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MERV13 Air Filters – Ultimate Guide

The increasing problems about air pollution levels are known to everyone. Whether it is outdoor air or indoor air, air pollutions are everywhere. Indoor air is more polluted compared to outdoor air. This is because indoor air circulation is less compared to outdoor air. In this article, we write in detail about MERV13 Air filters and how using a MERV rated filter can help reduce indoor air pollution.

Environmental Protection Agency of the United States stated that indoor air pollution could be two to five times higher than outdoor air because many pollutants get an ideal environment to blossom indoors. 

So, we recommend using air filters indoors that can filter out most of the pollutants and provide you with fresh air to breathe in. This is an efficient method and can decrease the risk of health issues due to polluted air. 

When it comes to indoor air filters, MERV13 rated filter is worth considering. The MERV13 rated air filter is capable of filtering out dust, airborne bacteria, virus carriers, pet dander, and other pollutants that size between 0.3 and 1.0 microns. These filters are suitable for home use and they could prevent health issues due to airborne diseases. 

MERV13 air filters are suitable for those who suffer from breathing problems or other chronic issues. They are available in different sizes, types, and ratings. So proper understanding of these air filters is essential before deciding which air filter to use. 

What Is MERV Rating for Air Filters?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, which is a standard rating to determine the efficiency of air filters. MERV rating defines how efficiently a filter can capture pollutants of a specific size. This rating is given from 1 to 16 (for normal use cases), and MERV 1 to MERV 16 filters are ideal for use in residential, commercial properties and hospitals. 

Apart from MERV 1 to 16, higher-rated filters like MERV 17 to MERV 20 are also available in the market. They are used in rooms that require high cleanliness like surgical operating rooms, radioactive materials rooms, pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, etc. 

Filters with lower MERV ratings are known to be less efficient, while filters with higher MERV ratings are known to be highly efficient. This rating is given to filters depending on their ability to catch pollutants sized between 0.3 and 10 microns. 

So, the MERV 1 filter is a basic type that can filter out large particles, but this is not ideal for filtering out small particles and fine dust. On the other side, MERV 16 filters are highly efficient filters that can capture particles of the size 0.3 to 1.0 microns. These filters are really good for buildings that require highly clean air like a hospital, superior commercial buildings, smoking lounges, and so on. However, high precision filtering like this (of a MERV16 rated air filter) is not usually needed for residential purposes. 

So how do we decide the right MERV rated filter for home use? Let’s get into this!

How Is MERV Rating Determined for an Air Filter?

Now, we all know that MERV rating plays a significant role in deciding the efficiency of a filter. But we also need to know how the MERV rating is determined for a filter. Generally, air filters undergo two types of tests, 1) Dust Spot Efficiency Test and 2) Arrestance Test. The results of these two tests are considered as deciding factors for MERV ratings. 

The Dust Spot Efficiency Test checks whether the filter can filter out dust particles from the air. On the other hand, Arrestance Test checks if the filter is capable of removing synthetic particles from the air. Based on the results of these tests, an MERV rating is given for each type of filter. 

How To Choose the Right MERV Filter Suitable for Your Home? 

As of now, we have understood that the MERV rating of a filter decides how effectively small particles can be filtered out. The higher the MERV rating of a filter, the better the efficiency. A filter with a MERV rating of 13 or higher can filter out even fine particles. So the question is which filter should we choose for our homes?

You need not always choose the highest rated filter for residential purpose. The central heating system in your home would have a recommended filter type (like an MERV8 filter or something like that). You can find this by looking into the heating system manual or by checking the existing filter physically. Ideally, its always good to replace with the same recommended MERV filter (as in the central heating system manual). When you use a different rated filter, it may sometimes affect the efficiency of central heating system resulting in a decreased performance.

Although higher-rated filters can catch a greater number of particles, they can increase the load on your HVAC system and increase the electricity bill. Sometimes a wrong filter can degrade the performance of the unit instead of improving the air quality. So, you will have to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer (your heating/cooling system) when choosing the air filter. 

The other factors that you should consider before choosing an air filter is the health condition & requirements of your family members. If anyone in your family (who stays in the home) is allergic to air pollution, dust or some kind of bacteria, you should choose a higher rated air filter. Any filter with an MERV rating 13 or higher is really good in controlling air pollution & many bacteria.

The most commonly found air filter in many central heating systems is a MERV8 filter. If your family members don’t have any particular health issues or allergies, the MERV8 filter is more than enough. If you prefer really clean air inside ( owing to any health issues or for personal reasons), I’d advise you to go for a filter with a rating between MERV11 and 13.

Benefits Of MERV 13 Filters 

MERV 13 filters are most recognized for removing viruses and bacteria and preventing infections. Nowadays, everybody is trying to follow a healthy lifestyle, and this is a good sign. In this case, using a MERV 13 filter is an excellent thing because it can protect you from different health conditions. 

As we have discussed above, MERV 13 filters are the most effective ones in the market for use in homes. They are capable of removing small particles, viruses, and bacteria from the air so that you can breathe in the fresh air. 

Generally, you release small water drops to the environment, which are known as respiratory droplets, when you breathe, sneeze, cough, or exhale air. These water drops contain small particles that stay in the environment when the moisture gets evaporated. 

There can be different viruses, such as common cold viruses, tuberculosis, influenza, etc., in these particles. So, if they are not removed from the air, they can increase health issues for people who stay in that environment. So, you can use a MERV 13 filter to remove these particles from the air and have fresh and clean air in your room. 

These filters can capture particles smaller than one micron, which is an excellent thing. They can help reduce the symptoms of asthma, allergy, and other health issues. Further, the risks of infectious airborne diseases get reduced because the harmful particles from the air get removed. 

Some studies also state that filtering out viruses, bacteria, and other particles from the air using a MERV 13 filter can decrease the chances of disease transmission and keep your family members from different health conditions. Apart from that, using MERV 13 filters for air filtration can provide several other health benefits. 

Comparison Between MERV 13 And HEPA Filters 

As the air pollution levels are increasing day by day, the use of air filters in homes is becoming popular. Till now, we have discussed how MERV 13 filters are efficient for removing harmful particles from the air and providing fresh air to breathe in. 

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the MERV rating of the filter is the deciding factor to know its efficiency. This is the reason why higher MERV rating filters are mostly preferred. 

MERV 13 filters are moderate-level filters and are ideal for commercial, residential, and general hospital use. They are more efficient than lower MERV-rated filters and can capture 0.3 microns to 1.0 micron-sized particles. But HEPA filters can catch particles that are sized below 0.3 microns. 

Some HVAC systems don’t support MERV 13 filters, while some other units are designed only for MERV 8 and 9 rated filters. So, installing a MERV 13 filter in these systems will increase the load on the system and reduce its efficiency.

On the other hand, HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filters usually have MERV 17 or higher ratings, so they are capable of capturing particles that are sized below 0.3 microns. They are highly efficient and can catch up to 99.97% of pollutants in the range of 0.3 to 1.0 microns. For MERV 13 filters, this is only 75%. 

Therefore, HEPA filters are used in applications where utmost cleanliness is required, such as hospital operating rooms. In the case of coronavirus, the HEPA filter is more efficient than MERV 13 because it is capable of capturing very small size particles in the air. 

A HEPA filter can be used in an existing HVAC unit, but it should have a standalone design containing its own fan. This will improve the efficiency of the filter and increase its resistance. 

Which Filter Is Good to Use?

Actually, there is no good or bad between MERV 13 and HEPA filters. Both types of filters have their own advantages and disadvantage and can be used in different applications. So, you can decide the type of filter you need considering your application. 

Until you need absolute cleanliness or want to filter very small particles from the air, you shouldn’t go with a HEPA filter. For general use in the home, commercial properties, or hospitals, MERV 13 filters will be fine.