Welcome to our article answering the question, “Do air purifiers really work?”
When it comes to cleaning your indoor air, the prospect of buying air purifiers is really exciting and promising because of the solutions it presents. They will clean the air in the home, as well as removing all the impurities you can think of: dander, smoke, odors, dust, and so on. It gets even more important when you consider that indoor air tends to have five times more pollutants compared to outdoor air.
However, the reality of air purifiers is entirely different from what you might think. Not all of them will live up to the marketing noise that you hear from companies trying to sell their products. Many will disappoint you, especially when you have no idea what you need to consider before purchasing these equipment. In order to make a wise choice, you need to know the essentials of air purifiers.
How Do They Operate?
Despite their seemingly complex design, air purifiers are simpler than you might think. They consist of either one or multiple filters, as well as a fan that pulls in the air and circulates it. As the air enters through and moves along the filters, the filters capture particles and pollutants that are present. Clean air moves out to your room or living space.
The typical filters will be made from any of the following materials: fiberglass (or other types of fiber in some cases), paper, or mesh. You will need to keep their efficiency through maintaining and replacing them on a regular basis.
Do Air Purifiers Really Work: What You Should Consider
The existence of an air purifier in your home means that consideration of operational costs and the filter replacement costs are also vital when you are considering buying a filter system. While operational costs an average up to $50 every year, the filter replacements can average about $100 annually, since you are replacing them after every two to three months.
Purifier use and type
Not all purifiers are created equal. Some will need more frequent changing of their filters compared to others. It all depends on the type you are dealing with.
For instance, some filters are easy to remove and wash, which allows you to use them again. But they need very meticulous maintenance, so you will not find them in the air purifiers that are very effective. As long as you can keep up with them, though, they are great at removing larger particles such as pollen and dust from the air.
There are also purifiers that use UV technology. They are great at effectively destroying pollutants and chemical impurities. However, many of them will need higher wattage and greater exposure, so that they can be effective enough at their job. You also need to remember there are certain strains of bacteria that are resistant to UV radiation. You will need to maintain these filters as carefully as possible.
Some purifiers use the power of ionization, which attracts particles as it releases electrons, which attach to the positively-charged impurities. However, you need to make sure the purifier does not produce ozone as a by-product. This is a lung irritant and will make asthma conditions worse – in addition to being fatal to animals. You do not need to worry too much about this, though. The manufacturers will state in the packaging whether the purifier produces ozone or not.
You might not be sure whether the purifier you are buying will work well for you. The easy way to tell its effectiveness is checking its MERV rating. An acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, it will determine how effective the filter is at detecting and removing impurities from the air.
The rating is from 1 to 16, with 1 being the lowest and 16 being the highest. There are also four groups of MERV ratings as follows:
- MERV 1 to 4 – these are the most common filters. They have a standard structure, and will give you basic protection and air filtration, at a low cost on your end.
- MERV 6 to 8 – the level of filtration is good, and you will likely find them in a residential area. They have a better surface area for capturing contaminants, due to the filter being comprised of paper or pleated cloth.
- MERV 9 to 12 – relatively high quality filters, and are considered as mid-range. They can also trap very small contaminants of at least 1 micron in diameter.
- MERV 13 to 16 – these are the best standard filters you can get, and are very high in efficiency ratings. They are also capable of trapping very small particulate matter, at least 0.3 microns in diameter.
What Are They Supposed To Filter Out?
Most of the filters you will find are supposed to capture larger particles like pollen and dust mites. But a few of them will capture gaseous pollutants and very small particles, such as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. The ones that can capture gaseous pollutants need to have adsorbents like activated carbon in their structure.
Part of this information is from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) that states that many air purifiers will limit their functionality to their ability of capturing gases. So they warn that you must replace the filters as often as possible. About three months if you are a light user, or two months if you are a heavy user.
In addition, keep in mind that many of the purifiers might not work as effectively as advertised, as it will depend on several factors in your home. The state of the room, flow rates of the air, where you install the filters, and the length of time the filter has been in use all play a part.
If there are other issues that concern you, such as the development of mold, then consider adding a humidifier or de-humidifier to the package to regulate the moisture levels in your home. Just because you have a purifier does not mean that mold cannot grow, so you need to eliminate excess moisture as well.
Air purifiers can work well for you, but it will depend on a combination of several factors. So it is important to choose the filtration system carefully, and it needs to cater to your specific needs.