You may have noticed ratings on air filters but may be wondering what MERV rating I need. When selecting the MERV rating you need, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the different options. Depending on your need, one rating will be preferable to another.

For example, a MERV rating of 9 to 12 or higher would be suitable if you have allergies. It’s also an excellent choice for any home. However, if you’re looking to save money on your energy bills, a filter with a MERV rating of less than 7 would be ideal. But, because it does not capture tiny particles, it is not suited if you have respiratory problems.

The ideal MERV rating will ultimately be determined by the particles you want to filter out and the capacity of your HVAC system. That’s why it’s a good idea to double-check the rating required for your HVAC system. This will also help you determine what MERV rating you need. 

Having said that, it’s also essential to select the best MERV rating because the wrong one might cause damage to your HVAC system. You can go to your HVAC system and read the manual or talk to our experts.

Meanwhile, we’ve put together this guide to help you figure out the best MERV rating for you. In the sections below, we’ll discuss what a MERV rating is and how to choose the best rating. Finally, what MERV should you use depending on your needs? 

 

what merv rating do i need

 

What is a MERV Rating?

If you’ve spent time looking for an air filter, you’ve probably seen the MERV rating on various filters. But what is a MERV rating? 

“MERV,” which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a standard for determining the efficiency of an air filter. It evaluates how effectively an air filter captures various-sized air particles. 

The lower the MERV, the less effective the air filter captures specific particles. While it may appear that the higher the rating, the better, this is not necessarily the case.

Higher Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value ratings are not always the best option because they can reduce the performance of your air filter system. Overall, the MERV rating you need will be determined by various factors and needs. For example, you may require a higher rating if you have allergies. While a lower rating may be better if you want to reduce your electric bill.

Understanding the MERV Rating Scale

You’ll be able to choose the rating you require once you understand how the rating scale works. It’s worth noting that the MERV rating scale is standard in the air filter industry. As a result, you can use it to compare several air filters to meet your specific requirements.

The following tests are carried out to determine the rating scale for air filters: The Dust Spot Efficiency Test assesses the filter’s ability to catch and remove air particles. The Arrestance Test assesses the filter’s ability to remove synthetic particles found in the air.

The MERV scale is comprised of numbers ranging from 1 to 20. The highest Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating indicates that the air filter captures the most air pollutants. In contrast, a low rating indicates that the filter captures the least air particles.

In addition, the MERV rating scale also includes percentages based on the likelihood of an air filter trapping air pollutants in terms of particle size. Which means how many particles it’s able to capture. As the rating increases, the air filter has a higher possibility of capturing even the smallest particles.

 

merv value chart

 

What MERV Rating Do I Need?

There are at least 20 levels of MERV rating, which can be divided into groups. This will give you a better idea of each’s use and how effective each will be.

Factors like the amount of airflow your HVAC system needs and if you have pets will determine which rating is the best. If you are wondering which MERV rating you need, we’ll dive into which rating you should use in this section.

 

MERV Rating Particles Captured Uses
MERV 1 to 4 Dust, pollen Industrial buildings
MERV 5 to 8 Pollen and other particles ranging in size from 3.0 to 10.0 microns Industrial, commercial, residential buildings
MERV 9 to 12 Pollen, mold spores, legionella, humidifier dust Hospitals, homes
MERV 13 to 16 Smoke, pet dander, bacteria Commercial buildings, hospitals, homes
MERV 17 to 20 98% of particles, including bacteria, virus carriers, combustion smoke, odors, allergens Manufacturing buildings

 

MERV 1 to MERV 4

Particles Captured 

Filters with this rating can only capture particles with a size of 10.0 microns, such as dust and pollen.

Uses

Unfortunately, MERV ratings of 1 to 4 are not recommended for households due to insufficient filtration. They are primarily for minimum dust filtration. Therefore, filters with this rating must be replaced and cleaned more frequently than others.

These ratings are appropriate for buildings that are only looking to filter out dust particles or a low level of particulate matter in the air. In general, they are unsuitable for residential properties.

MERV 5 to MERV 8

Particles Captured

A MERV rating of 5 to 8 effectively captures pollen and other particles ranging in size from 3.0 to 10.0 microns.

It also offers sufficient filtration without compromising the performance of your HVAC system. However, filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating of 5 to 8 must be replaced regularly to maintain their high efficiency.

Uses

Filters with this rating are often ideal for industrial, commercial, and residential buildings. If you have severe allergies and own pets, this rating is also a good option. In other words, a filter with this rating is ideal for a home.

However, because they can capture even tiny particles, they are also great for houses with pets and fireplaces. If you are prone to allergies or have other respiratory problems. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a MERV rating of 5 to 8 can capture and remove particles that might otherwise be detrimental to your health. Choosing a filter with this rating can also help extend your HVAC system’s life by reducing dust buildup.

MERV 9 to MERV 12

Particles Captured 

MERV rating of 9 to 12 is sufficient for capturing particles smaller than 1 and not larger than 3 microns. For example, pollen and mold spores. It’s also able to trap particles such as Legionella and humidifier dust.  

Uses

A MERV rating of 9 to 12 is typically found in air filters used in hospitals and homes. Just make sure that your HVAC system is compatible. Some HVAC systems cannot withstand a high rating, which might disrupt air movement.

MERV 13 to MERV 16

Particles Captured 

A MERV rating of 13 to 16 can capture particles ranging from 0.3 to 10 microns. This includes smoke, pet dander, and even bacteria. 

Uses

This rating is the best for commercial buildings and hospitals. It’s also suitable for homes because it can capture up to 75% of the small particles. They are great for commercial buildings because they can also capture larger particles. 

Filters with this MERV rating are usually more expensive. Still, they are a good investment because they can trap particles of varying sizes, which can help to keep your house clean and dust-free.

MERV 17 to MERV 20

Particles Captured 

This is the highest rating and can capture 98% of particles, including bacteria, virus carriers, and combustion smoke. It also effectively removes odors and allergy-causing particles smaller than 0.30 microns.

Uses

Filters with Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value ratings of 17 to 20 are commonly found in manufacturing plants and hospitals. Depending on the type of filter, they can be used in orthopedic surgery rooms. Unfortunately, they are not suited for use at home. The reason is that most home HVAC systems, unless modified, are incompatible with filters with MERV ratings of 17 to 20.

In addition, filters with a MERV rating of 17 to 20 tend to be bulkier because they are designed for heavy-duty filtration, such as in manufacturing buildings. They also tend to restrict airflow because they capture relatively small particles. This can cause extra resistance in airflow, particularly in a home HVAC system, which will be unable to handle it.

This resistance and reduction in airflow are not great for residential use because they can lower air quality and put too much pressure on your HVAC system. In this case, it is not recommended for homes.

 

clean filter vs dirty filter

 

How to Choose the Best MERV Rating?

The right MERV rating significantly impacts the airflow quality in your home or building. It also affects the functionality of your air filter system. 

That being said, when it comes to choosing the best rating, there are several factors you need to consider. It might be hard to select the best MERV rating that fits your needs but below are some tips to consider. 

Determine Your Air Filter Needs

If you don’t own any pets or suffer from severe allergies, then a MERV rating of 5 to 8 may be a good choice. However, suppose you have pets or suffer from any respiratory conditions. In that case, you may want to consider a higher Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating of 9 to 12.

While for homes with smoke or a fireplace, you should opt for a MERV rating of 13 to 16. Filters with these ratings are intended for trapping and removing smoke particles and fumes. While ratings that are higher are generally excellent for hospitals or manufacturing buildings that need more filtration.

Efficiency and Compatibility of Your HVAC System

When choosing the best MERV rating, keep your HVAC system in mind. The rating has a significant impact on your HVAC system. 

If your rating is incompatible with your HVAC system, it can place undue strain on it. As a result, the system will need more energy to circulate air through it. It can reduce the effectiveness of your HVAC system and lower the air quality in your home or building.

Energy Consumption

Air filters with a higher MERV rating consume more energy to work effectively. That’s why you must consider your energy consumption when choosing a rating. Most filters that work well at removing allergy-causing particles can raise your energy bill. However, the additional benefits outweigh the costs.

Filter Type 

Before choosing the MERV rating, it’s essential to consider the filter model, size, and type. For example, filters with a higher rating must be changed more frequently. That is at least every three months. If they are not replaced or changed, it can affect your HVAC system’s air circulation and effectiveness.

 

best merv rating for airflow

 

Conclusion

If you’re unsure about what Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating is the most suitable for your needs, you can talk to our experts. We know everything there is to know about HVAC products.

That said, while the MERV rating you need is based on your needs, we do recommend a MERV rating of 9 to 12 for your home. This tends to be the most ideal for residential purposes. Filters with these ratings are great for year-round use. 

They are also considerably cheaper than filters with a higher rating. These filters are also more efficient than filters with lower ratings. You also won’t be putting added pressure on your HVAC system. Therefore, your system will last longer, and your air quality will improve. 

It’s also worth noting that a higher MERV rating isn’t always a better option, particularly in homes. Smaller particles cannot pass through the filter with a higher rating. This might cause greater resistance, requiring your HVAC to work harder and making it more difficult to function effectively.

We hope this guide has helped you choose the best MERV rating for your needs. So next time you feel overwhelmed and are unsure which rating is the best, you can use our guide.

 FAQs about What MERV Rating You Need

1. Is a Higher MERV Rating Better?

This isn’t always the case. A higher MERV rating might occasionally cause more resistance in your HVAC system’s airflow. As a result, it may have to work harder and become less efficient over time. This can also result in poor indoor air quality and, in the long term, harm your HVAC system.

2. What MERV Rating Is Suitable for My Filter?

This will vary depending on your HVAC system. Still, a MERV value of 9 to 12 is generally recommended for most household HVAC systems. You can also consult your HVAC system’s owner’s manual to determine the appropriate MERV rating for your system. 

3. What MERV Rating Do I Need for COVID-19?

Some recommend a MERV rating of 9 to 12 for a building’s HVAC system because it can decrease the spread of COVID-19 particles. Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value ratings of 13 to 16 are also a good option for long-term mitigation against respiratory particles that spread COVID-19.

4. How Often Do I Change My Air Filters?

Air filters with a higher MERV rating should be changed more frequently. Because they are more effective at capturing tiny particles, they become dirty faster. That said, they should be changed every 2 to 3 months. However, this may differ based on the type of filter you have.

5. How Are MERV Ratings Determined?

MERV ratings are determined through a series of tests conducted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. The tests involve passing various particle sizes through a filter. The rating is then determined by the size of particles the filter can pass through.

6. Are MERV and HEPA Filters the Same?

HEPA filters are high-efficiency filters that can capture particles of 0.3 microns in size. Most HEPA filters have a MERV rating of 17 to 20. HEPA filters are more efficient and outperform the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating entirely. Furthermore, HEPA filters are often only used in hospitals and laboratories.

7. Do Reusable Filters Have a MERV Rating?

Yes, reusable filters typically have a rating of 4 to 6. This is sufficient to capture larger particles such as dust. However, tiny particles may pass through because of the low MERV rating. Nevertheless, the rating may differ depending on the brand of reusable filter.

8. Does the MERV Rating Affect How Often You Change the Filter?

Yes, the MERV rating affects how often you should change your air filter. Air filters with a high rating tend to accumulate dirt more quickly, requiring frequent replacement. If the air filter is not changed regularly, it can become blocked.

9. What Is the Difference Between MPR and MERV Ratings?

MPR rating is an industry-standard developed by 3M. It rates an air filter manufacturer’s ability to trap and remove air pollutants. Typically, this refers to particles smaller than 1 micron in size. While MERV rating represents the ability of a filter to capture and remove large and small particles.

10. What Is the Difference Between MERV Ratings and FPR Ratings?

The main difference is that FPR stands for Filter Performance Rating, which Home Depot developed based on their tests. Compared to the MERV rating, it is solely used in Home Depot stores. The MERV rating is an industry-standard used globally. 

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