What MERV Rating Should I Use?

Ever met someone who says anything and everything that pops into their head? We sometimes say those people “lack a filter.” Using an air filter with a low MERV rating is kind of like hanging out with that person. It can get a little embarrassing at times. The higher the MERV rating the more protection you and your HVAC system will get from micro-particles that carry allergens, viruses and bacteria throughout your home.

Think of it as putting a dust mask on your Furnace. Would you want a cheap dust mask that you can literally see through? Or something with tighter knit fibers that looks like it could catch more of the fine particles? The higher the MERV rating the tighter knit the fibers are and the more efficient they will be at removing the particles that get us sick. Keep reading to find the real answers so you never have to ask “what MERV rating should I use”, again.

Flimsy fiberglass air filters allow all sorts of inappropriate things to fly. But when you go higher quality, you’re faced with more sophisticated options and ratings. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to learn more about air filter MERV ratings, so you’ll always have just the right amount of filter. And you won’t have to worry about your HVAC system going commando ever again.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV)

The MERV Rating system is used internationally as a standard means of evaluating the efficiency of an air filter. Developed by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers), this system measures an air filter’s ability to do two things: capture particles and pollutants and trap them within the filter so they don’t end up in your lungs. The MERV scale for pleated filters begins at 6 and goes up to 16 (13 is the highest recommended for residential applications).

Why MERV 13 Air Filters?

MERV 13 rated filters can capture and trap the finest micro-particles like lint, pollen, dust mite debris, pet dander, smoke, smog, bacteria, and virus carriers. They are perfect for new homes, families with babies or elderly relatives or anyone demanding cleaner air in their home. Our MERV 13 air filters are over 30 times more effective at capturing micro allergens than a fiberglass filter. Click here to read more!

Are MERV 11 Air Filters any different?

MERV 11 rated air filters are the next best thing to MERV 13 filters. They capture and trap all but the finer particles that MERV 13 can trap like smoke, bacteria, viruses and other smaller allergens. They are still up to 30 times more effective at trapping lung damaging particles than fiberglass filters and they have the same air flow through the filters as MERV 13 does. A great choice for pet owners and health conscious homes.

Is MERV 8 Good Enough?

MERV 8 air filters have the best air flow among pleated air filters. They capture and trap most dust, lint, pollen, dust mite debris and pet dander. MERV 8 filters are up to 20 times more effective at catching these particles than fiberglass filters and are a great choice for the home with the least amount of traffic. We recommend checking all air filters every 30-60 days and replacing them only when signs of dirt and dust are building up.

Fiberglass Air Filters 

Fiberglass air filters are almost all rated MERV 4 and lower. These filters are pretty good at catching big dust bunnies and small family pets but they are not designed to trap the fine dust that is plaguing your house currently. Don’t believe me? Hold one up to the light, you will probably see dust right now floating in your air actually going right through the filter. This article explains the pros and the cons for using fiberglass air filters.

We recommend MERV 8 as the bare minimum protection in your home and workplace. Not only does this keep harmful pollutants out of your lungs it also keeps them out of your HVAC system. Keeping your HVAC system clean will help your equipment stay at peak efficiency and last longer. 

MPR (Micro-Particle Performance Rating)

This system was developed by 3M and rates filters according to their ability to capture particles smaller than one micron. MPR rating 300 is the lowest MPR rating and is the equivalent of a MERV 6. It denotes a filter that can trap lint, pollen and household dust. MPR 600 is equal to MERV 8 filters and MPR 1000-1200 are equal to MERV 11 filters. The highest MPR rating is 1900, meaning the filter can trap micro-particles as small as bacteria and viruses and is equivalent to our MERV 13 filters.

FPR (Filter Performance Rating)

Filter Performance Rating is Home Depot’s rating system. It uses colors and numbers but is similar to the MERV rating scale in other regards. This rating begins at the higher rated second-tier MERV and MPR scales. Anything below that will say FPR N/A if it mentions the filter performance rating at all. This means it is not applicable. From lowest rated to highest, the FPR color scale goes green, red, purple and then blue. FPR 5 (green) is equivalent to MERV 8. An FPR rating of 7 (red) is equivalent to MERV 11 and FPR 9 is equivalent to MERV 12. Lastly, FPR 10 (blue) is equivalent to MERV 13.

When you see these various air filter ratings, you can compare filters’ performances according to different criteria. What MERV filter do you need for your environment? If you are still unsure click here for an in depth breakdown of all of our filter types. Get the right amount of filter by knowing what the different ratings mean. Having the right filters means you can breathe easier and sleep better knowing your lungs and HVAC system will someday thank you.


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