During the worst of the pandemic in New York City, many businesses installed MERV 13 filters in their air conditioners. City and state regulations recommended them, and in some cases, required them to enhance filtration. Homeowners also followed suit, looking for protection against the airborne Covid virus. The result? Hopefully safer air, and definitely a higher cost for filters.
As New York eases up on Covid restrictions, do you still need to spend more on MERV 13 filters?
In many situations, we still do recommend these filters when the system can accommodate them. But in some situations they may not be the right choice. Here are the top reasons why, and why not.
Top 3 reasons to choose MERV 13 filters
1. Your business must comply with New York filtration regulations
Certain types of businesses, such as restaurants, are still required under New York State regulations to use the “highest rated filtration compatible with the currently installed filter rack and air handling systems, at a minimum MERV-13, or industry equivalent.”
2. Covid is still around (along with other airborne threats)
At this point it’s impossible to measure the number of Covid cases due to the prevalence of home testing, but experts expect cases to rise again as cold weather approaches.
While high efficiency filters are not proven to capture all Covid particles, they are better able to trap smaller particles (like viruses) than traditional HVAC filters. The increased filtration can give you and the occupants of your space an increased comfort level with your indoor air.
And don’t forget, there are plenty of other illnesses caused by airborne viruses and bacteria that will be floating around in the months to come.
Using MERV 13 filters gives you the best possible air filtration in your HVAC system, without compromising the air flow and operation of your equipment.
3. MERV 13 filters protect your system from contaminants
MERV 13 filters are actually intended to protect your equipment from dust, grime, and other contaminants that can accumulate on the equipment and decrease its performance.
If your space has known air quality issues (due to proximity to vehicular traffic, outdoor smog, VOCs, or other pollution), the enhanced filtration from MERV 13 filters can help to keep your equipment cleaner and prevent certain problems.
When MERV 13 filters might not be the best option
1. Your system has airflow problems
Higher efficiency filters, like MERV 13 filters, have dense layers that can trap more (and smaller) particles.
The downside is that they can also decrease air flow through the system. That can have a detrimental effect on how well the system cools, especially if your system is already experiencing air flow problems. That might be the case if your ductwork is poorly designed or has leaks. Or if your system’s capacity is too low for your space.
In that case, using these filters may make your HVAC problems worse.
2. Increased filtration has driven up your energy bills
The pressure drop and air flow decrease caused by increased filtration forces your system to work harder to cool the space. That means it runs longer as it struggles to reach set temperature, which uses more power, driving up energy expenses.
In that case, the cost of using the MERV 13 filters includes not only the extra cost of the filters, but also the added electricity. For a facility with a large system (or a business with a bunch of locations and numerous systems), that expense can add up.
3. You have better air purification technology
If your goal is to reduce airborne Covid virus particles and keep people healthy, there are better options than higher efficiency filters.
If your business has invested in air purification equipment that provides HEPA-level filtration, UV light disinfection, and/or ionization technology, MERV 13 filters may not be giving you any additional benefit.
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