Is MERV 11 Too Restrictive for Your Home?

The MERV 11 air filter is not the right choice for people who don't have pets and don't have respiratory problems, as it can cause airflow restriction.


stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and determines the efficiency of an air filter in capturing particles based on their size in microns. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a MERV 8 filter means that it is capable of capturing 20% or more of particles from 1.0 to 3.0 microns in size and 70% or more of particles from 3.0 to 10.0 microns in size. In general, any device under a MERV 13 air filter should provide very efficient air purification in a home without affecting air flow.

However, using an air filter with a MERV rating that is too high can damage the compressor, heat exchanger and air conditioner coil. If someone has an allergy or respiratory problem, using a MERV 11 air filter or even a MERV 13 air filter is recommended. Choosing the right MERV rating is an important decision in terms of total cost, air quality and product durability. If you're concerned about outdoor air pollution, the presence of family members with respiratory problems, or the presence of pets at home, then opting for a higher MERV rating might be a good idea.

The MERV 8 and MERV 11 air filters have some clear differences. Even filters with high MERV ratings can be used in some systems with a minimum pressure drop. If you're concerned about the effects of inhaling fine air particles, that's another reason to choose a MERV 11 air filter over a MERV 8 air filter. It's best to use a MERV 8-13 filter, depending on your family's needs and environment, and start using an indoor air quality monitor to help you determine if a separate air purification system is needed.

Each air filter has its advantages and disadvantages, but both MERV 8 air filters and MERV 11 air filters are suitable for residential use. One thing to keep in mind is that a MERV 11 air filter may need to be changed a little more frequently than a MERV 8 air filter. Raising just three levels of the MERV rating can be a smart decision that makes the air cleaner or a detrimental option for the entire air conditioning system, considering the airflow capabilities of the MERV 8 versus the MERV 11. A MERV 11 air filter can filter a large percentage of fine particles, but a MERV 8 air filter cannot. The MERV 13 filter is because the latter includes greater protection against airborne bacteria and viruses that spread through airborne droplets.