What do the different MERV ratings mean?

By HVAC.com on April 1, 2015

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MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating is essential for understanding whether to purchase a MERV 16 air filter or a MERV 8 air filter for the home. The difference in air filters determines what types of particles are caught and removed by the air filter.  Check out what each MERV range of filters catches to find the right fit for your home.

MERV 1-4

These filters offer a minimum amount of protection as they are primarily designed to assist the cleanliness of the HVAC units by filtering out particles that can damage the coils and harm the efficiency of the unit. They remove pollen, dust mites, and other harmful fibers. With <20% dust spot efficiency, these filters are the best option where budget is a concern and health issues are minimal.

MERV 5-8

These filters are a step up from the MERV 1-4 air filters. Here, the air filter is able to also remove mold spores and dust from the air. These filters have a 20-35% dust spot efficiency and offer higher air filtration than lower rated filters while remaining budget friendly.

MERV 9-12

These filters catch the smaller particles such as those known to cause allergies. A MERV 9-12 filter will remove pet dander, auto emissions and other smaller airborne particles from the air, creating a cleaner air supply. This is a great choice for those who have mild to moderate allergies or other respiratory ailments. The MERV 9-12 filters will also extend the life of the HVAC system by keeping the unit clean and free of debris and dust build-up.

MERV 13-16

These filters are the highest quality home filters available other than HEPA filters, making them great for those who are often afflicted by allergies and respiratory issues. The filters in this range are the ultimate protection against dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, viruses and the smaller airborne particles that often make breathing difficult for people with advanced sensitivities to poor air quality or weakened immune systems. As the ratings of the air filters increase, so do the prices, but the extra cost is worth it to keep your home healthy and comfortable.

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