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Differences Between Indoor Air Purifiers

Posted March 7, 2016

Portable air purifiers have been gaining a great amount of popularity in recent years, and as new features are developed and integrated into hybrid devices, one can't help but experience at least a little confusion. In this article, we'll give you a brief introduction into the technology and features of portable air purifiers and what you need to look for in selecting the right solution for your home or office.

The filter you have in your home heating or air conditioning unit is a very simple one. Standard furnace filters only trap about 15% of the airborne pollutants in your home or office, leaving 85% to re-circulate. The filters are not designed to improve indoor air quality, but rather to prevent damage and wear on the furnace fans. Portable air purifiers, however, are specifically designed to improve the quality of the air you breathe. 

Home heating and air conditioning units can be upgraded to HEPA filtration and active carbon filters however, the cost to do so can easily run $600 annually. For this reason, many consumers are embracing the portable indoor air purifiers as a solution to poor indoor air quality. These devices may be moved from room-to-room and clean the air quickly and efficiently.

Let's start out by quickly defining the major types of indoor air purifiers...

Mechanical filter air purifiers have one or more filters that are most like the fiberglass ones typically found in home furnace units. Different filters for these types of units vary in quality, but the top-performing units contain True HEPA filters, which effectively remove 99.97% of airborne particles. Some units contain active carbon filters as well. These are designed to remove odors and extremely tiny harmful particles like tobacco smoke, formaldehyde, and ozone. These units are the biggest selling type of home air purifier because of low cost, low maintenance and high performance. They are also the safest to operate, as they do not produce ozone in the process.

Electronic air purifiers are sometimes called electrostatic precipitators because they generate an electrical field which traps particles on metal plates on either side of the electric field. In theory, these units should not make any noise since there are no fans or moving parts. Unless they are cleaned often, their performance decreases and they may generate a loud buzzing noise from the electricity “arcing” between the plates.

Ion generators clean the air by changing the charge of the airborne particles. The charged ions are in an unstable state and need to return to a neutral charge. This means that the dirty particles are pulled toward walls, floors, table surfaces, draperies, or even people rather than a filter, which traps the impurities and prevents them from becoming airborne once again. Some units do, however, have a particle collector that traps and removes the charged particles.

UV-C Air Purifier UV-C Air Purifier is a complete air cleaning system which includes various levels of air cleaning. These levels can produce the following actions depending on what your primary intended use for it is capturing allergens, using UV-C light to kill common germs and bacteria, killing airborne mold spores, and fighting against unwanted pet odors. This UV-C air purifier works perfectly in large or small rooms and is ideal for keeping utility bills low whole providing clean air for your home.

When considering all the possibilities as a solution to your indoor air purification needs, there are a few major points to consider. These benchmarks are common to all types of air purifiers and are a great starting point in choosing the right portable indoor air purifier for your home or office.

Some electrostatic precipitators and ion generators either intentionally or unintentionally produce ozone, either as a by-product of the air purification process or as an aid in helping clean the air. Independent studies have shown that ozone generators do not effectively reduce indoor air pollutants enough to provide any health benefits. Additionally, ozone is an irritant to the eyes, nasal passages, and lungs which, for many people, can cause more respiratory problems than before the air purifier was present.

Make sure you inquire about the unit’s efficiency, or the percentage of particles removed from the air as is passes through the cleaning device. True HEPA filters have the highest performance in this area, boasting an efficiency of 99.97%.

Next, you should look at the unit's airflow rate. This is usually expressed in units of cubic feet per minute, or cfm. Even if an air purifier has a high efficiency, the amount of air processed may be too low for the unit to be as effective as it could be. Pollutants can be generated rather quickly sometimes too quickly for an air purifier with a low airflow rate to be effective at all.

Any portable air purifier should also state what size room it is designed to clean. This is usually expressed as a maximum square footage and should not be ignored. If you run a portable air purifier designed to clean a 500 square foot area in a 1,000 square foot room, the air just does not circulate quickly enough for the unit to be effective.

Maintenance and replacement parts are also important to consider. Many people would not be too happy to have to clean particle collectors or electric plates several times a week. Mechanical filters are a good option here because depending on the air purifier, they only need to be replaced after several months of use and you do not have to worry about getting the collected dirt all over you in the process. Any air purifier's performance will deteriorate as they get dirty, so maintenance schedules should be adhered to.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions for safety and performance reasons. In general, the air purifier should be as close to the source of air pollution as possible without being blocked by walls or furniture. It should also be placed in such a way that it redirects the clean air into the most commonly occupied parts of the room.

 

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