What's the Difference Between MERV 8 and MERV 11 Air Filters? Find Out Which One is Best for You

Are you in the market for an air filter but unsure whether to go for a MERV 8 or MERV 11 filter? With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decipher which filter is best for your needs. But don't worry, we've got you covered.

First off, it's important to understand the difference between these two types of air filters. The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating system measures a filter's ability to capture and remove airborne particles. MERV 8 filters are designed to capture particles such as dust, pollen, and pet dander, while MERV 11 filters can capture smaller particles like bacteria and smoke.

So which one is best for you? It ultimately depends on your specific needs and air quality concerns. Keep in mind that a higher MERV rating typically means better filtration but also potentially limits airflow. At the end of the day, choosing the right air filter can greatly improve your indoor air quality and the overall health of your home.

Understanding the MERV Rating System

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating system is an industry-standard method used to rate the effectiveness of air filters. The system was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to help consumers make informed decisions about the air filters they use in their homes or businesses.

The MERV rating system ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers representing a more effective filter. A MERV 1 filter will trap larger particles such as dust mites and pollen, while a MERV 20 filter will capture microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns, including bacteria and viruses.

It's important to note that a higher MERV rating does not necessarily mean a better filter. Filters with higher MERV ratings also create more resistance to airflow, which can cause strain on your HVAC system and increase energy costs. It is essential to choose a filter with a MERV rating that works best for your specific needs and HVAC system.

You should also consider factors such as the number of occupants in your home, pets, and existing health conditions when selecting an air filter. Consult with a professional HVAC technician to determine the best MERV rating for your needs.

In conclusion, the MERV rating system is an essential tool for choosing the right air filter for your home or business. It helps you understand the effectiveness of different filters and choose the one that works best for you. Remember to consider factors such as system compatibility and specific filtration needs when selecting a filter.

Pros and Cons of MERV 8 Air Filters

When it comes to choosing air filters for your home, MERV 8 filters are a popular option. Here are some of the pros and cons of using MERV 8 filters:


  • Affordable: MERV 8 filters are generally more affordable compared to higher-rated filters.
  • Capture common household pollutants: MERV 8 filters can capture larger particles such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and carpet fibers.
  • No additional strain on HVAC system: MERV 8 filters typically do not put an additional strain on your HVAC system, as they do not restrict airflow like higher-rated filters may.


  • Less effective in capturing smaller particles: MERV 8 filters may not capture smaller particles such as smoke or bacteria. If you have family members with allergies or asthma, it may be better to consider using a higher-rated filter.
  • Frequent replacement: MERV 8 filters may need to be replaced more frequently compared to higher-rated filters due to their lower filtering efficiency.
  • Not suitable for commercial or industrial settings: MERV 8 filters may not be suitable for commercial or industrial settings where there are higher levels of pollutants.

In conclusion, MERV 8 filters are a good option for general residential use where there are no specific air quality concerns, and cost is a significant factor. However, for those with specific air quality concerns or family members with allergies or asthma, it may be better to consider using a higher-rated filter.

Pros and Cons of MERV 11 Filters

MERV 11 filters are a popular choice for homeowners who want to improve indoor air quality. They offer higher filtration efficiency than MERV 8 filters, capturing smaller particles, including pet dander, pollen, and mold spores. This makes them an excellent choice for people with allergies or respiratory issues.

However, there are some drawbacks to using MERV 11 filters. Firstly, they may restrict airflow, putting more strain on HVAC systems. This can lead to higher energy bills and potentially expensive repairs. Secondly, MERV 11 filters tend to be more expensive than MERV 8 filters, which can be a consideration for budget-conscious homeowners.

To determine whether MERV 11 filters are right for you, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons. If you have severe allergies or respiratory issues, the improved filtration performance may be worth the extra cost and the potential impact on airflow. However, if you're primarily concerned about keeping your HVAC system running smoothly and don't have specific allergy concerns, a MERV 8 filter may be a better choice.

Ultimately, the best type of filter for you will depend on your unique circumstances and priorities. Consider consulting with an HVAC professional to discuss your options and find the right balance between air quality, cost, and system performance.

Factors to Consider when Choosing Between MERV 8 and MERV 11 Filters

If you are trying to decide between MERV 8 and MERV 11 air filters, there are several factors to consider. These filters differ in their ability to capture particles of different sizes, which can impact the air quality in your home. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

Allergies or Asthma: If anyone in your household suffers from allergies or asthma, you may want to choose a higher-rated filter like MERV 11. These filters are better at capturing smaller particles that can trigger respiratory symptoms, such as pollen, pet dander, and mold spores.

Pets: If you have pets in your home, you may also want to opt for a higher-rated filter. Pets shed dander and hair, which can clog up your HVAC system and reduce its efficiency. A MERV 11 filter can capture these particles more effectively, keeping your air cleaner and your system running smoothly.

Age of HVAC System: The age and condition of your HVAC system can also impact the type of filter you should choose. If you have an older system that has not been well-maintained, a higher-rated filter may cause too much strain on the system and reduce its lifespan. It is important to consult with a professional to ensure that the chosen filter is compatible with your system.

Overall, the choice between MERV 8 and MERV 11 filters depends on your specific needs and circumstances. By considering these factors and consulting with a professional, you can select the best filter for your home and enjoy cleaner, healthier air.

Simple Tips to Keep Your Air Filters Maintained and Your Air Clean

To ensure that your air filters are doing their job properly, it's important that they are maintained and replaced regularly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Follow the Manufacturer's Recommendations: Manufacturers usually recommend that air filters be replaced every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter and the level of use. Sticking to this schedule will keep your air filters functioning optimally and maintain good air quality in your home or office.

2. Regular Vacuuming and Cleaning: The best way to prevent buildup of dirt and debris in your HVAC system and air ducts is to clean them regularly. Use a high-powered vacuum with a HEPA filter and clean the ducts at least once a year. This will ensure that the air flowing through your system remains clean and free of debris.

3. Check the Filter Regularly: It's important to check your air filter regularly, especially during periods of high use, to make sure that it isn't clogged with dirt and debris. This can cause your HVAC system to work harder, increasing energy costs and reducing the lifespan of your equipment.

4. Choose the Right Filter: Picking the right air filter for your HVAC system is important to maintaining good air quality. Consider the MERV rating of the filter you are purchasing, as this will determine the level of pollutants captured by the filter. Additionally, ensure that the filter is compatible with your specific HVAC system.

By following these simple tips, you can prolong the life of your HVAC system and keep the air in your home or office clean and healthy.

Conclusion: Decide Which MERV Rating is Best for You

After weighing the pros and cons of MERV 8 and MERV 11 air filters, it ultimately comes down to your specific needs and preferences. If you have allergies or respiratory issues, a higher MERV rating like 11 may be more beneficial for removing smaller particles from your indoor air. However, if you want a balance between filtration efficiency and airflow, a MERV 8 filter is still a good option for most households.

Whatever your choice may be, make sure to consistently change your air filter according to the manufacturer's recommendations to ensure optimal performance and clean indoor air quality. With the right air filter, you can breathe easy knowing the air you're breathing in is clean and healthy!

Frequently Asked Question

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value - a scale created by ASHRAE to measure the effectiveness of filters in removing different sized particles. For example, a MERV-13 filter is designed to catch 90% of particles 3-10 µm in size, 85% of particles 1-3 µm in size (PM2.5), and 50% of particles 0.3-1 µm in size. Generally, filters with higher MERV ratings are better at catching higher percentages of particles, including the smaller ones.

When you install a filter in the airstream, it will create resistance. The amount of resistance depends on the type of filter material and the amount of area it covers. Standard fiberglass filters don’t generate much resistance, though it increases as the filter gets dirtier. To remove more pollutants from the air, you can use a filter with a different material such as a high MERV filter. These filters have smaller pores, which allow them to catch more pollutants, but also create higher resistance.

The problem with this is that the blower and furnace are only designed to handle a certain amount of pressure drop. Too much resistance means the air flow is low, making the heat exchanger get hotter and potentially crack. On the plus side, low air flow can result in better dehumidification in humid climates, as long as the air flow isn’t so low that it turns the condensate to ice.

So, the answer to the question is: yes, higher MERV filters are better, but you need to find the right balance between air flow, resistance, and effectiveness.

Air filters are designed to capture airborne particles, which can be anything from dust and pollen to mold spores and bacteria. The filter works by drawing air through itself and trapping the particles in the web of fibers that make up the filter.

What are the types of air filters

There are many different types of air filters available on the market. The type of filter you need will depend on the specific needs of your facility. Some common types of air filters include MERV, HEPA, activated carbon, and ultraviolet (UV) germicidal irradiation.

MERV: MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV ratings range from MERV-0 to MERV-16. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is at capturing particles.

HEPA: HEPA filters are a type of air filter that is designed to capture very small particles. A true HEPA filter has a MERV rating of 17-20.

Activated carbon: Activated carbon filters are designed to remove gases and odors from the air.

UV germicidal irradiation: UV germicidal irradiation is a type of light that is used to kill bacteria and viruses.

There are pleated filters and panel filters. MERV 13 filters are pleated, while MERV 16 filters can be either pleated or panel. Pleated filters have more surface area because they are made up of multiple layers of filter media. The pleats create more space for the air to flow through, and the more layers of filter media there are, the more particles can be captured.

HEPA filters are usually pleated, but they can also be panel.

What are the differences between MERV 13 vs HEPA filters

While MERV 13 and HEPA filters both remove particles from the air, they work in different ways.

MERV 13 filters are designed to remove particles that are larger than 0.30 microns, while HEPA filters are designed to remove particles that are smaller than 0.30 microns. MERV 13 filters are often used in commercial and industrial settings, while HEPA filters are often used in hospitals and other medical settings.

MERV 13 filters are more efficient at removing large particles from the air, while HEPA filters are more efficient at removing small particles from the air. MERV 13 filters can remove up to 99.97% of particles from the air, while HEPA filters can remove up to 99.99% of particles from the air.

MERV 13 filters are less expensive than HEPA filters, and they can be used in a wider variety of settings. However, HEPA filters are more effective at removing small particles from the air, and they can be used in settings where MERV 13 filters cannot.

MERV and HEPA filters both work to capture airborne particles, but they do so in different ways. MERV 13 filters are designed to capture particles larger than 0.30 microns, while HEPA filters are designed to capture particles smaller than 0.30 microns. MERV 13 filters are more efficient at removing large particles from the air, while HEPA filters are better at capturing small particles. 

MERV 13 filters are less expensive and can be used in a wider variety of settings, but they can only remove up to 99.97% of particles from the air. On the other hand, HEPA filters are more expensive but can remove up to 99.99% of particles, making them ideal for medical settings. In short, MERV 13 filters are great for everyday use, while HEPA filters are better for specialized environments.

Your HVAC system includes a furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump. It's essential to keep these systems clean and efficient by regularly replacing the air filters. To do this, you'll need to know about MERV ratings.

The air filter in your HVAC system serves two key functions: it protects your system from dust, and it helps clean the air in your home. When the filter is clogged, dust can build up in the system, and the equipment may overheat and fail.

How often the air filter needs to be changed depends on your home's size, where you live, and if you have pets. Inspect it every month, and replace it when you can't see the filter material through the dust.

When choosing an air filter, refer to the specifications of your HVAC system to determine the size. The MERV scale is used to measure the filter's ability to remove particles from the air, and ratings range from 1 to 20, with lower ratings meaning lower-quality filters.

Remember to balance air cleaning with air flow when upgrading your filter to a higher MERV rating. Too dense of a filter can cause air flow restriction and harm your system. Ask your HVAC technician for advice when in doubt.

Replacing the air filter is easy. Open the blower compartment located between the air return and the furnace or air handler. Put the used filter in a plastic bag, then insert the new filter with the arrows pointing in the direction of the airflow.

MERV 11 filters used to be thought of as air flow restrictors, but this is no longer necessarily the case. Home Energy's 2009 experimental test concluded that the pressure drop of high-MERV filters isn't as severe as it used to be. If you're renting and don't have any special needs, then a standard, cheap fiberglass filter with a cardboard frame is fine to use every three months. But if you own your home, then it's worth investing in a more durable filter.

Pleated filters with more pleats per foot are the better option and should be more effective at improving indoor air quality. However, the price can be an issue. A standard 16x25x1 11 MERV filter will cost around $5, but you can save a bit if you buy them in packs of 12. Filtrete, Purolator, and Nordic Pure are all trusted brands.

If you plan to buy washable filters, be aware that cheaper models may have loose filter media after washing and won't perform as well. Disposable filters are also more hygienic since they remove all the dirt from the air. Keep in mind that the more pleats per foot, the better the filter will be.

So, when it comes to MERV 11, the issue of air flow restriction isn't as big as it used to be. With the right filter, you can improve your indoor air quality without having to worry about a pressure drop. Make sure to replace your filter every three months for the best performance.

MERV ratings are used to compare filters to determine which is most effective for eliminating pollutants in a home or office. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) system to measure how well an air filter captures common airborne particles. There are 16 MERV values, ranging from 1 to 16, and the efficiency increases with the MERV number.

Filters are tested against 12 size ranges of particles, with the smallest being around 0.3 microns and the largest around 10 microns. To give a sense of the size, a micron is one millionth of a meter and a strand of human hair is approximately 75 to 100 microns.

The MERV rating is determined by measuring the particle count upstream and downstream of the filter being tested over six intervals, beginning with a clean filter. Afterward, a special ASHRAE test dust is added for five additional measurement cycles. The filter’s performance is determined by calculating the particle density before and after passing through the filter, and then assigning a MERV rating.

The MERV 8 filter is the most common filter in the U.S. Understanding how MERV ratings work can help you understand why it's so popular and how to choose the most beneficial filter for your needs.