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Your filter's MERV Rating is a good way to help judge the effectiveness of the filter. MERV means Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value which was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers - ASHRAE. MERV values vary from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV value is the value the more efficient the filter will be in trapping airborne particles. Another consideration is air flow through the your HVAC system. Leaving a dirty air filter in place or using a filter that is too restrictive may result in low air flow and possibly cause the system to malfunction.

ASHRAE recommends MERV 6 or higher.
US Department of Energy recommends MERV 13 LEED recommends MERV 8 at a minimum.

See the chart below for filter MERV descriptions:

 

MERV VALUE

The filter will trap Average Particle Size Efficiency

0.3 - 1.0 Micron

The filter will trap Average Particle Size Efficiency

1.0 - 3.0 Micron

The filter will trap Average Particle Size Efficiency

3.0 - 10.0 Micron

 

Types of things these filters will trap

MERV 1

-

-

Less than 20%

 

Pollen, dust mites, standing dust, spray paint dust, carpet fibers

MERV 2

-

-

Less than 20%

MERV 3

-

-

Less than 20%

MERV 4

-

-

Less than 20%

MERV 5

-

-

20% - 34%

 

Mold spores, hair spray, fabric protector, cement dust

MERV 6

-

-

35% - 49%

MERV 7

-

-

50% - 69%

MERV 8

-

-

70% - 85%

MERV 9

-

Less than 50%

85% or better

 

Humidifier dust, lead dust, auto emissions, milled flour

MERV 10

-

50% - 64%

85% or better

MERV 11

-

65% - 79%

85% or better

MERV 12

-

80% - 89%

90% or better

MERV 13

Less than 75%

90% or better

90% or better

 

Bacteria, most tobacco smoke, proplet Nuceli (sneeze)

MERV 14

75% - 84%

90% or better

90% or better

MERV 15

85% - 94%

90% or better

90% or better

MERV 16

95% or better

90% or better

90% or better


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