Here’s Everything You Need To Know When Buying An Air Purifier
We spend most of our time inside our home. Hence, it is important to create an air pollution-free environment. Not only will this do wonders at improving your living conditions, but also helps you keep a healthier lifestyle. Your cooling and heating system may have filters, but they are not made to purify indoor air thoroughly.
Equipping your home with the best air purifier can dramatically improve its air quality, by keeping it clean and fresh with each breath. Nonetheless, with so much to choose from, not to mention all the jargon and acronyms in the industry, choosing the right air purifier can be quite confusing.
These devices can get rid of numerous airborne irritants such as dust, odors, mold spores, bacteria, pet dander, pollen, toxic fumes, and a lot more. But these particles vary, so they require different approaches. For this reason, we’ve put up an extensive buying guide that explains the basics of an air purifier, including filter types.
This type of air cleaner is also available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You can find a compact air purifier designed for small spaces, and there are large ones that can cover a room for up to 1,900 square feet in size. Likewise, there are essential features to consider to ensure you end up with the best one designed for your home and needs.
What Can An Air Purifier Do?
As its name implies, an air purifier purifies the air. When you turn the device on, it will purify the air in a room in a continuous cycle by removing allergens and pollutants. It will then push the air that has been filtered back into the room. The entire process is repeated, which makes the air fresher and cleaner with every pass.
The air quality inside your home is crucial. After all, you spend most of your life inside your house breathing that air. Assuming that pollution is undoubtedly a problem outdoors is easy. However, that outdoor air carrying traces of pollutants like airborne pollen and dust, vehicle exhaust, and smoke can easily enter your home. There are already plenty of pollution sources in your home. Some examples of these are household dust, pet hair, pet dander, volatile organic compounds or VOCs that paint emits, and cigarette smoke.
The chances of these indoor pollutants simply blowing away is slim. Additionally, they tend to build up over time and may likely cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. In most cases, regular mopping and vacuuming your home can address some of these concerns. But using an air purifier, such as those with a 3 stage filtration, can be very beneficial in numerous situations.
Although air purifiers have the same basic functionality across many brands, their performance varies, and each offers features that are unique to them. When shopping around, you have to consider your budget and other factors at home before deciding which features will work best for the entire family.
For instance, if you have a baby at home, it just makes sense to opt for a quiet air purifier. As much as you want your little one to breathe clean air, you also want him to be as comfortable as possible.
Why Do I Need An Air Purifier?
Here are the main reasons why you need to equip you home with an air purifier:
- Help allergy sufferers. In the US alone, roughly 50 million individuals suffer from respiratory and nasal allergies. Your immune system can weaken because of airborne allergens. Some of the bothersome symptoms these can cause include painful headaches, coughing, eye irritation, and sneezing, to name a few. Getting rid of these particles can help reduce the impact of these, as well as breathing difficulties.
- Relief from asthma symptoms. The effects of asthma can be mild to severe and may vary from one person to the next. Breathing polluted air is one of the biggest culprits of asthma attacks. Using an air purifier with True HEPA in rooms where you spend most of your time, like your bedroom or living room, can reduce the number of irritants in those areas. The device will clean indoor air, which means that the asthmatic in your family will not experience as many respiratory problems as before.
- Prevent dust. Dust seems to always buildup on surfaces no matter how many times a week you clean your home. On top of this, dust attracts dust mites as well, which may cause allergies to some people. One of the best ways to prevent these from accumulating is by utilizing an air purifier. It will suck and trap dust and dust mites before they even have a chance to accumulate around your house.
- You own pets. Having pets around your home is fun. However, it also means that you have to deal with pet hair and dander all the time. A dog going in and out of your house can cause contaminants to spread inside. Moreover, your pet may likely pick up irritants, such as dust and pollen in their skin or coats, and carry them around your home. Another common issue is the accumulation of pet hair on carpets, furniture, and other areas. Thankfully, you can rely on your air purifier to take care of these concerns.
- Eliminates mold. One of the most harmful particles to your overall health is mold spores. In fact, a lot of individuals who have been exposed to too much mold, either at work or at home, tend to develop chronic diseases without their knowledge. You can stay healthy by opting for a specific air purifier that can deal with bacteria and mold.
- There is a smoker in your family. Households with non-smokers and smokers must use an air purifier as it can catch and cycle contaminants, which, in turn, reduces the effect of secondhand smoke. Furthermore, it can help prevent its odor from lingering throughout the home.
- You have young kids. The immune systems of babies and toddlers have not yet fully developed. Therefore, it is vital that the environment they live in is not polluted and the air they breathe in is high-quality.
Can Air Purifiers Truly Help?
Stripping off indoor air with the sources of its pollutants is one of the best ways to improve its quality. Air purifiers can do this as they can reduce pollutant sources and eliminate indoor air contaminants. The result is a healthier living space for everyone. Aside from this, you can even find models with indoor air quality tracking, which can monitor the air conditions and pollutant levels inside your space in real-time.
- If you have young children, pets, or there is a smoker in your household, an air purifier is necessary. It is also a good investment if you live near a roadside or construction site. The air cleaner is perfect, especially if you or a family member suffers from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory illnesses.Nevertheless, unlike an HVAC system, these devices cannot filter the air of the entire house. They are designed to take care of the air in a single room only. And although they can minimize indoor pollution, they still have some limitations in terms of what they can do.Yes, they can eliminate allergens. But only while these particles are floating in the air. Heavier and large allergens can quickly settle to the ground. Hence, an air purifier will not be able to catch these in time.Dealing with toxic gas like radon is a gray area with these air cleaners as well. There is still not enough research to back up the ability of air purifiers to handle these types of pollutants. So it is not yet clear how effective they truly are.
Different Types Of Air Purifier Filters And Technologies
HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter
This process of air filtering is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to air purification and the most efficient at trapping allergens. A HEPA filter is consists of an extremely impenetrable paper filter that can trap airborne pollutants, such as:
- Mold spores
- Pet hair
- Pet dander
- Visible smoke
The market is filled with air purifiers that carry the acronym HEPA, from HEPA-like to HEPA-type. However, the only air purifier you can trust is the one with a True HEPA on its label. This type of filter is the only one certified to remove as much as 99.97% of microscopic pollutants and allergens as small as 0.3 microns in size. Other types are only capable of capturing particles with a size of 2 to 5 microns. That means that their inefficiency is 600% less in comparison to a True HEPA filter.
When on the market for this type of air purifier, consider these best solid and inexpensive HEPA air purifiers to help narrow down your choices.
- Highly efficient
- It will trap particles and ensure they are not released back into the air
- Safe for all kinds of respiratory illnesses
- You will need to replace its filter regularly to maintain its efficiency
- Expensive than other types of air purifier
- It is not good at eliminating chemical fumes and odors
- HEPA air purifiers use a fan for pulling in air, so expect them to be a bit louder
This air purification technology works by releasing charged ions into indoor air and latches on to the airborne pollutants. The process will then force these contaminants to fall on nearby surfaces and floors.
Some of the ionic purifiers available today come with an electrostatic collection plate. This additional mechanism can help attract the fallen particles and get rid of them from the room. Ionic filters can remove ultra-fine particles with a size of up to 0.01 microns, including:
- Mold spores
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Visible smoke
- Some viruses and bacteria
- Requires little to no maintenance
- You don’t have to worry about replacing its filter
- It is quieter than a HEPA air purifier and does not cost as much
- Since pollutants fall off on surfaces and the floors, they will stay in a room unless they are gathered on the electrostatic plate
- You have to clean the device often using soapy water
- It does not eliminate odors and smells
- Its biggest downside is that it emits small amounts of ozone as its byproduct, meaning it is not a good idea for those with respiratory problems
Activated Carbon FIlter
An activated carbon filter consists of millions of small absorbent pores that create a massive surface area. This type of filter works well at trapping odors, gases, and fumes but is not effective against nitrogen oxide, ammonia, and formaldehyde. Likewise, you can’t use it to get rid of particles that induce health concerns. Instead, it absorbs molecules from indoor air that cause odors. Therefore, it will leave your home smelling clean and fresh all the time.
Other odors that activated carbon air purifiers can remove include those from:
- Cleaning supplies
Most of these air purifiers come with both the activated carbon and pleated filters because they do not remove particles. An activated carbon filter can get saturated pretty quickly in comparison to a pleated filter. You will also need to replace it every three to six months, whereas pleated filters require replacement every six to 12 months.
- Relatively inexpensive
- It will keep your home smelling nice and clean
- The only thing it is good at is removing odors and smells and minimizing gaseous fumes
Ultra Violet Light (UV)
What makes this air purifier technology different from the other filters above is that it combats pollutants by emitting an invisible light. The air purifier does not release UV light in a room since it is contained in the device. Furthermore, it utilizes the ultraviolet spectrum’s UV-C band, which is entirely safe for people. Likewise, it will not cause any sort of adverse side effects.
The main purpose of this type of air purifier is to eradicate viruses, germs, and bacteria thriving in your house by destroying the structure of their molecular DNA. As a result, your living environment will be purified and free from particles that cause illnesses.
- The UV light rarely requires replacement and will last thousands of hours
- It creates a sterilized environment
- Minimize indoor germs that can make the family members ill
- It is not a stand-alone machine since it only works well at killing germs, bacteria, and viruses, so expect it to come with either an ionic or HEPA filter
Finding The Right Air Purifier Size For A Room
You will have an unnecessarily high monthly energy bill when using an air purifier that’s too big for your space. Meanwhile, a too-small unit may not remove all the contaminants present in the room.
To make sure your air cleaner is the right size, the first thing you need to do is to measure the floor area of the room where you plan on placing it. Calculating this is as simple as multiplying the width of the floor by its length. If you’re planning to use the unit in adjoining rooms, calculate the combined floor area of these rooms.
- Fortunately, most air purifier models will specify the manufacturer’s suggested coverage area either on the unit or its packaging. The rule of thumb is ensuring that the device can take care of a room that’s a least a third bigger than the room you plan to filter.
Other Essential Air Purifier Features To Consider
How well an air purifier performs will mainly depend on the filter type you need and use. However, there are still some features you can consider that can make your life a bit easier.
- Pre-filter. This reusable and washable filter can trap dirt, hair, and other larger particles. It can also help extend the lifespan of other filters of your unit.
- Filter life or replacement indicator. Some filters require frequent replacement. This feature will ensure that you are on top of things, as it will alert you automatically when the filter of your device needs to be changed.
- Digital controls. You’ll be able to adjust the settings for air quality control more precisely than with push-button or rotary dial.
- Quiet operation. Some models are as quiet as a whisper when running, making them perfect in households with light sleepers and babies.
- Programmable timer. This feature will automatically shut off your unit at a certain time interval, as well as help save energy.
- Automatic indoor air quality tracking or monitoring. Special sensors track air while your unit is running. It will adjust your air purifier’s cleaning speed automatically if necessary.