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An In-Depth MERV Ratings Guide: Must-Read Before You Buy!

By June 27, 2024No Comments

Man changing out MERV air filter after reading about MERV ratings

Quality air for your home or business is essential to a healthy environment. In the quest for pristine oxygen, it is easy to get lost in the different terms and ratings. The MERV rating system is the most common, but buying a filter with the highest level may not be the best for your home. Let’s go over how to pick the correct MERV filter.

What is the MERV rating system?

Before we discuss selecting a MERV for your filter, we’ll review the system to better understand it. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating system is the standard by which filter efficiency is determined. It’s centered around the smallest particle the filter captures, measured in microns. The range is from 1 to 20, with the greater number being more efficient.


Lady suffering from scorching heat because AC needs repair. Neglected MERV ratings.

Why should you be careful when selecting MERV filters?

Now that you understand the MERV rating system better, you’ll need to take heed when selecting a MERV filter for your home. Blindly choosing the highest level of MERV might sound like a good idea, but it can harm your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system and home.

The danger of choosing the wrong MERV rating
As stated before, the higher the level of MERV, the greater the level of filtration. This is a good thing — if your system is capable of handling it.

The emphasis is on “if” because residential HVACs are not built to handle high-level MERV filters. MERV filters 17 – 20 are considered HEPA filters, capable of filtering 99.97% of particles up to 0.3 microns. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air and is bad news for the average system.

Shop Brand MERV Air Filters


What happens if I choose the wrong MERV filter?

Choosing the wrong MERV filter can have undesirable results if you’re not careful. If you choose a filter that does not provide adequate filtration, your HVAC system will not be protected. Dirt, pollen, dust mites, bacteria, and more will have free reign in your home. Filters that are below MERV 5 are considered insufficient. Commonly, fiberglass filters are found within this range, and although they may seem more economically friendly – you get what you pay for.

Due to their cheaper make, these filters are less efficient at safeguarding your system. They require you to replace them more often, negating any financial benefit.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, going overboard could also be overkill for your system. Overrestricting your airflow will amplify the deterioration of key HVAC components and increase the amount of energy your system uses. This inefficiency will affect your pockets as you may have to replace your system.

HVAC requiring repair because the home owner overlooked MERV ratings

What if I choose the wrong MERV filter by accident?

We’re human; we make mistakes, too – so we get it! Luckily, if you purchase a filter through, we have a 365-day return policy. As long as you meet the requirements, you’ll be able to get the correct filter with no problem. And with a whole year to resolve it, too!

Our 365 Day Return Policy


Which MERV rating is good for my home?

To avoid these possibilities, knowing which filters are best for residential use is imperative. MERV ratings between 8 and 13 are recommended for homes as a standard. MERV 14 and above are usually used in hospitals and commercial areas.

Here’s an informative video detailing the basics of figuring out which MERV rating is right for your home.


How do I choose the correct MERV filter for my home?

Selecting the best MERV filter for your home comes down to a basic factor: the desired depth of filtration.
Although we generally advise starting at MERV 8, perhaps your air quality is great by default. Maybe you don’t smoke, have pets, or have severe allergies. In this case, you can consider filters with a lower rating, but be wary about venturing below MERV 5. With the 5 through 8 range, you’ll capture dust, mold spores, pet dander, reduce pollen, and other contaminants as small as 3.0 microns. That’s up to 90% of airborne pollutants removed!

MERV 9 through 13 offer increased filtration, with up to 95% of contaminants eliminated. Bacteria, pollen, pet dander, and so forth will be captured to a greater degree – as small as 1.0 microns. For the higher MERV ratings, you’ll need to ensure your HVAC system can handle the filter. To find that information, try checking your owner’s manual .

FiltersFast MERV ratings

If you need help selecting the right MERV filter, feel free to contact us a or call us at 866-438-3458. You can also utilize our MERV ratings collection below.

Shop Using MERV Ratings Collection


What if I want True HEPA filtration for my home?

Wanting the best filtration possible for your home is good, even if using the highest MERV rating is bad. Fortunately, there are options to attain even better filtration – and that’s air purifiers! Air purifiers do not have the same limits as MERV filters because they aren’t connected to your HVAC system. Therefore it is possible to boost your home’s air quality further by supplementing your system with a True HEPA air purifier.

Winix A230 360° All-In-One 4-Stage True HEPA Air Purifier

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Why should I replace my MERV air filter?

Purchasing the correct MERV filter is the first step in providing quality air filtration for your home. The next step is a continuous one—perhaps more important overall—and that is consistently replacing your filter. Over time, your filter will be busy capturing your home’s airborne contaminants until it eventually finds it harder to accomplish that goal.

This is because contaminants begin to clog the filter, decreasing its efficiency. Neglecting to replace your filter for too long will cause it to become a haven for dirt, grime, and bacteria – putting your HVAC and home at risk.

Most quality filters require replacement around every three months. If you’re forgetful, an auto-delivery service can be an automatic reminder that it’s time to change your air filter. Our Home Filter Club subscription program is a great option, and signing up is easy. Choose Subscribe & Save at checkout, and we’ll deliver your filters to your doorstep right on time!


Smiling family sitting on the couch together playing video games.

The Right MERV Rating, Quality Air

Knowing about the MERV rating system and the potential risks can help you choose the right MERV filter. Rushing into a selection just because it’s the “best” could be a mistake if you’re not careful. With patience and a smart purchase, you’ll rest easy, avoid unnecessary hassles, and enjoy quality air in your home.

For more information about MERV air filters, please check out the following articles:

The post An In-Depth MERV Ratings Guide: Must-Read Before You Buy! appeared first on The Filtered Files – Filters Fast – Your #1 Resource for Air and Water Filtration Related Information. is a replacement water and air filter company located in the United States. The views and opinions contained herein are solely those of the original author and do not represent Eco Blue Life or its affiliates. This article was originally published on  
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