Figuring out the right MERV rating for your furnace filter can be difficult. There are various types of filters to use, and it might be difficult to select a filter that best suits your needs. We’re here to help. Strand Brothers Service Experts is your local HVAC Expert in Austin, helping you make informed decisions for your home.
Choosing the right furnace filter is all about balancing indoor air quality with your HVAC system’s capabilities. Getting filters with the right MERV ratings is essential to ensuring your air is well-filtered without overworking your HVAC system.
What Does MERV Mean?
A minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV is a rating system created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). MERV ratings denote an air filter’s effectiveness at reducing airborne particles and contaminants. A filter’s rating is determined by the smallest particle it’s capable of trapping (measured in microns). As filters become more effective at improving indoor air quality, their MERV rating increases, ranging from 1 to 20.
Below, you will see a chart that can help you determine the recommended MERV rating for a variety of applications.
|MERV Range ||Controlled Contaminants ||Typical Application ||Air Filter Types |
|1-4 ||Pollen, Dust, Spray Paint, Dust Mites, Sanding Dust, Textile & Carpet Fibers ||Residential, Window AC Units ||Disposable Electrostatic |
|5-8 ||Mold Spores, Pet Dander, Hair Spray, Dusting Aids, Fabric Protector, Cement Dust, Pudding Mix ||Better Residential, Commercial, Industrial Workplaces ||Pleated Filters Cartridge Filters Electrostatic |
|9-12 ||Legionella, Auto Emissions, Lead Dust, Humidifier Dust, Welding Fumes ||Superior Residential, Better Commercial, Hospital Labs ||Pleated Filters Cartridge Filters |
|13-16 ||Bacteria, Droplet Nuclei (Sneeze), Tobacco Smoke, Insecticide Dust ||General Surgery, Hospital Inpatient Care ||Bag Filters Box Filters |
|17-20 ||Viruses, All Combustion Smoke, Carbon Dust ||Cleanrooms, Radioactive & Carcinogenic Materials, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing ||HEPA Filters Specialized Filters |
Other Measurement Systems
Knowing about MERV ratings might not be enough when the time comes to purchase your furnace filter. For example, some big retailers use the filter performance rating (FPR), which ranges from 1-10 and measures a filter’s ability to trap large and small particles. You might also see the microparticle performance rating (MPR) system, which goes from 300 to 2200 and measures a filter’s effectiveness at capturing only the smallest particles on the MERV scale (0.3-1 microns in size).
You can use the chart below to better understand how filters ranked with FPR and MPR compare to the more standard MERV rating system.
|MERV Rating ||FPR ||MPR |
|MERV 1-5 ||Below Minimum FPR ||Below Minimum MPR |
|MERV 6 ||Below Minimum FPR ||MPR 300 |
|MERV 8 ||FPR 5 ||MPR 600 |
|MERV 11 ||FPR 7 ||MPR 1000-1200 |
|MERV 13 ||FPR 10 ||MPR 1500-1900 |
|MERV 14-20 ||Above Maximum FPR ||MPR 1900+ |
What Should My Furnace Filter’s MERV Rating Be?
Getting the right MERV rating for your air filter is a delicate balance between your HVAC system’s capabilities and the indoor air quality you want to achieve.
For example, a higher MERV rating doesn’t always mean that a filter is the best option for your furnace. In fact, as MERV rating goes up, air flow goes down—forcing your HVAC system to work harder to move air through your furnace, increasing the possibility of a potential breakdown. Before buying a new furnace filter, be sure to check if your HVAC system has a limit for MERV rating. If it does, be sure to buy a furnace filter with a MERV rating below your system’s maximum.
If your family has allergies or serious respiratory issues like asthma, you may want to get filters with higher MERV ratings. Remember, there are always other options out there to improve your indoor air quality if your system is unable to handle the MERV ratings you need.
Generally speaking, our recommended MERV rating for furnace filters runs from 6 to 8 for a fantastic balance between maximum furnace efficiency and home comfort.
Choosingthe right MERV rating for your furnace filter has a major impact on your indoor air quality, your HVAC system and, most important, your family’s well-being. Let Strand Brothers Service Experts help you make the right decision. We have a complete line of air filtration options plus our Expert knowledge and service—and we’re available 24 hours a day for emergencies. Contact us at 866-397-3787 to request your indoor air quality consultation in Austin today!