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MERV 8 vs MERV 13: Which Air Filter Is Best?

The short answer? A filter with a MERV rating of 13 catches more contaminants and could be considered “better” than a MERV 8 filter.

The long answer? The filter that is “best” really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. For example:
  • A MERV 8 filter is best for homeowners who are simply trying to keep their HVAC system healthy and clean and don’t want to spend too much on a filter.
  • A MERV 13 filter is best for homeowners who are primarily concerned with improving their indoor air quality.
Let’s look at what “MERV” actually is and the exact differences between a MERV 8 filter vs a MERV 13 filter...

Need a professional’s opinion on what MERV rating is best for your home? Just contact us.


It all comes down to what air contaminants you want removed

MERV is basically a rating system that determines the size of particles that your filter can catch. The higher the MERV rating the smaller the contaminants it can trap.

For example…


The contaminants above are listed in order of largest particles to smallest particles.

In addition to the contaminants above, a MERV 13 filter also catches and removes bacteria, insecticide dusts, burning wood, cooking oil and more. 

So if:
  • You cook a lot
  • Have pets 
  • Someone in the home has asthma
... a MERV 13 filter is probably the best option for you.

One thing to consider, though, is the thickness of a higher rated MERV filter. The higher and thinner a filter, the faster it will become clogged and impact airflow through your HVAC system. And if it’s not replaced quickly, a thin, high-MERV filter can run up your energy bills and damage the HVAC system.

So, if you choose a 13 MERV filter, we suggest going with a thicker, pleated option (i.e. pleated 4-inch filter).


Another option to consider: installing an “air cleaner”

If improving the quality of your home’s air is your #1 priority, we suggest investing in an air cleaner. Air cleaners have a thick media filter that can trap tiny particles without impeding air flow through your HVAC system.

Just contact us to learn more about which filters or air cleaners you should be using for your home.


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