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Are MERV 13s Worth the Money?

What is the MERV?

The MERV is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of an air filter. The MERV ratings determine an air filter’s capabilities and its level of efficiency when it comes to its filtration. This rating system is widely used in the HVAC industry and was developed by ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Condition Engineers).

An air filter with a low MERV rating is capable of blocking basic particles such as dust. An air filter with a higher MERV rating can block microscopic particles, such as smoke molecules, due to its tighter mesh weave.

Areas that need more filtration are better off using a filter with a high MERV rating. The higher the rating, the smaller the particles that will be filtered can be. Particles vary in size from 0.3 microns to 10 microns. Therefore, filters that are upwards of 13 in their MERV rating can filter particles closer to the 0.3 microns size. The different types of particles that can contaminate your air are:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Dust Mites
  • Bacteria
  • Pet Dander
  • Smoke
  • Virus carriers
  • Exhaust fumes

What Are MERV 13 Air Filters?

MERV 13 air filters are the highest-rated air filters for home use. Any air filter with a rating higher than 13 will restrict air flow to the point of which could cause damage to your HVAC system, resulting in an added expense to fix it.

The MERV rating system goes from 1 to 20, the highest (20) being the rating used for filters in places such as hospitals. So while the MERV rating does go above 13, it will be best to stray from going any higher in your home. People that should consider using the MERV 13 filter include those with:

  • A newborn baby
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Lung disease
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Emphysema
  • The requirement to use an inhaler, ventilation machine, or oxygen tank
  • A weakened immune system
  • Someone in a household that smokes

The MERV 13 air filters will provide the cleanest air quality in your home acquired through use of an air filter. Here’s what a MERV 13 filter can filter out that a lower rated filter cannot:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Microscopic allergens

What Could Go Wrong With a MERV 13 Filter?

An air filter with a higher MERV rating will cause more resistance of air flow. There are plenty of things that could go wrong with a higher MERV rated filter. It is important to consult with a professional and ensure you get the correct air filter for your home. While as long as you have the correct filter you won’t encounter any issues, here are some possible issues to be aware of regardless:

  • Resistance to air flow
  • Increase of pressure in the duct system
  • Increase in energy used to power your HVAC system
  • Reduction of air flow
  • Freezing of the air conditioner coil
  • Damage to the compressor
  • Cracking of the heat exchanger
  • Put carbon monoxide into your home
  • Dehumidify better

How Much Do MERV 13 Air Filters Cost?

Air filters of different sizes are going to be different prices, the same goes for the filter’s MERV rating. Filters with a higher MERV rating will be slightly more money than those with a lower MERV rating. Higher MERV rated filters are trapping much more particulate and thus will become dirtier with debris and dust much quicker, causing you to replace it more often. However, lower MERV rated filters are more frequently made from fiberglass which needs to be replaced much more often—this is an added expense.

According to, one filter of the smallest size, 5.88x12.13x (with the most common thickness of one inch) and with a MERV rating of 8—a common and standard filter; also the lowest MERV rating you should go when it comes to your home’s air filtration—will cost $28.42. If you buy in packs of four, six, or twelve, then the price of each decreases by a good amount:

  • Buy 1 for $28.42 each
  • Buy 4 for $12.77 each
  • Buy 6 for $11.77 each
  • Buy 12 for $10.77 each

By contrast, a filter of the same size (5.88x12.13x1) with a MERV rating of 13 will cost $30.33 for one filter. The same package deals apply:

  • Buy 1 for $30.33 each
  • Buy 4 for $16.31 each
  • Buy 6 for $15.31 each
  • Buy 12 for $14.31 each

Depending on where you decide to buy your filter, the pricing will vary. However, it will generally be the same difference of price when it comes to the MERV ratings. The difference in price is only a few dollars, so is the higher MERV rating worth the extra few bucks? Let’s think about it.

Is a MERV 13 Air Filter Worth The Money?

While choosing the cheaper air filter options with a lower MERV rating may seem like a better option than spending a little bit more money on a higher MERV rated filter, it could cause you to suffer in the end. If you spring for the higher MERV rated air filter, your home will be much cleaner, and therefore safer for you and your family or residents. Consequently, choosing the cheaper, lower MERV rated filter may save a few bucks at first, but are those few dollars really worth sacrificing cleaner air? You can venture a guess, but let’s go with the answer we both know is right: no.

At the end of the day, the more expensive air filter can seem like a luxury, but in actuality it is a necessity to your health and safety. Your peace of mind knowing that your home’s air is being cleaned efficiently with a great filter is worth the extra few bucks alone. To get the top-rated MERV 13 filter, made with mini pleats and odor reduction technology, see the Filter King Titanium—it is the highest efficiency Filter King filter on the market.