Home Home Cleaning Guide to Selecting an Air Purifier

Guide to Selecting an Air Purifier

Many people today are suffering from coughing, sneezing, and other respiratory issues due to the increased levels of pollutants in the air. If the air at home or other closed spaces does not circulate frequently, the pollutants remain inside and aggravate health problems. If you are always suffering from allergies, it can be beneficial to use an air purifier. It is a device that passes the air through layers of filters, captures different types of pollutants, and recirculates fresh air inside a room. [1]

Air purifiers are now essential for indoor spaces because of the growing pollutants and allergens in the air. It’s because living near natural surroundings is becoming difficult in metropolitan cities, and with increased levels of pollution, fresh air has become somewhat non-existent. 

Did you know that air indoors is more harmful compared to the air outside? Yes, that is right. In addition, household products like cleaning agents, deodorants, and inkjet printers also contribute to indoor air pollution. Therefore, it is advisable for people who have dust allergies, asthma, or any other respiratory disease to use an air purifier at home. By removing particles that we can’t see with the naked eye, such as dust, pollen, allergies, pet hair, and other pollutants, it can help regulate air quality. [2]

If you are thinking of buying an air purifier soon, there are a lot of options in the market. If you find it challenging to choose the best one for you, we are here to help you. In this post, we are giving you a guide to selecting an air purifier. 

Advantages of Using an Air Purifier

Advantages of Using an Air Purifier

Before we provide you with tips when it comes to selecting an air purifier, let us first learn more about the advantages of using one. The general principle of using an indoor purifier is to filter the indoor air of an enclosed space and release depolluted air. But aside from that, there are other benefits that you can get from an air purifier that make them worth investing in. Below are the advantages that you can get from using an air purifier:

Lightens Allergen Load in the Air

Most air purifiers have HEPA filters, which can deal with 99.97% of air pollutants from 0.3 microns in size. Therefore, they are helpful in controlling environmental triggers for those who have allergies. If you have allergies or hay fever, keeping an air purifier in your sleeping or working space can be especially helpful because it can minimize the amount of allergens in the air. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the majority of air purifiers have a maximum room size at which they can operate. [3]

Filters Harmful Chemicals

Particularly if you live in a densely populated region, homes can be filled with indoor toxins, and the majority of the time, outdoor pollutants find their way inside. Since an air purifier works by cycling contaminated air through several filters before releasing clean air back into the space, using one can help in dealing with a variety of indoor air contaminants. Additionally, using an air purifier may help you breathe healthier air if you use chemical cleansers or have appliances in your house that emit ozone and other pollutants. [3]

Helps With Dust and Pet Dander

If you have pets at home or if you are allergic to dust, tobacco smoke, pesticides, disinfectants, and more, you may benefit from owning an air purifier. Out furry friends are culprits as pet dander is one of the main triggers for people with asthma and allergies. Since pet dander is really small, it is still within the capabilities of a HEPA filter found in air purifiers. This means that an air purifier can leave your home dust-free and pet dander-free to prevent allergies. [3]

Helps Remove Mold Spores from the Air

Air purifiers can also catch spores, which are the airborne “seeds” that mold fungus create to propagate. By capturing the mold spores before they land and grow into new mold, an air purifier may even help prevent the development of additional mold in your house. [3]

Relieve Symptoms of Asthma

If you have asthma, airborne contaminants like pollen, dust, and smoke can trigger an attack, which is sometimes fatal, especially in children. An air purifier may help you in managing the air quality in your home if you experience asthma so that you can limit your exposure to different contaminants. [3]

Things to Consider When Buying an Air Purifier

If you are convinced to buy an air purifier to get all the benefits that it can provide, there are important things you need to learn about first before you go to stores or order an air purifier online. If you plan to purchase an air purifier, below are some of the important things to consider in order to get the right air purifier that will cater to your needs:

Determine Your Needs

Before you buy an air purifier, it is better if you can outline your requirements first. After that, you can then look into the technical specifications. Decide whether you plan to use it to absorb dust and toxins in your bedroom or to absorb smoke and other odors in the kitchen. You also need to know how often you can clean it and if you can afford to replace the filters regularly. In addition, determining the size of the room that you plan to use it in is also important. Clarifying your needs properly will help you make a wise purchase. [1]

Pick the Right Filtration System

Air purifiers can clean the air through their filters. The better the installed filters in them absorb various types of contaminants, the purer the air will be in your home. There are filters that are great for removing pet dander, just like the HEPA filter. Other filters, on the other hand, are effective when it comes to eliminating kitchen smoke and bad odors. There are also ionizers and UV lights that can remove dust particles and kill bacteria immediately. 

There are also a few air purifiers that have one or more pre-filters, and these aim to absorb large contaminants from the air before entering the main compartment of the filters. These pre-filters are less expensive and can be replaced frequently to extend the lives of primary filters. 

It is very important to choose an air purifier that has the right filtration technology. Consider the type of filter and technology an air purifier has carefully while comparing it to your preferences before buying one. [1] Below are the different types of filters for air purifiers:

  • Pre-Filters: These can remove substantial particles, such as pet hair, before the next stage of filtration. They resemble foam and non-woven polyester. [2]
  • True HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters: These clean allergens like pollen, pet skin and dander, dust, and mold spores. They can remove 99.9% of all the particles, which can be as small as 0.3 microns.
  • Activated Carbon Filters: These are used in combination with other filters. They help in absorbing odors and gases. [2]
  • Antibacterial and Germicidal Filters: These help in eradicating harmful germs and bacteria.
  • UV Filters: These also ensure that the air is sterile. They are mostly used in kitchens, hospitals, and labs. [2]
  • Charge Media Filters: These filter particles as fine as 0.1 microns by combining particle filtration with an electric charge filter.
  • Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) Filters: These use a titanium dioxide-coated metal plate with UV light to oxidize and break down chemicals during the filtration process. [2]

Look Into the Cleaning Requirement and Maintenance Cost

You will have to put in an extra maintenance effort and bear an overhead cost, depending on how often you need to clean the air purifier unit or replace its filters. The frequency of cleaning and replacing filters depends mainly on how polluted the air is. But choosing an air purifier that is easy to clean and maintain is better. 

If the air purifier has long-lasting filters, the cost of replacement will be low. It is ideal to choose an air purifier with a filter replacement interval of more than four months. A lot of HEPA filters can last around six months or even longer, depending on the usage and air quality. 

It is also great if you can find an air purifier with a filter replacement indicator. This automatically turns on when the replacement date is near or if the filter becomes clogged before the replacement date. This is a useful feature that will remind you if it is time to change the filter of the air purifier. [1]

Check the Noise Level and Energy Consumption

An air purifier that has a high noise level is annoying, which limits your usage during the day. Therefore, it is important to choose a unit that does not have a noise level exceeding 40 to 50 decibels. This way, you will find it comfortable to use at night, too. When it comes to energy consumption, air purifiers consume much lower energy than other devices that you use at home, such as an air conditioner or a computer. [1]

Smart Features

There are now smart air purifiers that have smart features like Wi-Fi connectivity, programmable timer, air quality monitoring, and more, which sets them apart from the classic models. When an air purifier has a programmable timer, you can schedule when it will automatically turn on and off throughout the day.

Most Wi-Fi-enabled air purifiers come with an app where you can control the settings even if you are far from the unit. They also allow users to control the unit through Alexa and Google Assistant, but only if they are compatible. 

The best smart feature that you can look for is the air quality sensor. When an air purifier has this feature, it automatically adjusts the speed of the fan when it detects the air quality in the room to be low. It can also turn the unit on and off as needed. [1]

Certifications and Warranty

When an air purifier unit has certifications, it becomes more valuable to buy. Some of the certifications that you can look for are from CARB, AHAM, Energy Star, and UL. Also, a unit that has at least one to two years of warranty can assure you that your money is well spent. [1]

Different Types of Home Air Purifiers

Now that you’ve learned about the important things you need to consider when buying an air purifier let us move on to the different options that you might encounter when you visit stores or browse online. Air purifiers have five main types. You can learn more about what each of them offers, along with their pros and cons, below.

1. HEPA Air Purifiers

The initial idea behind the HEPA purification technology came from the gas masks used in World War II. It has been around for decades, and it is one of the tried-and-true methods of purifying indoor air. That is why HEPA purifiers are a common household appliance in the world. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. It is a standard of filtration designed to filter out microscopic particles. It removes 99.97% of particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns. 

HEPA air purifiers work by drawing polluted air into the device. The air then passes through a filter made of fiberglass, where airborne particles are ensnared in a tangle of fibers. There are some particles that stick to the fibers, while some are bounced around by other airborne particles or even gas molecules. The last part is called diffusion, which traps particles that are smaller than 0.1 microns. After the air passes through the filter in the device, it is pumped back out into the room, and the cycle continues. Eventually, most of the air in the room will cycle through the purifier, decreasing particulate matter levels dramatically. [4]

Pros: HEPA air purifiers are very effective against particle pollution without giving out harmful byproducts. It can also be combined with other forms of purification for an added bonus. 

Cons: While they are very effective, HEPA air purifiers also need a lot of maintenance. Their filters do not last forever and need to be replaced regularly to keep the unit in good shape. They also can’t remove microbes or odors reliably. 

If you are thinking of getting a HEPA air purifier soon, below are some examples to help you choose:

  • JHQ HEPA Air Purifier for Home: This air purifier features a 3-stage filter system. It can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns, which include pet dander, pollen, and dust. It is also very quiet, making it great to be used at night. It has 4 fan speed levels and is effective in spaces up to 107 square feet. It also has an aromatherapy design, which allows you to add a few drops of essential oil to the aroma pad under the air outlet so that the smell will diffuse throughout the room.
  • AZEUS True HEPA Air Purifier: This air purifier has a centrifugal wheel design that creates a stronger airflow. It can clean the air in rooms up to 1080 square feet in just 45 minutes. It has a 5-in-1 filtration system that can filter 99.97% of smoke, pollen, dust, and pet dander. It also has a smart air quality sensor that will let you know your air quality in real-time by checking the color on display. It is ultra-quiet and low in energy consumption.

2. Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Activated carbon is a type of carbon that has been processed, making it extremely porous. Its use dates back to the early 1900s. These filters are comprised of many molecular-sized pores that have a high absorbent ability and chemical bonding. These make them a very effective tool for filtering pollutants like gasses, smoke, odors, and chemical emissions. When these pollutants are captured by the device, they are not released back into the air as they are eliminated. [5]

Pros: These air purifiers are best for those with multiple chemical sensitivities as they can absorb formaldehyde found in carpet, wood paneling, and furniture upholstery. Carbon air purifiers are great in decreasing the contamination of the air in closed spaces.

Cons: Activate carbon air purifiers have a lower efficiency level when it comes to removing allergens and airborne particles. They are also limited in removing contaminants that are far from the unit and not forced through the filter. [5]

Below are some examples of activated carbon air purifiers to help you pick:

  • BISSELL MYair Air Purifier with Carbon Filter: This air purifier can filter indoor smoke and odor. It also has a 3-in-1 filter that includes a pre-filter layer and a combination of an activated carbon and high-efficiency filter. The activated carbon filter is best for removing odors and volatile organic compounds. It also operates quietly in a peaceful environment, especially at night.
  • Mooka Air Purifier for Home: This air purifier can cover up to 540 square feet. It has a 3-stage filtration system, with an activated carbon filter that removes odor and smokes effectively. It is also very quiet, making it a great air purifier to use at night while you are sleeping.

3. UV Air Purifiers

UV air purifiers, like HEPA filters, start by absorbing air into the device. The air is then exposed to a UV lamp, which produces UV-C light. Through a process called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), the UV light breaks down the chemical bonds formed between DNA molecules, which renders viruses inactive and can kill bacteria and fungi. [4]

Pros: UV air purifiers target airborne microorganisms. That is why they are mostly used in medical settings as antibacterial and antiviral disinfectants.

Cons: The effectiveness of UV purifiers has been debated for a long time. It’s because the application of UVGI in air purification has come under fire due to the byproduct it creates, which is ozone. It is beneficial high in the atmosphere, but ozone can be dangerous inside the house. But most UV purifiers only use “safe wavelengths,” which reduce the production of ozone. [4]

Below are some examples of UV air purifiers to help you choose:

  • Germ Guardian Air Purifier for Home: This is a 3-in-1 air purifier for the home. It has a true HEPA filter for removing dust, pollen, and pet dander. It also has a UV-C light to kill airborne viruses like staph and influenza. It features a pre-filter that traps pet hair, dust, and other large particles in the air. It also has an activated charcoal filter to remove odors and smoke inside the house. 
  • TruSens Air Purifier with UV-C Light: This air purifier has UV-C light that kills germs and bacteria trapped in the filter. It also has a HEPA filtration system that filters pet dander, dust, and mold. It is a smart air purifier that senses the air quality inside a room. It automatically adjusts its fan speeds when it detects poor air quality.

4. Ionic Air Purifiers

Ionic air purifiers are very popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. They do not have filters, unlike HEPA air purifiers. However, HEPA air purifiers have overtaken ionic air purifiers in popularity because of the concerns that ionic purifiers produce ozone. 

There are actually two types of ionic air purifiers. One is the ionizer, and the other one is the electrostatic precipitator (ESP). Ionizers produce ions, which are positively or negatively charged particles. Most ionizers produce negative ions through a corona discharge. These ions attach themselves to particles floating around the purifier. Then, they settle on surfaces around the house where they can be wiped down easily. 

Electrostatic precipitators, on the other hand, use a similar idea. However, instead of landing on outside surfaces, they settle on positively charged plates in the purifier. This means that you only need to clean the plates in the unit instead of cleaning the whole room. [4]

Pros: Since ionic air purifiers do not have filters, you no longer have to spend money on filter replacements. They also function more quietly than HEPA air purifiers.

Cons: Ionic air purifiers are less effective compared to HEPA air purifiers when it comes to removing particles from the air. In fact, they may create a mess as particles settle on surfaces. [4]

Below are some examples of ionic air purifiers to help you pick:

  • OION Technologies B-1000 Ionic Air Purifier:  This air purifier releases negative ions to remove airborne pollutants like pollen, allergens, mold, smoke, dust, pet dander, and more. It works quietly and also has a night light. It draws air in silently for purification and cleans the air around you. It also has a UVGI technology that kills germs, viruses, and bacteria in the air, which cause disease.
  • Lapurifier Car Air Ionizer: If you are looking for a portable air purifier that you can also use in your car, this is a great choice. It is a small air purifier that releases 12 million negative ions per second. It has effective in purifying pollutants, including pollen, mites, odors, smoke, and more. It can also kill all kinds of bacteria and germs to keep your car fresh. 

5. Ozone Generators

This type of air purifier is not recommended for indoor use. But it is still important to learn about it to avoid false marketing and know more about their industrial applications. Ozone generators are also called ozone air purifiers or ozone air cleaners. 

These devices use either a corona discharge or UV light to divide oxygen molecules into two oxygen atoms. Then, they recombine into a molecule of three oxygen atoms, which is called ozone. It is highly reactive and often changes the chemical composition of surrounding molecules by giving an oxygen atom.

Pros: Ozone generators can be used to disinfect and kill microbes in industrial, non-occupant settings. It is more applicable for biological contaminants and not airborne inorganic particles or chemicals. 

Cons: No federal agency in the United States government has approved ozone generators for use in occupied spaces. It’s because ozone generators produc plentiful amounts of ozone, which is very harmful to people’s health. Therefore, the claim that ozone is beneficial or a form of medical treatment is false. [4]

Conclusion

If your main goal is to eliminate particles from the air that causes allergies, using HEPA air purifiers is the best option. If you wish to remove odors and some VOCs, choosing an air purifier with an adsorbent or activated carbon and pre-filter is a good choice. If you opt to use a UV purifier, you need to ensure that it uses safe UV wavelengths. Lastly, never use an ozone generator in an occupied space. 

Using an air purifier at home, as well as in offices and other enclosed spaces, is indeed beneficial. It can help remove allergens and other harmful contaminants in the air, providing you with high-quality indoor air. We hope this post helped you learn more about selecting an air purifier.

References

[1] Abdul, S. (2022, March 11). 7 things to consider before buying an air purifier. MUO. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.makeuseof.com/things-to-consider-before-buying-air-purifier/

[2] Joy, S. (2021, February 23). Here’s how to choose the right air purifier: All you need to know – Times of India. The Times of India. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/most-searched-products/electronics/buying-guide/heres-how-to-choose-the-right-air-purifier-all-you-need-to-know/articleshow/70461342.cms 

[3] Mudge, L. (2022, November 3). Six benefits of an air purifier. LiveScience. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.livescience.com/six-benefits-of-an-air-purifier 

[4] Smith, D. (2020, April 17). 5 types of Home Air Purifiers: Pros, Cons, and how they work. Kaiterra. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://learn.kaiterra.com/en/air-academy/types-home-air-purifiers 

[5] Allergy and Air, E. (2018, October 21). 5 common types of Air Purifiers: AllergyAndAir.com. Allergy & Air. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://learn.allergyandair.com/types-of-air-purifiers/ 

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