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MERV Ratings

Differences Between MERV Ratings for Air Filters

All HVAC systems need proper filtration. To make sure that you get the right air filter for your system, you must understand the MERV ratings. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of an air filter indicates what types of particles it removes from the air.

Without the proper air filter, your system may underperform. Worse, if contaminants get into your units, it could cause considerable damage. A trained HVAC professional — like those at Robert Bair Plumbing Heating & Air — can tell you exactly which MERV rating is right for your system.

MERV Rating 1 – 4

Air filters with a MERV rating between one and four offer the bare minimum of protection with a dust spot efficiency of 20% or less. These filters are designed primarily to help keep your system clean. As such, it filters particles that can damage the coils and reduce efficiency. These include dust mites, pollen, and other harmful fibers. If budget is a bigger concern than health, these are the filters for you:

MERV Rating 5 – 8

A MERV rating between five and eight is going to be a step up from the previous group with a 20% to 35% dust spot efficiency. This enables them to remove mold spores and minute dust particles. These filters remain budget friendly while offering a higher air filtration.

MERV Rating 9 – 12

To catch even smaller particles, you need an air filter with a MERV rating between 9 and 12. At this level, your unit can catch particles that cause allergies such as pet dander and auto emissions. A little pricier, these filters are an excellent choice for those with mild to moderate respiratory ailments and allergies. Filters with this range of ratings also extend the life of your HVAC system by keeping it free of dust buildup and debris.

MERV Rating 13 – 16

Air filters with a MERV rating from 13 to 16 are the highest quality filters you can get for your HVAC unit, except for a HEPA filter. These are great for people with serious respiratory issues and allergies as they provide the ultimate protection against small airborne particles that can make breathing difficult for those with weakened immune systems or advanced sensitivity to poor air quality. This includes viruses, mold, dust, bacteria, and pollen. These will also be the most expensive filters on the market since the price goes up as the MERV rating does.


To make sure that your system is using the right air filters, call your trusted HVAC professionals at Robert Bair Plumbing Heating & Air at (630) 964-1700 today. We can help you get the right air filter for your family's needs.