MERV Ratings: The Difference Between Each Level

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MERV Ratings: The Difference Between Each Level

Air Filter MERV Rating

The MERV rating on an air filter shows how efficient it is for removing particulates of different sizes. The ratings start at 1 and go up to 16, with 1 being the least efficient and 16 the most efficient. It's important to know what MERV stands for and the differences between different MERV levels. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It's a rating system developed by ASHRAE to give consumers a way to easily identify how efficient a filter is. In general, you can group MERV filters into four categories.

MERV 1-4

The lowest rated filters can remove pollen, dust mites, and similarly sized particulates. They are primarily used to keep harmful dust from entering the inside of heating or cooling systems. As any HVAC professional can tell you, this dust can reduce the efficiency of the system and damage the coils. These are the least expensive options if you are on a budget.

MERV 5-8

Filters in this category offer more filtration than MERV 1-4. They can remove mold spores and dust from the air. They remain budget friendly, while offering a step up in air quality.

MERV 9-12

If you have allergies or asthma, a filter rated between 9 and 12 is ideal for you. It can remove a lot of substances that cause allergic reactions such as pet dander and auto emissions. These filters can also help extend the life of the HVAC system by keeping the inside dust free. The price of these is higher than lower rated filters.

MERV 13-16

Filters rated between 13 and 16 have the highest efficiency when it comes to home air filtration. The only thing higher is HEPA filtration which is used for hospitals, labs, and government facilities. These MERV filters can get bacteria, mold, dust, dust, and viruses. They are ideal for people who have severe allergies or a compromised immune system.

Choosing the Right Filter

There's one thing to consider before you go out to buy a MERV 16 filter. The higher the MERV rating on a filter, the more air resistance it causes due to the finer mesh. This higher air resistance causes the HVAC air handler to work harder to pull air into the system. Older systems may not be able to handle the highest MERV rated filters.
 
Your best solution is to talk with an HVAC professional first. Call Cahill Heating and Air Conditioning today. We are happy to advise you on which MERV rating would best serve your system and air quality needs.

 
Have any questions regarding one of our articles? Contact Cahill Heating, Air Conditioning, & Electric at (847) 367-4492 or use our online form to schedule your next appointment!