Are you curious if you can use a generic brand of Merv 8 filters in your HVAC system? The answer is yes, but it's important to understand the implications of using a filter with a higher MERV rating. A filter with a MERV rating of 8 to 13 is usually considered a high-end filter for domestic or commercial use and is often the right choice for homes and many businesses. The minimum efficiency index (MERV) of an air filter measures how effectively the filter prevents dust and other contaminants from passing through the filter and reaching the air stream. Filters with a MERV rating of between 1 and 6 can remove particles between 0.3 and 10 microns with an efficiency of 20%.
Filters with a MERV rating of 16 or lower are suitable for air conditioning systems for residential, commercial, and general hospital use. It's also important to consider running the system fan for longer periods or continuously, as HVAC systems only filter air when the fan is running. Once a filter begins to filter out small particles (0.3 to 1.0 microns), it is at a level of approximately MERV 13A, which is ideal for homeowners, renters, business owners, or anyone with general questions about their air conditioning system. When used in a multi-filter system, prefilters trap dirt and large particles before air reaches the final filters downstream, which then remove smaller particles. The higher the MPR, the better the filter's ability to capture particles from the air as it passes through the filter. The MERV classification is superior because it is the international standard and makes it easy to compare filters from different brands.
A filter that is in the range of 8 to 13 can remove mold spores, lead dust, kitchen dust, flour, hairspray, car fumes, furniture polish, and solder fumes. Studies have found that filtering recirculated air improved microvascular function in healthy older people, improved other types of vascular function in healthy adults, and improved lung function in indigenous communities, among other benefits. Unlike other scales which emphasize increasing the number of particles passing through an air filter, the MERV was designed to provide a balance between particulate filtration and energy efficiency. Before making any changes to the air filter of an HVAC system, users should consult their HVAC manual or an HVAC professional.