If you install a new furnace, regardless if it’s a wood furnace, an oil furnace or even a propane furnace; it always comes with installed filtration systems that need regular maintenance to operate at peak performance. These filtration systems are essential for allowing your furnace to draw oxygen in and send the heated air back out into the home. The filtration systems use some sort of filter, either reusable or single-use, to remove unwanted allergens and bacteria from the air to promote good healthy breathing. It also increases the longevity of your furnace and some manufacturers actually require regular maintenance to qualify for warranty.
Furnace filters can be complicated, however, with the labels shortened to a series of letters. Some furnaces will have the type of filter required for peak operation written on the informational index card generally located on the side of your appliance whereas some other furnaces allow you to choose what sort of filter you want to install.
So what exactly does MERV stand for? What about MPR? Or the not as common but equally effective FDR? When it comes to furnace filter ratings MERV vs MPR or furnace filter details FPR vs MERV, how do you make sense of it all? That’s where we come in!
How do all these filters stack up against each other? Is a certain type more efficient? Cheaper? Last longer? Let’s find out.
Pros and Cons: MERV, MPR and FPR
- Easy-read numbers tell you the level of filtration – higher numbers = higher level of filtration
- Only nationally regulated and independent filtration rating
- Will clean the air both inhaled and exhaled by the furnace
- Will improve the overall air quality of the residence
- Will keep the furnace operating at maximum capabilities when used properly
- Will need to be replaced at least every second month when the furnace is in use for the colder seasons
- Uses numbers to tell you the level of filtration based on the size of the Microparticle
- Will clean the air both drawn into the furnace and expelled from it
- Will improve overall air quality to a higher level
- Will keep the furnace operating at a peak performance when used properly
- Was created and distributed by 3M brand so compatibility with certain furnaces may not exist if the furnace cannot use a 3M filter
- Will need to be replaced at least every second month when in constant use
- No third-party testing available for comparison to MERV filters
- Will remove dirt, mites, allergens, and debris from the air brought into and let out of the furnace
- Will improve the overall air quality of the home
- Will help the furnace operate at peak performance when used properly
- Was created and distributed by Home Depot stores so compatibility with certain furnaces may not exist if the furnace cannot use a Home Depot filter
- Will need to be replaced at least every second month when usage is frequent
- No third-party testing available for comparison to MERV filters
Why Your Furnace Needs a Filter
Regardless the source of heat in your home, chances are your furnace has a filter located somewhere accessible for the changing of the filter and the maintenance of the filtration system. This is the case whether you choose a pure electric element for your source of heat, or you burn wood, oil or propane. Perhaps you have a combination furnace that allows you to choose between two heat sources each time, such as wood and electric. Regardless of the type of furnace you have and the type of heat source; it has a filter. But what is its purpose?
The majority of furnaces have a filter because:
1. It improves air quality by approximately 80%! Without a filter, each piece of dirt, debris, allergens, and germs are sent right back into the air of the home where you then breathe it in without knowing the difference.
2. It extends the life of your home heating system by removing dirt and debris from the air that is taken into the furnace from the outside or inside of the home that causes the motor to overheat as it pushes harder to heat the dirty air.
3. A clogged filter requires the furnace to exert more energy to heat the air and in turn, this will cause your energy bills to increase on a monthly basis.
4. A clogged filter can send the dirt and debris deeper into your furnace, essentially clogging different mechanical parts that require expensive service and repair costs.
When you see a furnace filter with the letters MERV; this stands for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This series of letters will also be accompanied by a number that ranges from one through to 16 which stands for the level of filtration that the filter can handle. The higher the number, the higher the level of filtration that furnace filter will provide.
This is the only nationally regulated and independent regulation system for furnace filters.
Higher numbers are definitely a plus in a home where there is more than one occupant that can create debris or a home where there are pets that are shedding their fur.
Check with the information card located on your furnace to ensure that it can handle a higher level of filtration and to ensure the proper fit for your filter.
|Range||Range 1 – 0.30 to 1.0 micron||Range 2 – 1.0 to 3.0 micron||Range 3 – 3.0 to 10.0 micron|
|Particle Size Removal Percentage||At least 40-50% removal to gain a rating of MERV 1||At least 40-50% removal to gain a rating of MERV 1||At least 40-50% removal to gain a rating of MERV 1|
|Mold spores Human dander Pet dander|
MPR Filters stand for the exclusive Microparticle Performance Rating filters that are manufactured and sold by the home improvement brand 3M in partnership with Filtrete.
These filters will clean the air being brought into the furnace and allow for the removal of dirt, allergens, and debris before sending the cleaner but heated air back into the atmosphere of the home. The MPR filters use a series of numbers to gauge the size of the particles they will remove from the air and concentrates on particles only ranging in size from 0.3 and 1 microns.
FPR Filters stand for the also exclusive Filter Performance Rating filters for your furnace that are manufactured and sold only by the franchise, Home Depot.
These filters will clean the air that is sucked into the intake pipe of the furnace and remove particles of various sizes but unlike the MPR filters; Home Depot doesn’t supply a size range for the particles they will remove.
The FPR filters instead use an assigned number for measuring the particle removal from the air and assigns it a corresponding number such as FPR 10. These numbers range from economy filters (FPR 4) to Premium (FPR 10) with a guidance chart available in-store or online for a comparison of what sort of containment the filters will remove. Unfortunately, the FPR ratings do not clarify what constitutes a large particle versus a small particle, so it can be difficult to judge accordingly what percentage of each containment is removed from the home.
To visit the Home Depot website for more information on FPR filters, please click here.
Turns out the biggest difference between all of this seemingly random assortment of letters is the makers of the filter itself. The MERV filters are the only nationally regulated and independent assortment of furnace filters whereas the MPR filters are manufactured, along with sold, exclusively by the brand 3M in conjunction with Filtrete. The FPR filters are manufactured and sold exclusively by Home Depot. Using a filter that is made by a certain brand limits its availability, especially if you do not live close to a hardware store that sells 3M products or a Home Depot.
Ultimately the choice of filter used in your furnace is your call but it is important to note that your warranty may depend on a particular one. It is always good to ask questions to the service technicians when they come to your home for a maintenance check, such as how often should I change my furnace filter, or what is your recommendation for a filter, etc. They are there to help, so why not take advantage?
People want to live a healthy lifestyle and that includes the air that they breathe. So check the condition of your furnace filter today and if need be, change it to be one step closer to breathing healthy clean air!