dust collector filter bag

What is a MERV Rating and Which MERV Rating is Right for my Dust Collector?


Picking a filter material for your dust collector is like trying to pick a new car. There are many options, some value-priced, others more expensive. Factors to be considered include performance, the environment where the car will be driven and what the car will be used for. Is it toting a family of five or one? Will it be used in a cold weather or warm weather climate? For example, while a BMW convertible is a beautiful car that no doubt has wonderful performance and luxury features, it’s probably not the best most practical option for a family of five with three children living in Alaska. Likewise, a single young woman living in an apartment New York City probably doesn’t need a large pick-up truck.



It’s important to match the performance and characteristics of the vehicle with the needs of the buyer. The same is true for filters. A woodworking facility processing sawdust that generates large dust particles probably doesn’t need a filter that is designed for fine dust capture. Likewise, a plant that is processing carcinogenic materials will need to be very efficient at capturing microscopic dust particles. One measure that can be helpful in determining which filters are more efficient at capturing fine dust particles is called a MERV Rating.



The term MERV is an acronym that stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value”. MERV Ratings are numerical values assigned to filters that assess the particle size efficiency or PSE of a given filter material. PSE is the average particle size that is captured by the filter after several filtration tests are performed. Testing involves filtering various size particles from microscopic dust particles to larger particles such as sawdust or pollen through the system to measure filter efficiency.



The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter is at capturing very small particles of dust. For example, a filter with a MERV rating of 20 would be able to efficiently capture nearly 100% of all microscopic particles such as viruses, smoke, and carbon dust whereas a filter with a MERV of 4 efficiently captures 20% of pollen, dust mites, and other larger dust particles.


How does MERV Rating affect my dust collector’s performance?


A higher MERV rating does not necessarily mean that the filter is going to capture more dust or improve performance for your application. The key factor in deciding which MERV rating will maximize your collector’s performance and efficiency at the best value is to look at the size of the dust particles in your work environment. Applications that filter large particles of dust such as wood dust or metal dust are not going to see a big improvement in efficiency and performance by using higher MERV rated filters. MERV ratings should be considered carefully if the dust being captured is very small. In applications where smoke is being filtered off a plasma cutter, for example, you may see a big difference in performance and efficiency by selecting a filter with a higher MERV rating.



We offer filters for every MERV rating filter and can help you choose the right filter for your application that will get you the best performance at the best price and efficiency. To learn more, download our FREE Guide and MERV Rating Application Chart by completing the form or call us today at 888-221-0312.

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 We understand that every dust collection project is unique and requires a specific approach. For help with your air pollution control needs, reach out to one of our knowledgeable team members below.