What is MERV and Why is it Important?
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What is MERV and Why is it Important?

As businesses and individuals are putting more and more emphasis on maintaining acceptable air quality for health and comfort, the air filtration market continues to grow. It is expected to reach $5 million by the end of 2026.

Understanding air filtration is crucial. The MERV rating system helps us define the varying levels of air filtration provided by our air filters. Read on for a guide that will answer the question, “What is MERV, and how does it affect my air quality?”

What is a MERV Rating?

The MERV rating acronym stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This information can allow individuals to understand how effective an air filter is at removing air pollutants, regardless of the filter manufacturer.

The rules and regulations of MERV are a design of ASHRAE, or The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning. It allows consumers to better understand what they are buying.

However, once a filter possesses a set rating, it is equal to any other filter of the same rating. So, despite the change in material or construction, a filter with a MERV rating of 8 is equal to another filter with a MERV rating of 8.

MERV Rating Guide

The MERV rating system describes a scale marking out the lowest and highest ratings of effective filtration. Filters that have a higher MERV can filter more air pollutants. This means better air quality in your home.

These rating charts are split into different columns providing different information. This chart maps out the different particles sizes caught by the filtration system.

The columns are split based on micron sizes, between .3 microns to 10 microns in diameter. Each column represents the percentages of particles caught. The complete MERV rating system can range from 1 to 16.

The higher the MERV rating, the higher the percentages of particles caught in the filter. While higher MERV ratings mean better air quality, it’s also worth noting if your HVAC system can handle the airflow restrictions of these filters.

MERV Rating on Filters

The MERV rating column beginning with 1 through 3 collects smaller particles. This can include dust, hair, pollen, spray paint, and carpet fibers. Filters within this range collect less than 25% of larger particles with a diameter of 4 to 10 microns.

Filters with a MERV rating of 4 will catch large particles, the benefit of these filters is that they contain fiberglass. The fiberglass reinforcement allows the filter to catch particles including lint and some dust.

Shop: AIRx Basic MERV 4 Filters

Despite the low cost, these filtration systems need monthly replacement to maintain an effective HVAC system.

Filtration systems can catch up to 75% of particles if they have a MERV rating between 5 and 8. This can include pollen, dust, lint, and even dust mite debris.

Shop: AIRx Dust MERV 8 Filters

If you upgrade to a MERV rating between 9 and 12, the filter will be able to trap many more fine particles, such as mold spores, pet dander, smog, and bacteria.

Shop: AIRx Allergy MERV 11 Filters

The highest range of MERV ratings, between 13 and 16, provides the best air filtration possible. These filters will be able to filter out all previously mentioned particles, plus smoke, aerosols, and other tiny particulates.

Shop: AIRx Health MERV 13 Filters

MERV Rating Advice

If you are a homeowner suffering from allergy or asthma symptoms, a filter with a higher MERV rating can help address those issues. A homeowner may suffer from headaches, coughing & sneezing, rashes, and eye irritation without one.

These higher MERV rating air filters can prevent those allergens from spreading through your home. An effective air filter can reduce the build-up of dust and other particles.

Without efficient high MERV rated filters, colds and illnesses such as the flu can spread throughout the house. A higher MERV rating can prevent immuno-compromised individuals from developing certain diseases or symptoms.

Another thing to note about higher MERV air filters is their energy use. Air filters with a higher MERV rating can require more energy usage. This is because they need more power to push air through the household.

When an air filter goes beyond a 9 to 13 MERV rating, it may become more difficult to push air through the HVAC system. This might not be ideal if you have an older HVAC system. However, there are certain high MERV rating filters that use extra media to combine great filtration with high airflow.

So What is MERV?

It can be a difficult task to choose the right filter for your HVAC system. A MERV rating chart will allow you to answer the question, “What is MERV?” It can also give you a better understanding of what filter to choose for your home or facility.

No matter the unit in the home, a pure air filter will help improve indoor air quality. The right air filter can sustain this quality while keeping your energy bill down.

If you’re still having trouble figuring out which air filter to choose for your home, use this page to pick between MERV 8, 11, and 13. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to shop for air filters with confidence!

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