Indoor air often contains particles and pollutants that can aggravate conditions like allergies and asthma. Fortunately, there’s a wide assortment of air purifiers for the home designed to remove these contaminants from the air so you can breathe healthier. But with so many choices, figuring out which one is right for you can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve put together this handy AAPRI Buying Guide to help you in your quest for healthier air.
What you need to consider when shopping for an air purifier
Air purifiers can help with allergies and asthma by removing irritating particles, germs, and allergens from indoor air, making it cleaner and safer to breathe. They work by drawing polluted air in a room into the unit and forcing that air through different layers of filter. Then the purified air is returned to the room and the cycle repeats over and over to effectively improve the air quality.
When choosing an air purifier, be sure to factor in these important considerations:
Type of pollutants – Whether it’s dust, mold spores, pet dander, pollen, smoke, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), viruses and other germs, it’s important to know what kind of airborne pollutants you are targeting.
Particle size – Particles that are 10 micrometers (microns) in diameter or smaller, which are often found in dust and smoke, can be especially harmful because they make their way deep into the lungs and can aggravate them and trigger asthma attacks. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to high levels of these particles may lead to bronchitis, impaired lung function, and even premature death.
In addition, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are harmful chemicals that are released into the air from household cleaning products, paints, adhesives, and even furniture made with particle board, which can irritate the nose, throat, and eyes, cause headaches and nausea, and lead to more serious conditions such as liver damage and lung cancer with prolonged exposure.
Room size – Air purifiers are generally designed to filter the air in a single room, not the entire house. When researching your options, you should know the square footage (approximate) of each room you are purchasing an air purifier for to make sure the unit can effectively do its job.
Type of filter – There are 3 main types of filters and a good air purifier will use all 3:
- Pre-filter – This sifts out larger particles, such as hair and other fibers. Ideally you want a unit with a washable pre-filter, not one that needs to be replaced.
- Activated carbon filter – This type of filter captures gases, VOCs, and odors from the air, things that a HEPA filter cannot trap.
- HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter – Removes at least 99.9% of airborne particles. True HEPA filters must satisfy certain levels of efficiency and are rated for their ability to filter tiny particles: for example, HEPA H11 must pass a maximum of 5% of 0.1-micron particles per liter of air, whereas HEPA H13 must pass up 0.05% of 0.1-micron particles per liter of air. Studies show that HEPA filters can reduce about 50% of particulate matter, making them a must-have for any effective air purifier.
HEPA Filters and COVID-19
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), portable air purifiers can reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19. In addition, air quality and virology studies have shown that running an air purifier in the room of a person quarantining with COVID-19 may help protect others in the household because HEPA filters are able to capture the droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking that may carry the coronavirus.
Cubic feet per minute (CFM) – CFM indicates how much air can move through the unit per minute. The size of the room will play a role in the CFM, and generally higher is better.
Energy efficiency – Ideally you want to choose an air purifier that is energy efficient to help you save on your electric bills. ENERGY STAR®-certified units are over 25% more energy efficient than standard models.
Noise level – Depending on the room, you’ll want to take into consideration how noisy it is. Air purifiers range from very quiet (40 dB) to very loud (70 dB).
Control panel and remote – Different units have different types of control panels. Some have lighted LED displays with the option to lower the light level, some do not. Also consider whether you will want to have the option of operating the unity via remote control.
Cost of unit and replacement filters – In addition to the cost of the air purifier unit itself, you should research the cost of replacement HEPA filters and activated carbon filters so you can factor that into the total expense. Also find out how often filters need to be replaced based on normal usage, which can range from every 3 months to once per year.
AAPRI’s Top Pick
While we strongly suggest you do your own research before you buy, AAPRI staffers like the Winix 5500-2 as an effective, efficient, and affordable choice.
As always, we’re here to answer any questions you may have—and help you get on the road to better health. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our other dedicated team members at the office location of your choice.