbuy.
Many consumers are also surprised to find that Filterbuy air filters offer superior construction compared to Filtrete air filters and many of the other top brands. Our filters have the same pleated screens, but instead of using cardboard, we use rigid cell, beverage board for our frames. This improves rigidity and the seal that your air filter creates in your intake vent, ensuring that more air particles are trapped.
It’s a perfect example of why having a recognizable brand name on the label shouldn’t be the only consideration consumers make when choosing air filters.
How to Tell the Difference Between Branded and Non-branded Replacement Air Filters
If branded and non-branded air filters operate in the same way and look similar, how can you tell them apart?
There are a few ways that you can spot a branded air filter from a non-branded replacement air filter.
The most obvious way to spot a branded air filter is to look for the logo, names and images that are trademarked by the brand. Be careful if you’re looking for a specific brand. Some competitors purposely mimic well-known brands hoping to piggyback off the recognition.
If the filter is unpackaged the logo or name should still be visible somewhere on the frame.
Air Filter MPR vs. MERV Rating
If you see an air filter MPR rating, then you know you’re looking at a 3M air filter.
MPR ratings are only found on 3M air filters because the rating system was developed by the company. It stands for microparticle performance rating and is based on ratings for particles that are between 0.3 and 1 micron in size.
MERV rating is the international standard and is the recommended system for measuring air filter efficiency. Since MPR rating is only used on 3M air filters, it isn’t good for making home air filter comparisons with other brands and price points.
The MPR rating system also doesn’t include many common household contaminants that are outside the 0.3-1-micron size range. Ultimately, 3M’s MPR air filter rating scale is unnecessary since the MERV 11 rating and higher includes particles that are 0.3-1 micron in size.
The MPR rating scale exists only to differentiate 3M air filters from other brands. When deciding on the best possible air filter for your home, it’s much more important to look for the MERV rating.
Do Expensive Air Filters Work Any Better?
As already noted, the fact that an air filter is branded doesn’t mean it works better. The same is true for more expensive air filters, which often come along with popular, branded products.
The price of a product simply suggests value to the consumer and what the manufacturer believes it is worth on the market. It does not equate to “quality.”
As consumers, we’ve been conditioned to believe that a higher price tag means higher quality, but that just isn’t the truth.
For example, pleated air filters cost more than flat, fiberglass air filters, but pleated air filters have been shown to perform much better. The price difference is understandable and worth it because you’re paying for a superior product.
But if you’re comparing a branded pleated air filter to a non-branded pleated air filter with the same MERV rating, the performance difference is nominal. The higher price for the branded air filter isn’t going to make a noticeable difference in the air quality.
3M/Filtrete vs. Filterbuy Home Air Filter Comparison
For a quick reference, let’s do a home air filter comparison between Filtrete / 3M air filters and Filterbuy air filters.