MERV 8 air filters are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their affordability and ability to provide higher-than-average air filtration. But why use them? The main reason 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. To be classified as a Merv 8 filter by the NAFA (National Air Filtration Association), it must filter at least 70% of E3 particles (3.0-10.0 µm) and 20% of E2 particles (1.0-3.0 µm).
In addition, it also filters 30% of E2 particles and 1.9% of E1 particles (0.3-1.0 µm). However, it is not designed to trap the smallest particles that fall into category E1, such as pet dander. Essential was found to have a stop rate of 81.5%, meaning that 81.5% of the dust particles introduced into the filter were successfully filtered out of the air. The MERV scale is not linear; the difference between a MERV 6 and a MERV 8 is almost double in the percentage of particles captured. The MERV rating system provides a standard for comparing a variety of oven filters from different manufacturers. A MERV 8 filter is medium efficiency and can remove most particles, but will need to be changed regularly to maintain performance.
If you want it to at least clean the air and handle dust, mold, pollen and bacteria, then a MERV 8 will do the job. However, if you have pets, you would need a MERV 10 to control their dander, which tends to have smaller particles than the contaminants discussed above. Some air filters, especially those with higher MERV ratings, may prevent airflow due to improved air filtration. Therefore, it is in the best interest of every homeowner to analyze the MERV rating system, what it entails, and what rating would be right for their air filtration needs.