What is a MERV Rating and Why Does it Matter?

MERV Rating HeaderIf you book HVAC tune-ups or are in the market for a new HVAC system, you may have heard of MERV ratings. Identifying the MERV rating of an air filter plays a vital role in ensuring a healthy indoor environment and keeping your home or workplace comfortable all year round.

MERV ratings and filter
Here’s some useful information about MERV ratings to help you understand the ratings ranges, and their pros and cons. This will help you choose the right filter for your residential or business HVAC needs.

What is a MERV Rating?

The air filter in your furnace, air conditioner, and other appliances has a job to do: remove dust, pollen, and other particles from the air you breathe. It’s there to keep you and your family safe from pollutants, ensuring your home remains a healthy environment.

A MERV rating plays an important role in that job by measuring the effectiveness of your air filter.

So, what does MERV stand for?

It stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.” This term was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in the 1980s. They felt air filters needed some form of standardization to reassure consumers of their efficiency.

MERV meme
It’s a good idea to choose your air filter for the MERV rating rather than a brand name. That way, you can rest assured the filter is of a high-quality standard.

Understanding a MERV Rating

Most people are familiar with the MERV rating system, but it can still be tricky to understand.

The lower the MERV rating, the larger the particles that can be filtered out of the air. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles that can be filtered out.

A high MERV rating will filter out larger particles, like dust and allergens. A low MERV rating will filter out smaller particles, like mold spores and bacteria.

Because of this relationship between particle size and MERV rating, there are multiple MERV ratings for different filters. So, you cannot compare two filters with different ratings and expect them to perform equally well in your home or office.

When choosing an air filter, you should consider whether you want one that is designed for allergy relief or one that removes common household allergens like dust and pollen. Also, if you have pets or smoke in your home, you should pick a filter that can handle these contaminants and any other environmental issues that may affect your health, like mold.

If you don’t know which filter you should use, contact an HVAC professional at Bell Bros for more information.

MERV Ratings and Their Uses

MERV Rating 1-7

MERV ratings 1-7 filters are designed to remove particles from the air, but not necessarily dust and dander. They are most effective at removing particles sized between 0.3 to 10 microns, but they aren’t great at removing pollutants that cause asthma and allergies.

For this reason, lower MERV-rated air filters are better suited for larger industrial settings with plenty of airflow.

If you live in an area with high pollution levels or have several people living in your house, you’ll want to consider a higher-rated air filter.

MERV Rating 8-13

High-quality HEPA filters rated between 8 and 13 are the best for your home HVAC. Furthermore, they’re much better for people who suffer from allergies. These filters fit into most standard HVAC systems and provide the best protection from pollen, mold spores, dust, and other airborne allergens.

For example, a MERV 8 air filter can capture 93% of the particles that are 3 microns and larger.

The only downside of a higher-rated filter is that they’re slightly more expensive and a little less energy-efficient. But on the flip side, they improve indoor air quality more efficiently.

MERV Rating 14-20

Hospitals, clinics, and laboratories must be careful about what they use in their air conditioning systems. That’s because they can cause people to get sick if they don’t have suitable filters installed.

Air filters for hospitals and labs require a certain level of filtration. In these circumstances, MERV 14-20 air filters provide the best possible filtration for these environments.

HEPA filter
The average person spends 90% of their time indoors, and a quality air filter is crucial to maintaining a healthy indoor environment. But with so many filter options available on the market, how do you know which filter type and rating are right for you?

The best way to ensure you fit your HVAC with the correct filter is to speak with your local HVAC technicians. They know the right filters for your household air quality needs.


Want to find out more about MERV ratings and HVAC air filters? Contact the experts at Bell Bros today.