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MERV Ratings Meaning | 5 Things You Need to Know

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Whether you’re looking to change the air filters of your HVAC system as part of a maintenance routine or wish to upgrade to superior filtering capabilities, you’ve probably heard about MERV ratings. If you’re not familiar with what this means, MERV refers to Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. When you’re looking at a MERV rating, you’re basically seeing its ability to trap particles.

Many HVAC filter manufacturers rely on the standardized MERV ratings to help you understand the air filtering performance of their products. Depending on the size of the filtered particle that ranges from 0.3 to 10 microns, MERV ratings go from 1 to 16. Understanding the differences between MERV ratings can help you make a more informed choice when it comes to your air filtering needs.

1. Is a Higher MERV Rating Better?

A higher MERV rating means the filter can capture smaller particles so that means it’s better, right? Although it seems like that intuitively, the answer is a bit more complicated. This is because you need to take into account efficiency. The smaller the pores of the filter, the more resistance to airflow is generated. So that means that a filter with a very high MERV rating might actually reduce the performance of your air conditioner or other HVAC systems because it’s less efficient.

2. What’s the Best MERV Rating to Use?

If you’re interested in making the right air filter choice, picking the correct model should always take into account the MERV rating. The secret is to find the best balance between optimal HVAC system performance and reliable filtration. Otherwise, you risk making things worse and having to deal with worse air quality and a dangerous strain on the filtration system.

3. Ideal MERV Ratings for Residential Use

Most residential users shouldn’t have to worry too much about picking the air filter with the best MERV rating. Any value between 5 and 8 should work ideally for typical HVAC systems used in homes. Air filters with MERV ratings of 5-8 are able to trap most mold spores, furniture polish, cooking dust, and pollen particles. Check out this pack of high-quality MERV 8 filters on Amazon.

4. Best MERV Rating for Allergies

Using higher MERV ratings in residential settings isn’t generally recommended unless you have some special requirements. People with allergies or respiratory problems such as asthma should consider getting air filters with MERV ratings of 10 to 12. This is due to the increased filtration capacity for small particles that trigger allergy symptoms.

You should be able to enjoy cleaner air with a significant reduction in pollen, mold spores, and auto fumes when choosing a filtering capacity of MERV 12 such as this air filter from Nordic Pure. Also, it’s recommended to opt for pleated filters that are more efficiently designed to deliver superior filtration performance. Getting rid of pet odors or other unpleasant odors can be done with a powerful air filter for allergies that’s also equipped with a carbon layer. Here’s a good example on Amazon.

5. Advanced Filtration Needs

Those who own a furnace and wish to make use of a more advanced level of filtration power should consider a MERV rating of 13 that’s able to trap smaller contaminants. Some typical examples include micro allergens, smoke, pet dander, hair spray, and cement dust. Air filters with this kind of rating boast excellent efficiency to filter out particles whose size ranges from 0.3 to 1 microns. This made-in-the-USA air filter with a MERV rating of 13 seems like a solid choice to enhance the filtering capabilities of the furnace.

MERV values higher than 13 are generally only intended for commercial or industrial applications where it’s required to filter out ultra-fine particles, including bacteria, viruses, and smoke. Surgery rooms make use of the strongest air filters available to keep the air as pure as possible from microscopic contaminants. The highest MERV ratings can also filter insecticide dust and the majority of paint pigments. For the most advanced filtration requirements, check out the Lennox Carbon Coated MERV 16 filter on Amazon.

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