How to Choose the Right Air Filter to Protect Your Air Quality
Your air filter is not only an important component in protecting your homes HVAC(Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system, it is important for protecting your family against the top concerns for the CDC, EPA and American Lung Association. Indoor air quality or IAQ can be 200 to 500 times more polluted than the air outside.
Filter Ratings: Understanding MERV
What is MERV? MERV is a not a brand or type of filter but scale for ranking or rating of air filters based on their particle removal efficiencies. MERV stands for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 20.
When choosing an air filter for your furnace you should choose an air filter that offers the highest level of efficiency that is compatible with your HVAC system. MERV which is stands for Minimum efficiency reporting value, the MERV rating measurement scale was designed in 1987 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the effectiveness of air filters.
Is MERV 8 A Good Filter?
According to the EPA, most home HVAC systems use a low MERV (1-4) fiberglass furnace filter that has a nominal size of 1” thick. Upgrading this AC filter to a medium efficiency filter (MERV 5-8) can have a significant effect on improving the air quality in your home. MERV 8 being at the top of this scale would be a good choice for improving the air quality in your home. For allergy suffers a higher MERV filters using electrostatic properties would be a better alternative.
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What is a Good Allergy Filter?
When it comes to smaller particles that can irritate allergy suffers, higher efficiency filters (MERV 11-13) will work even better at improving air quality. What does MERV 11 mean. MERV 11 is a superior residential air filter which will filter a very high percentage of particles as small as 3.0 to 1.0 μm each time the air passes through the filter. This includes particles such as Legionella, Humidifier dust, Lead dust, Milled flour, Auto emission particulates, and Nebulizer droplets.
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Is MERV 13 better than MERV 11?
When it comes the smallest particles that can irritate extreme allergy suffers, highest efficiency filters (MERV 13-16) will work the best at improving air quality. What does MERV 13 mean. MERV 13 is a superior residential air filter which will filter a very high percentage of particles as small as 1.0 to .03 μm each time the air passes through the filter. This would include very fine particles such as bacteria, droplet nuclei (sneeze), cooking oil, most smoke and insecticide dust, most face powder, most paint pigments, Virus, and smoke.
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What MERV rating is best for home use?
In the past recommendation for home air quality in residential HVAC systems would use air filters with MERV ratings from 7-12 but the the advent of new technology and the increased risk from indoor air quality it is possible to achieve MERV 13 to 16 which was previously recommended for higher end commercial buildings.
A true high efficiency filter (MERV 13-16) can reduce indoor particles by as much as 95 percent. Filters with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) rating, (or MERV 17-20) are the most efficient. You may need to consult with a local heating and air technician or the manufacturer of your central air system to confirm which (or if ) high efficiency filters will work with your system. If you can’t switch to a more efficient filter, running the system continuously by switching the thermostat fan from “Auto” to “On” has been shown to reduce particle concentrations by as much as 24 percent.
|Min. particle size
|Typical controlled contaminant 
|Typical Application 
|> 10.0 μm
|Pollen, dust mites, cockroach debris, sanding dust, spray paint dust, textile fibers, carpet fibers
|Residential window AC units
|Mold, spores, dust mite debris, cat and dog dander, hair spray, fabric protector, dusting aids, pudding mix
|Better residential, general commercial, industrial workspaces
|Legionella, Humidifier dust, Lead dust, Milled flour, Auto emission particulates, Nebulizer droplets
|Superior residential, better commercial, hospital laboratories
|Bacteria, droplet nuclei (sneeze), cooking oil, most smoke and insecticide dust, most face powder, most paint pigments,Virus, smoke
|hospital & general surgery
|< 0.3 μm
|carbon dust, Sea Salt
|Electronics & pharmaceutical manufacturing cleanroom
(1 micron is about 0.04 thousandths of an inch)
Filter efficiency measures of how well the filter does its job of filtering air before it enters the air handler. An air filter “cleans” the air by serving as a physical barrier to particles hanging in the air. Manufacturers use a number of materials in air filters, such as fiberglass. The composition of these materials can impact the filter’s efficiency. Pleated air filter provides greater surface area to trap particles than a flat panel filter and will trap more particles even if made out of an identical material. Wider filters, such as, 2” instead of 1” will also trap more particles.
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The higher the MERV rating number the higher the effeciency, choosing the most efficient filter available is generally not always the correct choice. This is due to the fact that as filter efficiency increases, there is a corresponding increase in the level of air flow resistance. A highly efficient filter may restrict air flow to a level that will damage your HVAC system by placing additional strain on the fan motor. Most older HVAC systems should use a filter having a MERV rating no higher than 11. Some Older systems should only use a filter with a MERV rating of only 8 or lower. Some older systems are required to use a flat panel fiberglass filter that offers minimal air resistance but which unfortunately provides little if any air cleaning at all. These filters carry no MERV rating at all. At the other end of the spectrum, a filter rating higher than 11 is best when required only for extreme allergy environments.
A Filter Must Fit Correctly to be Effective
Having the best filter will not do you any good if it does not fit correctly. A correctly sized filter insures air will not go around the filter.
Atomic Filters 16x20x1 Air Filters Are Made With High Quality Materials in the USA
When Choosing a 16x20x1 filter for your home you should look for a well fitting filter rated at the level of effieciency required for your needs. MERV 8 is the minimum you should consider for air quality. MERV 11 or MERV 13 is recommended for allergy suffers.
Now the Perfect Time to Protect the Air Quality in Your Home!
In addition to protecting your air quality a replacing your filters regularly can reduce energy cost in your home and protect your expensive HVAC equipment from harmful dust and debris.