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MERV 8, MERV 11, And MERV 13: Which Is Better?

MERV 8, MERV 11, And MERV 13: Which Is Better?

The majority of furnace filter vendors only carry filters in the MERV 8–13 range, even though filters with MERV ratings as high as 20 are also available. You’re now trying to decide which of the MERV 8, 11, and 13 is the best option.

A MERV 11 or 13 air filter is recommended if any members of your household have allergies, pets, or live in an area that is highly polluted. However, these filters are expensive and may need more work from your HVAC system. A MERV 8 will work just fine if your home has few problems, and it is also the least expensive choice available.

Comparing MERV 8, MERV 11, And MERV 13

Although MERV 8, 11, and 13 air filters might seem to be fairly similar, there are several key differences between them.

Moving up just two or three MERV rating levels can either be a smart move that enhances the air quality or a disastrous one for the entire HVAC system when evaluating each one’s airflow capacity.

As a result, selecting one of these three common air filters requires some consideration. If you’re trying to pick between a MERV 8, 11, or 13 air filter, you should be aware of the following:

Particle Trap Size
MERV 8: Captures particles between 3 and 10 microns in size.
MERV 11: Capture particles between 1 and 3 microns in size.
MERV13: Capture particles between 0.3 and 1 micron in size.

Filtering Effectiveness
MERV 8: 90% of the airborne particles in a typical home are captured.
MERV 11: It effectively captures 95% of airborne particles in a typical home.
MERV13: In a typical home, it can capture 98% of airborne particles.

Rating Of Micro-Particle Performance (MPR)
It is a scoring system created by 3M. It evaluates the filters’ ability to capture airborne particles smaller than one millimeter. Only a filter’s capacity to exclude particles between 0.3 and 1 microns is evaluated using MPR ratings.

MERV ratings, on the other hand, indicate a filter’s capacity to capture both tiny and macroscopic particles. Normal dust particles range in size from 0.2 to 8 microns, whereas pollen begins at 7 microns and can reach 70 microns.

600 MPR for MERV 8
1,000–1,200 MPR for MERV 11
1,500–1,900 MPR for MERV 13

Rating For Filter Performance (FPR)
It assigns numbers between 4 and 10 to identify the filters. This rating system, which was developed by the Home Depot for brands sold in their stores, including Honeywell, is very similar to the MERV rating.

FPR 7: MERV 11
FPR 10 for MERV13

Continuity Of Changes

Experts advise changing MERV 8 filters every two to three months to keep them operating at peak efficiency. It’s crucial to consider how frequently you use your HVAC system. Your filter will get dirty more quickly than in the spring and fall since it runs more frequently in the winter and summer.

MERV 8, MERV 11, And MERV 13: Which Is Better?

Due to their denser threads, MERV 11 filters tend to accumulate trapped material more quickly than MERV 8 filters. Depending on the season and how hard your HVAC system is working, you should change your MERV 11 filter every one to three months for maximum performance.

Since MERV 13 filters are the densest of the types of filters discussed here, they require more frequent replacement than filters with lower MERV ratings. A MERV 13 filter needs to be replaced every one to two months, more frequently if the furnace or air handler are used frequently.

Types Of Trapped Particles

A MERV 8 filter may capture mold spores, dust mites, pollen, and dust. Spend a bit more money on a MERV 8 if you thought dust mites and mold spores were uncomfortable right now. But truly, the stench might permeate throughout your home.

A MERV 11 filter will capture all of the MERV 8 particles as well as pet dander, smoke, pollution, and airborne particles from coughing and sneezing.

It is necessary to have a MERV 11 if you have kids or pets. Many of the most prevalent air pollutants and irritants will be filtered out by it. Additionally, those who suffer from allergies need these.

In addition to the particles listed at MERV 8 and 11, MERV13 also collects tiny viruses and bacteria due to its fineness. A MERV 13 is a fantastic option if having a healthy home is a top priority for you. If you suffer from respiratory conditions like asthma, it’s also a wise choice. Homes with young children or elderly residents should additionally have a MERV 13.

The Area Where It Works The Best

MERV 8, MERV 11, And MERV 13: Which Is Better?

MERV 8: Function best in homes with average filtering needs.
Commercial structures, non-surgical hospital areas, senior living facilities, and residential homes with higher filtering demands than MERV 8 filters work best with MERV 11.

MERV13: Unless a resident has unique filtering needs, such an immunocompromised patient or someone receiving home hospice care, MERV 13 filters are rarely used in residential buildings. The majority of pharmacies, operating rooms, and smoking lounges use MERV 13 filters.


As the grade or efficiency of the MERV filters rises, so does their price. Like the 20x20x1 MERV pleated air filter that is available and is shown below.

MERV 8: On average, expect to pay an additional $6.04 per filter (based on our 20x20x1 filter). Considering that this filter will last three months, the actual cost per month is only slightly more than $2 to $3.

MERV 11: 20x20x1 filters with a MERV 11 rating are $7 to $9 each.

MERV13: The price per filter for a 20x20x1 filter ranges from $8 to $10.

Energy Price

The energy cost of the filter is influenced by a number of factors. A MERV filter’s real price as well as any potential supplemental operational costs must both be considered.

There is a pressure decrease across the filter as a result of all air filters providing resistance to the air by eliminating airborne particles.

The larger the airflow obstruction, the greater the pressure drop, and the more work HVAC systems must put forth to distribute clean air throughout structures. And as we all know, the filter has more resistance the higher the MERV rating.

In other words, a filter will result in higher energy expenses or utility bills the higher the MERV rating, the greater the MERV rating.

Is Always Better A Higher MERV Rating?

When selecting the right MERV grade for your air filter, you must strike a balance between the capabilities of your HVAC system and the indoor air quality you wish to achieve.

For example, a higher MERV rating does not always mean that a filter is the best option for your furnace. In actuality, as the MERV rating climbs, the airflow lowers, making your HVAC system work harder to push air through your furnace and increasing the possibility of a malfunction.

Be sure to check the MERV rating cap on your HVAC system before purchasing a new furnace filter. If it does, be sure to get a furnace filter with a MERV rating that is below the system’s maximum.

If anyone in your family has asthma or other serious respiratory disorders like allergies, you might want to consider spending money on filters with higher MERV ratings. Remember that there are always alternatives to improve your indoor air quality if your system is unable to manage the MERV ratings you require.

The Factors To Take Into Account When Selecting A MERV Rating

Do you live in a location that is dry and dusty, like a desert? If the air in your area contains a lot of dust particles, you might want to choose an air filter with a higher MERV rating, such as an 11 or 13.

Family’s Well-Being
Do any family members suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues? To keep the air in your home pure and clean, think about spending money on a MERV 11 or 13 filter.

Indoor Animals
Your pets can be bringing a lot of dust and hair into your home, aggravating allergies and lowering the air quality. Getting an air filter with a higher MERV rating is a great way to make your home comfortable for you and your four-legged family members.

If none of the aforementioned factors apply to your household and there is no additional reason why you need a higher level of filtration in your home, a MERV 8 filter is probably the best choice for you.

This selection of filters will keep your home’s airflow sufficiently clean without taxing your HVAC system.


We trust that the information in this post has cleared up any questions you may have had about the differences between MERV 8, 11, and MERV 13 furnace filters. When switching between these ratings, performance substantially alters.

Regardless of the MERV rating you select, you must routinely replace your filter to keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible for many years to come.

MERV 8, MERV 11, And MERV 13: Which Is Better?

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Written by HVAC Contributor

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