Determining the correct MERV rating for your furnace filter can be tricky. There are various types of filters to use, and it might be difficult to select a filter that best fits your needs. We’re here to help. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is your local HVAC Expert in Memphis, helping you make smart decisions for your home.
Choosing the correct furnace filter is all about matching indoor air quality with your HVAC system’s capabilities. Finding filters with the right MERV ratings is critical to ensuring your air is healthy without overworking your HVAC system.
What Does MERV Mean?
A minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV is a measurement system created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). MERV ratings denote an air filter’s effectiveness at decreasing 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 find 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
Familiarity with MERV ratings might not be enough when you need to buy your furnace filter. For example, some big retailers use the filter performance rating (FPR), which goes from 1-10 and measures a filter’s ability to capture 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 rated 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 have.
For example, a better MERV rating doesn’t always mean that a filter is the best option for your furnace. In fact, as MERV rating increases, air flow decreases—forcing your HVAC system to work harder to move air through your furnace, increasing the likelihood 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 limit.
If your family has allergies or serious respiratory problems like asthma, you may want to invest in 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 require.
Generally speaking, our recommended MERV rating for furnace filters ranges from 6 to 8 for a great balance between maximum furnace efficiency and home comfort.
Selecting the right MERV rating for your furnace filter has a huge impact on your indoor air quality, your HVAC system and, most important, your family’s well-being. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning help you make the right decision. We have a full line of air filtration options plus our Expert knowledge and service—and we’re available 24/7 for emergencies. Contact us at 866-397-3787 to schedule your indoor air quality consultation in Memphis today!