Pleated versus Media and Zoned Comfort Control

Hi All,
I posted this inquiry in alt.hvac a while ago but read some additional unrelated posts from regular old homeowners (to which some hostile responses were posted) and it appears that non-professionals are not invited to the party over there.
I installed a new Carrier Weathermaker furnace along with a Carrier Infinity Central Air conditioner and Venmar heat exchanger in my Minnesota home a couple years ago. I have two questions:
1) We have a split-level home and the lower level tends to be very cold, both winter and summer. Any suggestions on how to remedy this situation? What would the pros/cons be of something like the Aprilaire Zoned Comfort Control system be? My father suggests an electric baseboard heater. Not too keen on that, though.
2) When the furnace was installed the installer put a 20x22 1/4 X 1" opening for the filter. The only kind of filter we can find that actually fits that are the crummy flat fiberglass filters. I recently asked the installer where we could get better filters. He said it was that size to fit the Aprilaire 2400 and that if we wanted better filters we could just put a bigger one in and let one end stick out. He could install the 2400 for about $325 but I don't have a clue as to whether it is worth it other than the installer said it would make our furnace last longer and run more efficiently. True or not? Can I just let one end of a pleated filter stick out like he says? Why should I spent $325 for the 2400??
Thanks much for the professional expertise of the list in advance.
Mike
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Check Consumer Reports at the library. They rated several air filters last year and maybe that one is listed. The return should be based on the needs of the furnace, not on the air filter size.

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Hi Art,
Thanks much for the lead. I'll look it up.
Mike
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Mike,
The 2400 is a very good product, good filtration with a low pressure drop with air flow up to about 1200 CFM (3 tons cooling). Putting in a 1" pleated filter is likely to reduce air flow 15 to 30%, I don't recommend them. NOTE: If your carrier furnace has a Variable Speed blower, then go ahead and use the 1" pleated. The VS blowere can overcome the extra resistance.
The pleated filter WILL NOT make your furnace more efficient or last longer. It WILL help keep your AC coil clean over the long haul, which will help air flow 15 years from now, but with a VS blower won't matter as much.
A zoning system sounds like your best bet for your comfort problems. Someone who does air balance may be able to help as well.
Stretch
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Stretch,
Thanks much. Sounds like the 2400 may be worth it. I'll ask the installer about the zoning system and air balance as well. My father paid about $10K for a system with zoning and he still complains after having the installer back multiple times that it doesn't work right. Not sure if his expectations are too high or whether it really does not work.
Mike
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who: installed this? [complain to the installer: oops: you?] what: you want is comfort within a degree or less. where you live: climate and humidity and maximum insulation are needed. when: now why: comfort how: money. maybe you are trying to run the whole house from one thermostat? you need to install at least one additional thermostat in the home and have two zones with new motorized dampers directing the heat/cool to the demanding zone(s). see technical stuff at: http://www.buildingscience.com/resources /
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Buffalo,
Nope, professional installer. The difference between lower and upper levels is typically at least 5 degrees, sometimes more like 8 (68 up and 60 down often in the winter). I'm not a huge DIY'er so I depend on professionals I can trust combined with some education on my part to know what to ask for and understand the basics of what they are telling me. I only have one thermostat, but I have had the 'pros' out at least twice (furnace install and heat-exchanger install) and nobody has ever suggested another one. I've never complained to them about this, either, which may be my fault, but I just kind of accepted this as normal until now. This is one of those cases that now I have learned something I can ask about it. I'll check out the website and bring these ideas to my installer.
Thanks much,
Mike
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Mike wrote:

One additional option is to install a filter bracket in the wall that makes a 20x25 opening. The addtional area of the filter will allow for a pleated filter to be used. And the filter media is much cheaper in a 1" pleated filter. $10-$15 each MERV 10
AprilAir 2400 filters are roughly $22-$25 each. They are also Merv 10 filters but are several inches DEEP. They hold LOTS more captured material, but as they load up, resistance increases. One site says 6 months to two years, but I would change them every 4-6 months anyway.
One option available for 1" filter housing is Honeywell pleated filters. These are 4 inches deep and have a offset that allows the filter to fit completely INSIDE the filter bracket
According to several web sites I visited the crappy 1" filter you need for this 20x22 filter bracket is costing you about $20 anyway.
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Hi Robert,
Thanks for the suggestions. Actually, I have looked at a number of places and they don't even have this size filter at Home Depot. The only place is at place called Menards here in MN where these filters go for about $15 for 10 filters. They are cheap, but I typically am suspicious of overly cheap things. We don't have any pets and the house is not overly dusty so maybe the 2400 filter would last a year?
Thanks,
Mike
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Mike wrote:

The 2400 filter NEEDS a hydrostatic pressure guage across it (talk to your vendor about this) to let you KNOW when it is time to change the filter. It gives you a visual indication of the loading of the filter. When the loading gets too high (i.e. the pressure drop across the filter gets too high), change the filter. This pressure guage can be remotely installed so that you do not have to go the furnace to look at it.
This filter is on the order of 5 inches DEEP. LOTS and LOTS of surface area to trap dust, dirt, mites, etc. It will be HEAVY when you take it out.
It will have a lower pressure drop than a 1" filter will at the same MERV rating both empty and full
I have mold spore related allergies. Regardless of whether I use 1" pleated or 4-5" deep pleated, my chest lets me know in no uncertain terms when its time to change the filter.
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Robert,
Great. Thanks much again. The input is appreciated. I was 'redirected' over here in no uncertain terms from alt.hvac. The atmosphere over there is pretty hostile.
Mike
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