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MERV Ratings: What You Need to Know

Every air filter is given a MERV rating, and it can be confusing trying to choose which is best for residential applications. Let’s take a look at what MERV is and take a dive into the ratings. We will also explore if there is such a thing as too high of a rating for residential air filters.

What Is MERV?

The acronym MERV stands for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, which is essentially a rating system that was created by ASHRAE to determine how effective different air filters are at filtering airborne particles. MERV tests for both the filter’s ability to remove large particles, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites, and miniscule particles, such as bacteria and viruses.

About Each MERV Rating

When it comes to residential air filters, the recommended MERV rating is between 6 and 13. Within this range, the same types of particulates will be captured, including dust, dander, mold spores, tobacco smoke, dust mite debris, and pollen; however, the higher the MERV rating, the more of these particles will be captured.

  • MERV 6 – A MERV 6 rating is the lowest recommended rating because anything less simply won’t remove much from the air. While a MERV 6 is about eight times more efficient than the standard fiberglass air filter, they are not recommended if anyone in the home suffers from allergies or asthma.
  • MERV 8 – A MERV 8 is an excellent filter if you are looking for basic filtration and efficient airflow. They are 20 times more effective than a fiberglass filter and are an excellent value for the money.
  • MERV 11 – If someone in the household has breathing problems, a MERV 11 is the lowest recommended MERV rating. It captures up to 65% of all dust spots, is 30 times more effective than fiberglass filters, and provides a healthy breathing environment for residential settings.
  • MERV 13 – If anyone in the home has health issues, a MERV 13 air filter is the best option. In addition to the aforementioned particulates, a MERV 13 will also capture bacteria and some viruses, providing the cleanest air possible without decreasing efficiency.

What Is the Best MERV Rating for Home Use?

When it comes to MERV ratings, there is such a thing as too high – depending on the type of HVAC equipment your customer has. Why?

Because in order to receive a rating higher than 13, an air filter has to restrict the airflow so much that it can have a serious impact on HVAC system airflow. When choosing an air filter for a residential setting, experts recommend staying at MERV 13 and below to maintain optimal system efficiency.

Add-on indoor air quality products such as Air Purifiers can add an even greater level of filtration with MERV ratings of 15. These are specifically designed to purify air even further and efficiently maximize air flow.  This can provide the cleanest air possible while simultaneously protecting residential HVAC equipment.


To learn more about MERV ratings and our IAQ solutions for clean and healthy air, don’t hesitate to contact us today.