Air filters all have MERV ratings. MERV stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value” and it rates your air filter on how well it traps contaminants in the air. The rating ranges from 1 to 16, and the higher the rating the more air pollution the filter is able to remove.
What Filter Do I Buy?
Air filters have all different ratings, and the one you choose to buy really depends on what type of air quality is in your home and the needs of you and your family. If you have family members in your home that have asthma or allergies and are more sensitive to the pollutants in the air then you may need an air filter with a higher MERV rating.
Typically you can work off the MERV scale by thinking of it as having a “good”, “better” and “best” type of rating when it comes to what air particles it blocks.
A MERV rating of 1-4 generally means it is a “good” air filter that will be able to keep out dust mites, dust and pollen. These are all relatively large air particles.
A MERV rating of 5-8 is considered to have a “better” filter quality and should be able to keep out dust mites, dust, pollen, mold and pet dander. This is a better air filter and fits the needs of most households.
The “best” quality air filter will have a MERV rating of between 9-13 and can block out all of the particles already listed but can additionally block sneezing and smoke particles. This air filter is perfect for those that are very sensitive.
Is MERV The Only Thing?
Other than the MERV rating of the air filters, there are a few other things to think about when choosing.
Always make sure you are getting the right size for your vents. Check the previous air filters dimensions to be sure, as you don’t want to go to the store only to stare at all the options and end up back there anyway.
There are mechanical filters and electronic filters. Most air conditioners use a mechanical filter, which uses synthetic fibers to trap air particles. Electronic filters are filters that use an electric charge to attract air pollution and then trap it. Mechanical filters are easier to keep up with and are cheaper than the electronic filters, and they also come in a wider variety of MERV ratings.
Keep or Throw Away?
Air filters can be reusable or disposable. Disposable filters are cheaper, however they have a more often reoccurring cost, unlike reusable filters. However if you are looking for less maintenance and don’t want to clean out to the filters periodically, then stick with disposable.
If your air conditioning system isn’t powerful enough for a higher MERV rating filter, then be careful not to use one. This will restrict the amount of air flow that is able to get through the filter and into your home.