What Are the Types of Air Purifiers?

The indoor air in our homes may contain a variety of contaminants. These contaminants include pollen, dander, dust, cigarette smoke, mold spores, volatile organic compounds, bacteria, and viruses. Because long-term exposure to certain contaminants can hinder breathing and create health problems, such as respiratory disorders, consider utilizing an air purifier. 

An air purifier cleans the indoor air you breathe and could protect your health. While air purifiers come in all shapes and sizes, each type implements different technology and removes specific contaminants. Review the basic types of air purifiers and decide which one is right for your home.

HEPA Filter Air Purifiers

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. This type of air purifier sanitizes the air, creates no harmful ozone or byproducts and is highly reliable. 

HEPA filter air purifiers can trap and remove 99.97% of air particles, viruses, mold, and bacteria that are 0.3 microns and larger. As a reference, a human hair is usually 50 to 120 microns thick, mold spores range from 3 to 100 microns and the human eye can see participles larger than 10 microns. 

To clean and sanitize the air, a HEPA filter air purifier draws air into the machine via a fan. An accordion-shaped filter made of fine fibers traps contaminants on its large surface. 

Although HEPA filter air purifiers sanitize the air, they cannot destroy cigarette smoke, chemical fumes, odors, or gases. You can use an activated charcoal filter in your HEPA machine to capture odors and chemicals. 

Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Adsorbent activated carbon air purifiers utilize an effective filter with tiny absorbent pores. Air flows through the filter, reacts chemically with the activated carbon and bonds permanently to the filter. 

While this type of air purifier doesn’t remove allergens or micro-organisms from the air, it does capture odors, smoke, mold, spores, chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOC), and gases. 

Highly absorbent, activated carbon filters must be replaced once every three to six months. Regular use of clean filters can reduce allergic and asthmatic reactions. 

Some HEPA air purifiers implement activated carbon filters. The combination produces one of the best air filtration appliances on the market.

Ionic Air Purifiers

Quiet ionic air purifiers work without a filter. They’re a relatively low maintenance way to absorb fine particles from a room but do not remove odors. 

Inside the ionic air purifier, you will find collection plates. These plates disperse charged air particles into the air. The charged particles attract neutral air particles or germs and create bundles that fall to the ground or cling to surfaces rather than circulate in your breathing air. 

Ionic air purifiers do create a small amount of ozone. This pollutant can irritate your lungs, especially if you have asthma. 

Ultraviolet (UV) Light Air Purifiers

Ultraviolet or UV light includes three bands. UV-C light is the band used in UV light air purifiers. 

When the UV-C light comes in contact with air, it disrupts the DNA of germs, mold, bacteria, and viruses. These sterilized microorganisms are now unable to affect your indoor air quality.

The effectiveness of this type of air purifier depends on the light’s wattage and the amount of time the air is exposed to the light. Be sure to replace the lamp as recommended by the manufacturer.

A UV light air purifier will not remove airborne particles, odors, smoke, chemicals, or allergens from the air. However, you can use a UV light in addition to a particulate filter system, HEPA air purifier or activated carbon filter to successfully kill and remove contaminants. 

Ozone Air Purifiers

Ozone air purifiers use the oxidant ozone to eliminate odors, bacteria and certain chemicals from the air. As air moves through the machine, ozone breaks down the substances in the air. The results are small particles of material or contaminants that are released back into the air. 

Typically, this type of air purifier does not remove allergens, dust, pollen, or chemicals from indoor air. However, adding negative ion technology to the ozone air purifier can create a better smelling environment.

Turn your ozone air purifier on low if you’ll remain in the room. If you do have a high concentration of odors in your home, turn the machine on high, leave the room and air out the room thoroughly before reentering it. Long-term exposure to ozone could aggravate asthma.

Electronic Air Cleaners

Clean the air throughout your entire home with a highly effective electronic air cleaner. This type of air cleaner can remove as many as 99.98% of allergens and also removes dust, dander, bacteria, viruses, smoke, and fumes. 

An electronic air cleaner works with your home’s air conditioner and furnace. As air passes through the HVAC system, it’s first filtered through a HEPA filter. Next, the air is treated with positively charged ions that come from the electronic air cleaner. 

Your electronic air cleaner must be professionally installed. Be sure to replace the filters regularly, too. Also, you must clean the ionizing wires or collector cells with a garden hose or in the dishwasher at least monthly. 

Purchasing Tips

The type of air purifier you purchase depends on your needs. Several tips help you choose the right option. 

1. Consider which contaminants you want to remove from the air. Some air purifiers remove germs and bacteria while others remove only odors. 

2. Verify the machine’s capacity. Purchase an air purifier that can successfully process the square footage and the type and amount of contaminants in your home.  

3. Think about the air purifier’s noise level on low, medium and high speed. While you may need a quiet machine for your bedroom, a louder machine might be okay for your basement or garage. 

4. Calculate long-term costs. Include the purchase price, replaceable filters, power usage, and overall maintenance costs. 

5. Read independent reviews to discover the pros and cons of the different types of air purifiers. 

You deserve to breathe the best quality air in your home. Various types of air purifiers can clean indoor air. Research your options and choose the air purifier that will meet your needs and protect your health.

This post written by Jennifer T