An air purifier is designed to take indoor air and pull it through a series of filters, thus eliminating or reducing the contaminants in the air before recirculating it back into the room.
Sounds simple right, but there are many different brands of air purifiers available, and all have different filter combinations.
Then there are the air purifiers that use electrical charges or UV-C lights to eliminate or reduce contaminants or maybe a combination of these elements.
So, now you’re asking yourself what’s the best air purifier for my needs? Well, that is the million-dollar question, and to answer it, we need to figure out what an air purifier can and cannot do.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular filters that are often included with an air purifier.
A pre-filter is the first filter that the air passes through, and its job is to capture the larger contaminants and help to extend the life of other filters in the combination.
The pre-filter may capture things like pet hair or dust and keep these things from quickly clogging up other filters that are designed to capture microscopic elements. Many pre-filters are washable and can be reused, helping to reduce the costs associated with replacing air purifiers filters.
2. Large Particle Filter
Not all air purifiers have this type of filter included in their filter stages, but this filter often serves as a secondary pre-filter in some units. The difference is that this filter is often the first filter that begins removing some of the smaller particles as well.
Think of an air filter system as being like a funnel, and the more filters can often mean, the smaller the particles the purifier can remove from the air.
3. Carbon Filter
Activated carbon filters are included in many air purifiers to help eliminate smoke and odors. As most people know and understand activated carbon or, as some call it, charcoal can reduce or eliminate many odors, including that of smoke.
Second-hand smoke from cigarettes can be a big problem for anyone living with a smoker, or you may live in an area prone to wildfires where that smoke can pollute the indoor air as well. Breathing smoke, even in minute amounts, can be catastrophic on lung tissue, especially if you already have issues like allergies or asthma.
Carbon filters in an air purifier are designed to help reduce and even eliminate this contaminant from your indoor air and can significantly reduce any other odor in your home as well.
4. HEPA Filters
A HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter is said to remove 99.7% of contaminants from the air and can filter out microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns. That’s an amazing capability, but as you can imagine, that makes these filters a bit pricey, so not all air purifiers contain a HEPA filter.
There are also different classes of HEPA filters like True HEPA and Hospital grade HEPA filters, and according to research, these can relate not only to the filter price but the ability of the filter.
Although the price may be significantly higher on a Hospital grade HEPA filter if you suffer from lung-related breathing disorders, it might be worth the investment to reduce airborne triggers.
5. Additional Filter Layers
It seems that many manufacturers are readily increasing the filter layer count in their air purifiers. Is this beneficial? Well, some believe that the more filters the cleaner the air and in a significantly polluted area, this may be true, but keep in mind even a HEPA filter can only capture so much, and some particles will always slip through.
The higher the filter count, the more replacement filters you will need to purchase, and this can affect the long-term cost of running your air purifier.
6. Other Purification Options
As stated above, there are some other options that can be used to eliminate or reduce air pollution in your indoor air.
The effectiveness of these options is debated, and some believe that using these alternatives may not help the contaminant situation and could even increase illnesses. For all the naysayers, you will find your believers as well, so you will need to decide this for yourself and may want to consider speaking with your trusted health care professional before you invest in one of these types of air purifiers.
7. UV-C Lights
To better understand why a manufacturer would include these lights in an air purifier, let’s get a basic understanding of UV light.
What is UV light? UV light is an unseen part of the light spectrum and is divided into three categories of light.
The most common form of UV light and accounts for 95% of the radiation that reaches the earth’s surface from the sun. This is the type of light you will encounter from tanning beds and is associated with premature skin aging and wrinkles.
This UV light is what causes sunburn and is strongly linked to skin cancer. This type of UV light damages not only the top layer of your skin but also DNA, and this light can pass through the atmosphere and reach the earth and you.
Although this UV light is considered the most harmful of all UV light, the earth’s atmosphere filters out 100% of this light, preventing it from damaging anything. However, this light can be human-made as it is in the case of air purifiers, and the light is thought to impurities in the air by destroying the impurities at a cellular level.
So, you could see why some object to this type of air purification and believe that it is not good for your health as it incorporates a type of UV light that can destroy healthy cells too.
8. ION Air Purifiers
These types of air purifiers use high electrical energy to change the positive or negative charge of air molecules.
These charged air molecules are then attracted to another surface, and this is thought to remove impurities and pollutants in the air and trap them.
The research on these types of air purifiers is mixed, and there are some studies that claim that there is no improvement in indoor air quality with this type of air purifier.
Again, this is something you may want to discuss with other family members before implementing it in your home and may even consult your health care provider for their opinion.
9. OZONE Air Purifiers
Probably one of the most controversial types of air purifiers and well with good reason. OZONE is what our atmosphere uses to filter out UV light and radiation from the sun, but it is different from the oxygen we breathe and is toxic.
According to the manufacturers of these types of air purifiers, the OZONE produced from the generator is at a safe human consumption level and can eliminate odors as well as impurities.
Research is mixed, and some believe the dangers outweigh any possible benefits. These types of air purifiers seem to bring the most debate amongst researchers and users as to their abilities and use not only OZONE but also incorporate UV lighting.
My opinion of the non-filter type of air purifiers is mixed; while I see the reasoning and science behind them, I am a believer in the old saying “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” and to me the filter type of air purifier is not a broken system.
So, what did we learn? We learned that there are many methods believed effective at reducing or eliminating airborne pollutants. Some are quite controversial, and others debate about the proper amount of filter layers.
All air purifiers are designed with the intention of improving the indoor air quality of your home or office by reducing or eliminating contaminants in the air. Your choice of air purifier may affect others in the house, so make sure that you consider this before you select and purchase one.
Choosing the right air purifier for your home or office may take a bit of research on your part, but it is possible and a rather painless endeavor that could help you optimize your health.
Don’t believe for a minute that all air purifiers are created equally and just shop based on the initial investment price as you may end up purchasing the wrong unit for your needs.
A final piece of advice is to investigate the replacement filter cost and any other possible maintenance costs involved with each air purifier you look at as these costs can add up quickly and may turn a moderately priced air purifier into a money pit.
Breathe easier and cleaner air with implementing the right air purifier and feel good about improving the air quality in your home for everyone that lives there.
Just do a bit of research to help you make the best selection, so you won’t feel like you wasted money on another gadget that doesn’t offer the benefits you need or want.