Air Filter MERV Ratings Explained

Two air filters sitting on top of one another

Air Filter MERV Ratings Explained

When you go to purchase an air filter, whether you’re looking for better performance or to just replace the one that’s gotten dirty, you may notice that the filters at the store each have what is called a MERV rating.

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values and was developed as a way to judge the air-filtering capabilities of different products.

Keep reading for a breakdown of MERV ratings and how you can use them to choose your air filter.

What They Mean

The MERV ratings run from 1 to 16 and each deduces a rate at which the filter will filter out particles of a certain size. For example, a filter with a MERV rating of 8 can filter particles with a size of 3 to 10 microns at an efficiency of 84.9 percent, according to the EPA. By comparison, a filter rated at a 6 on the MERV scale can only filter out the same sizes of particles at an efficiency of 49.9 percent.

As the rating increases, the efficiency increases, and the particle size decreases.

Why Not Just Get the Highest Rating?

You may be wondering why there’s a debate over which rating to get. The highest rating brings the best results, right? Well, it’s not that simple.

Part of the answer depends on what your system can handle. Check with your HVAC technician or the manufacturer to see what filter would work best for your specific heating or cooling needs. The higher the rating, the more it restricts airflow in order to capture those ultra-small particles. So if your filter is reducing your airflow, it will make your system work harder, put on more wear and tear, and cost you more in energy.

You can get decent filtering results using a filter in the 8 to 12 range, and you won’t reduce efficiency in the process. If you are concerned about indoor air quality, consider installing a separate air purification system.

A Healthier and More Comfortable Home

AirMasters Air Conditioning & Heating is dedicated to helping you achieve a more comfortable home with our on-time guarantee and professional service. Contact our team today at (901) 295-4434 to learn how we can help you breathe easier.