If you’ve ever changed your own air filter, you may have noticed that it has a MERV rating listed on it but probably don’t know exactly what it means. Choosing the right MERV rating for your air filter can have a huge impact on your home’s air quality and energy efficiency. Let’s dive into what it all means and how to pick the right MERV rating for you!

What Is MERV Rating?

MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a system used to measure an air filter’s efficiency based on how well it catches particles of varying sizes. When you shop for an air filter to put in your HVAC unit, the MERV rating will indicate the air filtration capabilities of each filter. 

The MERV rating can help you determine the right air filter for your particular needs. If someone in your home suffers from allergies, for example, you may want a higher MERV rating. 

Why MERV Rating Matters

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers designed the MERV rating scale in 1987 to give a more accurate picture of an air filter’s capabilities. Unlike other scales, MERV was designed to offer a balance between particle filtering and energy efficiency.

A MERV rating is important because it not only helps you understand an air filter’s effectiveness but it also helps you balance your air quality and energy efficiency needs. The higher the MERV rating, the more energy it may take to filter air into your home. So, while a higher rating will filter your air better, it’s also less energy efficient. 

Understanding the MERV Rating Chart

The MERV rating scale is an industry standard so you can use it to compare different brands of air filters. The chart is numerical with values from one through 20, with the highest numerical rating filtering the most amount of dust and debris, and the lowest rating catching the least. 

While the MERV rating chart covers 20 levels, they are often grouped together to give you a general idea of what the range of levels can capture and how effective they are.

What MERV Rating Should I Choose?

We’ve broken down what each group of MERV ratings is able to remove so you can determine which is best for your needs:

MERV Rating 1-6

This group is in the lowest range of MERV ratings, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have beneficial uses for certain buildings. Filters with a rating between 1-6 can remove small particles like dust mites, spray paint dust, carpet fibers, and pollen. 

These filters are best for industrial buildings that already have a decent amount of airflow, and where there isn’t much need for the removal of smaller particles. 

MERV Rating 8-13

A filter with a MERV rating within the 8-13 range is typically a higher-end filter for home use or a high-quality commercial filter. This range can remove mold spores, lead dust, cooking dust, flour, hair spray, auto fumes, furniture polish, and welding fumes. 

An air filter with a MERV rating of 8-13 is most often recommended for your home furnace. They offer a solid level of filtration while still being energy efficient. 

MERV Rating 14-20

These filters offer the highest level of filtration and are not usually needed for regular homes and businesses. An air filter with a MERV rating of 14-20 can remove smoke, bacteria, carbon dust, and viruses from the air. Highly rated filters like these are often used for hospitals and laboratories. 

Wyckoff Can Answer All Your Air Filter Questions

Still have questions about MERV ratings and what the best air filter for your home is? Call Wyckoff! Not only do we have the answers to your questions, but we can also come to replace your air filter with one that has the right MERV rating for your specific needs. Reach out today to learn more and schedule an appointment!