Since we spend about 90% of our time indoors, this is a reason for concern. The simple solution: invest in an air purifier. This isn’t a panacea for improving air quality, but choosing the right purifier comes with many benefits.
Not sure which air purifier to choose? Here are the main factors to consider.
How much space do you need your purifier to clean? Desktop devices don’t do well in large living spaces, and heavy-duty devices can be an overkill.
You can find the right fit by looking at air changes per hour (ACPH). A small air purifier may manage eight air changes per hour in a 350-square-foot room. In a 700-square-foot-room, that purifier will only turn over the air four times in an hour.
Not sure how much space you’ll need to clean? If so, consider getting a larger air purifier than what you expect you’ll need -as long as you stay within your budget, of course.
Types of Filters
Most air purifiers use mechanical filtration. They have a prefilter for nabbing large particles and the main filter for catching smaller pollutants.
When it comes to prefilters, there’s not much difference. The disposable ones cost a bit more than the washable ones, but that’s about it. The main filter is different. For starters, your purifier should have a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
See, HEPA filters can trap 99.97% of particles smaller than 0.03 microns in size. For comparison’s sake, the human eye can’t see objects smaller than 70 microns. This is why HEPA filters are the standard recommended by the EPA.
Some purifiers come with other filter types, which are often made of charcoal or carbon. These are helpful if you need, say, an air purifier for pet dander. That said, you’ll likely need to change these filters more regularly.
The CADR rating helps customers understand how effective an air purifier is at filtering various particles.
The higher this number, the more particles the device can remove. For instance, let’s say an air purifier has a CADR rating of 300 for pollen. If so, it reduces the pollen concentration by adding the equivalent of 300 cubic feet of air per minute.
Some purifiers have a single CADR number, whereas others have separate numbers. It’s possible to have a CADR rating for dust, smoke, pollen, and so on. This rating reflects the best-case scenario for each airborne pathogen.
Also, not all purifier manufacturers submit their devices for CADR testing. In these situations, it’s best to look at reviews to get a sense of how a device works.
Air purifiers are most effective when they’re running non-stop. This is why electricity costs can be a key factor in your buying decision.
Small purifiers use less energy than large ones, but they clean less space. Purifiers rated for large rooms have higher fan speeds and draw more energy. Some devices have an “eco” mode which places them on standby if they’re not needed.
You also have purifiers that work alongside HVAC systems, spending less energy. For example, this air purifier functions as an add-on for your existing HVAC system.
Most air purifiers come with built-in fans that pull air through their filters. It’s these fans that determine the volume of noise your air purifier will make.
As a general rule, fans don’t make much noise, especially on low settings. As you turn them up, you may hear a quiet humming sound. If you’re using your purifier in the nursery, it’s best to opt for a device that’s quiet even at higher speeds.
Check your purifier’s specifications to find its noise level range. Smaller purifiers can reach noise levels as low as 17 dB, which is similar to rustling leaves. That said, some larger devices can be as loud as 60 dB.
Are you planning on having a single air purifier covering your entire home? If so, you’ll want to find the right balance between portability and size.
Smaller purifiers can sit on a shelf or desk and can be easily moved between rooms. Do you plan on using your purifier in your home office during the day and moving it to your bedroom for the night? If so, a small device is likely to suit your needs.
As mentioned, the size of a purifier tends to correlate to the size of the room it can clean. If you’re looking to use a purifier in a large room, it’s better to go with a heavier device. Some of those come with casters for portability as well.
If you’re on a budget, look beyond the up-front cost of your purifier. Once you set it up, you’ll need to replace its filters regularly.
Filter replacement costs can vary wildly. Some purifiers have expensive filters that can last for years. Others use cheap filters that you’ll need to change often. Prefilters may be washable, but HEPA filters will always need replacing.
Before getting a purifier, include all these costs in your calculations. This can be a difference-maker between air purifiers that otherwise look similar.
Many air purifiers come with extra features. These include a remote control unit, programmable timer, smart functions, and so on.
Though these extras add value, they’re often not worth a significant uptick in price. For instance, do you need a filter replacement indicator light? If you’re on a budget, get a cheaper model and set a calendar reminder instead.
More on Cleaning Indoor Air
As you can see, choosing an indoor air purifier isn’t an easy task. With no one option that’s right for everyone, it’s best to look at your specific needs.
Again, this mostly depends on the type of pollutants you have in your home. Once you find a purifier with the best filtration, look at secondary features such as noise levels. Also, make sure that you can afford the energy and maintenance costs.
Want to know more about how to deal with dust particles in the air? Looking for other tips on improving your home life? Check out our Home & Garden section!