Room Air Purifiers: Reviews and Buying Advice
What is a room air purifier?
Indoor air quality has become a major concern. This is due, not only to medical concerns for those vulnerable to allergens, but also because the general population has become more aware of indoor pollutants. The problem is made even more important as houses and buildings are better sealed to prevent heat/cold loss. Insulation prevents free air exchange and concentrates unwanted odors and particulates.
A room air purifier is a free standing unit that removes common home allergens like dust, pollen, smoke particulates and other airborne pollutants. Some purifiers can even remove bacterial and virus particulates which is a big help for asthma sufferers or anyone with a respiratory illness.
The two main types of room air purifiers are filter based purifiers and ionizer purifiers.
The filter based purifiers typically use a HEPA filter to remove dust, bacteria, etc., from the air. A HEPA filter should theoretically trap 99.97% of all airborne particulates 0.3 micrometers and larger. Even slightly smaller particulate matter down to 0.1 micrometers can be caught by a HEPA filter, but anything smaller than that will pass through. The key to using a filter efficiently is making sure to minimize unfiltered, potentially contaminated air from coming into the "clean" air room. Some filter systems use a coarser pre-filter to remove larger dust particles so the HEPA filter doesn't get clogged as quickly.
Ionizer purifiers, also known as electrostatic precipitators, use a different technology to clean the air in your room. Ionizers create electrically charged air ions which then attach themselves to airborne particulates. A collector plate then catches the "dirty" air. One concern with the ionizer purifiers is that they produce trace amounts of ozone. Most room air purifiers generate less than 0.05 ppm of ozone which is "safe" according to industry standards. (There is some debate about the effectiveness and safety of ionizers. See our air purifier scams story for more info. I own a few ionizers and have seen them cut down on the instances of the flu each year, but please make sure to do your homework. --Dave)
Room Air Purifier Buying options
Air purifiers can cost anywhere from $150 to $800 dollars. They are made by a variety of manufacturers and most do an adequate job of removing dust, pollen and smoke smell from the air, especially on higher settings. Other features to consider include how quiet a certain unit is and how often the filter (on filter based models) need to be replaced.
Some of the better units include the IQAir HealthPro Plus, the GE AFHC32AM and the Blueair 650E.
Listed below are Amazon.com's top three units. Note that these sell well, but may or may not be the best for you. Make sure you get the right air purifier.
- Whirlpool Whispure Air Purifier, HEPA Air Cleaner, AP51030K $349.99
- Honeywell Enviracaire 50101 True HEPA Air Purifier $129.994.
- Hamilton Beach 04383 True Air Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner
If you are buying a filter based unit keep in mind that filters will need to be replaced and they aren't cheap! Most high-quality HEPA replacement filters cost around $100.
What can I do to increase the air quality in my home?
There are a few easy things anyone can do to increase air quality in their home or office.
- Vacuuming often is always a good start.
- Ask everyone who smokes to do so outside.
- Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom
Please click the links below for more room air purifier reviews and info.