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Air Purifier Buyers Guide
How to buy the right air purifier for your home or business.
Air Purifier Overview
Air purifiers are an essential weapon in reducing and eliminating harmful allergens in the form of either particulates like dust and pollen or noxious gases such as smoke. Since there is now a dizzying glut of air purifiers on the market, it has become difficult to ascertain whether a particular brand is reliable and can actually positively impact your health. At AllergyBuyersClub, we have tested numerous air purifier brands and stand behind our recommendations. There are two things you need to bear in mind: you get what you pay for and there is no silver bullet. You will need to make a good number of changes to your home environment which are mostly free, in addition to possibly buying some other types of products along with an air purifier. But an air purifier is where you should start first.
Do I Need an Air Purifier?
If you live in or near a city and/or if you have any uncomfortable allergy symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, have itchy eyes and sinus pain or asthma symptoms, chances are that an air purifier can be really helpful. In addition to checking your own symptoms, the most accurate way to check the level of pollution in your home is with a particulate meter or to use one of the more recent advanced smart devices that can monitor the level of pollution inside and outside your home on a continuous basis.
How do Air Purifiers Work?
The best way to understand how air purifiers work is to envision air being drawn into a machine, and that air being passed through a number of filters using a fan, and then purified air being forced back out into the room. There are some nuances to the process such as the number and types of filters as well as some other germ killing processes. In the rare case of an air sterilizer, no filters are used. However, the gold standard in air purification is HEPA filtration, which is a tightly woven paper filter. Some filters are “EPA-like" but they let more air through the filter and are less efficient.
Selecting an Air Purifier
- Look at our expert star ratings and our ratings charts carefully. You will notice that very few air purifiers earn a 5 star rating from us.
- Always choose an air purifier that covers a larger area than you need so you can turn it down low (to control noise) and still have it be effective.
- Choose an air purifier brand that has been around a while and has garnered good customer reviews. The better known manufacturers know what they are doing and are less interested in bells and whistles than they are with results. They are also less likely to go out of business.
- Look for Energy Star Rated. This can make a very significant difference to you in terms of energy consumption.
- Estimate the cost of replacement filters amortized over the years. Do not choose a brand where you cannot afford its upkeep. Frequency of filter change not just the filter cost itself is equally as important. Some filters may be more expensive but last a long time compared to less expensive ones you need to change more frequently. But it is imperative to change filters at the manufacturer’s suggested time frame for maximum performance and air quality.
- Decide as to how serious a problem it is that you are trying to tackle. The more serious the issue such as noxious gasses, the more likely it is that it will cost more money to mitigate it. But with lighter seasonal allergens, a lower cost Hepa air purifier could serve you well.
How to Use an Air Purifier
In order to get the most benefit, you should keep your air purifier running continuously on a low speed and crank it up for a couple of hours before bedtime. Then turn it back down low or put it on “night mode". Some newer air purifiers with advanced features will continuously monitor the air for you in "auto mode" and thus potentially save you electricity. If you are purifying a bedroom you will need to shut the door and the windows to get the best results. Remember, most people are facing constant decontamination through forced air ducts, let alone some people insist on sleeping with their pets.
Areas to Air Purify
We suggest that the first place you select to purify the air is in the bedroom because most people use their bedroom for eight plus hours a day. Then take the next most used room such as the living or family room. Later on if the portable air purifiers are working well for you, you might consider a central or whole home air purification.
Air Purifier Features
The air purifier features we think are the most important are the following:
- AHAM ratings, which give you a true and independently certified number of Air Changes per Hour (ACH). We recommend 4-6 air changes for allergy sufferers. This has a lot to do with the power of the fan. Air changes are a function of CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) and square footage. In a 12’x12’ bedroom you can get 5 ACH with a 100 CFM. That same unit in a larger living space say 20’x20’ would only give you 2 ACH.
- A large surface area HEPA filter which is tightly and consistently manufactured.
- An Hepa efficiency rating of over 90 is very good. A good air cleaner filter you should be H class rated.
- An indicator light telling you when to change the filters with each filter independently monitored.
- Separate Pre, HEPA, and gas filters. Other specialized filters are optional.
- Either continuous adjustment knob for fan speed or multiple fan speeds in order to monitor noise level.
- The air purifier needs to be effective on low speeds, since most people do not like to hear fan noise. In an inexpensive air purifier (think low cost fan), if you are not careful, you could end up only purifying the area of a small room.
- If you want an air purifier to filter out noxious odors and gases, you will need one with a filter with granulated carbon. More is better.
- Always look for an air purifier which is warranted to last 5 years or more.
- A nice extra feature is one which constantly measures your air quality and adjusts the fan speed accordingly.