To breathe clean and healthy air in your home or office, you’ll need an air filter. This device removes air pollutants by trapping them in its filter media. Different air filters come with specific ratings that show their filtration efficiency.
A common rating system is MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV ratings range from 1 to 20, indicating the particle sizes the filter can capture. Another filter type is HEPA, short for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters aren’t MERV-rated as they surpass the ASHRAE Standard rating system. They can trap 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger.
In this article, we’ll compare merv filter ratings to HEPA filters to determine which is better for air quality.
What are MERV Filter Ratings?
MERV is a scale that ranges from 1 to 16 and shows how well an air filter can capture different sizes of particles. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the air filter is. For example, a MERV 1 filter can only capture particles larger than 10 microns, while a MERV 16 filter can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns.
What are HEPA Filters?
HEPA is a type of air filter that meets a specific standard set by the U.S. Department of Energy. A HEPA filter must be able to remove 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger from the air. A HEPA filter is equivalent to a MERV 17 or higher rating.
How to Compare MERV Filter Ratings and HEPA Filters?
To compare MERV filter ratings and HEPA filters, you need to consider some factors, such as:
- The size and type of your space – Select a filter suitable for your space’s area, volume, type (residential or commercial), and pollution level.
- The type and amount of pollutants – Opt for a filter that targets pollutants affecting your health and comfort. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, consider a higher MERV rating or a HEPA filter to effectively remove allergens and irritants.
- The cost and maintenance of the air filter – Weigh the initial and operational costs, including energy usage and filter replacements. Evaluate the maintenance frequency and ease of cleaning the air filter.
Which One is Better for Air Quality?
The best choice depends on your specific requirements. Generally, filters with a higher MERV rating or HEPA filters improve air quality by capturing more pollutants. However, they come with potential drawbacks:
- Cost – Both higher MERV-rated and HEPA filters might be pricier in terms of initial purchase and operation compared to their counterparts.
- Airflow – These filters might restrict airflow due to increased resistance, possibly impacting your heating, cooling efficiency, and overall comfort.
- Noise – Increased fan speeds in higher MERV or HEPA filters might result in louder operation than filters with lower ratings or non-HEPA filters.
MERV filter ratings and HEPA filters are two ways to measure the efficiency of air filters. They have different advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs and preferences. To choose the best one for your air quality, you should consider some factors, such as the size and type of your space, the type and amount of pollutants, and the cost and maintenance of the air filter.