What Is a MERV Rating and Why Is It Important?

MERV Rating GraphFilters are instrumental to the performance of your dust collection system. Using the wrong filter type can result in an inefficient dust collector, which is why using the right filter matters. The first step in determining which type of filter you should be using comes down to the application.

When comparing dust collector filters, you will come across a number called the “MERV” rating. Not only is it important for industrial applications, but for residential needs as well. Below, we’ll discuss what MERV is, why it is a valuable measure and how to select the appropriate filter based on your specific needs.

What Is a MERV Rating?

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, is a rating of the overall effectiveness of dust collector filters on a scale of 1 to 16. This rating represents how well your filter traps small particles that are circulating in both commercial and residential spaces.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) established the MERV rating system in 1987. Since then, every filter has been assigned a MERV rating to denote the minimum guaranteed amount of particles it will trap.

Filter efficiency is tested through six measured dust loads of particulate in the size range of .3 to 10 microns, and the higher the MERV rating, the better the filter will perform.

There is also a filter option beyond the highest MERV 16 score. High-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA, as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy, are types of pleated mechanical air filters that can remove up to 99.97% of particles in the .3-micron range. This means that at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and any other airborne particles with a size of .3 microns are trapped at an extremely high efficiency rate.

Why Is the MERV Rating Important?

It’s ideal for both manufacturers and consumers alike to create and utilize filters with the highest possible MERV rating in order to meet specific needs and trap sub-micron particulates effectively. A higher MERV rating equates to finer filtration, meaning fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminants can pass through the filter. 

It works like this: The ASHRAE 52.2 test procedure returns the minimum efficiency value for the tested filter. In actual use, once the filters have been coated with particulate, the filter efficiency would be much higher than that reported on the test.



The MERV Rating for Residential Use

To get a basic understanding of how you’d select a filter for your home’s HVAC system, it’s important to know that lower-quality filters, in the one to four MERV range, are typically made of fiberglass. Most residential HVAC systems will use synthetic air filters with MERV ratings from 7 to 12.

Why not higher? While for home use you certainly want your filters to trap particles like bacteria, pollen, allergens and dander, you also want to make sure that your filter is circulating enough clean air in return. Too much particle trapping can reduce air circulation and quality, and can even make your HVAC work harder than it needs to. This can result in higher energy bills, costly repairs for an overworked system, and an inefficient use of your filters.

The MERV Rating for Commercial Use

On the flip side, a higher MERV filter rating of 13-16 would be recommended for commercial buildings and industrial needs. In fact, ASHRAE recommends MERV 13 air filtration as a minimum rating for commercial buildings. While it isn’t required, it’s important to check in with your filter supplier to ensure you’re using the most effective filter for your industry’s needs.

Starting with a MERV 13 filter can aid in cleaning and circulating air for heavy-output industries like woodworking, grinding and welding — and in today’s day and age, can even remove COVID-19 particulates, making the work environment safer for all who enter the facility.

When choosing a commercial air filter, you can never be too safe. Clean air in the workplace keeps employees healthy and in turn, happy.

Maximize Your Air Filtration

At A.C.T. Dust Collectors, our dust collection systems come standard with the high-efficiency Nano-Elite OEM replacement filters and carry a MERV 15 rating (one of the best in the industry) for effective collection of extremely fine dust, smoke and fumes, removing 99.9% of the particulate from the air stream. The cleaned air is then directed to the location of your choice, either returned to the facility or exhausted to the environment.

Remember, all air filters, whether residential or commercial, need periodic cleaning and replacement in order to function properly. Depending on how much use you’re getting out of your filter and the application you’re using it for, you may need to replace or clean it more frequently. Our experts can guide you in the right direction.

Interested in learning more about air filter MERV ratings? Contact us today or request a quote.

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