One of the things you should always take into consideration when buying air filters for a new HVAC system is the MERV ratings. HVAC service contractor Reliable AC & Heat shares a look at MERV ratings and their importance when it comes to choosing one that works with your HVAC system.
What are MERV Ratings?
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) ratings indicate how effective air filters are at trapping airborne particulates, such as dust, dirt and pollen. The higher the MERV rating, the fewer particles are able to pass through. Listed below is an explanation of the various MERV ratings and the effectiveness of the filters that fall into each category:
1 to 4 — Air filters with MERV ratings between 1 and 4 are entry-level filters, and are typically made of spun fiberglass. Washable filters that come bundled with HVAC systems are typically rated at 4. These filters are sufficient only for catching pet hair, carpet fibers and similar debris.
5 to 8 — Filters with this rating offer improved filtration, and are capable of trapping particulates between 3 and 10 microns. This includes mold spores, pet dander and certain types of pollen.
9 to 12 — Filters in this range are considered to provide superior filtration, and can trap particles between 1 and 3 microns, which includes lead dust and vehicle emissions.
13 to 20 — These top-grade filters are rated to trap very small particles such as tobacco smoke, bacteria and particles that are less than 0.30 microns in size.
Choosing the Right Filters
Air filter replacement is part of the routine maintenance performed by HVAC service technicians, though you can replace them on your own as well. This means you can upgrade from the one that came with your HVAC system. But is it always best to choose an air filter that has the highest MERV rating?
You might be surprised to learn that this isn’t often the case. It’s important not to choose an air filter that exceeds the recommended MERV rating your HVAC system is designed to handle. In most cases, choosing high-MERV air filters will be detrimental to your HVAC system’s performance. It’s like replacing your kitchen sink filter with mesh so fine that it causes water to back up. High-MERV filters restrict airflow, which can lead to increased wear and tear on your HVAC system, inefficient heating and cooling and increased energy consumption.
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