Air Purifier Buying Guide
With the increase in air pollution both indoors and outdoors, it has become very important for every household to have an air purifier in place. An air purifier is a simple, but effective device that helps to remove contaminants and pollution from the air in a room or workspace. They filter out dust, micro-organisms, mold, and smoke from the air, and ensure fresh air circulation. Air purifiers have been quite beneficial to asthmatic patients and people suffering from allergies and other respiratory-related problems. If you’re on the lookout for an air purifier for your home, there are certain factors to consider before making a selection.
In this guide, we’ll share how to select the right air purifier. We’ll also provide tips on how to pick the best purifier for your home size and budget.
The Comprehensive Guide to Buying the Best Air Purifier
The first consideration for air purifiers is the area of the space you’re aiming to clean with the device. A large, industrial purifier is inappropriate for a children’s bedroom just as a desktop device will be ineffective in a large room.
A simple way to pick the appropriate air purifier is to pay attention to the “air changes per hour” (ACH) parameter. It gives you an idea of how filtration works. A smaller air purifier may turn over the air in a 400-square-foot room eight times per hour, whereas it only offers four air changes per hour in a double-sized room.
Demystifying the CADR Rating of an Air Purifier
Most air purifiers come with a CADR – Clean Air Delivery Rate – number. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) metric helps consumers understand an air purifier device’s effectiveness at filtering particles in specific room size.
A CADR of 200 for pollen means the air purifier can lower pollen concentration, similar to adding 200 cubic feet of fresh air per minute.
A higher CADR number means the air purifier can remove more particles and clean a larger room size. For COVID-19 and other viruses, Consumer Reports recommends a CADR of at least 240 for its recommended room size.
Here’s a useful chart from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to guide you on minimum CADR ratings by room size:
(cubic feet per minute)
Depending on the air purifier, you may find a single CADR number or several CADR numbers for dust, pollen, and small particles of similar size. Most air purifiers don’t have CADR ratings high enough to effectively remove large pollutants such as cockroach-linked allergens and dust mites.
Also, an air purifier’s CADR rating only represents the best-case scenario. The test numbers come from controlled test environments, lacking certain unique variables in your environment, including dampness or drafts.
Not all air purifiers use CADR. Independent reviews might be the best way to tell if a purifier works as the manufacturer claims.
The Air Filtration Type
There are many types, styles, and brands of air purifiers. Understanding air filtration technology can help a buyer make an appropriate choice.
There are four basic types of air filtration technology available in air purifier devices. Each air cleaning filter targets different types of indoor pollution. Here’s a short explanation of each one.
HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filtration
The HEPA filter is the best air purification process. It consists of a dense paper filter for trapping contaminants. Many filters claim to use HEPA, but unless it carries a “True HEPA Filter” certification, do not trust it. A True HEPA Filter is certified to remove 99.97% of all microscopic particles up to 0.3 microns in size.
If the filter says “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like,” it’s an inferior product and can only capture particles in the 2 – 5-micron range – 600 percent lower efficiency.
A HEPA filter traps particles without releasing them back to the air. It can also remove dust, fungi, hair, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and visible smoke and is safe for all respiratory problems or allergies.
HEPA filters need routine replacement to keep efficiency intact. They also cost more than other filter models but won’t eliminate chemical fumes or odors. Because they pull in the air using a fan, their noise level can be somewhat annoying.
Ionic filters clean the air by emitting a cloud of charged ions into the air to cling to airborne contaminants. A few ionic air purifiers include an electrostatic collection plate to attract these fallen particles and remove them from the room. This process eradicates ultra-fine particles as small as 0.01 microns.
Ionic filters are mostly maintenance-free. They are generally less expensive than HEPA filter purifiers, and there’s no need to replace filters. The absence of a fan makes them comfortably quiet.
Ionic filters are suitable for removing pollutants like dust, fungi, mold spores, pollen, some bacteria species, and volatile organic compounds.
However, pollutants remain in the room unless there’s an electrostatic plate to collect them. The plates need frequent cleaning too. Ionic filters don’t handle odors and produce ozone, which can cause respiratory irritations.
Activated carbon filters consist of millions of absorbent pores. The large surface area of the pores is excellent for trapping odors, gases, and fumes.
Carbon filters are best for particles that have no health implications. However, they work well for irritating smells. Carbon filters help a home smell fresh and clean.
This option is best if you’re on a tight budget. It can eliminate cooking smells, gas fumes, pet odors, and chemical smells. But, it only works for gaseous fumes and odors.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
This technology differs from the other three filter types. It emits an invisible light that attacks pollutants instead of using a physical filter. The purifier contains the light which isn’t released into the room.
UV air purifiers use the UV-C band of the ultraviolet spectrum, which is safe for humans. It primarily kills bacteria and viruses by denaturing their DNA, leaving a particle-free environment that keeps you healthy.
The UV lamp lasts thousands of hours, but it only kills bacteria, germs, and viruses and only comes as part of an ionic or HEPA air purifier.
Key Points Worth Considering – Noise Factor and Maintenance Costs
Two important factors in buying any air purifier are the noise level and ongoing maintenance costs.
HEPA- or carbon-filter air purifiers feature a fan mechanism. Expect them to get noisy, though lower fan speeds mean less noise and vice versa. Some products offer up to five speeds (automatic, low, medium, high, turbo), while others have just two (low and high).
Because of noise levels, it’s necessary to buy a device that can handle the room’s size. Ionic air cleaners eliminate filters, so they are always silent to operate.
Maintenance keeps devices running optimally for the longest time possible. Be clear on what it’ll cost you to keep your air purifying device running smoothly after you’ve purchased it.
Routine filter replacements can be a significant cost as filters last anywhere from three months to one year.
Ionic air purifiers or electrostatic air cleaners allow washing and reuse, so they’re less expensive to buy and maintain.
Tips For Buying an Efficient Air Purifier
Based on our discussion, here are our top tips for buying an air purifier:
- Determine where you want to position the air purifier.
- Choose a purifier with excellent pollutant-filtering properties suitable for your home or health needs.
- Compare CADR ratings.
- Choose a device featuring a HEPA filter.
- Observe the noise levels on the product specs.
- Calculate what it’ll cost to maintain the air purifier over the long term and pay for electricity.
- Ignore flashy bonus features.
- No air purifier suits everyone equally. A buyer should know the size of their room and the pollutant type they are The HEPA filter air purifiers are generally preferred to remove the tiniest and most harmful particulate matter. But they are also expensive.
- CADR ratings and secondary factors such as portability and noise levels are also of high importance. Companies such as AirDoctor, Better Air, Molekule, and Medify Air are a few brands making great air purifier products.