MERV 8 Vs. MERV 11 Vs. MERV 13: Which Should I Get?

Although there are filters available with Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) ratings from 1 to 20, the majority of furnace filter suppliers only stock filters in the MERV 8–13 range. Now, you are wondering which among the MERV 8, 11, and 13 is the better choice. Don’t worry! We’ve researched everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision.

If your family has health issues, pets, and/or lives in a heavily polluted area, then MERV 11 or 13 air filter is for you. But these filters come with the price and can make your HVAC unit work harder. However, if there are not so many issues in your household, a MERV 8 will just be fine, plus it is the most affordable option among them.

In this article, we will differentiate each MERV air filter mentioned above. Don't be mervous. We guarantee that once you've finished reading, you'll be equipped with the information necessary to make a wise choice.

A person wearing blue gloves is holding a heavily clogged dirty air filter in hands before replacing it with the new one., MERV 8 Vs. MERV 11 Vs. MERV 13: Which Should I Get?

MERV 8 Vs. MERV 11 Vs. MERV 13

MERV 8, 11, and 13 air filters may appear to be very similar, but there are some significant distinctions among them. 

When comparing each one's airflow capacities, moving up merely two or three MERV rating levels can either be a wise decision that improves the air quality or a bad choice for the complete HVAC system.

Soft Focus to Filter of Air handing Unit, Technician checking a Pre-filter of air handling unit for replacement

Because of this, choosing between these three typical air filters requires some thought. Here's what you need to know if you're attempting to decide between a MERV 8, 11, and 13 air filter:

Size Of Particles Trap

  • MERV 8: Captures particles ranging in size from 3 to 10 microns.
  • MERV 11: Capture particles ranging in size from 1 to 3 microns.
  • MERV13: Capture particles ranging in size from 0.3 to 1 micron.

Filtration Efficiency

  • MERV 8: 90% of the airborne particles present in the average home are trapped.
  • MERV 11: In a normal home, it is effective in trapping 95% of airborne particles.
  • MERV13: It is capable of trapping 98% of airborne particles in a typical home.

Micro-Particle Performance Rating (MPR)

It is a 3M-developed rating system. It assesses the capacity of the manufacturer's filters to catch airborne particles smaller than 1 micron. MPR ratings only measure a filter's ability to remove particles between 0.3 and 1 microns. 

However, MERV ratings represent a filter's ability to catch both microscopic and macroscopic particles. A normal dust particle is between 0.2 and 8 microns in size, while pollen starts at 7 microns and can grow to 70 microns.

  • MERV 8: 600 MPR 
  • MERV 11: 1,000-1,200 MPR 
  • MERV 13: 1,500-1,900 MPR 

Filter Performance Rating (FPR)

It labels filters using a number scale from 4 to 10. This rating structure is very similar to the MERV rating and was created by the Home Depot for brands supplied through their shops, including Honeywell.

  • MERV 8: FPR 5
  • MERV 11: FPR 7
  • MERV13: FPR 10

Frequency Of Changes

The deodorizing filter installed in the air purifier removes odors and harmful gases

To maintain MERV 8 filters working at full capacity, experts recommend changing them every 2-3 months. It's important to think about how much you use your HVAC system. Because it runs more in the winter and summer, your filter will become dirty faster than in the spring and fall.

MERV 11 filters tend to load up with trapped debris faster than MERV 8 filters since their fibers are denser. For the greatest effectiveness, you should change your MERV 11 filter every 1 to 3 months, depending on the season and how hard your HVAC system is working.

Because MERV 13 filters are the densest of the filter types covered here, they must be replaced more frequently than those with lower MERV ratings. A MERV 13 filter should be changed every 1-2 months, especially if the furnace or air handler is used often.

Types Of Particles Traped

Pollen, dust, dust mites, and mold spores are all trapped by a MERV 8 filter. If you thought dust mites and mold spores were unpleasant just now, spend a little extra on a MERV 8. But, seriously, that filth could drift around your house and spread.

All of that stuff in MERV 8, as well as pet dander, smoke, smog, and airbornes from coughs and sneezes, are trapped by a MERV 11 filter. If you have children or pets, a MERV 11 is required. It will filter out many of the most common air contaminants and irritants. These are also essential for allergy suffferers.

Aside from all the particles mentioned at MERV 8 and 11, MERV13 captures small viruses and germs because it is so fine. If a healthy house is a major priority for you, a MERV 13 is a terrific choice. It's also a good choice if you have respiratory concerns like asthma. A MERV 13 is also recommended for homes with elderly or infants.

Location Where It Works Best

  • MERV 8: Work best in households with moderate filtration requirements.
  • MERV 11: Work best in commercial buildings, non-surgical hospital areas, and senior living facilities as well as residential houses with more filtration demands than MERV 8 filters give.
  • MERV13: MERV 13 filters are rarely utilized in residential dwellings unless a resident has special filtration requirements, such as an immunocompromised patient or someone receiving home hospice care. Most pharmacies, surgical facilities, and smoking lounges employ MERV 13 filters.


two twenty dollar cash

The cost of the MERV filters increases as the rating or efficiency increases. As for example, the 20x20x1 MERV pleated air filter on the market, featured below.

MERV 8: You may anticipate paying an extra $6.04 per filter on average (based on our 20x20x1 filter). Remember that this filter will last three months, so it's only a little more than $2 to $3 each month when broken down. 

Click here to see this 20x20x1 MERV 8 pleated air filter on Amazon.

MERV 11: The cost of each 20x20x1 filter ranges between $7 to $9.

Click here to see this 20x20x1 MERV 11 pleated air filter on Amazon.

MERV13: For a 20x20x1 filter, the cost ranges from $8 to $10 per filter.

Click here to see this 20x20x1 MERV 13 pleated air filter on Amazon.

Energy Cost

Several variables affect the energy cost of the filter. You must take into account both the actual cost of a MERV filter as well as any additional operating expenses that may result.

Because all air filters provide resistance to the air by removing airborne particles, there is a pressure drop across the filter that results from this. 

The greater the resistance to airflow, the greater the pressure drop, and the greater the effort required by HVAC systems to distribute clean air throughout buildings. And as we know the greater the MERV rating, the greater the resistance that the filter has.

In short, the greater the MERV rating, the higher the MERV rating, and the higher the energy costs or utility bills a filter will produce.

Is a Higher MERV Rating Always Better?

Your HVAC system's capabilities and the indoor air quality you want to attain must be balanced when choosing the appropriate MERV grade for your air filter.

A higher MERV rating, for instance, does not always imply that a filter is an ideal choice for your furnace. In reality, airflow decreases as the MERV rating rises, which makes your HVAC system work harder to push air through your furnace and raises the risk of a potential malfunction. 

Check to see if your HVAC system has a MERV rating cap before buying a new furnace filter. If it does, make sure to get a furnace filter with a MERV rating that is lower than the maximum for your system.

You might wish to invest in filters with higher MERV ratings if your family suffers from allergies or significant respiratory conditions like asthma. If your system is unable to handle the MERV ratings you need, keep in mind that there are always alternatives available to improve your indoor air quality.

The Things To Consider When Choosing A MERV Rating

Replacing an old, dirty air filter from a residential furnace with a new, clean one


Do you reside in a dry, dusty region like a desert? You might want to think about an air filter with a higher MERV rating, such as an 11 or 13, if your climate creates a lot of dust particles in the air.

Family’s Health

Do any members of your family have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions? Consider investing in a MERV 11 or 13 filter to keep the air in your home pure and clean.

Indoor Pets

Your pets may be carrying a lot of dust and hair into your house, which can aggravate allergies and reduce the quality of the air there. A wonderful method to keep your home comfortable for you and your four-legged family members is to get an air filter with a higher MERV rating.

A MERV 8  filter is likely the best option for you if none of these variables mentioned above applies to your household, and there is no other reason why you require a greater level of filtration in your home. This assortment of filters will keep the airflow in your home clean enough while not overworking your HVAC system.

Final Thoughts

A person wearing blue gloves is holding a heavily clogged dirty air filter in hands before replacing it with the new one.

We hope this article has clarified any confusion you may have had regarding the distinction between MERV 8, 11, and MERV 13 furnace filters. Performance drastically changes when moving from one of these ratings to the other. 

Whatever MERV rating you choose, you must regularly replace your filter to maintain your furnace operating at peak efficiency for many years to come.

Before you go, be sure to check out these helpful related MERV posts down below!

Does MERV Rating Affect Airflow?

What MERV Rating Are Hepa Filters?


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