How to Pick the Right Merv Rating for Your Filter

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It can be challenging to choose the right MERV rating for your furnace filter. There are many different sorts of filters to choose from, and it might be difficult to find one that best meets your needs. An HVAC air filter supplier near you or online, like Custom Filters Direct, can help you make informed decisions. It’s all about balancing indoor air quality with your HVAC system’s capabilities when choosing the correct furnace filter. To ensure that your air is well-filtered without overworking your HVAC system, get filters with the appropriate MERV ratings. In this article, we show you how to pick the right MERV rating for your filter.

What Does the Merv Stand For?

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed the minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, as a measurement system. The efficacy of an air filter in reducing airborne particles and pollutants is measured by its MERV rating. The rating of a filter is determined by the smallest particle it can catch (measured in microns). The MERV rating, which ranges from 1 to 20, increases as filters become more effective in improving indoor air quality.

Merv 1-4 Air Filters

Air filters with a MERV value of 1-4 trap fewer than 20% of particles with a diameter of 3.0-10.0 microns. Pollen, carpet fibres, and dust mites are examples of particles in this size range. Simply said, these filters will restrict the least amount of airflow and trap the smallest amount of particulates.

Merv 5-8 Filters

MERV 5-8 filters can similarly trap particles that are 3.0-10.0 microns in size, but they are more efficient. A MERV 5 filter will trap up to 34% of particles, a MERV 6 filter will stop 35-49% a MERV 7 filter will stop up to 69%, and a MERV 8 filter will catch up to 85%. These filters are slightly more restrictive than MERV 1-4 filters and can trap mould spores, some pet dander, dust, and pollen in addition to dust and pollen.

Merv 9-12 Filters

This MERV range can start trapping particles as small as 1.0-3.0 microns. Pollutants such as pet dander, lung-damaging dust, and auto-emissions are stuck in this range. Filters in this range can capture more than 85% of particles ranging from 3.0 to 10.0 microns. A MERV 9 filter will catch fewer than 50% of particles sized 1.0-3.0 microns, a MERV 10 filter will stop up to 64%, a MERV 11filter will catch up to 79%, and a MERV 12 filter will catch up to 89%.

Merv 13-16 Filters

Filters with a MERV 13-16 rating are the most restrictive, allowing bacteria, tobacco smoke, and burning wood to be trapped. These particles are in the micron range (.03-1.0). Filters in the MERV 13-16 range may catch 90% or more of particles in the 1.0-10.0 micron range. A MERV 13 filter will trap less than 75% of 0.3-1.0 micron particles, MERV 14 up to 84%, MERV 15 up to 94%, and MERV 16 can trap 95% or more.

How Do I Choose the Right Merv Rating Air Filter?

By now, you probably think that for the best air quality, you should get a MERV 13-16 filter and call it a day. When it comes to MERV ratings for a home furnace filter, though, more isn’t always better. Before choosing a filter for your heating and cooling system, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Assess Your Air Filter Requirements.

A MERV rating of 1-7 will suffice in a home without dogs, smoke, or allergies. If you have pets or someone in your household suffers from severe allergies, you should consider a MERV rating of 8-10. A MERV 11-13 filter is recommended for homes with smokers or a wood-burning fireplace. Hospitals, manufacturing plants, and other places with significant air quality standards typically have MERV scores exceeding 13.

  • Consider The Price Of An Air Filter And How Often It Has To Be Replaced.

The MERV value increases the cost of an air filter for your home heating and cooling system. If you don’t require a higher MERV filter, save money by choosing the less expensive model. Every 1-3 months, an HVAC filter should be replaced. You may need to change the filter more frequently if you use a higher MERV rating that captures more particles. A blocked filter can cause major problems for your heating and cooling system since it will have to work harder to circulate the air, lowering the air quality.

  • Select The Appropriate Filter Size.

Examine the old air filter in your HVAC system to determine the size of your new air filter. The dimensions of most air filters are printed right on them. If you don’t have an old filter to measure, you can take measurements of the filter holder in your HVAC system. Filters are rectangular, with a length, width, and thickness (often 1-2 inches for household HVAC systems).


Do not be hasty in buying an HVAC air filter. With the information we have provided, we are confident you will make an informed decision. Choosing the right MERV rating for your HVAC air filter will have an impact on your home’s HVAC system and the quality of air you, your family and your pets breathe. 

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