How Does An Air Purifier Work
Air purifiers do work as advertised. Its sole function is to improve indoor air quality by safely removing airborne pollutants in a room. Through its motor fan, the air purifier will pull nearby impurities into a series of filters, trapping them before distributing the clean air back out. With a True HEPA filter, it captures 99.97% of microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns, including dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold spore, and germs. The granular powdered carbon filter absorbs cooking smells, cigarette smoke, pet odor, VOCs, radon, and Formaldehyde. Models with UV technology radiate short-wavelength ultraviolet light to sanitize the air from bacteria and viruses. Ionization release negative ions that attract positive ion particles in the air and pull them down.
Note that there are many types of air cleaners in the market with various technology. A HEPA air purifier is the safest and most effective in cleaning the air without producing harmful byproducts. The only criterion is the filters require regular cleaning or change to ensure optimal performance.
On the opposite end, avoid purchasing an ozone generator or Ozonator as it is a complete waste of money. It produces highly reactive ozone that only worsens the air quality and is harmful to our health. Inhaling ozone will have many side effects and cause permanent lung scarring at a high concentration level. EPA and FDA do not recommend getting an ozone generator for home use.
To conclude, as long as you have reasonable expectations of what an air purifier can do, it will serve you well.
Is An Air Purifier Worth It?
It depends on what you’re trying to get out of it. An air purifier is worth the money for people with severe allergies, breathing issues, and asthma by removing contaminants from the air. With clean air, it will alleviate allergy symptoms like cough, chronic sneezing, headache, sore throat, nausea, red eyes, itchy skin, dizziness, fatigue, and asthma attack. Doctors and health agencies like EPA, AHAM, or CARB recommend getting a HEPA air purifier for those with respiratory issues.
Everyone needs an air purifier in their life, as we have established its purpose and worthiness. If you are still wondering if it is necessary to get one, ask yourself:
- Are you spending most of your time indoors? (Survey shows Americans spend 90% of their time inside)
- Do you often sneeze due to dust, dust mites, mold, or pollen?
- Do you suffer from poor sleep quality and snore loudly?
- Do you or your family member have severe allergies, asthma, breathing difficulty, or respiratory illnesses?
- Do you live in a highly polluted environment or close to highways or factories?
- Do you live in an area that will experience seasonal haze or wildfires?
- Do you smoke or have a smoker in your home?
- Do you have indoor pets like a cat, dog, bird, or rodent?
- Do you live in an older home built prior to the 80s?
- Do you have a baby or children staying together?
So if you tick any one of the criteria, an air purifier is absolutely worth the shot for your health and well-being. It is a long-term investment that will supply endless clean air and protect you from falling sick. Otherwise, it could be an expensive, unnecessary purchase.
The Many Benefits Of An Air Purifier
There’s no denying that an air purifier brings many health benefits that money can’t buy. To illustrate our point, here are a few perks of owning an air cleaner:
- Protects you from allergens – Air purifiers can help with allergies by actively trapping allergens in the air, like dust mites, pollen, and pet dander, before they get to us. As 30% of adults and 40% of children in America suffer from allergies, air purifiers with a HEPA filter are highly beneficial during cold and flu season. With reduced exposure to allergens, our immune responses will be stronger and protect us from falling sick.
- Reduce dust – Perfect for people with dust sensitivity. Air purifiers can help get rid of airborne dust particles, including dirt, debris, and dust mites. It will keep dust at bay and stop you from having a sneezing frenzy. Less dust buildup also means a cleaner home with fewer vacuuming effort.
- Eliminate germs – Air purifiers with UV light are great at killing germs and microbes in the air. It will create a safe home and decrease the risk of illnesses. Highly useful to families with newborns or children that are more susceptible to germs.
- Contain pet allergies – Godsend for pet owners struggling with pet allergies, air purifiers with a HEPA and carbon filter will remove triggers like fur, odors, and pet dander shed by your furry pal.
- Deal with mold – Mold can be dangerous in a humid area as it can damage your home and health, particularly for people with asthma or lung disorder. An air purifier will help remove airborne mold and halt it from spreading. To curb mold growth, a dehumidifier will also help reduce the humidity level in a home, making it inhabitable.
- Remove toxins – An air purifier with a carbon filter can help with indoor toxins issues. It will promptly capture harmful gaseous chemicals released from personal care, paint, building materials, or cleaning products.
- Neutralize smoke and odor – Carbon filter-equipped air purifiers will help remove smoke and unpleasant odors in the house. Perfect for a household with a smoker, heavy cooking, or prone to wildfire. Note that air cleaners cannot deal with third-hand smoke stains on the wall, furniture, or ceiling.
- Help with COVID-19 – An air purifier can capture airborne viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that produces COVID-19), thereby reducing exposure risk. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that portable HEPA air cleaners manage to reduce up to 65% of simulated SARS-CoV-2 aerosols in enclosed environments. It is important to note that air purifiers will not completely protect you from COVID-19 or falling ill. Washing your hands, using a face mask, and social distancing is still highly recommended.
The Disadvantages Of Air Purifiers
Air purifiers work and are essential for allergen avoidance. However, there are some limitations to what it can do and downsides that must be addressed. First, Air purifiers cannot get rid of all the harmful pollutants in your home, especially dust particles that land on surfaces like walls, carpets, furniture, and floors. Air purifiers also lack the medical data that point to the reduction of strokes, heart attacks, or death rates.
Inconsistent performance is also a common theme in portable air cleaners. Many manufacturers over-hype its efficiency by fixing it in a controlled environment, leaving the user utterly disappointed with the real-time performance. Most portable air cleaners can only cover a small room area, leaving little to desire.
Then there’s the additional cost incurred with an air purifier. Besides the electric running cost, HEPA and carbon filters must be changed routinely for optimal performance. Expect to pay $50-300 annually, depending on the filter types. Otherwise, the air purifier will not work. Simple maintenance care is also inevitable to ensure the air purifier is in tip-top condition. A tedious task that can be inconvenient if your days are busy.
Some air purifiers also generate a fair bit of buzz noise when running at higher speeds. It can be irritating when you are trying to focus or catch up on sleep.
If you want something other than improving indoor air, an air purifier might not be the cure you expected. You’re better off spending your money elsewhere.
Getting Your Air Purifier Worthwhile
The more features it has, the better value it brings to the table. To check an air purifier's worthiness and ensure you are getting the best out of it, look into the following attributes:
- Make sure the HEPA filter MERV rating is 17 or higher - The higher the MERV, the more efficiently the filter captures fine particles.
- The right size air purifier - Small air purifiers are suited for a nightstand or table, while large air purifiers are meant for floor use. If you need to place it in a room of 200 sq. ft., go for a model with the caliber to cover at least 200 sq. ft. of room space. To cover an entire home, a whole-house air purifier is better suited through a house's HVAC system. Avoid going overboard, as it will drive up the cost.
- >100 cfm CADR (dust, pollen, smoke) - Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is AHAM's official measurement of how much air is cleaned by an air purifier in a room. Ideally, the CADR number should be at least two-thirds of the room's area. You can easily find the manufacturer's label for the CADR printed on the packaging box.
- Multi-stage filtrations (HEPA, carbon, UV, ionizer) - The more filtration, the better the air cleaner is at filtering the air.
- Low noise level (20-40 dB) - Most people will leave their air purifier on all day and all night. A loud air purifier will see little usage time and be left in a corner collecting dust.
- Energy Star - According to EPA, air purifiers use 450 kWh of electricity yearly. Energy Star certified models are cheaper to run as it uses 25-40% less energy than standard models. You will enjoy a better price-to-cost ratio.
- Auto mode - Cost-effective mode that automatically adjusts the fan speed based on surrounding airborne pollutants.
- Sleep mode - Operate silently at the lowest speed and noise level. Ideal for night use.
- Programmable timer - Cost-efficient approach. Manage the operational hours by setting an interval time to turn off the air purifier when you're away for a holiday or work.
- Filter replacement indicator - Alert you to replace the filters accurately, so there's no disruption in the air cleaning performance.
- Wi-Fi support/ remote control - Convenience at the tip of the finger. Monitor and controls the air purifiers remotely in the comfort of your bed or sofa.
For those that purchased an air purifier, ensure it is placed close to the pollution sources for better air filtering efficiency. The best place for an air purifier is near the doorway or windows with high-moving air circulation. Leave 2-4 feet gaps between the wall or furniture to prevent airflow disruption. Read the manuals before attempting to install an air cleaner.
How Much Does An Air Purifier Worth?
It depends on the size of the air purifier or HVAC system. In general, the smaller the device, the cheaper it will cost.
- Whole-house air purification system - $1,000 to $6,000, varying on ductwork modifications or installation. Bigger homes require more air ducts, higher-capacity HVAC systems, and high MERV filters; therefore costlier.
- Portable air purifier - You can easily find a good HEPA air purifier for less than $100. Ideal for tabletop or small room use.
- Console air purifier - $150 to $1000, depending on the device's size, filtration, features, and branding. Brands like IQAir or Blueair are in the higher-tier group compared to brands like Levoit or Winix.
Other Worthy Solutions
Air purifiers hold many merits that revolve around clean air. Still, it works best when combined with proper home cleaning and filtration. Eliminating the source of pollutants and preventing them from entering indoor air space should still be the utmost priority. You can start by:
- For quick relief, take antihistamine medications that will alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms. It works well on top of an air purifier that focuses on removing air pollutants sources. As always, consult your doctor on any medications.
- For those with dust mites allergies, wash your bedding with warm water at least once a week. Change the bedsheet with hypoallergenic materials when possible.
- Vacuum rugs, carpeting, and upholstery with a HEPA vacuum cleaner every 1-2 days. For a long-term solution, replace carpeting with vinyl or hardwood flooring.
- Allergic to pet dander? Reduce pet exposure by limiting their activity area in the house. Avoid sleeping with your furry one; bathe them and groom them regularly.
- Keep your room well-ventilated. Open windows and doors when the air purifier is not available. It will prevent air from getting stale and reduce the indoor contaminants concentration level.
- Do not smoke inside the house. Take it outside.
- Ensure your home humidity is between 30-50% to discourage the growth of mold, mildew, dust mites, and pests. A dehumidifier may be needed to keep excess moisture down.
- Like air purifiers, HVAC air filters require periodic maintenance. Check on the filters every 30-90 days, according to the manufacturer's guidelines.