Believe it or not, there are quite a few buzz words in the HVAC filter world; MERV rating, HEPA filter, high efficiency, and electrostatic to name a few. It is not overly important to remember the definitions of all of these buzz words, but there are a few that will help you identify what kind of filter is right for your HVAC.
MERV Rating or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value translates into your air filters efficiency. The MERV scale ranks HVAC filters on a scale of 1-20. The number ranking is meant to identify how much your air filter eliminates airborne contaminants from the air you breathe. Hold on, don’t go and a purchase a MERV rating 16 filter for your home because you have horrible allergies. Residential HVAC systems’ motor and fan capacity can only handle a certain amount of air resistance for it to operate efficiently. Higher MERV rating filters are generally reserved for hospital and other sterile situations. See below.
- MERV ratings of 4-12 safely remove pet dander, pollen, dust mites, mold spores and cigarette smoke in most residential situations.
Blue Heating and Cooling recommends a MERV rating of 4-9 depending on the size of your home, presence of pets or cigarette smoke.
- MERV ratings 13-20 are geared toward hospital contaminants such as droplet nuclei, bacteria, and airborne viruses. These filters are often custom built for hospital, surgical, and laboratory settings.
HEPA Filter or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters are considered super filters. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “True HEPA filters are not regularly installed on residential HVAC systems because of the increased motor capacity demand they require.” The EPA also states that residential filters with a “MERV between 7 and 13 are likely to be as effective as true HEPA filters,” (epa.gov). Long story short, if you require increased allergen and other contaminants removal from your home’s air quality, stick to an HVAC filter with the highest MERV rating your HVAC can handle.
Now that you understand what a MERV rating is and what a HEPA filter does, let’s define what kind of filter is right for your HVAC system.