Air Filter Ratings

Replacing an air filter in your home is a fairly simple process, but it can be overwhelming just selecting a filter at your local home hardware store. One of the questions we get all the time is what do all of the ratings mean? In a single aisle of air filters, you are likely to see MERV, MPR, and FPR ratings all over the packaging. You see the ratings, you see the cost, and filters with slightly different ratings can be significantly more expensive than those with lesser ratings, but should you care? We believe understanding these ratings will help you make the best choice possible for you and your family. With that being said, here is what you need to know.

MERV Rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value): This is the big one. Of all the ratings you are likely to see on filters across all brands and types this is the one you will see most consistently and most predominantly. This rating was created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers to create a standard that would help to guide consumers and services providers alike. This rating at its core rates a specific filter’s ability to collect and retain particles and pollutants alike.

HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air): Filters that meet HEPA standards have been shown to have satisfied certain standards of efficiency such as those set by the United States Department of Energy. To meet HEPA requirements by US government standards the filter must remove 99.97% of particulates that are more than 0.3 microns.

It is important to note that these are the only two standards that are certified by third-party entities and are not arbitrary ratings created by filter manufacturers. A 10 from a rating system other than the above mention may mean that a particular filter is the best of what a particular manufacturer has to offer but may still not meet lesser standards of MERV or HEPA rating systems. We always recommend that you look for filters that have an associated MERV or HEPA rating to ensure that you are getting a filter that has met third-party effectiveness standards.

One other thing to take into account when selecting a filter is HVAC efficiency. The higher the rating of an air filter the tougher it is for particulates to pass through it. This also means more load is put onto the HVAC system to circulate air through it as well. We always recommend selecting the filter that will suit your family’s needs without putting an unnecessary load on your HVAC unit.