Are MERV 11 Air Filters Better than MERV 8 Air Filters?
When conducting a MERV 11 air filters comparison, think of it this way: how would you compare other common purchases, such as an 18-megapixel camera versus a 10-megapixel camera, or a car that gets 39 MPG versus one that gets 22 MPG? You do your research, right?
Well, if you’re wondering whether MERV 11s are better than MERV 8s, you’ll realize through a bit of research that the answer is…not always. In fact, it may all depend on where you buy them!
The term MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This rating -- developed by the American Society of Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) engineers -- was devised to inform consumers about which environmental pollutants MERV-rated filters trap. MERV 8-rated filters capture 70%-85% of mold spores, hair spray, fabric protector and cement dust measuring 3 to 10 microns in size. MERV 11 air filters capture 65%-70% of humidifier dust, lead dust, auto emissions and milled flour measuring 1.0 to 3.0 microns in size and 85% or better for the same pollutants measuring 3 to 10 microns in size.
But don’t just assume that the costlier MERV 11 filter you find in your local hardware store is going to out-perform the less-costly MERV 8 sitting next to it. Why?
Because it’s all too easy to slap "MERV 11" on a label and then sell that package at a higher price tag to unsuspecting customers. There is no uniform regulation when it comes to truth in packaging with regards to the variety of air and furnace filters on the market. With so many products regulated by the FDA and other agencies, you may assume that all products, especially ones that involve the health and safety of occupants, would be strictly regulated.
When you buy milk or meat, the FDA enforces what’s written on the packaging, listing all the ingredients, allergens, nutrition facts and more.
You would think that would also be the case when it comes to air filters but it’s not. One way to ensure you’re getting a quality product that does what it says it will do is to purchase your MERV 11 air filters from a reputable company selling only “Made in North America” filters. If you purchase filters made overseas in places like China and India, you can’t be sure of the quality, as these countries are far less regulated in terms of air filter requirements.
To be on the safe side, buy your MERV 11 air filters (and all air and furnace filters) factory direct, for your peace of mind.