Merv 12 vs. Merv 13: What Merv Rating Is Better?

You may have well heard the argument that the higher the MERV rating of your air filter, the more effective it is. You may also be conversant with the other argument about the problem of higher MERV ratings.

The minimum efficiency reporting value or MERV rating is a system of measuring air filter results. The MERV scale was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers.

The scale ranges from 1 to 16. It may be difficult to balance the need for efficiency and good airflow. High air filtration efficiency may damage your HVAC system.

In this article, we will compare MERV 12 and 13 air filters. We will look at the technical specifications and uniqueness of these two filters.

What’s MERV 12?

Technical Specifications

A MERV 12 furnace filter is ideal for commercial buildings. However, you can also use it in complex residential premises. This kind of filter is considered one of the high MERV air filters.

High MERV filters are excellent in trapping small and microparticles. But the high MERV ratings interfere with the airflow. Low airflow is one of the biggest causes of mechanical problems in the HVAC system. Thus, it would help weigh the pros and cons of using such a filter.


MERV rating ranges between 10 and 12 are suitable for removing a broad range of particles. The filter can trap humidifier dust, lead dust, pet dander, and other small air pollutants.

The furnace filter removes at least 90% of solid pollutants that measure 3.0 to 10 microns in diameter.

Pros of a MERV 12 Air Filter

  • Less airflow obstruction than higher MERV ratings
  • Effectively removes common solid indoor air pollutants, including mold spores.
  • It improves indoor air quality by filtering pollutants. Here are some of the pollutants: pet dander, carpet fibers, and dust
  • You do not have to replace them quite often because they do not trap lots of contaminants within a short time.

Cons of a MERV 12 Air Filter

  • MERV 12 air filters are more expensive than lower MERV rating ones
  • MERV 12 air filters are less effective than MERV 13 filters

What’s MERV 13

Technical Specifications

A MERV 13 air handler filter guarantees you excellent air conditioning. This is according to the rating system. Such a high MERV rating is enough to remove a range of airborne particles. Some of the contaminants include virus carriers and bacteria.

Thus, a 13 MERV air handler furnace filter is ideal for hospitals. You can use it to prevent airborne illnesses at home too. In addition, the air filter keeps the indoor environment odorless.


A filter’s MERV rating is not the only feature that matters. The MERV rating system was developed to help measure air filtration efficiency. You can use this to determine the right air filter.

However, other factors, including the design and longevity, matter.

Pros of a MERV 13 Air Filter

  • They improve indoor air quality by removing over 70% of microcontaminants. They include tobacco smoke.
  • A fiberglass filter with a MERV rating of 13 can remove even bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms.
  • They can also remove mid and large-sized particle contaminants from the air.

Cons of a MERV 13 Air Filter

  • They cause a considerably significant pressure drop on the other side of the HVAC systems.
  • You may have to replace them more often because they trap a lot of contaminants in a short time.

MERV 12 vs. MERV 13 Air Filters – In-Depth Comparison

MERV 12 vs. MERV 13: Allergen Removal Capabilities

Both ratings are suitable for removing allergens. However, MERV 13 is an efficient air filter because it can trap more minute particles than MERV 12. MERV 13 can successfully trap all allergens as small as 0.3 microns in diameter.

This explains why this type of furnace filter is common in areas that require maximum air filtration. They include hospital premises, specialized rooms, and scientific laboratories.

MERV 12 is perfect for removing slightly larger allergens. This rating is ideal for allergens measuring between 1.0 and 3.0 microns wide.

They can improve indoor air quality by removing allergens. This explains such air filters are common in residential and commercial buildings.

MERV 12 vs. MERV 13: Mold Reduction Capabilities

Mold reduction capability is an important factor when choosing an air filter. Therefore, you should use a HEPA filter to keep your indoor environment mold-free.

A HEPA filter is considered 99.7 effective in removing small particles of about 0.3 microns wide from the air. The equivalent of such an air filter in the MERV rating system is 17.

Besides, filters with a MERV rating of 12 and above can remove mold spores from your home. But there are significant differences in performance when you consider individual MERV ratings.

For example, a MERV 13 filter can remove more particles than a MERV 12 one. A MERV 13 furnace filter removes a higher percentage of mold spores, cement dust, smoke, and other particles.

Although a high MERV filter removes high amounts of smaller particles, it causes a significant pressure drop.

MERV 12 vs MERV 13: Odor Removal Capabilities

Use a detailed MERV rating chart to understand the capabilities of specific filters. Any good MERV rating chart contains information on whether air filters of specific ratings can remove odors.

Odors come from various sources. The most common ones are tobacco smoke and fumes from the kitchen and the bathroom. The microparticles that cause odors at home are usually between 0.3 and 1 microns wide.

A MERV 13 filter can effectively trap particles that fall within this size category. Conversely, a filter with a MERV rating of 12 will struggle to trap a high percentage of such microparticles. Therefore, MERV 13 is better than MERV 12 in odor removal capabilities.

MERV 12 vs MERV 13: Efficiency

MERV 13 is more efficient than MERV 12. The efficiency of a filter for a furnace or air handler is based on the percentages of different articles that it can trap.

A MERV 12 furnace filter cannot trap minute particles that measure between 0.3 and 1 microns wide. Therefore, installing such an air filter in your HVAC system will not properly deal with bacteria and odors. However, the filter of this rating can successfully trap up to 90% of mid and large-sized particles.

A lower MERV rating is good for your entire HVAC system. Air filters with a low MERV rating do not hinder airflow. Therefore, you will hardly experience the mechanical problems associated with a high-pressure drop when you install them.

However, the pressure difference between the two ends of your HVAC system is dangerous. It may damage other sensitive components like the blower motor. Therefore, a 12 MERV rating may be the right filter if your indoor space does not have a lot of small particles in the air.

Higher MERV ratings are associated with a high-pressure drop. Thus, although a 13 MERV air filter will effectively trap microparticles and larger particles, it will hinder the free flow of air.

Therefore, while choosing the right filters, you should consider their efficiency in MERV ratings. In addition, it would help if you also considered the impact of the filters on your HVAC system.

MERV 12 vs MERV 13: Particle Size

Filters differ widely in the particle sizes that they can effectively trap. MERV rating charts categorize filters based on the percentages of particles of different sizes that they can trap. The smallest airborne particles are usually between 0.3 and 1 micron wide.

The next category contains particles that measure between 1 and 3 microns wide. The biggest air particles measure between 3 and 10 microns in diameter.

Your MERV 12 air filter can trap 80% to 90% of the particles between 1 and 3 microns wide. These are usually common indoor airborne contaminants like hair spray and smoke. In addition, the filter can trap 90% of particles that measure between 3 and 10 microns wide.

These are usually large contaminants like carpet fibers, cement dust, and sanding dust. As a result, you will enjoy a relatively comfortable indoor air quality when you have this kind of filter in your furnace or air handler.

High MERV filters with ratings of 13 and above are excellent for filtering the air. A MERV rating of 13 is enough for removing 75% of the smallest particles that measure between 0.3 and 1 micron.

Although this rating does not guarantee you the most efficient air filter, it does and wonderful air filtration job.

Putting a 13 MERV filter in your furnace or air handler will clean up even polluted areas. The rating is also appropriate for removing medium particle size contaminants.

These contaminants have a particle size of between 1 and 3 microns. This may be the best filter if your indoor environment is full of smoke, pet dander, hair spray, and odors bacteria.

Stand out Features of MERV 13 Air Filter

MERV 13 air filter has various unique features that make it superior to the MERV 13 air filter. This air filter can remove up to 90% of microparticles that measure between 0.3 and 1.0 microns wide.

The filter can also trap 90% of mid-sized particles with between 1 and 3 microns diameters. Also, it can trap about 75% of large particles that measure between 3 and 10 microns in diameter.

MERV 13 also performs well by trapping allergens, spores, and other small particles. Therefore, you can rely on it to remove odors from your house.

This explains why these types of filters are used in prominent commercial buildings. Furthermore, although the filter causes a small pressure drop, this is not as serious as a HEPA filter.


MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. It is a system for measuring the efficiency of air filters. There are significant differences between MERV 12 and MERV 13. The differences are clear efficiency and the level of pressure drop. Some air filters cause higher pressure drops than others.

If you are looking for a standard air filter for your residential building, go for MERV 12. This is enough to keep the indoor air quality high and comfortable. MERV 12 air filters will trap all the solid contaminants measuring between 1 to 3 microns in diameter.

Most of the solid contaminants in a home fall within this category. They include dust, pet dander, carpet fibers, and mold spores. Besides, you will not end up with a clogged filter because of a high level of pressure drop.

Use MERV 13 when you need to deal with small particles. MERV 13 is perfect for removing microparticles. Yet, it causes a higher pressure drop than MERV 12. Thus, such filters risk your HVAC system’s blower motor and other components.

Related Posts

MERV 8 and MERV 13? What’s The Difference?

MERV 8 and MERV 11? What’s The Difference?

What Is The Difference Between MERV 11 And MERV 12

What Is The Difference Between Merv 12 and Merv 13

What Is The Difference Between MERV 6 and MERV 8

What Is The Difference Between MERV 10 and MERV 11

What Is The Difference Between MERV 10 and MERV 13

What Is The Difference Between MERV 11 and MERV 13

What Is The Difference Between MERV 4 And MERV 8