What Is The Difference Between MERV 10 And MERV 13?

One of the most important things to consider before purchasing a furnace filter is the MERV rating. The MERV rating indicates the level of efficiency of the furnace filter in removing contaminants from the air in your home or any other premise where you use it.

Generally, the higher the MERV rating of your furnace filter, the greater the percentage of large and small contaminants that it can successfully filter from the air.

Nevertheless, it would help if you never forgot that high MERV ratings are not necessarily the rights one for your home. In this guide, we look at two standard MERV ratings: MERV 10 and MERV 13.

Choosing between MERV 10 and MERV 13 need not be a difficult task. For starters, these two MERV ratings belong to different groups. MERV ratings can be grouped according to the size and percentage of particles they can effectively trap and remove from premises.

MERV 10 belongs to the third grouping of MERV ratings. MERV 10 furnace filters are appropriate for removing particles ranging from 1 to 3 microns in diameter. The most common contaminants that fall within this category include milled flour and dust from the humidifier. These are usually fine particles that can trigger severe problems if they are left to remain airborne on-premises.

MERV 13 belongs to the fourth grouping of MERV ratings. Furnace filters that belong to this group are suitable for trapping and removing very tiny particles. The ideal size of contaminants that the MERV 13 furnace filter can remove ranges from 0.3 to 1.0 microns.

This means that the furnace filters with the MERV ratings of 13 can remove even bacteria and pigments from paint. However, MERV 13 may not be high enough to be used in hospital and laboratory settings where the air must be completely purified.

This is because MERV 13 may not be high enough to remove up to 99% of microorganisms that usually cause infections and are unwanted in such premises.


MERV 10 furnace filters are designed for use in residential and commercial premises. It would be proper to use a MERV 10 furnace filter in a superior residential property where there is a need to maintain an exceptionally high level of Indoor Air Quality.

MERV 10 is enough to ensure that a broad range of small and large contaminants are filtered from the air in your premises. You can rely on MERV 10 furnace filters to trap all contaminants that measure between 1 and 3 microns. This usually includes the dust from the humidifier, droplets from aerosols, and small particles of flour.

Compared to other higher MERV ratings, MERV 10 is suitable for maintaining a balance between a clean indoor environment and a safe blower. The rating is not high enough to cause severe airflow restrictions within your HVAC system.

However, MERV 10 may not be high enough to trap microparticles that cause diseases. Thus, it cannot be used in highly controlled environments, including hospitals and laboratories. The good news is that if you are looking for a furnace filter that is simply powerful enough to keep your home clean, you can consider MERV 10 ones.


MERV 13 is relatively high enough to trap even the smallest contaminants found in a premise. For example, furnace filters with this MERV rating can dust from insecticides, cooking oil particles, and even tiny particles from face powder. Typically, MERV 13 furnace filters can trap about 80% of such small contaminants.

When choosing this MERV rating, the only important thing to consider is its ability to restrict airflow in your HVAC system. MERV 13 furnace filters have high levels of pressure drops. The higher the pressure drops within a furnace filter, the higher its ability to restrict airflow.

This means that when considering a MERV 13 furnace filter, think about its impact on the airflow in your HVAC system. The good news is that its ability to restrict airflow is not as high as that of other MERV ratings of more than 14.

How Important is the MERV Rating?

The MERV rating is quite important because of various reasons. Here are some of the reasons why the MERV rating is an important measure of the performance of furnace filters.

  • It shows the level of efficiency of an air filter. The best way to assess the efficiency of a furnace filter is to consider its MERV rating. The MERV rating indicates the percentage of small and large contaminants that a furnace filter can remove from your home or any other premise where you use it. For example, furnace filters with high MERV ratings can capture high percentages of tiny particles which measure about 0.3 microns in diameter.
  • It indicates whether a furnace filter can restrict airflow. When choosing a furnace filter, remember to consider whether it can restrict the airflow within your HVAC system. Furnace filters with high MERV ratings are particularly notorious for restricting airflow. Airflow restrictions can cause damages to the components of your HVAC system. Repairing the HVAC system or even replacing it is a costly endeavor.
  • The MERV rating helps you to purchase the right furnace filter. The MERV rating is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a furnace filter. It would be prudent to go for a furnace filter that has the proper MERV rating. This will enable you to enjoy all the benefits of having a furnace filter on the premises.

Is a Higher MERV Rating Better?

A Higher MERV rating is better if you are keen on having a very high Indoor Air Quality score. Indoor Air Quality is the measure of how clean the air in your premises is. The higher the Indoor Air Quality, the lower the percentage of airborne contaminants found in the premises. The following are some of how a higher MERV rating may be better.

  • Removing microparticles from the air. Some contaminants are so tiny that lower MERV ratings are not enough to remove them. Notably, bacteria, fine dust from your humidifier, and even milled flour are good examples of microparticles. It would help if you had a high MERV rating to remove such microscopic contaminants from the air in your room.
  • Removing disease-causing microorganisms. Bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms can cause many problems if they are present in the air in a premise. Therefore, hospitals usually use furnace filters with very high MERV ratings. This is of the sole purpose of ridding the air of bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms.

However, you may not need to use a furnace filter with an exceptionally high MERV rating in a home. This is because when you use such a furnace filter, you may end up spending a lot of money carrying out repairs on your HVAC system. This is because a high MERV rating may damage the blower of your HVAC system.


MERV 10 and MERV 13 are some of the most common MERV ratings for air filters. This is because most people like to use furnace filters with MERV ratings that are slightly higher than eight but lower than 14.

However, you need to make up your mind on whether to use MERV 10 or MERV 13. This is because there are fundamental differences between the two in the way that they perform.

MERV 13 performs better than MERV 10 in terms of attracting and trapping high percentages of tiny particles. However, MERV 13 may interfere with the airflow in your system. This may cause damages to the blower and the entire HVAC system.