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What Does the MERV Rating on my Air Filter Mean?


So this is a great question. And one that causes a lot of confusion among consumers trying to select the best filter for their home. You may have found yourself in this same situation. Your choosing between two filters. One is rated MERV 8 and the other is rated MERV 13. You glance at the price tag and notice a difference in the cost. Ah, the MERV 13 is more expensive so it must be better you think to yourself. Plus, 13 is higher than 8. Pretty straight forward. But how much better is MERV 13 than MERV 8 and is it worth your extra hard earned money.

The simplest answer is that the MERV rating is an indicator of the effectiveness of the filter in capturing the particulates that pass through it. The higher the rating the more things the filter will be capable of capturing and the more effective it will be at doing it. So, if that's all you needed to know to put your mind at ease then worry no more. But if your the type of person that would like a few more technical details then please keep reading.

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a measurement scale designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the effectiveness of air filters. The scale is designed to represent the worst-case performance of a filter when dealing with particles in the range of 0.3 to 10 micrometers. The MERV rating is from 1 to 16. Higher MERV ratings correspond to a greater percentage of particles captured on each pass, with a MERV 16 filter capturing more than 95% of particles over the full range. [1]

Below is a table grouping MERV ratings by particle size:

MERVMin. particle sizeTypical controlled contaminantTypical Application
1–4> 10.0 μmPollen, dust mites, cockroach debris, sanding dust, spray paint dust, textile fibers, carpet fibersResidential window AC units
5–810.0–3.0 μmMold, spores, dust mite debris, cat and dog dander, hair spray, fabric protector, dusting aids, pudding mixBetter residential, general commercial, industrial workspaces
9–12 3.0–1.0 μmLegionella, Humidifier dust, Lead dust, Milled flour, Auto emission particulates, Nebulizer dropletsSuperior residential, better commercial, hospital laboratories
13–161.0–0.3 μmBacteria, droplet nuclei (sneeze), cooking oil, most smoke and insecticide dust, most face powder, most paint pigmentshospital & general surgery
17–20< 0.3 μmVirus, carbon dust, sea salt, smokeElectronics & pharmaceutical manufacturing cleanroom

Chart provided by Wikipedia.

Honeywell's two most popular media type filters are the FC100A Series and the FC200E Series. These filters will fit in any of the F100, F150 and F200 air cleaner cabinets. They can also fit in Honeywell electronic air cleaners like the F50 and F300 models. The FC100A Series filters are rated MERV 11. The FC200E Series filters are rated MERV 13. Honeywell also offers a POPUP expandable filter rated MERV 11 and the FR8000 Series filter that fits in TrueCLEAN air cleaners that is rated MERV 15.

When trying to select between filter options the above referenced chart can be a handy tool. If you are looking for a superior level of filtration then anything rated above MERV 10 will be a great choice. So, it's hard to go wrong with any of the offerings from Honeywell. If you are looking for a level of filtration that exceeds the residential standard and enters into hospital grade territory then Honeywell's FC200E Series filter will fit your needs. A great thing to remember. With an average price difference of only $13 between the FC100A Series and FC200E Series filter it's not a budget breaker to splurge and provide your family with an extra level of protection and comfort.

If you still have any questions on MERV ratings or which Honeywell air filter is best for you, your family and your home just send us an email at and we'll be happy to assist you in making the right choice.

[1] Wikipedia,

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