What is The Best MERV Rating for a Furnace Filter?



You’ve probably seen furnaces with MERV ratings and wondered what they meant. This value reflects how efficient a furnace air filter is in capturing various sizes of particles. When choosing the appropriate MERV rating for your air filter, you need to find the right balance between your HVAC system’s abilities and the indoor air quality level you wish to acquire. Before we go on to that topic, let’s first understand what a MERV rating is and how it works.

What Is MERV Rating?

Minimum Performance Reporting Value, often known as MERV, is a method that is used to measure the efficiency of the air filter based on how efficient it is in capturing particles of varied sizes. The value may range between one and twenty, and the higher the filter is, the more effective it is in capturing microscopic particles.

MERV Air Filter Rating Scale

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale has become the gold standard for evaluating air filters. The (ASHRAE)was the organization that first proposed the idea. After then, it is being utilized by everyone to measure the effectiveness of the HVAC air filter. As you can see, the MERV rating scale goes between 1 to 20, having 1 being the least effective and 20 being the most effective. The following is a breakdown of the MERV scale, which shows all of the various MERV levels.

MERV Ratings Contaminants Filtered Used Location

1 to 4

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Carpet Fibers
  • Sand Particle
  • Residential Areas
  • Commercial Areas

5 to 8

  • Moles
  • Spores
  • Animal Dander
  • All Sorts of Dust
  • Industrial Workplace
  • Commercial Area

9 to 12

  • Coal Dust
  • Humidifier Dust
  • Lead Dust
  • Milled Flour
  • Commercial Areas
  • Hospital Facilities

13 to 16

  • Bacteria
  • Droplets
  • Smoke
  • Insecticide Dust
  • Surgical Wards
  • Hospital Region

17 to 20

  • Carbon Dust
  • Virus
  • Smoke
  • Bacteria
  • Power Plants
  • Pharmaceutical Workplace


Which MERV rating should you use?

A higher MERV rating means a better filter, but it also means a higher price point. There is probably a MERV filter that can fulfill all your air filtering requirements; it just depends on what those requirements are. If your furnace’s MERV rating is set very high, it will have to work harder than recommended, increasing the risk of breakage. Therefore, to help your requirements, we have outlined the available ratings as per their needs.

  • MERV ratings between 1 and 4 can still catch pollen, dust, and other pollutants that seem to be present in your house. Small residential spaces might benefit from air filters from this category.
  • MERV ratings 5 to 8 are good enough for most residences, while those rated 9 or above are better for filtration. However, dust mite excrement and other allergens as tiny as 3 microns may be captured by these filters.
  • MERV rating 9 to 12,they are mostly employed in commercial and residential facilities where high-quality air is required. This filter prevents the development of mold spores and pollen in textiles, carpeting, and furniture.
  • MERV ratings between 13 and 16 can capture at least 90 percent of particles with sizes ranging from 1.0 to 10.0 microns. Or less than 75% of the particles 0.3-1.0 micron in size will be unable to pass through MERV 13 air filters.
  • HVAC-system filters having a MERV value of 16 or above are suitable for use in commercial and general medical environments. When it comes to operation theatres, MERV 17 to MERV 20 filters is frequently used.They are very efficient, but they can also be extremely expensive.


The investment in a furnace is a significant financial commitment since it is expected to serve you for a long time. As a result, you need to be certain that the filters you choose have a MERV value that is appropriate. MERV 7-12 filters are widely found in most residential systems, whereas MERV 13-20 filters are frequently found in healthcare and pharmaceuticals industrial operations.

In addition, you should replace the filter every three months, depending on the kind of filter you have. You can always visit Custom Filters Direct for quality MERV air filters.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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4 months ago

Yes, pleated filters with a MERV rating in the 7 to 12 range are the best choice for most residential systems. They can also be quite effective if there are allergy sufferers in the house, but in this case, it is better to replace them more often.

Happy Hiller
3 months ago

Thank you for sharing! Just want to add that the MERV rating is not the only factor to pay attention to when choosing the air filter. Another factor to consider is the filter size. Just take a quick look at your current filter to get the appropriate dimensions. The majority of filters for residential systems are 1-inch thick, but some larger homes require a thicker design for a higher volume of air. You’ll find that there are several options as far as style and material are concerned. Sticking with the style of your current filter is a good rule of thumb.

3 months ago

Thank you for sharing! MERV rating filters are a perfect option for clean indoor air. However, some people find it troublesome to replace them regularly. After all, they are not cheap. In this case, washable filters can be used instead of changing filters monthly to quarterly. The initial cost of a reusable AC filter is high, but they are expected to last as long as the unit, around 15-20 years. 

8 days ago

Choosing the right air filter is crucial. Any air filter with a MERV rating higher than 13 will restrict airflow, which could make your HVAC system work harder and consume more energy.
The best MERV rating for a home is somewhere between 8-10. These filters will capture a large portion of the airborne particles and improve indoor air quality without increasing energy consumption.