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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 particles from the air. 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 MERV ratings. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s a rating system developed to give consumers a way to 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 other particles. They are often used to keep dust from entering your heating or cooling systems. 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 best for you. It can remove a lot of substances that cause allergic reactions. This can include 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. You will often find these in hospitals, labs, and government facilities. These MERV filters can get bacteria, mold, dust, dust, and viruses. They are best 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, Cooling, Electric, Plumbing & Sewer, Air Conditioning, and Electric today. We are happy to help you find which MERV rating would be best for you and your air quality needs.

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