Whether you’ve just moved into your home or had one recently built or renovated your home, you need to think about air filters for your HVAC system. When shopping for filters, you’ve likely seen MERV ratings listed on the packaging.

Knowing what these mean can help you make the best choice for filtering your home to keep your family healthy and happy.

What to Know About MERV Ratings on Air Filters?

MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a rating indicating the particle sizes an air filter can trap. The higher the rating, the smaller the air particles the filter can trap and keep from circulating throughout your home.

However, higher MERV ratings don’t always mean they’re the best option for your home. Filters with higher ratings may decrease the efficiency of your unit. It’s a wise idea to find one that your unit can handle.

What to Know About MERV Ratings on Air Filters

MERV ratings essentially help you to know the capabilities of an air filter. If you or one of your family members has allergies, you’ll likely want a higher MERV rating to keep these irritants out of your home.

Understanding the numbers on the MERV scale will help you find the right balance between keeping your HVAC system efficient and giving you the air quality you need. Air filters are assigned a MERV rating of 1 through 20. The higher the MERV rating, the more it will remove from your air. For residential usage, you can use a lower MERV rating and still get plenty filtered out to keep high indoor air quality.

Which MERV Ratings Are Best for Homes?

The best filters for your home will have a MERV rating between 8 and 13. These higher-end filters can remove things like mold spores, dust, pollen, and other particles. They’re incredibly effective and offer a good balance between allowing air flow and clearing the air throughout your rooms.

Take a look below at the best MERV ratings for residential usage.

MERV 8 Air Filter

If your HVAC system isn’t built to handle higher MERV ratings, your best option will be a MERV 8 filter. This one blocks most of the airborne contaminants that homeowners will experience, including dust, pollen, and mold. It’s a solid choice that is suitable for standard homes.

MERV 11 Air Filter

MERV 11 Air Filter

If you want something with a slightly higher rating, MERV 11 will do an even better job of removing contaminants than a MERV 8 filter. This mid-level filter excels at removing allergens and pet dander. If you have pets in your home or any of your family members have mild allergy symptoms, a MERV 11 filter is an excellent choice.

MERV 13 Air Filter

According to Filter King, MERV 13 filters are among the best for your home. They go beyond what MERV 11 filters can do, getting rid of smoke, smog, and even viruses. If you smoke, you should see if this filter fits with your HVAC system. It’s also best for anyone who suffers from asthma or severe allergies.

Air Filter Tips for Homeowners

While you can use air filters with MERV ratings below 8, your best options are between 8 and 13 for most homes. As mentioned, higher MERV ratings may not be the best option for your home if your HVAC system is not compatible with it. Asking an HVAC company which MERV rating will work with your unit is ideal so you won’t wind up restricting the airflow.

Be sure you check on your filter monthly and change it when it gets dirty to keep your air conditioning system running at optimum efficiency.

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