An air purifier can help rid the air of harmful pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, pollen, smoke, bacteria, viruses, odors, chemicals and gasses. They are not only great for reducing allergy symptoms and headaches, but they can also help to reduce the need for dusting! So even if you don’t have any medical issues, an air purifier can totally be what your home needs!
In this article I’m going to help you choose the best air purifier for your needs. I’m not going to go into any brands, but rather, I’ll go over some of the details of what to look for so you can make an informed decision before making your purchase.
What to Look For in an Air Purifier
So basically what you’re looking for is a purifier that filters the substance you need filtered. And ideally you want something that will filter particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Next, you’re looking at something called the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). The higher this number for a certain substance, the more efficient it is at cleaning the air for that particular substance. Not all companies will list the CADR, but will have their own standards that you can refer to in terms of their efficiency.
Smaller air purifiers generally are not very efficient. They are designed for small rooms such as offices. You can also get compact purifiers that sit on your desk while you work.
The tall towers are designed for larger rooms and are more efficient as they have a larger space for the air to travel through.
Multiple Filters and Price Ranges
A good air purifier will have several layers of filtration. The cheaper ones ($1-200) generally come with a sponge filter, commonly called a pre-filter, which catches the larger particles. And then they have the main filter to catch all the small particles. Some of these may also contain a carbon filter that helps to trap odors and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).
Other, more expensive air purifiers can range anywhere from $500-2000, and can have as many as six filters to filter out the many harmful particles. They generally come with High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, known as Hepa filters. In addition to that, they may also come with activated carbon charcoal filters for VOC’s, and other filters specifically designed for certain chemicals and other pollutants.
These high-end air purifiers are great for those battling health problems and/or live in polluted areas or cities.
The Hepa Air Purifier
The hepa air purifier is most commonly recommended by doctors. They are designed to capture 99.9% of all allergens, and are more effective than any other filter.
There are many different styles of hepa filters, but one thing they have in common is that the material is pleated to help trap more debris. Below is a flat one, but there are also round ones, depending on the air purifier that you get.
The great thing about hepa air purifiers is that they are available in all price ranges from the cheap 100 dollar machines to the 2000 dollar machines.
There are many different grades of these filters. In my local stores, I’m able to get a cheap one that is designed to last about 3-4 months. Then a more expensive one that is to last a full 12 months. I run my “12-month” one for maybe 4-6 months tops!
Below is a clean hepa filter, and one that has been run for a while. I never ever let mine get that dirty! EVER!!! I honestly can’t imagine the amount of dirt that would get blown back into the room if I did. (The image below was taken from Canva with permission.)
Another type of hepa filter that is available, is designed to capture harmful particles from smoke. These are even more expensive filters and need to be replaced often. But, they can be run in a cheap 100 dollar machine if you need to! So totally worth it if you need them and don’t have money to buy the more expensive machines.
The hepa filter cannot be washed or vacuumed, and as a result, can be expensive to replace, depending on how often you need to replace them.
To help combat that, most hepa machines include a sponge filter to help trap the larger particles of dust and other debris.
Then to take things even further, you can get a carbon filter that you stick in front of the hepa to collect even more of the finer dust particles. Please note, not all hepa machines have room for the carbon filter.
My tall tower has room for the carbon filters, but the small, single filter hepa machines that I have, do not have the room for me to stick a hepa in front. Below is my tall tower. On the left you see the sponge pre-filter; on top left is the hepa; and you can only see a bit of it, but below that is the carbon filter stuck to the hepa filter on the bottom.
The ifD Filter
Below is a close-up of my ifD. As you can see, it has tiny holes through which the air flows. As the air flows through, the filter works like a magnet to pull the dust from the air and traps it inside those holes.
The great thing that I love about my ifD filters is that they can be washed! Thus, once you spend the money on the machine, you no longer have to spend any more money for replacement filters. This makes it one of the most cost-effective machines on the market.
The only thing that I have noticed with my ifD, is that even though it claims to catch 99.9% of all allergens, and even though it has a good CADR, it is not nearly as effective as my hepa tower.
But, that’s not to say that it isn’t a great air purifier. I mean, it’s a great dust collector and dramatically reduces the need for dusting. And it’s perfect if you have pets as it’ll collect all that hair so it doesn’t get all over the home.
What NOT to Purchase
Ionizers. Whatever you purchase, ionizers are generally not recommended because they send out negative ions into the air, causing the harmful particles to stick to your furniture, bedding, walls, ceilings and anything that is positively charged. So the harmful particles are not being trapped in the machine, but rather all around the room.
My first air purifier was an ionizer and it made me sick! It did not work! If anything, it makes your home dirtier instead of cleaner! Not cool, at all!
With that said, there is something called an ionic air purifier, which has the same concept as an ionizer, but it contains a positively charged plate where all the negative ions with the harmful particles are trapped. And this plate is washable. So that could be an option, but make sure to do your research on it before making the purchase.
Air purifiers work! Take it from someone who couldn’t survive without them. The only thing that you need to do is to keep on top of cleaning and/or replacing the filters in a timely manner. Otherwise, the harmful particles could potentially make their way back into the air again.
So there you have my piece on how to choose the best air purifier for your needs.