What MERV filter rating should you use? (Easy Selection!)

Do you know what MERV filter rating you should use for your furnace filter?

Selecting the right ac filter is important for improving your home’s air quality. Select the wrong filter can result in poor air quality that you’ll breath while you sleep.

Today’s guide is all about selecting the right air filter, so you can make an informed choice about your families air quality.

What Merv Air Filter Rating Should You Use

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What are MERV filter ratings?

MERV stands for minimum efficiency rating value and is the standard for furnace filtration. The goal is to give consumers an easy to use scale to compare furnace filters.

Generally, filters are rated on a scale from 1 to 13 for home use. A higher MERV rating indicates a more effective filter. Hospitals will generally use anywhere from MERV 14 to 20, depending on the application.

What MERV filter rating should you use

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Does MERV rating affect how often I should change my furnace filter?

You may have to replace your filter more frequently if you purchase cheap, low MERV filters. However, the general rule is to replace your furnace filter every 90 days.

Other factors may require you to change your furnace filter earlier. Such factors may include if you suffer from allergies, own pets, or live in a dirty area.

Don’t know how to replace your furnace filter? Here’s a simple guide to replacing your air filter.

MERV air filter chart


As you can see from the chart, MERV 6 filters don’t filter your home’s air very well. MERV 6 is only good for filtering large particles such as Dust, lint, and pollen.

MERV 8 filters are slightly better and filter out dust mites and mold. However, for a few extra bucks you can purchase a MERV 11 filter which also filters pet dander, smoke, smog, and helps with cough and sneezing.

A MERV 13 is the best choice if you’re a person who doesn’t like germs. Constantly reaching for hand sanitizer after shaking someone’s hand? MERV 13 is for you!

What are FPR and MPR ratings?

FPR and MPR are similar to MERV ratings, but FPR and MPR are brand specific filter ratings. Home Depot shoppers will find themselves familiar with FPR, which ranges from 1 to 10. If you find yourself looking at a 3M filter then you’ll see a MPR rating, ranging from 300 to 1900.

Use the chart listed above to help you find the air filter that works best for you.

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Do higher MERV filters restrict air flow?

Generally speaking, yes, higher MERV filters restrict air flow. Higher MERV filters have a finer mesh which capture smaller particles.

Too much restriction can cause your furnace blower to work harder. Unfortunately, working harder causes your furnace fan to have a shorter life expectancy. Most furnaces should be able to handle a MERV 13 filter or lower.

What MERV filter rating should you buy?

Best MERV filter rating

The recommended MERV rating for a furnace filter is 11 or 12. MERV 11 and 12 provides the best filtration at the best price without overloading your furnace.

There isn’t much of a price difference between MERV ratings until you reach MERV 13 and the price goes up. Therefore, there isn’t enough benefit to go to a MERV 13 filter to justify the price. The only reason to purchase a MERV 13 filter is if you worry about germs, viruses, and bacteria.

Filters less than MERV 10 don’t provide as great of filtration, but cost approximately the same as a MERV 11 or 12.

What is a good MERV rating for air filters?

As listed above, MERV 11 and 12 are probably your best bet for furnace filters. However, you are not limited to those two options.

If you are a single individual with no pets then you may be able to choose a filter from MERV 8 or greater. Families and pet owners should consider MERV 11 or greater.

Where should you get your furnace filter?

There are so many places you can purchase your furnace filter. However, one of the best places to purchase your filter is from Nordic Pure.

Going to their website, you can search for your size of filter.

Select filter size

This makes it easy to find the right product. Here’s what comes up when I go to purchase my home’s furnace filter.

Nordic pure order screen

I generally select MERV 12 when I purchase my furnace filter. MERV 12 provides the best price and the best filtration for my family. I replace my filter every 60-90 days.

Are MERV 8 filters any good?

Generally speaking, MERV 8 filters are the lowest rated filter you should purchase. They work for most applications found in a individual household, but there is nothing spectacular about them.

Most families would benefit from upgrading to a MERV 11 filter. The cost difference between a MERV filter rating of 8 and 11 is very small, so it makes better sense to purchase MERV 11.

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MERV filter ratings are a way for consumers to compare filter effectiveness. Ratings range from 1 to 13 for home use. Most people should install MERV 11 or 12 filters because it’s the best performer at the best price.

Purchasing too high of MERV value can be bad for your filter. However, purchasing a MERV filter of 13 or lower should be acceptable in most applications.

Going too low of MERV can also be bad for your health. Low quality filters won’t do much filtering, which means you’re breathing dust, dander, mold, and more! MERV 8 is the lowest quality filter you should consider.

One of the best places to purchase your filter is from Nordic Pure. If you have an old filter size, plug in the dimensions on Nordic Pure’s website and select your filter.


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John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.