What does an air purifier do and is it right for you? If you are suffering from low air quality, but aren’t sure how to tackle the problem, it’s important to learn about the different solutions. While there are a number of things that can aid in air purification, store bought air purifiers can be a big help.
This article explores what an air purifier is and explains how the different types of air purifiers work. It’ll also look at the different contaminants that air purifiers can expel, so you can learn more about your air purifiers or make a more informed decision when buying one.
Q: What Does an Air Purifier Do?
A: Simply put, an air purifier is a device that cleans or decontaminates the air around you. Believe it or not, indoor air is often more contaminated than the air right outside your home, and indoor air purifiers can remove harmful pollutants from the air, helping you breathe and enjoy a healthier environment.
Given this ability, air purifiers are often marketed toward those who suffer from allergies or asthma, as a contaminated environment would only worsen these conditions. However, even if you don’t suffer from a respiratory condition, you would still notice a change in air quality after installing an air purifier. Other benefits of air purifiers include:
- Removal of unpleasant odors
- Removal or pet allergens
- Smoke neutralization
- Traps dust
- Removal of 99% airborne bacteria
- Stops spreading of germs
There are a lot of potential benefits to owning an air purifier, and you might even notice an improved immune system and deeper sleeps.
Q: How Do Air Purifiers Work?
A: Different air purifiers work differently, and they not only purify the air in different ways, but certain air purifiers will be better at collecting certain contaminants. Some of them use filters, some of them combine methods, and others use a different method entirely. The four main types of air purifiers are:
- HEPA filters
- Carbon filters
- Ionic generators
- Ultraviolet radiation purifier
In most cases, air purifiers use internal fans to draw in the air from the room. The air that gets pulled in and goes through a filtration system that removes the particles, and the purifier circulates the purified air back into the room.
What Is a HEPA Filter?
HEPA is an acronym for “High Efficiency Particulate Air” or “High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance,” and to be classified a HEPA filter, it has to be able to remove no less than 99.97% of particles in the air around you. This makes them one of the most effective filtration systems, especially in terms of allergens. However, there are different members of the HEPA family, including:
HEPA/UV-C Purifiers: These purifiers combine a replaceable HEPA filter with UV light to trap allergens, airborne germs, and odor-causing bacteria. While these are sometimes pricey, these are some of the best air purifiers you can buy, making them a good choice if you have a serious allergy problem.
True HEPA Air Purifiers: True HEPA purifiers are simply air purifiers that use a removable HEPA filter to purify the air. They offer a high level of protection from pollen, dust and dust mites, lint, mold spores, pet dander, smoke, and certain odors, meaning they can take care of seasonal allergies and keep your home smelling fresh. Perhaps the only downside is that the filters in the device need to be replaced on a regular basis, usually every three months.
HEPA-Type Purifiers: While these HEPA purifiers remove upwards of 99% of the particles they target, they can’t target as many particles as the other purifiers. They are mainly effective for larger particles such as smoke, dust, lint, and pet dander, but they are typically less effective for dust mites and pollen particles. Again, they have a filter that needs to be changed regularly.
Permanent HEPA-Type Purifiers: The only difference between this type of purifier and the one above is that this one has a, more or less, permanent filter. The filter is made out of a different material so that it can be cleaned instead of thrown away. It will remove the same level of particles, but you don’t have to keep buying filters.
All HEPA filters are tested and certified to ensure they meet the minimum requirements. Their effectiveness comes from the ultra-fine, glass-fiber materials that can capture microscopic particles that would simply pass through other filters. Additionally, the effectiveness of HEPA filters doesn’t decrease as the filter gets dirtier. However, an extremely dirty filter will eventually clog up.
How Do Carbon Filters Work?
Activated carbon air purifiers use small, absorbent pores to capture pollutants in the air, and they are specifically good at targeting odors, more so than the best HEPA purifiers.
The pores react chemically to the air pollutants, so these purifiers are excellent for odors, chemicals, and smoke in the air. Just keep in mind that they do not remove dust or allergens, so if you want to get rid of allergens in addition to smells, you might want to look for a HEPA-type filter that works with activated carbon to remove both allergens and odors.
How Do UV Purifiers Work?
Ultraviolet air purifiers use ultraviolet germicidal light to kill airborne germs. This is 100%, non-lethal radiation that gets emitted from the device to attack floating bacteria, breaking up their molecular structure. However, similar to the carbon filters, the UV systems are often used in collaboration with HEPA filters so that the purifier removes a greater number of contaminants.
Smart Air Purifiers
For even greater functionality and efficiency, you can find a smart air purifier that links with your smartphone through an app. The app will tell you about the impurities in your air, and it will allow you to track and control the air quality in your home. You will be able to see when the air quality is good and when it’s bad, and you can get alters when the quality changes. You can also schedule the purifier to run at certain times to reduce energy consumption as much as possible.
You may also be on the lookout for air purifiers that have multiple functions. Some of them purify the air while also functioning as a fan. You can also find a number of air purifier/humidifier/dehumidifier combinations if you require the multifunctionality. In some cases, these can be a more cost-effective option and still provide adequate purification.
How Do Ionic Air Purifiers Work?
Ionic air purifiers or ionic generators work with a different type of technology, and they don’t actually purify the air. Rather, they send streams of negatively-charged ions out into the air, and these ions latch onto the airborne particles. The reason they are negatively charged is that most surfaces in a home are positively charged, and once the ions attach to the particles, they become too heavy to float in the air. They will fall to a positively-charged surface in the room, where you will be able to vacuum or clean.
Why Get an Air Purifier?
There are plenty of reasons why you may want to get an air purifier. If you have allergies or asthma, they can remove harmful allergens from the air, help you breathe easier, and aid in the prevention of dangerous asthma attacks. You will be able to run your purifiers all year long or seasonally depending on your allergy situation.
If you have family or friends who smoke indoors, air purifiers can neutralize the smoke so that the particles and smoke odors don’t linger or stick to your furniture. However, if you have stained walls or furniture as a result of years of smoking indoors, an air purifier will only be effective at neutralizing future smoke particles, and smoke odors are likely to remain given the surroundings.
Additionally, consistent exposure to dust, pollen, dander and other particles in the air can also be extremely harmful in the long term. This has the potential to cause long-term breathing and health issues for those in the house, but running an air purifier can dramatically reduce this risk.
Choosing an Air Purifier
When you go to choose your air purifier, you simply need to consider the needs of your home. You’ll identify not only what you need your air purifier to do, but also the level of purification you need. Some air purifiers will be more powerful than others.
You will want to check to make sure the air purifier you choose is able to meet your demands. Check out the specifications list and search for “average coverage” or “room size” along with a square footage number. If you need to, you can measure the room and make sure that the numbers match or that the numbers on the air purifier exceed that of the room.
If you are concerned about odors, make sure that your purifier contains a carbon filter that can specifically target odors while the HEPA filter takes care of the rest. As long as you approach things carefully, you should be able to pick an effective device that adequately purifies your home’s air.