Air Purifier VS Air Conditioner: They Are Not The Same!

Air conditioners and air purifiers are two common appliances for those living in a hot climate area. Like many people who spend 90% of their time indoors, you might wonder if they aren’t the same and is there a clash on the chilling and purifying functionality. Perhaps more critically, is it safe to run both home appliances in the room? If I have yet to get one, which one should I prioritize, especially during the summer? Find out the differences between an air purifier and air conditioner, how each device works, and which one best suits your needs.
Short answer
Air Purifier cleans the air. Air conditioner cools the air.


Air Purifier VS Air Conditioner

The key difference between an air purifier and an air conditioner is the main functionality. Air purifiers clean indoor air by removing airborne particles and allergens; it does not cool the air with the exception of the fan air cleaners. Air conditioners cool the air, help manage room temperature, and relative humidity levels. Both devices are not the same as they are powered by different technology. You can run AC and a HEPA air purifier at the same time without any issues. They both complement each other in providing a healthy and comfortable environment.

If you still can’t separate the two, below are a side-by-side comparison table between air purifiers and air conditioners.

BenefitsAir PurifiersAir Conditioners
Cleans the airYESNO
Reduce room temperatureNOYES
Reduce humidity levelNOYES

Which Is Better: Air Purifier VS AC

Get a HEPA air purifier if you have respiratory issues like asthma, COPD, hypersensitivity, lung infection. It will safely remove allergens, bacteria, viruses, and relief you from nasal congestion, cough, headache, red eyes, itchiness, or throat irritation. An air purifier is also better suited for those that want to reduce airborne dust, mold, pollen, pet dander, smoke, and odor in the home. Get an air conditioner to help manage indoor temperature and humidity levels in your home. If you have limited room spaces, there are hybrid models that combine both functions into one, but with some compromisation on the performance. Again, you can run an air purifier and AC simultaneously for the best of both worlds.

How Does An Air Purifier Work

An air purifier draws air into its multi filtration and traps the airborne particles before releasing clean air. Depending on the filtration, a HEPA filter can capture dust, dust mite, pet dander, bacteria, viruses, mold spores, mildew, and pollen. An activated carbon filter can absorb smoke and odors from cooking, cigarette fumes, VOCs, formaldehyde, radon. If the air purifier comes with an ionizer, it will diffuse millions of negatively charged ions that cling to positive airborne contaminants. The heavier contaminants will fall from the air and adhere to surface areas. UV light will eradicate and deactivate microorganisms with no chance of growth.

In general, there are 2 types of air purifiers in the market. Mechanical air purifiers that force air into a series of filtration or electronic air cleaners that release electric charges e.g. air ionizer, electrostatic precipitator with collector plate, UVGI.There are also different sizes of air purifiers in the market, ranging from portable, tower, console to whole-house HVAC systems. There are pros and cons to each type. For example, portable air purifiers are cheaper, take up less space, but can only cover a small area, and require regular maintenance. Whole-house air purifiers are powerful, but they are expensive and hard to maintain.

Air Purifier's Limitation

Air purifiers do not cool the air; therefore, room temperature remains the same. It also does not remove humidity in the room. Air purifiers also cannot remove contaminants that are non-airborne. Regular house cleaning and vacuuming is a must to ensure a healthy environment.

How Does An Air Conditioner Work

The air conditioner draws the room's hot air and exhausts it outside while pumps cold air back into the room. The cooling cycle helps regulate the temperature and the humidity levels in your room. It does not bring outdoor air in but instead recycles existing air in the room. In general, there are three types of air coolers in the market. Whole-house central AC systems, portable, and window-mounted. Portable and window AC have front grilles with a filter that draws warm air out from a room while cooling the air. It is best used in a small room with limited spaces. A central AC system filter is installed in the ceiling to cool the air for the entire house. It is powerful but comes at a premium cost.

Air Conditioner's Limitation

Most air conditioners don't purify the air. Some come with a basic AC filter or ionizer that will help trap large particles and protect the coils to a certain extent. You will still need an air purifier to remove microscopic particles in the air.

Max Fernandez

A loving father and a dedicated reviewer for airfuji.com with more than 1000 air purifiers under his belt. Max Fernandez is also one of the million patients currently suffering from asthma. Feel free to nudge him if you have any questions.
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