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Buyer's Guide: Air Purifiers

Why do you need an air purifier?

sneezeYou have probably heard the statement, time and time again, that indoor air quality is essential to good health. While there is much debate over whether or not air purifiers are worth the investment, the fact remains that most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. For this reason, it is at least worth looking into how you can improve your indoor air quality. People spend thousands to make their homes airtight, in order to improve energy efficiency, but some of the most airtight homes can also be some of the most polluted. If it is worth the investment to make your home more energy efficient, then a few hundred more on an air purifying system that keeps it pollutant-free is certainly worth it as well.

Room air purifiers benefit homes with pets, and/or people who suffer from allergies or asthma. They are also great for children's rooms and nurseries, as children are more susceptable to airborne illness, and have weaker immune systems. The first HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters were developed to aid in the protection against radioactive particles, and can be useful in the aftermath of natural disasters like the 2011 Japan earthquake, where radiation from nuclear power plants become a threat. Room air purifiers can also extend the life of your home's heating and air conditioning system, as fewer particles will need to be removed by your HVAC filters. 

Factors to consider when buying an air purifier

There are many factors to consider before deciding to purchase an air purifier. In order to ensure that what you buy is right for the room in question, Filters Fast recommends that you take a look at the following:

Room Size

Air purifiers are made for different-sized rooms and will only be efficient in a room that's within the size for which it was made to filter the air. The square footage of the room should be within the square footage limit specified on the air purifier. For living rooms and family rooms, large room air purifiers are most appropriate. For bedrooms and nurseries, you'll want to purchase a small room air purifier.

Common Household Air Pollutants

Air purifiers remove a variety of common household air pollutants, including: pet dander, dust mites, pollen, plant spores, fungi, smoke, cooking odors, volatile organic compounds found in household furnishings and paints, pathogens, bacteria, viruses and mold. Some air purifiers are specifically designed for homes with pets, or homes where smoking is permitted indoors. Others are designed to focus on the removal of airborne pathogens that may cause sickness. Consider your home's most likely and most common pollutants before deciding on what type of air purifier to purchase.

Noise level

Some air purifiers are made to be quieter than others, depending on how and where they are typically used. If  you are buying an air purifier for a bedroom or nursery, you may prefer one that is ultra-quiet, so as not to disrupt sleep. Larger air purifiers for family rooms, may not be as quiet. Many air purifiers have various settings so that you can control the noise level as well.

Efficiency

Efficiency may be determined by several factors, including ACH Rating and CADR. The size of the room and the type of filter used in the purifier will also determine the efficiency of the unit.
ACH Rating: ACH stands for "Air Changes per Hour," or the number of times per hour the air purifier can exchange all of the air in a given room. Allergy and asthma sufferers should look for an ACH rating of at least 4, but preferably 6 or 8.

CADR: CADR stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate. This number is calculated by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), and recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Lung Association (ALA). An air purifier's CADR tells you how much air is purified and how well it is purified.

Ozone emission

Some air purifiers may do more harm than good. Make sure that the air purifier you buy does not emit ozone, as this pollutes the air even more, and can further aggravate cases of asthma and allergies.

Energy Usage

If you have invested money into sealing your home more tightly, so as to make it more energy efficient, you obviously care about energy efficiency. Look for air purifier units that bear the government-backed energy star symbol.

Price

Though they are worth the investment, air purifier units can be very expensive. Do extensive research so as to get the best bang for your buck. Filters Fast carries a variety of air purifiers with different specifications for various sized rooms. Many people think that the more a unit costs, the better it must be, but this is not always the case. See our recommendations for "good, better and best" at the bottom of this article, if you're looking for a starting point.

Types of air purification

Most modern air purifiers utilize a combination of several different types of filters, including the following:

UV Germicidal Irradiation

UV air filters eliminate germs, such as viruses and bacteria, by altering their DNA so that they become inactive and unable to replicate. These are often used in sterile environments like hospitals and labs, but they do have some residential applications as well. If your home has a mold problem, or you find that you get sick often, a UV filter inside your air purifier might be what you need.

HEPA

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. The first HEPA filters were designed to protect people from radioactive dust particles. They are most commonly applied in room air purifiers and are some of the best filters on the market, as they only allow very small particles to pass through. The size, material and construction of a HEPA filter has a lot to do with how well it works; generally, the more square feet of filter material, the more particulates it will be able to remove. HEPA filters remove 99.97 percent of all particles larger than 0.3 microns. These filters must be changed periodically, but are well worth the investment.

Activated Carbon

Activated carbon filters are normally used in conjunction with other types of filters, and are great for neutralizing smoke, odors, gases, fumes and chemicals that are often emitted from furnishings and during cooking.

Which Air Purifier is Right for You?

Click on the links to learn more about our top three recommended air purifiers.

Good

Filtrete-Ultra-Clean

Filtrete Ultra Clean Air Purifier (for large or small rooms)

Better

Whirlpool-Whispure-510-Air-Purifier
Whirlpool Whispure Air Purifier 510 (for large rooms) - Awarded a Consumer Reports Best Buy!

Best

IQAir-HealthPro-Plus-Air-Purifier
IQAir HealthPro Plus Room Air Purifier System

Resource: The History of Air Purifiers





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