Air Purifier Comparison
Honeywell True HEPA HPA300
Honeywell True HEPA HPA200
Coway AP-1512HH Mighty
AeraMax 200 Air Purifier
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Air Purifier Buying Guide
What is an Air Purifier?
With pets, smoke, dust, and odors around it’s important to find a way to clean the air so you’re not breathing in all those allergens. Air purifiers are a perfect way to accomplish this. People who suffer from allergies have reported sleeping better and feeling better overall by using a good quality air purifier in their homes to rid the air of these potentially health problem causing irritants.
There are many different types and styles of air purifiers available on the market. Learning the characteristics and features of each one, can making choosing the right one for your home much easier. This air purifier buyer’s guide will tell you everything there is to know about these helpful appliances so you know which ones have what capabilities.
Where Do Allergens and Pollutants Come From?
Dust particles in the air can be seen easily when sunlight comes in through a window. You might wonder where all these particles come from. What you may not even realize is that if those particles are in the air, then you’re breathing them into your lungs as well. This is particularly problematic for anyone who has asthma or allergies. It’s actually worse than many realize. The EPA estimated that indoor air is actually 2 to 5 times worse in terms of pollution than outdoor air is.
All of this pollution and dust particles come from many sources in your home. These include things such as the fireplace, cigarettes, smoke from cooking, pet dander, molds, pollen and other plant spores, powder, mildew and other things. You see evidence of these particles when the dust settles on furniture and window sills. Even someone who dusts regularly may not get the hidden nooks and crannies that can be around such as on top of cabinets, etc.
This dust doesn’t just cause the home to look unclean it can also cause many problems for anyone who suffers from asthma, bronchial issues and allergies. Even if you don’t have any of these problems, breathing this particle laden air is not a good thing. This is where having an air purifier or two can be a real health booster.
Before You Start Looking at Air Purifiers
There are many different types of air purifiers on the market today. Each type has a specific use that they are best for. Some of the models you find will work great for people who suffer from allergies. Others are better for pet owners that deal with pet dander and dust from cat litter or bird cages depending n the kind of pets that are owned.
There are some questions that you need to ask yourself before you start looking for an air purifier for your home. These answers will help you determine the kind of air purifier you need and what capabilities it needs to have. We’ve listed these important questions below.
- What type of dust and allergens are you dealing with? – Do you have pets? A fireplace? Lots of trees and flowers around windows of your home? The type of particles you’re dealing with plays a part in the type of air purifier that will work the best for you
- Does anyone in your home suffer from health issues? – Allergies, bronchial problems, and asthma are all health conditions that can be worsened by allergens in the air. Some units are better for those with allergies than others are.
- How many rooms do you want purified? – ideally of course, people want their entire houses to have healthy air, but unless you get a whole home system, you will more than likely be getting one or two units for certain rooms in your home. The most common rooms to put air purifiers in are bedrooms and loving rooms or dens.
- How big is the room you’re purifying? – Air purifiers work for specific sizes of rooms depending on the power the unit has. Some are small and work good for a small bedroom. Others have a lot of power and can purify a larger area like a family room or living room. You need to know how big the room is that you want to put an air purifier in so you get the right size.
- What is your budget? – How much you have or want to spend on your air purifier makes a difference in the ones that you choose to look at. If you only have a 100 budget, don’t look at purifiers that cost 150 or more. If your budget is flexible, try to get as much as you can for a good price. Buying the cheapest on the market, as with anything else, doesn’t mean you get a good product, just like buying the most expensive one doesn’t guarantee it’s the best there is. Look at the different factors that are listed in this guide and compare many things not just the price.
The answers to the five questions above will be a great foundation for narrowing your search and eliminating air purifiers that won’t work for your particular needs.
Types of Air Purifiers
The three basic types of air cleaning that are available. These are: portable air purifiers, whole house purifier/cleaners and whole house filters that are used in conjunction with the existing furnace system.
Portable Air Purifiers – Portable air purifiers or air cleaners are just that…portable. You can move them easily from room to room. These units are popular for many reasons, their portability being one of the top reasons. They usually weight between 10-20 pounds and if they are heavier, they almost always have casters on the bottom so they can be rolled around rather than carried. Many portable models have handles for even easier moving. Potable units can be kept on the floor or a tabletop of some kind: desk, dresser, table, etc. They are less expensive than whole house cleaners and are great for homes that don’t have forced air ducts.
Whole House Purifiers/Cleaners–These types of air purifiers are designed and installed to take care of the entire house. They are attached directly to the home’s ductwork that is already there. If the home doesn’t already have forced air ducts, this is not a viable option. These systems do have to be professionally installed which, of course, raises the cost. They also need to be wired into the home’s electrical system too.
Whole House Filters – One of the regular maintenance tasks that a furnace involves is changing the filter. There are whole house filters that are used in place of the regular furnace filters. Although this method is easy, fast and inexpensive, it isn’t very effective in removing much in the way of allergens, odors and other pollutants. These filters are graded by efficiency rating. The filters with a rating of 17-20 are the best but unfortunately, the filters with this rating don’t typically work with furnaces. Filters rated between7-13 are also effective and work with the systems. If you already have a furnace, there is nothing that prevents you from using a whole house filter with a rating of 7-13 and then getting portable air purifiers in addition to this. It might seem like overkill, but in actuality what happens is MORE air cleaning that is even more in depth and removes more allergens and pollutants and that benefits everyone.
Air Purifier Filter Types
Air purifiers are usually categorized by the type of filter system they use. Some units combine filters for better efficiency and allergen elimination. There are several types of filters that air purifiers can use:
- Ultraviolet light
Pre Filter – Pretty much every air purifier that is manufactured has a pre-filter. These filters are designed to get rid of the large filters out of the air. What this accomplishes is less strain on the finer-particle filters. They are usually made of nylon that is woven or foam. They also have electrostatic properties that increase their effectiveness. Changing the pre-filter on a regular basis ensures that the more expensive filters inside the purifiers are protected and last longer.
HEPA Filters-Air purifiers that use HEPA filters are extremely effective at getting rid of allergens that are in the air. They have the ability to capture dust particles that ass microscopic as .3 microns in size. This is the type of filter that is most often used in hospitals, clinics and other medical type facilities where allergens can be an even bigger problem.
Air purifiers that use HEPA filters are usually noisier that other types but they almost remove more pollutants than others as well. On their own they don’t eliminate cigarette and cigar smoke or the odors and fumes associated with them but when combined with a carbon filter, they do quite well on this type of allergen as well. The HEPA filters in this type of air purifier should be replaced a minimum of twice a year. Square footage is what you’re looking for in a HEPA filter. The higher it is the more effective it will be at cleaning the air.
Carbon Filters –If you need to get rid of cigarette and cigar smoke, odors, chemicals and gases, carbon filters are the way to go. These activated carbon filters work by absorbing the odors, smoke, etc through pores that cause the pollutants to react with the carbon as it comes through the filter. All of the pollutants bond to the carbon and get trapped. These types of air purifiers cannot trap bacteria or other allergens unless they are paired with a good HEPA filter.
Ionic Filters–This type of filtration system doesn’t do anything for odors, but they remove smaller pollutants from larger spaces. They work by electrically charging the particles either a negative or positive charge. It then draws the particles to plates that are located within the air purifier. These air purifiers are extremely quiet. There are some concerns that ionic air purifiers can produce ozone gas, a byproduct of electrical charge. This can actually irritate respiratory conditions like asthma. Because of this controversy, these types of air purifiers are not widely used.
Ozone Filters – These types of air purifiers are great for odors but don’t remove allergens or chemicals from the air in your home. This is another type of filtration system that causes some concerns from the EPA, again due to the potential dangers of ozone gas. It can also increase respiratory problems and is probably not a good idea for those who suffer from these conditions.
Ultraviolet Light Filters – Air purifiers that use ultraviolet light filters destroy bacterial microorganisms but aren’t good for doing anything about allergens, odor, smoke or chemical fumes. They work by treating the air with a UV light as it comes through the air purifier. Germs, viruses and bacteria are killed with they are exposed to UV light. Many of the ultraviolet air purifiers have HEPA filters making them able to get pollutants as well which increases their efficiency.
Electrostatic Precipitators–These work much like ion and ozone models. They have the added capability of capturing impurities as well so they don’t collect on the surfaces in your rooms. The impurities are collected on plates and then the plates can be washed and used again. Electric Precipitators can generate ozone.
Charged Media Filters – Another type of filter that is similar to the ion and ozone styles. These charged media filters are actual filters that have folds made of fiber. As the impurities attach to the ions, they in turn attach to the folds. These amazing filters can pull allergens and impurities that are as tiny as .1 microns! They are extremely effective because they combine a regular filter’s effects with electrostatic charges. They can be a bit more expensive to use because they must be replaced often.
Pros and Cons of the Different Filter Types
No air filter is perfect in ALL ways. Each one has its own pros and cons. Below is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each filter type to give you more understanding of what they do and how they can help you.
- Removes Large Particles from the air
- Protects the more expensive filters
- Comes with most air purifiers
- Needs to be replaced often
- When activated carbon is not present in the pre-filter, they are not as effective
- Gets rid of 99.97% of particles, even those as small as .3 microns
- Considered the best and most effective type of filter
- Often combined with other filter types due to its effectiveness
- Some styles are more effective than others
- Some models need to be replaced often
- Can be expensive, especially when frequent changes are needed
Ionic and Ozone
- No Filters are necessary
- Causes impurities and allergens to cling to surfaces
- Doesn’t filter the air
- Has a tendency to leave dirty spots on walls and surfaces
- Can generate ozone which has been known to be a lung irritant
- Gets rid of smoke, fumes and other vapors
- Gets rid of cooking, pet, smoke and other odors
- Is very long lasting
- Is not a standalone filter, must be used along with other filters to be effective
- Collects particles along with electronically charging them
- Plates are washable ad reusable
- Can generate ozone, which is known to be a lung irritant
Charged Media Filter
- Uses filters instead of plates,
- Similar to ionic and ozone models
- Can filter out particles as small as .1 microns
- Doesn’t stay efficient long
- Has to be replaced often
- Can produce ozone which is known to be a lung irritant
Air Purifier Factors to Consider When Comparing Models
There is more to buying an air purifier than just the filter and filter system it uses. The factors below also need to be compared and taken into consideration to ensure that the right air purifier is purchased that will fit your needs.
ACH Rating – This stands for air changes per hour and shows how often the air purifier exchanges all of the air in the room. The rating is equal to the number of times that an air cleaner changes out the air completely. An example would be a unit with an ACH rating of 8 for a specific size room, means that all of the air will be exchanged in that room 8 times in an hour. You want to look for an ACH rating or 4 or more.
Area – If you don’t purchase an air purifier that is sized for the room it’s in, it will not be very effective at all. Square footage capabilities are stated in the description of the air purifiers. You want to choose an air cleaner that fits the room you want to clean. Having it have to work overtime will be counterproductive and a waste of time and money.
Replacement Filters – Replacement filters can be expensive so it is important to know the cost of the filters you’ll be replacing before you purchase the air purifier. It does no good to purchase one and then not be able to afford to replace the filters when they need to be. Make sure you check to see how often a filter should be replaced also so you can figure it into the cost of the air purifier.
Clean Air Delivery Rate – The CADR of an air purifier needs to be looked at in the comparison between models. The rating will range anywhere from 0-450. Look for air purifiers with a rating of 350 or higher. This rating lets you know the average cleaning speed of the air purifier.
Noise Levels- Just like with many appliances, some air purifiers will operate quietly and some won’t. A good tip to remember is that most air cleaners work better when they’re kept at lower speeds. The lower speeds are quieter also so this is a plus as well. There are no noise ratings for air purifiers. A good way to find out how noisy or quiet an air purifier is is to check customer reviews to see what they say about the noise or quiet of the models you’re interested in.
Air Pollution – The whole purpose of having an air purifier is to clean the air but some of the air purifiers on the market can pollute the air as they are trying to clean it. Ionic and Ozone purifiers tend to have this problem as both models can release ozone into the air which can be harmful for those with health problems. If you have asthma, bronchial problems or allergies, you will probably want to avoid all of the purifiers that produce ozone.
Energy Efficient – Since air purifiers run nonstop, it’s very important to get a model that is energy efficient. This is determined largely by the wattage it has. In general, the higher wattage a unit has the ore energy it will take to run it. Most air purifiers are between 50-200 watts.
Air Purifier Features
Air purifiers have many features that can make them easier to move, use and clean your air. While some of these features aren’t required, others make them work better and make them easier to use as well.
On/Off Switch – You can count on all air purifiers having an on/off switch.
Speed Settings – Some models offer different speeds that you can set your air purifier to. Something to take note of is that they work just as well at the lower speeds and make a lot less noise when running on low.
Handles – Some air purifiers have handles to make carrying them much easier. The handles tend to be on the smaller units but a larger unit can have handles too.
Casters – Heavier air purifiers will often have casters on the bottom to make them much easier to move from one room to another. Instead of lugging them around with the handles, you can simply push them from place to place.
Filter Change Light – Not all models have this but it is definitely a convenient feature. This light will come on when it is time to change the filter which is great for those who may forget to do this, or who think there is more time than there actually is between changing.
Tabletop – Table top is not exactly a feature, but most air purifiers are floor models. Having one that can sit o n a dresser or table can be a real convenience.
Air purifiers can play a huge part in improving the quality of air that is in your home. While this is important for everyone, if members of the household suffer from allergies it can make an even bigger difference. With the information you have learned from this buyer’s guide, you will know what to look for when it comes to the perfect air purifier for your home and family’s needs. Now that you have the knowledge of what features make up a good air purifier, you can shop with confidence.