What’s the difference between MERV, MPR and FPR air filter ratings?

By Lyle Weischwill | Apr. 18, 2023 6:29 am PST

When shopping for air conditioner air filters, you’ll find dozens of choices available. In addition to seeing different brands, you’ll also notice a wide variety of air filter ratings. Three major rating systems exist for AC air filters.

  • MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This AC air filter rating system is the prevalent standard established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). MERV ratings allow you to compare filtration performance for many different brands and types of air conditioner air filters. Filter performance increases as the MERV number increases.
  • MPR – Micro-Particle Performance Rating. 3M developed this rating system to measure its air conditioner air filters’ capacity to remove particles ranging in sizes from 0.3 to 1 micron. In this rating system, filter performance also increases as the MPR rating increases.
  • FPR – You’ll only see the FPR rating system on AC filters in Home Depot stores. Home Depot developed this internal rating system for their air conditioner filters. Again, the higher the rating number, the better the filter’s performance.

What do MERV Ratings Mean?

MERV ratings range from 1 (least efficient) to 16 (most efficient).

Here’s a short video that explains MERV air conditioner filter ratings and how to choose the right AC filter for your home:

  • MERV 1-4 filters pollen and dust mites. Choose this type of AC air filter when you need minimal filtering and maximum air flow for cooling.
  • MERV 5-8 filters mold and aerosols in addition to pollen and dust mites. This type of filter works best for most households.
  • MERV 9-12 filters bacteria and lead dust in addition to the above contaminants. Choose this type of filter if those in your household suffer from allergies or breathing-related illnesses.
  • MERV 12+ filters all of the above, plus tobacco smoke and all types of bacteria. This type of filter is typically used in hospitals and manufacturing environments.

What do MPR Filter Ratings Indicate?

MPR ratings describe a filter’s ability to trap contaminant particles based on size (below 1 micron).

  • 100-300 filters lint and dust. Filters rated at 300 MPR also remove dust mite debris. This type of filter equates to MERV 1-4 filters.
  • 600 filters mold spores and pollen in addition to lint, dust and dust mite debris. It equates to MERV 5-8 filters.
  • 1000-1200 filters pet dander, smoke and smog in addition to the above pollutants. This MPR filter rating equates to MERV 9-12 filters.
  • 1500+ filters bacteria and virus particles in addition to the above pollutants. This type of filter is equivalent to MERV 12+ filters.

How do FPR Filter Ratings Equate to the MERV and MPR Filter Ratings?

FPR ratings describe a filter’s ability to remove contaminant particles similar to the other rating systems.

  • Good (4-5) equates to MERV 5-8 and MPR 600 filter ratings – trapping dust, lint, dust mites and pet dander.
  • Better (6-7) equates to MERV 9-12 and MPR 1000-1200 filter ratings – screening out bacteria and mold spores in addition to the dust, lint, dust mites and pet dander.
  • Best (8-9) equates to MERV 12+ and MPR 1500+ filter ratings – trapping smoke, smog, allergens and some particles and can carry viruses in addition to particles trapped by the Better rated filter.
  • Premium (10) filters screen out everything that the Best filter traps and also helps eliminate odor-causing particles.

How to Choose the Type of AC Air Filter That’s Best for Your Home

Understanding the filter ratings helps you determine which AC air filter is right for your home.

When your family is healthy, you can choose any type of filter based on the level of filtering that you want. Keep in mind that filters increase in price as their rating increase. You can save money by using filter with lower ratings.

When you live in a hot, southern climate, you may want to use lower rater filter in the summer to increase cooling air flow through your home. Higher rated filters can restrict air flow more than the lowest rated filters.

When you have family members with health issues, use the filter that fits the needs of your household. For example, choose a MERV 12, MPR 1200 or FPR Better (6-7) rated filter to help relieve allergy sufferers. To help Asthma sufferers and family members with other health or respiratory issues, select the top-of-the-line rated filters.

Schedule Regular Maintenance Checks for Your HVAC System

Replacing the AC air filter regularly is only 1 step in the regular maintenance that your HVAC system needs to stay in top shape and operate efficiently. You’ll definitely want to keep your system in top shape when using premium filters that can slightly restrict air flow when filtering more particles.

It’s best to schedule professional HVAC maintenance service twice per year. Set up AC service to get your system ready for the summer and schedule fall HVAC service to get your furnace ready for winter.

Sears Home Services can take care of all your HVAC maintenance needs. Simply schedule HVAC maintenance service online and we’ll send a Sears Technician right out to thoroughly check and maintain your heating and cooling system.

Regular HVAC maintenance will help keep your system in top shape and helps reduce the risk of unexpected breakdowns. You’ll see lower energy bills when your system operates efficiently and the system will also last longer.

Sears wants to help you keep your HVAC system in top shape so you can enjoy your home – worry-free for years to come.

Most Recent Articles