Despite struggling with allergies, I have never felt the need to upgrade to an air filter with a MERV rating above 14. Even though they’re highly efficient at eliminating air pollutants, the best MERV 16 air filters are an awkward fit for most residential contexts.
Their prohibitively high price is yet another reason why most homeowners opt for more affordable models. Most MERV 16 models have a maximum lifespan of six months, which means that you’ll have to spend at least $100 or more on their replacement at least twice per year.
So, in this article, I’ll walk you through the key characteristics of MERV 16 air filters and recommend several models that could be a good fit for your central heating or cooling system.
Bottom Line Up Front
I don’t recommend upgrading to a MERV 16 air filter before consulting an HVAC system technician and making sure that the HVAC Air filter won’t affect the unit’s performance. If you own a cooling or heating system that is compatible with MERV 16 air filters, you should consider getting the Lennox Healthy Climate X6672.
The Aprilaire 216 Replacement Filter is an excellent substitute for whole-home air purifiers compatible with furnaces produced by industry-leading brands.
See also: Aprilaire 5000 Air Purifier review
My Top Picks at a Glance
|Aprilaire 216 Replacement Filter
|Lennox Healthy Climate X6672
|Electrostatic synthetic media
|Breathable Intake BIF-20 Air Filter
|Pleated electrostatic material
|Lennox Healthy Climate X8788
|Lennox X6675 Air Filter
|Lennox X7935 Air Filter
|Carbon coated fiber
What is MERV?
The air filter efficiency is measured with several different rating systems. However, MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value developed by ASHARE is the industry standard.
This system rates the filter’s worst performance on a scale from 1 to 20 when exposed to particles with sizes between 0.3 to 1 micron. Models designed for residential and commercial use have MERV ratings between 5 and 14, while an air filter with a MERV 16 produces hospital-level air quality.
Here’s a quick overview of the performance capacities of MERV 16 air filters:
- The ability to capture up to 95% of 0.3 to 10-micron particles from the air they filter
- Protection against microscopic smoke and sneeze particles
- Some models have odor removal properties
MERV 16 models are slightly less efficient than HEPA filters that have MERV ratings above 17. Unlike HEPA filters, MERV 16 air filters don’t cause pressure drops or restrict the unit’s airflow when they’re clean.
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Size Options of MERV 16 Air Filters
One common trait of all MERV 16 air filters is that they’re considerably wider than models with lower MERV ratings. So, you’ll have to choose between MERV 16 models that are either four or five inches wide, depending on the size of the unit’s vent.
The height and length of these air filters vary from 16 to 30 inches. The difference between the filter’s nominal and actual size is ¼ to ½ inch, which sometimes causes fitment issues.
Top tip: Don’t purchase a MERV 16 air filter unless you’re sure that your cooling or heating system supports four or five-inch wide filters.
The easiest way to ensure a MERV 16 air filter fits on your HVAC system is to measure the dimensions of its vent register. Also, checking the dimensions of the filter you’re replacing can help you find out the dimensions a new filter should have.
Types of MERV 16 Air Filters
The quality of filter media is one of the key factors that determine the filter’s performance. However, models with low and high MERV ratings are equipped with the same media materials. MERV 16 models have a large media surface that enables them to trap microscopic particles efficiently.
These filters can fall into one of the following categories depending on the media material they’re using.
- Fiberglass – Using filters with fiberglass media comes with a certain amount of risk even if they have a high MERV rating. These filters aren’t durable, and they lose their filtering potential quickly.
- Pleated synthetic – Models with this media type have at least one pleat per inch of media, which results in a vast media surface capable of capturing tiny and large particles. Synthetic media can withstand moderate exposure to heat and humidity.
- Electrostatically charged media – The polypropylene filter media generates a strong electrostatic field that attracts microscopic particles. Some models can have pleated media designs.
See also: How to find the best furnace
Properties of MERV 16 Air Filters
You can only use a MERV 16 air filter if you own a furnace or whole-house air purifier that is compatible with these filters. Hence, the first thing you’ll need to do if you’re considering upgrading to a MERV 16 filter is make sure you can install it on your cooling or heating system.
Manufacturers of MERV 16 filters claim that the lifespan of their products is six to twelve months. Still, their ability to retain a high percentage of pollutants from the air they filter often shortens their lifespan.
Top tip: Finding information about MERV 16 air filters isn’t easy, even if you take the time to read the product’s full spec sheet. So, consulting with an HVAC technician about the MERV 16 filter you’re interested in is often the best way to determine if it’s a suitable choice for your unit.
Frame sturdiness, heat and humidity resistance, and odor elimination capabilities are among the factors you’ll need to consider while choosing a MERV 16 air filter. It’s also worth adding that these filters don’t cause pressure drops even though they have high arrestance rates.
Cost and Upkeep Requirements
The price difference between a MERV 15 model like the Nordic Pure Air Filter and a MERV 16 filter is staggering. On average, a single MERV 16 air filter costs around $150, which makes it considerably more expensive than the filters with lower MERV ratings.
The replacement frequency depends on how often you’re using a cooling or heating unit, but in most cases, you’ll have to replace these filters at least twice per year. Also, most models are disposable, so washing the dirt they accumulate and reinserting them into a vent isn’t an option.
MERV 16 air filters don’t have any upkeep requirements, as most units they’re compatible with have built-in air filter indicators that inform the users when to change the filter. However, you should still perform routine checks to ensure that the filter is in functional condition.
See also: The best washable furnace filters
The scarcity of MERV 16 air filters is one of the challenges I had to overcome during the selection process. These filters aren’t common as only a handful of brands offer models with MERV ratings above 14.
Consequently, all air filters you’ll find in this article are produced by Aprilaire, Breathable Intake, or Lennox brands. Here are some of the key criteria I utilized to shortlist the best MERV 16 air filters:
- Filter’s durability – This parameter has helped me identify MERV 16 models with sturdy frames and filter media materials that aren’t affected by high temperatures or humidity exposure.
- Ease of use – Each model I included in this article is easy to install and has zero upkeep requirements aside from occasional visual inspections.
See also: Furnace transformer replacement guide
Top 6 MERV 16 Air Filters
Aprilaire 216 Replacement Furnace Filter
You can only use the Aprilaire 216 Replacement Furnace Filter if you own an HVAC system compatible with Aprilaire 4200, 3210, 2216, 1620, 2210, or 1210 air purifier models.
The filter is four inches wide, and it’s equipped with pleated synthetic fiber media that captures 96% percent of air pollutants that pass through it regardless of their sizes.
In addition, this Aprilaire model removes up to 99% of allergenic particles from the air it filters, which makes it an excellent option for people who are allergic to dust, mold, or pollen.
- The Aprilaire Self-Seal technology prevents air leaks
- It replaces a variety of Aprilaire air purifiers
- The Interlock Rail System simplifies the installation process
- The filter lasts up to six months
- It’s not compatible with 5-ton units
Lennox Healthy Climate X6672
Users of Lennox, Carrier-Bryant, and Honeywell cooling and heating systems can use the Lennox Healthy Climate X6672 as a replacement for their unit’s original air filters. However, this MERV 16 model can serve as a replacement for a handful of air filters, so you’ll have to check if it’s compatible with your unit.
Its filter media has antimicrobial and hypoallergenic properties that enable it to trap 95% of particles that can potentially trigger an allergic reaction. The pleated media design ensures that the filter doesn’t disrupt the unit’s airflow.
- A sturdy metal grid keeps filter media in place
- Excellent performance in hot and humid conditions
- A high arrestance percentage
- It doesn’t cause pressure drops
- Steep price
Breathable Intake BIF-20 Air Filter
The performance capabilities of the Breathable Intake BIF-20 Air Filter are comparable to those offered by HEPA filters. The model can be utilized as a replacement for air filters manufactured by Lennox and Honeywell, but you must check if it is suitable for your HVAC system.
Like all MERV 16 models, this air filter can trap over 90% of microscopic particles that pass through it. Moreover, pleated electrostatically charged media has hypoallergenic properties that make this filter an excellent fit for spaces exposed to high amounts of allergenic particles.
- It requires annual replacement
- The filter contains high-quality carbon-coated media
- It supports smart-home integration
- This air filter can improve the system’s efficiency
- It’s not compatible with all HVAC systems
Lennox Healthy Climate X8788
The Lennox Healthy Climate X8788 is a replacement air filter for the Lennox PureAir PCO-12C air filter, and you cannot use it with HVAC systems that aren’t compatible with this air filter. Even though its media is made of fiberglass, the filter still has a high arrestance rate due to the pleated media design.
Its frame and media are resistant to heat and humidity, so you won’t have to worry about the filter’s performance under extreme conditions.
- It has an immediate impact on air quality
- The average lifespan is around six months
- This filter doesn’t affect the unit’s airflow
- The model’s actual dimensions can complicate the installation
Lennox X6675 Air Filter
The Lennox X6675 Air Filter replaces a broad range of filters produced by Carrier-Bryant, Trion Air Bear, Lennox, or Honeywell. The pleated synthetic media captures more than 90% of 0.3 to 10-micron particles, while its carbon coating helps neutralize odors.
The filter also maximizes the unit’s performance by preventing dust accumulation on its components and maintains the power consumption at an acceptable level. Moreover, this Lenox model can last up to a year, and it eliminates the need to change air filters frequently.
- It offers efficient air filtration
- It doesn’t require professional installation
- Sturdy construction
- Removing this air filter from the vent is easy
- It might be too restrictive for some HVAC systems
Lennox X7935 Air Filter
The features of the Lennox X7935 Air Filter are similar to those of other models from the Lennox Healthy Climate series. The filter media retains 90% of 0.1-micron particles from the air that passes through it as well as 95% of 0.3 particles.
The carbon coating helps the filter eliminate cooking and bathroom odors and reduce ground-level ozone by 50%. The filter has a durable construction, and it maintains the same performance level for an entire year.
- Excellent filter media quality
- It captures more than 90% of bio aerosols
- More affordable than most MERV 16 air filters
- It improves the efficiency of an HVAC system
- It exceeds the air filtering needs of most homeowners
Frequently Asked Questions About MERV 16 Air Filters
Question: Are MERV 16 air filters recyclable?
Answer: Recycling a MERV 16 air filter isn’t possible, and you should dispose of it as regular trash.
Question: Do MERV 16 air filters require professional installation?
Answer: Most models are easy to install, and you don’t have to hire an HVAC technician to install these filters for you.
Question: What to do if a MERV 16 air filter is too restrictive for my HVAC system?
Answer: Replace a MERV 16 air filter as soon as you notice that your HVAC system uses more power than usual or struggles to regulate the temperature in your home.
Question: Do all MERV 16 air filters have hypoallergenic filter media?
Answer: Some but not all MERV 16 air filters have hypoallergenic media. Despite this, all models with this MERV rating can capture a high percentage of allergenic particles.
My Verdict: Choosing the Best MERV 16 Air Filter
Spending more than $100 on a highly efficient air filter is often unnecessary. Models with MERV 16 ratings will undoubtedly remove most air pollutants from the air in your home, but their performance capacities exceed the requirements of most homeowners.
I don’t recommend upgrading to a MERV 16 air filter before testing a few MERV 14 and MERV 15 models and making sure that they can’t deliver the air quality you seek. Moreover, you must check if your HVAC system is compatible with MERV 16 air filters to avoid damaging it.
A model like the Lennox Healthy Climate X6672 can be a good option if it matches your cooling or heating system’s vent. The Aprilaire 216 Replacement Filter is a reliable option if you own one of the furnaces that utilize the brand’s whole-house air purifiers.
Please read our guide to the best HVAC capacitors if you’d like to replace the component of your HVAC system or check out some of our related reads based on air filter sizes:
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