When it comes to air filters, the MERV rating system is the industry standard for measuring the effectiveness of a filter. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is at capturing particles. A MERV 8 filter is considered superior to air filters with a lower MERV rating, as it can capture 65% to 79% of the smallest particles. But is filtration enough? In many cases, a MERV 8 air filter is more than adequate.
However, if you are concerned about outdoor air pollution, family members with respiratory problems, or pets in the house, then a higher MERV rating might be a good idea. The main reason for using a MERV 8 or higher filter is that some older units can only handle these filters. A couple of decades ago, lower quality filters were almost the only ones used in homes. Technology for HVAC units has progressed since then, and most modern units in recent years should be able to have a MERV 8 filter at least.
However, older units may not be able to have enough air pressure to force air through a higher efficiency filter. Attempting to do so could cause significant problems, as well as the need for repairs. MERV 11 filters are more efficient than MERV 8 filters because they can capture smaller particles and offer additional protection against pet dander, dust mites, self-emissions, and lung-damaging dust. This is a good option for homes with pets or for those looking for even better air quality than what the MERV 8 can provide. It is also our most popular type of air filter. While not used as much in residential homes, MERV 13 filters can be an excellent choice for commercial buildings or medical facilities that require next-level air purity.
The best MERV rating for your home will depend on what you want to filter and the amount of airflow your HVAC system needs to operate. MERV 11 filters perform better in residential homes with filtration needs than MERV 8 filters, commercial buildings, senior living facilities, and non-surgical hospital areas. For most Canadian homes, oven filters with MERV ratings in this range are sufficient to filter out most airborne impurities. In these cases, a MERV 11 air filter can provide additional benefits and capture a wider range of particles that would pass through a MERV 8 filter. The MERV rating system is standard and makes it easier to compare filters with different ratings. If your home's HVAC system is unable to handle MERV 13, opt for a filter with the next highest possible rating.
Meanwhile, air filters with a MERV 14 rating or higher are designed for commercial HVAC systems that can handle the coarsest filter material. You are now equipped to monitor your air filter and change it regularly to the right MERV value for your home and family. Mathematics seems to tell you that if you want to have the best air quality you should buy a filter in the MERV 13-16 category and end the day.