What Does a MERV Rating Mean?

What does a MERV rating indicate? Unless you are a professional air conditioning service in Visalia, CA, like us, the term is most likely something you’ve never even heard of. If you’re a homeowner, however, MERV rating is something you should have a basic knowledge of because it can affect the air quality in your home. So, without further ado, let’s get into the topic of MERV ratings.

What is a MERV rating?

A MERV rating is a way of explaining how effective your air filter is. MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value.” This means that, the higher the MERV rating, the more effective your filter is at removing contaminants from the air. For example, most residential HVAC units use filters with a MERV rating between 4 and 8. By comparison, a MERV rating above 12 is what you would typically find in a hospital.

Is a higher MERV rating better?

It would be logical to assume that, the higher the MERV rating, the better the air quality in your home will be. However, this is not always the case. The higher the MERV rating, the more power your unit needs to pull the air through the filter. If you install a filter with a MERV rating that is higher than what your unit can handle, your unit won’t be able to circulate the air in your home properly, which will actually make the air quality in your home worse.

What’s your perfect MERV rating?

MERV ratings range from 1 to 20 and it can be difficult to determine which rating is the best for your unit and home. The best place to start when deciding on a MERV rating is to check for the manufacturer’s recommendation. To give you a better understanding of how the ratings work, here is a quick rundown of the numbers:

  • MERV 1-4: Typically found in residential systems, these filters can catch larger particles such as dust, insects and pollen.
  • MERV 5-8: Filters within this range can be found in both residential settings and commercial buildings. They can catch smaller particles such as fine dust, aerosol spray particles, pet dander and mold spores.
  • MERV 9-12: These filters are typically not found in residential systems. Filters within this range are most often used for commercial and industrial buildings because they can capture welding fumes, lead dust, automotive emissions and large bacteria.
  • MERV 13-16: As mentioned earlier, these filters are most often found in hospitals and surgical centers because they are able to filter a larger range of bacteria, including particles from sneezing and coughing.
  • MERV 17-20: These filters can capture viruses and even carbon dust. They are reserved for clean rooms where pharmaceuticals or sensitive electronics are produced.

To ensure the best quality of air in your home, you simply need to obtain the highest MERV rating while still staying within a range that your HVAC unit can handle. For assistance with this or any other HVAC-related question, be sure to contact McGee Refrigeration, your local air conditioning service in Visalia, CA.

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