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MERV vs HEPA Filters: Is There a Difference?

MERV vs HEPA Filters: Is There a Difference?

In the world of air filters for homes and office settings, some confusion may remain when it comes to MERV vs. HEPA filters. We’re here to set the record straight so you can make an informed decision to help your family or work team breathe easier every day. First, let’s start with a couple of basic definitions related to MERV filters.

MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is technically a form of measurement, rather than a specific type of filter. MERV values indicate how efficiently various particle sizes are trapped by your home’s air filter, and it operates on a rating system from 1 to 16. The MERV rating system as we know it was created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

In short, the higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles that can be efficiently trapped. A lower MERV rating means primarily larger particles are trapped. We’ll discuss particular applicability for each rating range below.

A HEPA or High Efficiency Particulate Air filter, on the other hand, is the term used to describe a specific type of construction used in an air filter. A HEPA filter is a type of pleated mechanical air filter and according to the Environmental Protection Agency “can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm).”1

merv vs. hepa

MERV 13 vs HEPA

As explained above, a MERV rating determines an air filter’s efficiency at trapping larger or smaller particles, depending on the value assigned to it. For instance, an air filter with a MERV rating of 1 to 4 might serve well to trap large particles such as carpet and upholstery fibers, while a MERV 13 filter can trap smaller particles like virus carriers2.

More recently, home and business owners have become increasingly concerned about the quality of air filtration systems and their ability to trap viruses. When it comes to MERV 13 vs. HEPA filters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using an air purifier with a HEPA filter.For your HVAC system, a MERV 13 filter would lean toward the higher end of the scale and do a great job of filtering small airborne particles. Commercial HVAC systems can be designed to accommodate higher efficiency air filters including HEPA filters. 

For more answers to the question, “what is a MERV filter?” click on the preceding link site for more details on how MERV filters work.

merv 13 vs hepa

MERV vs HEPA Chart

In the MERV vs. HEPA chartyou’ll find below, we explain the key differences between these two filter types and how each serves specific filtration needs. Visit our “what MERV rating do I need” for further details.

Merv vs hepa table

MERV vs HEPA Filters: Which Filter Is Right for Me?

So, which filter is right for your individual situation? In short, MERV filters rated MERV 8 may be a good choice if you are interested in mid-range filtration for your home. If you are looking for more robust filtration, a MERV 10 or MERV 13 could be good upgrade options to consider. If you are considering upgrading to a higher-efficiency air filter, it would be wise to check with your local Carrier expert or HVAC professional to ensure that your home or office’s air conditioning system is capable of handling that type of filter. Some systems aren’t able to effectively push enough air through higher-efficiency filters (aka pressure drop), which can lead to a damaged HVAC system as well as ineffective heating and cooling along with unexpectedly higher bills.

Since most residential HVAC systems can’t support a HEPA filter, if that’s the level of filtration you are looking for, consider a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter.

Carrier is proud to carry a range of air cleaners and HVAC filters for your needs. Shop some of our more popular options like 1” air filters that range from MERV 8 to MERV 13 or our Smart Air Purifiers:

 



  1. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-hepa-filter
  2. https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/what-kind-filter-should-i-use-my-home-hvac-system-help-protect-my-family-covid-19
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/ventilation.
  4. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-merv-rating
  5. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-hepa-filter
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