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Let Us Guide You Toward the Right MERV Rating for Your Furnace Filter

There are multiple types of furnace filters with a range of MERV ratings, and it can be difficult to find the one that best fits your needs. Fras-Air/General Service Experts Total Home Comfort offers free consultations to help you feel confident in any decision you make.

Selecting the right furnace filter works by matching indoor air quality with the HVAC system’s capabilities. Choosing filters with the appropriate MERV ratings is essential to confirming your indoor air is clean and healthy without overworking your HVAC system.

What Exactly is MERV?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, a rating system created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). MERV ratings signify an air filter’s effectiveness at decreasing airborne particles and pollutants, determined by the smallest particle it’s capable of trapping (measured in microns). As filters become better at improving indoor air quality, their MERV rating goes up, ranging from 1 to 20.

This chart, along with our free consultation, can help you determine the recommended MERV rating for your needs.


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 
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Recognizing Other Measurement Systems

Knowing about MERV ratings may not be enough to help you pick the best furnace filter. For example, some big retailers use the filter performance rating (FPR), which goes from 1–10 and is a different scale to measure a filter’s ability to trap particles. You might also see the microparticle performance rating (MPR) system, which goes from 300 to 2200 and only measures a filter’s effectiveness at capturing the smallest particles on the MERV scale (0.3–1 micron in size).

We’ve provided this chart to help you see how filters ranked with FPR and MPR stack up to the more conventional 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+ 


Need Recommendations for Your Furnace Filter’s MERV Rating?

Selecting the ideal MERV rating for an air filter is a delicate balance between your HVAC system’s capabilities and the indoor air quality you’re comfortable with.

For example, a better MERV rating won’t always mean that a filter is the right option for your furnace. In fact, as MERV ratings go up, air flow goes down, forcing your HVAC system to work harder to move air through your furnace and increasing the possibility of a potential breakdown. Before purchasing a new furnace filter, make sure to check if your HVAC system has a MERV rating limit. If it does, be sure to get a furnace filter with a MERV rating below that limit.

If you have a family member with allergies or serious respiratory problems like asthma, you may want filters with higher MERV ratings. Then again, there are other methods to improve your indoor air quality if your system can’t accommodate the MERV ratings you need.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend MERV ratings for furnace filters from 6 to 8 for a great balance between top furnace efficiency and home comfort.

Choosing the best MERV rating for your furnace filter has a major impact on your indoor air quality, your HVAC system, and most importantly, your family’s wellbeing and future .Seek out  Fras-Air/General Service Experts Total Home Comfort to help you make the best decision. We have a full line of air filtration solutions plus our Expert knowledge and service—and we’re available 24/7 for emergencies. Contact us at 908-448-2154 to request your free indoor air-quality consultation in Hillsborough today!

Air inside your home can be more dangerous than what’s outside—often two to five times more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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