When it comes to air filtration, the Minimum Efficiency Report Value (MERV) is a key indicator of a filter's ability to capture particles. A Merv 8 filter is designed to capture particles between 0.3 and 10 microns, including pet dander, smoke, and some airborne bacteria. However, it is not as effective as higher MERV ratings such as Merv 13 to 16, which are better at trapping airborne bacteria, most tobacco smoke, and pollutants released when sneezing. If you have allergies, pets, or live near smoke pollution, a Merv 13 filter is the ideal choice.
But if you simply need a filter to trap pollen, dust mites, and hair, a MERV 8 filter should do its job. According to the National Air Filtration Association (NAFA), a MERV 8 filter 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 to 70% of E3 particles, it also filters 30% of E2 particles and 1.9% of E1 particles (0.3-1.0 µm). Essential air filters have been tested and 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.
If you're really not sure which MERV rating to use, you can have professionals make a recommendation for you during a routine HVAC basic maintenance visit. If you're worried about the effects of inhaling fine air particles, that's another reason to choose a MERV 11 air filter instead of a MERV 8 air filter. Each air filter has its advantages and disadvantages, but both MERV 8 air filters and MERV 11 air filters are suitable for residential use. A MERV 11 air filter can provide additional benefits and capture a wider range of particles that would pass through a MERV 8 filter.
MERV 13 air filters even provide additional filtration power against fine particles compared to MERV 11 filters. It is important to measure your air filter correctly to ensure you buy the correct size to fit your HVAC system and replace it as recommended by the manufacturer. Using an air filter with a MERV rating that is too high is as bad as using one that is too low. Although MERV 11 filters are slightly more expensive, at a cost of a few dollars, they can improve indoor air quality to help relieve people with respiratory problems.