What MERV Rating Should I Use?

By March 25, 2019April 2nd, 2019Air Filter Info

Have you stood in a home care store and just scratched your head, wondering what all those different acronyms meant?  MERV, MPR, FPR? What do they mean and which one should you use? Don’t worry, we used to do that too.

The different filtration ratings all measure essentially the same thing- how strong the filtration is of a filter.  It’s important to buy the right filter for you because everyone has different needs, and you should get the filter best suited for you.


  • Allergies


The first thing to consider is if you have allergies or not.  The American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology recommends a MERV rating of 11 to 13 for people who have severe allergies.  These ratings will catch all dust particles, pollen, mold, spores, and Legionella bacteria. If you are fortunate enough to not have very bad allergies you may want to opt for a smaller rating, as the higher ratings put more strain on your A/C system.  We suggest MERV 8 for a person without intense allergies.

  • Cost


The second thing to consider is the cost of having a higher level of filtration.  If you need a stronger filter it will force your HVAC system to work harder to pull the air through the filters.  This will cause the cost of electricity to go since your system has to work harder. The average residential HVAC system is not designed to handle the higher levels of filter ratings (higher than MERV 13), and will probably malfunction unless modifications are made.  The filter ratings that work the best with an average HVAC system are MERV 6-11. These will not put as much strain on your A/C system.

  • Lifestyle/Geography


The third thing to consider is your lifestyle or where you live.  If you’re like us and live in the Houston area, you know that pollen is our replacement for snow.  Every year it rains yellow, and coats everything in sight with a yellow powder. Even if you don’t have bad allergies, this yellow rain can have a strong effect on your respiratory system and you may want a higher filter strength.  If you have pets, live in a polluted area, or have family members who smoke you may also want to consider a higher filter strength. Another solution is to replace your filters more often if you know they will get contaminated quicker than average.  

James Hall

Author James Hall

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