Tri-Point Refrigeration Blog | Understanding MERV Filters

Understanding MERV Filters

Jan 27, 2024 | Air Conditioning, HVAC, Indoor Air Quality | 0 comments

If you tuned in earlier this week, you got a nice introduction to what a MERV filter is and the fact that its applications can vary greatly depending on need.


MERV, meaning Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a rating that measures a filter’s ability to trap contaminants ranging from 0.3 and 10 microns. The higher a MERV rating, the better the filter is at trapping specific particles; however, if choosing a MERV filter, it’s important to consult a professional to find out which rating is best for your HVAC system, as higher-rated MERV filters can actually put your HVAC system under stress. With MERV ratings, you are able to find filters for your specific needs.

MERV filters have a wide array of applications based on your specific needs in your home, business, or worksite. Ranging on a scale of 1-20, MERV filters have the ability to be nearly tailored to your filtration and HVAC system needs.

What are the MERV ratings?

Ranging from 1-20, MERV filters have the ability to trap contaminants ranging from pollen to radioactive materials. Their application ranges from residential to that of hospital operating rooms and industrial workshops.

Understanding MERV ratings and their applications

As previously stated, MERV filters have a huge array of applications, depending on their numerical ratings.

MERV 1-4:

  • Best for: window units, pre-filtering buildings, and residential furnaces.
  • Captures: dust, mites, pollen, textile fibers.
  • Filters out particles down to 10 microns.

MERV 5-8

  • Best for: painting booths, residential and commercial buildings.
  • Captures: dust, mites, pollen, fibers, sawdust, concrete dust, and mold spores.
  • Filters out particles down to 3 to 10 microns

MERV 9-12

  • Best for: residential and commercial buildings with above-average air quality regulations, laboratories, and hospitals.
  • Captures: dust, mites, pollen, fibers, dusts, mold spores, legionella (bacteria), lead and coal dust, and nebulizer dust.
  • Filters out particles down to 1 to 3 microns.

MERV 13-16

  • Best for: surgery facilities, in-patient care facilities.
  • Captures: all listed above in MERV 9-12, as well as tobacco contaminants, pet dander, sneeze particles, car fumes, bacteria, ink fumes, insecticides, and cosmetic dusts.
  • Filters out particles down to 0.3 to 1 micron.

MERV 17-20

  • Best for: facilities handling pharmaceuticals, radioactive or carcinogenic materials, and surgery rooms.
  • Captures: all listed above in MERV 13-16, as well as microscopic allergens, radon progeny, carbon dust, and combustion smoke.
  • Filters out particles less than 0.3 microns.
MERV, hvac, air quality

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Are MERV filters good for residential use?

Yes! MERV filters can be great for your home, as you are able to choose filters that fit your specific needs. MERV filters are incredibly effective and can do a great job of keeping the air quality in your home clean and healthy.

That being said, what’s the best MERV filter rating for your residency?

Although it may seem like the higher the better, it’s important to be cautious when choosing the right MERV filter. Yes, high MERV-rated filters are great! However, they also require very strong HVAC systems, as the higher-rated MERV filters can restrict airflow quite a bit, which can put a lot of stress on an HVAC system that’s not capable to handle it. Choosing a MERV filter with a rating that’s too high for your system can cause it to work overtime–using more energy, consuming more money, and perhaps even causing damage in the long term. Ouch!

ASHRAE, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, recommends a MERV rating 13-14 for residential use whenever possible. It’s extremely important to consult with an HVAC specialist to make sure that your current HVAC system is capable of handling this level of the filter. If you find that your HVAC system can’t handle it, we recommend bumping down the MERV rating until you reach one that your HVAC system can gel with.

Call us

Have questions about filters, their differences, and which one is better for your filtration needs and specific HVAC system? Please, don’t hesitate in giving us a call here at Tri-Point Refrigeration. We’re happy to hear from you and are excited to help you along the way.

For a direct line to any of our employees ready on the line to help you, please call…(512) 651-4565 for our Austin, Texas community (806) 686-0050 for our Lubbock, Texas community.

Or check out our website at

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