UV Air Purifier VS HEPA: Which Is Better?

Choosing between UV and HEPA air purifiers can be confusing as there are significant differences. To help you, the consumer, achieve clean air free of pollutants and irritants, we will explain the benefits and drawbacks of each type of air purifier, making it clear to choose the right one for your home. Let's begin our ultimate showdown: HEPA VS UV.


The air we breathe significantly impacts our health, which is why air purifiers have become increasingly popular in recent years to counter the deteriorating indoor air quality. With various air purifying technologies available in the market, choosing the right one can be overwhelming, hence the existence of this post.

HEPA VS UV: Which One is Right for You?

Depends on your specific needs and requirements, as both have benefits and drawbacks. A HEPA air purifier with a True HEPA filter is more widely used due to its overall efficiency in removing 99.97% airborne contaminants 0.3 microns in size or larger. UV is technologically superior to a HEPA filter that inactivates pathogens and prevents them from multiplying. It is an excellent choice for those who want to reduce the spread of illnesses in their homes or workplaces. However, sterilization purification is very slow when compared with a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter can capture more airborne pollutants at a shorter duration, but it cannot destroy bacteria and viruses. As the EPA recommends, consider purchasing an air purifier with HEPA and UV technology for the best results in dealing with airborne pollutants.

What is HEPA Air Purifier and How Does it Work? 

HEPA air purifiers use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to trap and eliminate microscopic particles from the air as small as 0.3 microns. It is the preferred choice for many consumers as the filters are rigorously tested and must meet specific requirements to be certified as HEPA. Consumers can judge the filter’s effectiveness by looking at its MERV rating, with higher ratings indicating better filters.

You will often find an activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter in multi-stage filtration, but each serves different purposes. Activated carbon filters remove only smoke, odors, and chemical fumes like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), while HEPA filters remove fine particles, such as allergens. Both complement each other well and are a must-have in a mechanical filtration set.

The Drawbacks of HEPA Air Purifiers 

HEPA air purifiers do not eliminate germs, viruses, and bacteria from existence; it only captures them inside their highly dense filter. And even when caught, there is still a risk of these microbes growing and thriving within the device. It could end up causing a reverse effect that dirty the air and inflict health complications, which is the exact thing we want to resolve.

Another critical point that many forgot is not all HEPA filters are created equal. There are uncertified, less effective “HEPA-type” filters (2 microns/ 99% efficiency) that do not meet the strict requirements set by government agencies. Some brands may even misuse the keyword HEPA and offer you a generic filter instead. When shopping for a HEPA air purifier, choose from a reputable source and look for the label “HEPA” or “true HEPA.”

What is UV Light and How Does it Work? 

UV light air purifiers feature short-wave UV-C light to inactivate organic compounds and harmful microorganisms, such as mold, viruses, and bacteria. The process is referred to as ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), backed by historical studies conducted in Philadelphia in the 1930s and 1940s that showed that upper-room UV fixtures reduced measles transmission among students. If you look closely, you will find UV technology integrated into many health appliances, including ventilation ducts and standalone air purifiers. 

The Drawbacks of UV Air Purifiers 

While a UV air purifier is safe for home use and has its fair share of benefits, it may not be the best solution for everyone. There are also some drawbacks that you need to think twice about. First off, UV air purifiers are less effective against large particles like dust, hair, and gaseous pollutants. It also requires prolonged exposure to Ultraviolet radiation to eliminate the pathogens. Some mold and germs have a stronger resistance against UV and thus take an even longer time to kill. UV air purifiers also generate insignificant amounts of ozone during sterilization.

Note that you can mitigate concerns about the ozone levels produced by opening the window or door to reduce ozone centration in a room. The pairing with existing HVAC systems also works in enabling full-room circulation.

Many people often group UV light air purifiers and ozone generators in the same category. Both are not the same product, as they use different technology to clean the air. Only UV light air purifiers are safe and effective in inactivating harmful microorganisms. Never go with an ozone generator, as it generates harmful ozone gases that can permanently damage the lungs and cause many respiratory problems. 

What Else Do You Need to Know Before Investing in an Air Purifier?

Besides choosing an air cleaner with impeccable records, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends using air purifiers with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher to reduce virus particles in your HVAC system. You may also refer to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which provides a clean air delivery rate (CADR) chart to help you find the right air purifier for your room. For those with sensitive lungs or asthma, consider switching to ozone-free air purifiers that clean the air without producing any ozone byproducts.

In Conclusion

We have distinctively separated the pros and cons of each type of air purifier. We hope the above guide will give you a better understanding of HEPA and UV air purifiers. Choosing one for the long-term health benefits might not seem to be a difficult task after all :)

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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