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Air Purifier Buying Guide

  • Apr 03, 2022
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Everyone is concerned with air pollution caused by automobile emissions, green house gases, chemical spills and other industrial age complaints. However, many are surprised to find that the air quality in their homes is usually much worse than the most congested areas outside. Air is invisible, and it’s impossible to see the contaminants that float around in it, but they’re there.

The dirt, debris, pollen, molds and gases that surround us every day in our homes contributes to many sicknesses. Some of the problems we experience from bad air quality in the home are temporary, and will go away when we leave the house, but long term exposure to them can cause more serious problems and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, lung disorders and even depression.

For people who suffer from allergies and asthma, bad air quality can even be lethal. Air purifiers are one of the methods of removing the dangerous particles that exist in your home recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), but how do you know which one is right for you? Here is a guide that will help you choose the right air purifier for your needs.

What Purifiers Work Best For Certain Conditions

There are two types of purifiers: HEPA filter air purifiers, also known as “mechanical” air purifiers, and Ionic air purifiers, also known as electrical air purifiers.

Mechanical air purifiers use fans to circulate the air through a set of filters starting with a pre-filter to catch the big dust and debris like pet hair, a carbon filter to filter out odors and gases, and finally a tight HEPA filter that gets rid of the smallest particles and germs.

Electronic air purifiers do not use filters at all. They use electricity to produce negative ions that attract and neutralize positive ions in the air to deodorize them, and also to bond with them and make them so heavy they cannot float. Electronic air purifiers have metal plates that attract the particles and draw them in to stick to the plates rather than fans to push air through.

Electronic air purifiers are not as strong, and do not cover as much space as mechanical air purifiers. They also get clogged up faster, and when the plates get dirty they lose even more efficiency. Electronic air purifiers also emit ozone as a by-product of ionization. While it is a relatively low amount, there are some safety measures to take if you choose an ionizer over a mechanical air purifier.

Run the Ionizer while you are out of the house, or at least in a different room, and give the area an hour or two after you shut it off before going back in the area. This is especially important if you have allergies, asthma or lung problems. Doing this allows the ozone to convert to simple oxygen and is then safe for anyone to breathe.

Electronic air purifiers are not a good idea for anyone with small children, pets or when there are elderly people or individuals with immune deficiencies living in the home. HEPA filter purifiers are best for persons who suffer from pet or seasonal allergies, asthma or multiple chemical sensitivity.

Where To Use An Air Purifier

If you can only afford to place an air purifier in one or two rooms, choose the rooms you use the most. The most common places for air purifiers are bedrooms and living rooms. However, for the best air quality, you should place an air purifier in every room in the house.

Whole house air purifiers are much less effective because they have to fight walls and doors to pull in particles from distant areas of the home. Single room purifiers are much more effective.

How To Choose An Air Purifier

Once you have narrowed down the type of air purifier that suits your needs best, and where you will use them, there are a few other things to consider. Make sure you know the size of the room you want to put the air purifier in.

It is not possible to have a HEPA air purifier that is “too big” for a room. In fact, it is better to error on the side of too big, rather than too small. A HEPA air purifier that is too small for the room it is in, will not be effective beyond its coverage limits. If you have an 200 square foot room, a HEPA air purifier that is capable of cleaning a 100 square foot space is going to leave a lot of room area uncovered.

If you really like the size and shape of a particular air purifier but it isn’t big enough, it is best to buy two. However, if you have that same 200 square foot room, and the HEPA air purifier you like is guaranteed to cover 300 square feet, you’re air quality will be fine and there are no side effects of too much coverage.

However, if you are looking for an ionic air purifier to clean the air, it is possible to have too much power. Never get one of these types of air purifiers that is rated for a room bigger than where you will be placing them because the by-product of these machines is ozone. The levels are regulated, but putting a machine that is too powerful in a smaller room will generate proportionately more ozone, and take longer to dissipate making it more hazardous, especially for anyone who already has breathing problems.

Is It Worth The Money?

Air purifiers can range in price from $150.00 to several thousand dollars. How do you know if the price is worth paying for? Some of the things to consider when you are buying an air purifier are:

  • Why do I need a purifier?
  • What can I afford to pay for an air purifier?
  • Do I want to bother with constantly cleaning an electronic purifier?
  • Do I really need the special features?
  • If you need an air purifier for medical reasons such as allergies or asthma you should look for the very best you can afford. If you just want to improve the air in your home you may be able to get away with a little bit cheaper unit.

No matter what your needs, it isn’t worth going into debt for an air purifier unless it is a medical necessity. Choose an air purifier that fits your budget.

Don’t buy an electronic air purifier if you don’t have the time to mess around cleaning the plates frequently. Mechanical air purifiers need filter changes, but they are much less frequent and will go for months before needing any attention at all.

There are many extra features on some of the higher priced units that are nice, but if you don’t need them, you may want to avoid paying the price for extra features like filter change indicators that tell you when to service your unit, remote controls or timers.

Must-Have Features

Air purifiers that eliminate smoke, cooking odors and gas emissions from appliances like stoves, furnaces and water heaters are worth paying extra money for. The more energy efficient an air purifier is, the better. You may pay a bit more up front, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. If you choose a mechanical air purifier, look for anti-bacterial coating on the HEPA filter portion so that it kills bacteria in the air that cause viruses.

Problem With Purifiers

One of the most common complaints of air purifier users is the noise. Bigger units that use fans and filters often make as much noise as a window air conditioner when on high. This can be aggravating in bedrooms where you are trying to sleep or in an entertainment room when you’re watching TV or having a conversation.

Some people find the noise of an air purifier to be “white noise” that is easily lived with, and others find it offensive. The best solution for these rooms is to run the purifier on low when you are using the rooms and on high when you aren’t.

Maintenance Requirements

Both styles of air purifiers require some maintenance. Ionic air purifiers require less cost in maintenance because there is nothing to replace, but you will still have to clean the unit often to keep it working at peak efficiency. The filters on mechanical air purifiers need to be replaced at regular intervals.

Check the details on your chosen purifier to see what the recommendations are for replacements. Most HEPA filters can last several years, but the carbon-activated filter usually needs to be replaced every two or three months. The felt pre-filter is usually washable, and should be removed and cleaned whenever it becomes soiled.



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Amy  Webb By, Amy Webb
Amy Webb was named by Forbes as one of the five women changing the world, listed as the BBC’s 100 Women of 2020, ranked on the Thinkers50 list of the 50 most influential management thinkers globally. She is the author of several popular books, including The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, which was longlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year award, shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Digital Thinking Award, and won the 2020 Gold Axiom Medal for the best book about business and technology, and The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream, which won the Thinkers50 Radar Award, was selected as one of Fast Company’s Best Books of 2016, Amazon’s best bo
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