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What is a MERV Rating and Why Does it Matter?

MERV Rating Header

If you’re like most people that work with HVAC equipment, chances are you’ve heard the term MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) before. And you probably know that it has something to do with air filters.

But what does it mean, and why is it important?

MERV filter

The air inside your home is the same air that you breathe. Many factors can affect the quality of this air, including temperature and humidity levels. The most significant factor, however, is the type of filters you have on your HVAC system.

That’s why it’s essential to know whether or not your home has MERV ratings for its air filters. It determines how effective they are at filtering out contaminants from the air before it enters your home.

So let’s learn more about MERV ratings and how to choose the correct filter for your HVAC needs.

What is a MERV Rating?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s a rating system that measures how effective an air filter is at removing dust, pollen, and other particles from the air.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) gives the MERV rating. This ensures the standardization of air filters that help improve the quality of your indoor air.

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Air quality is essential to help keep you healthy. Whether you have allergies or asthma, or if you want a clean and healthy space to live, air quality is something that should be taken seriously.

MERV ratings range from 1-20 and are determined by measuring how much particulate matter is captured by each filter before escaping into the surrounding environment. Your local HVAC technicians can tell you which MERV rating is best for your home.

Understanding a MERV Rating

In general terms, MERV ratings can determine whether a filter will remove particles like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores from your home’s air supply.

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The MERV rating of a furnace or air conditioner filter can be found on the package and is usually on a scale of 1 to 20. A higher rating means that it can remove smaller particles from the air. The higher the number, the more expensive they are, but they also provide better protection against allergens, dust mites, and other contaminants.

However, using an exceptionally high MERV-rated filter in your home HVAC system is not recommended. This is because they trap the tiniest particles, making the system work harder. You don’t want to wear your HVAC out too soon, leading to costly repairs later down the line.

MERV Ratings and Their Uses

MERV rating 1-7

Filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of 1-4 will remove less than 20% of particles in the 3.0-10.0 micron range, including pollen, carpet fibers, and dust mites. This means that these filters have the least restriction to airflow and will trap the lowest volume of particles.

This isn’t great if you live in an area with high pollution levels or you suffer from allergies.

Filters with MERV ratings of 1-7 are generally only used in large industrial settings where airflow is already good.

MERV Rating 8-13

A typical residential air filter has a MERV rating of between 8-13. It can keep pollutants from escaping into your indoor air, including:

  • Pet dander
  • Mold spores
  • Dust mites
  • Pollen

MERV 8 filters are at the lower end of the residential filters. They can capture particles like dust but don’t prevent smoke and air pollution from entering your home. You need a filter of 13 or above to protect your home from these particles.

Therefore if you live in an area of high pollution or there are smokers in your home, you should consider a higher MERV rating.

MERV Rating 14-20

Higher MERV ratings are often used in hospitals and labs for their quality of air filtration, resulting in fewer airborne viruses and bacteria. The higher MERV ratings also help remove odors and chemical vapors.

HEPA Filter
Air cleaners with a higher MERV rating are generally more expensive. However, their effectiveness makes them well worth the cost.

Does a HEPA Filter have a MERV Rating?

If you’re looking for an air purification system that can help reduce allergens in your home or business, we recommend going with a HEPA filter that has a MERV rating of 17 or above.

Air conditioners with this level of filtration can capture 99% of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size. This offers the maximum protection from pollutants for your home.

Unfortunately, air filters don’t last forever. You should replace them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, you’ll find this information on the filter itself or in the owner’s manual for your HVAC system. If unsure, contact your local HVAC professionals for guidance.

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Need help figuring out the right air filter for your HVAC system? Contact the experts at Adeedo today.

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