Types of Air Purifiers (Pros and Cons & Buying Guide)

Here’s the different types of air purifiers including their costs, how they work, types of filters, and alternatives to air purifiers for improving indoor air quality.
Air purifier in cozy white bedroom with pallet bed and lamp on bedside tableYour house is designed to be a haven for you. However, different pollutants in the air can drastically degrade your private paradise’s air quality. Hence, air purifiers have generally been a must-have in our homes since we are all about reducing air pollution.

Although air filters can assist, some of them are not good enough to capture allergens such as mold spores and particles that cause allergic flare-ups and lower quality of air. Homeowners should be meticulous enough with this matter and invest in a top-quality air purification system to fully enhance the air quality in their houses.

You should be aware, nonetheless, that not all types of air purifiers are made alike. There are a variety of air purifiers available; some can filter out bigger particles such as fur, hair, and debris, while others may trap microscopic elements such as bacteria, viruses, smells, and mold spores.

We’ll explain what air purifiers are and break down the different varieties so you can pick the right one for your house below.

How Does An Air Purifier Work?

White air purifier a living room with coffee tableA filter, or several filters, and a fan that draws in and distributes air are the most common components of an air purifier. Contaminants and particles are caught as air pass through the filter, and the purified air is pushed back into your living space.

Filters are generally constructed of paper, fiber, or mesh. To keep their efficiency, they usually need to be replaced regularly.

The frequency with which you must change filters depends on the type of purifier and how it is used. Certain filters are washable and reusable, but they usually demand complex upkeep and are not normally found on the most efficient air purifiers.

Bigger particles, such as dust mites and pollen, are primarily removed from the air by reusable filters. Moreover, there are numerous UV light filters available on the market that claim to kill biological contaminants such as mold spores or bacteria, but many of these need greater wattage and longer exposure to be efficient.

In relation to the acquisition cost of an air purifier, that implies you must include operational costs and filter replacement expenses. Because you are operating air purifiers continually to receive the benefits, operational expenditures might potentially amount to $50 to $60 per year. Filter replacements might cost up to $100 each year.

Some air purifiers employ ionizers to capture particulates like static, negative ions link to dust and pollutants and cause them to disperse out of the atmosphere.

If you want to buy an air purifier that employs ionizers, ensure it does not generate harmful amounts of ozone as ozone can aggravate asthma symptoms and irritate your lungs. Generally, ozone air purifiers will have this information provided on the package or in the advertising description.

We normally advise individuals who have ionization units to have their air purifiers’ ozone features switched off until more testing and more robust industry guidelines are in effect. This is owing to the possibility of unidentified adverse consequences, as well as increased energy consumption and a minimal or non-existent upsurge in purification.

HEPA Purifier 

HEPA purifier in cozy white bedroom with fur carpet on wood floorHEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) is a filtering technology used to screen out particulates. A qualifying filter should be capable of eliminating 99.97% of pollutants with a diameter of 0.3 micrometers to meet HEPA standards, with even higher filtering performance for smaller and larger particles.

HEPA purification innovation has been available for decades, with the original concept emerging with gas masks used during World War II and being further enhanced with the Manhattan Project. HEPA purifiers are a widespread household device around the world since they are a tried-and-true technique of cleaning indoor air.

HEPA purifiers start by collecting contaminated air into the unit with a fan. The air then flows through a filter, which is commonly constructed of fiberglass, where air pollutants become entangled in a maze-like entanglement of fibers. 

Several particles attach to the fibers, which is recognized as interception, while others become trapped in the fibers, which is known as impaction, yet others are tossed around by other airborne particulates or even gas molecules, which is known as diffusion.

Air purification and filtration process by passing through pre-filter, carbon and HEPADiffusion, the final component, is extremely critical for capturing particles smaller than 0.1 micrometers. Since these particles are so microscopic, they may easily pass through the filter without being entangled in any of the threads.

Nevertheless, since their direction of travel is disrupted by other nanoparticles, their trajectory turns zigzagged, raising the probability that the particles will be captured by the other two manners.

The air is pushed back into the space after passing through the filter, and the purifier pulls in more contaminated air to clean. Ultimately, most of the air in the space will pass through the purifier, substantially lowering air pollutant levels.

Pros of HEPA Purifiers

• HEPA purifiers are particularly powerful against particulate pollution and produce no toxic residues, and many filters improve in efficiency as they collect even more airborne contaminants.

• For additional benefit, this filtration technology can be used with other techniques of purification.

Cons of HEPA Purifiers

• They necessitate a lot of maintenance. To retain your unit in good working condition, you will need to replace the filter routinely. If you reside in a very polluted location, you will have to replace your filter even more frequently, which can be costly and inconvenient.

• By reducing airflow through the device, HEPA filters can also add to electricity costs. Furthermore, HEPA purifiers may not always effectively eliminate odors or germs.

Activated Carbon Air Purifier

Air purifier with two washable pre-filters particle and carbon filterSee this air purifier at Amazon [sponsored link]

Fumes, smells, smoke, and gasses are effectively removed from the air within your home by activated carbon air purifiers. Individuals who are vulnerable to pollutants such as smoking or natural gas might think about getting an activated carbon air purifier. HEPA filters, which are included in the majority of activated carbon air purifiers, eliminate particulates from the air too.

Activated carbon is derived from charcoal, which is produced when organic compounds are fired. It is also one of the oldest forms of filters. This sort of air purifier has been employed hundreds of years ago when it was intended to take away pollutants and chemicals from drinking water.

Activated charcoal has been processed with oxygen to expand the myriad of pores between the carbon atoms within charcoal, allowing it to absorb odors and pollutants properly. Furthermore, they are adept at eliminating organic compounds. This is a simple but powerful method of eliminating odors and capturing gasses in your indoor air.

If the pores of a carbon filter are completely packed, then it is time to change the filter. Because charcoal is a plentiful source of carbon, such filters can be made very inexpensively and are commonly used in gas masks and chemical cleanup supplies.

Pros of Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

• They are quite cost-effective. Plus, they are one of the most powerful techniques for not only eliminating harmful gasses but also for removing unpleasant odors such as cigarette smoke from a particular area.

• They consume extremely little energy since charcoal merely absorbs the gasses in the air. Furthermore, they can be chemically modified to tackle a certain gas or pathogen.

• Carbon filters are guaranteed safe for all the family members in your house and the entire environment as well.

Cons of Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

• Since carbon operates through absorption, it must be changed regularly. When it has consumed its capacity, a new filter would be required as the previous filter will be no longer functional.

• They do not collect dust, mold spores, or other contaminants alone like HEPA filters do. Hence, an activated carbon filter must be paired with a HEPA filter to effectively trap those said airborne elements.

Adsorbent Purifier

Adsorbent air purifier and plant on wooden floor in comfortable homeAdsorbent purifiers, which are frequently made out of activated charcoal, trap contaminants and odors that may be circulating throughout your house. Due to their capability to absorb hazardous compounds, adsorbents are commonly used in various environmental cleanup operations.

Adsorbent purifiers, as opposed to HEPA purifiers, use components called adsorbents, which attach pollutants to their surface through chemical or physical processes.

Physical adsorption uses electrostatic interactions between molecules to draw polar compounds such as water to polar adsorbents and non-polar substances to non-polar adsorbents.

Chemical adsorption occurs when things chemically bind with the adsorbent. Although physical adsorption can be reverted, chemical adsorption is almost completely irrevocable.

Undesirable gasses are absorbed into the porous medium of adsorbent substance as air travels through the purifier, providing clean air devoid of harmful gaseous contaminants.

Pros of Adsorbent Purifiers

• Because adsorbent purifiers produce no toxic byproducts, they are perfectly safe to use in your household. They help in practically removing bothersome odors and volatile organic compounds that HEPA and ionic purifiers cannot do.

• Aside from that, adsorbent filters can also be connected to other purifiers, including ionic and HEPA purifiers to provide particulate matter removal and odor elimination.

Cons of Adsorbent Purifiers

• Adsorbent purifiers are infrequently used on their own since they cannot eliminate airborne particulates that are detrimental to your health alone. You will also need to purchase another purifier to keep your air completely healthy.

UV Purifier

Air purifier with UV light and ionic generatorSee this UV purifier at Amazon [sponsored link]

The sun’s ultraviolet light annihilates the DNA and RNA in your epidermis, increasing your chances of acquiring skin cancer. UV purifiers function in a relatively similar way, but with microbes.

UV purifiers, which are slightly similar to HEPA purifiers, start by drawing air into the unit. UV purifiers subsequently subject the air to a UV light, which emits ultraviolet rays.

UV germicidal irradiation (UVGI) breaks down the chemical connections created between DNA molecules, rendering viruses harmless and killing harmful microorganisms

Pros of UV Purifiers

• UV purifiers are distinct in that they tackle airborne bacteria rather than non-living particles. As a result, UV purifiers have numerous applications in healthcare environments, particularly as an antibacterial and antiviral disinfection treatment.

• UV purifiers, which can effectively neutralize any pathogens taken up by the HEPA filter, are also accessible as a supplement to HEPA purifiers.

Cons of UV Purifiers

• The efficiency of UV purifiers has already been discussed over the years, and the employment of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation in air purifying has been criticized due to the system’s natural consequence: ozone.

• When UV purifiers subject air to UV light, the very same energy that destroys DNA links in microbes can also divide oxygen, which can then rearrange into ozone. While ozone is helpful in the atmosphere, it is a harmful pollutant in your household.

Ionic Purifier

Ionic purifier in a living room and a woman working with laptop on black sofaIonic purifiers, which were widely known in the 1990s and mid-2000s, provide a filter-less alternative to HEPA purifiers. HEPA purifiers have surpassed ionic purifiers in trend, owing mostly to issues that ionic purifiers emit ozone.

Ionic purifiers are classified into two types: ionizers and electrostatic precipitators. Ionizers produce ions, which are particles that are either negatively or positively charged.

Usually, ionizers generate negative ions via a procedure called corona discharge, and the ions subsequently connect to particles circulating throughout the purifier. The ionized particles then rest on objects around your home, making them easy to clean.

Pros of Ionic Purifiers

• Ionic purifiers do not require filtration replacements and have lower operating costs since they are filter-less. Ionic purifiers are also much quieter than HEPA purifiers.

Cons of Ionic Purifiers

• In general, ionic purifiers are less efficient than HEPA purifiers at eliminating fine particles, and ionizers can make a mess as particles accumulate on surfaces.

PCO Air Purifier

Air purifier with carbon filtration and patented silver screen technologySee this air purifier at Amazon [sponsored link]

The process of transforming harmful pollutants into water, carbon dioxide, and debris is known as photocatalytic oxidation (PCO). Water treatment and air cleaning are potential applications for photocatalytic methods.

This system of this air purifier works by breaking down contaminants in the air and water to enhance their quality. It is considered to be the greatest option for moist absorption of organic molecules. PCO has numerous advantages, including low secondary emissions, simplicity of handling, reduced energy consumption, and excellent performance.

PCO air purifiers work by merging UV radiation with titanium oxide-coated filtration systems or titanium dioxide. The photocatalytic reaction generates hydroxyl and superoxide ions. Superoxide ions and hydroxyl are both extremely active electrons. These ions later bind with airborne volatile organic compounds and microorganisms.

Moreover, this type of purifier never emits nor produces hazardous compounds that could damage the ozone layer. The oxidation process is not restricted to the size and characteristics of the pollutant. It aids in the decomposition of ozone, regardless of its chemical composition, into carbon dioxide and water.

Nanoparticle science is used in photocatalytic oxidation technology to remove germs that cause respiratory problems. The photocatalytic technique is also efficient at removing ozone-derived allergens and asthma irritants from the air. Mold spores, fungi, dust mites, and pet fur are some of the airborne irritants.

Pros of PCO Air Purifiers

• Indoor air contaminants are hazardous substances that endanger human safety. Using a PCO air purifier to remove these pollution sources will help to enhance the air quality for safe inhalation.

• Ozone gas typically irritates the lungs, leading to chronic respiratory illnesses. Ozone is not released into the internal environment by air purifiers that use photocatalytic technology.

Cons of PCO Air Purifiers

• Because of electron and hole interaction, the PCO method can only use a small percentage of the photons, making the whole process unsustainable. Because of an inadequate reaction, certain systems may produce harmful oxidation byproducts such as formaldehyde, which is a possible risk of the ineffective procedure.

Electrostatic Precipitators

Tabletop air purifier with electrostatic charged filterSee this air purifier at Amazon [sponsored link]

An electrostatic precipitator is a type of air purifier that employs electrostatic energy to attract and trap dust and similar particulates. It essentially comprises conductors and collection panels, with a considerable voltage delivered from an electrostatic field between the conductors and the collection plate, electrically charging and ionizing the air in the operation.

When airborne particulates, including dust or pollen, pass between the collection plates, they become charged and adhere to the collection plates.

The particulates are then carried away by air as it travels past. Hence, the air is cleaner and purer. The collected particles are then disrupted loose, scraped off, or wiped away before being discarded in an ecologically acceptable way.

Electrostatic precipitators, a type of ionic purifier, work on a similar principle with ionizers. However, instead of settling on external surfaces, particulates settle on positively charged surfaces inside the purifier. Because particles are readily eliminated by sterilizing the plates rather than cleaning the entire room, electrostatic precipitators are more prevalent than ionizers.

Pros of Electrostatic Precipitators

• This type of air purifier can handle high gas quantities and heavy dust load distribution while maintaining a low-pressure drop. They are capable of working with corrosive compounds, wet materials, and hot temperatures.

• Except at extremely high efficiency, they have cheap operational costs. It is extremely sturdy and has a long service life while needing very minimal maintenance.

Cons of Electrostatic Precipitators

• One of the main drawbacks of utilizing electrostatic precipitators in the house is that they can be difficult and unpleasant to clean.

• One big worry with these devices is the discharge of ozone and nitrogen oxides, which poses a health risk to many people.

Ozone Generator

Blue and black commercial ozone generatorSee this ozone generator at Amazon [sponsored link]

The word ‘ozone’ in the title indicates that we do not advise ozone generators for indoor usage, but we think it is essential to discuss the objectives and restrictions of ozone generators due to potential misinformation and their industrial uses.

Ozone generators, also recognized as ozone air purifiers or ozone ventilation systems, employ a corona discharge or UV radiation to split oxygen molecules into 2 oxygen atoms, which then reintegrates to form a molecule of 3 oxygen atoms classified as ozone. Ozone is extremely reactive, frequently altering the chemical makeup of nearby molecules by contributing an oxygen atom.

Manufacturers that provide ozone generators may use phrases like “activated oxygen” or “clean air” to indicate that ozone is a beneficial type of oxygen, but ozone is actually a harmful gas, which is not the same as the air that we safely breathe in, as manufacturers might advertise.

Ozone-generating gadgets are frequently promoted as odor eliminators. They are primarily employed to eliminate organic pollutants from the air. Nevertheless, considering the risk to one’s health, it’s best to utilize an ozone generator only when there are evident benefits.

Pros of Ozone Generators

• Ozone generators could be used to purify the air and eradicate germs in non-occupied industrial locations.

Cons of Ozone Generators

• To begin with, ozone generators produce a large amount of ozone, which is instantly hazardous to your health.

• According to research, ozone takes several months to react with pollutants in the air, often producing byproducts that are as toxic as or worse than the original compounds.

Air Exchanger

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An air exchanger is a mechanism that moves stagnant air from the interior of a house to the outside and refreshing air from the exterior to the interior.

Air exchangers are frequently huge and placed directly into the foundation of a property to provide optimally fresh air levels at all periods. This is significant since, in both urban and rural regions, indoor air is frequently 5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. 

Furthermore, energy is frequently squandered, and heating or cooling expenses are often high since windows and doors are frequently left open to refresh the air in the house or decrease humidity levels. These issues can be solved using an air exchanger.

Air exchangers employ one fan and ventilation system to exhaust indoor air and another to bring in the fresh air. Air exchangers are an excellent option for poor indoor air quality, particularly when the weather necessitates you to stay indoors.

These units, like everything else on this list, require regular maintenance work. We suggest having the filters cleaned by certified professionals once a year. The procedure entails disassembling the unit’s filter elements and extensively disinfecting and drying them.

Pros of Air Exchangers

• Air exchangers refresh and cleanse air quality while lowering HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) expenses throughout the year.

Air exchangers indeed make it easier to breathe and help to maintain a consistent temperature in your home. Check out some heater-related content like electric baseboard heating pros and cons here.

• The filter on the air exchangers captures impurities and holds them in position while the air flows in. Only fresh external air enters your home, leaving behind the contaminants it was carrying.

Cons of Air Exchangers

• Air exchangers are frequently huge and cumbersome. Furthermore, air exchangers are typically installed during the construction of newer homes, while many kinds are available that can be fitted or operated at any moment. 

• Their biggest downside is that they are pricey, frequently costing over a thousand dollars.

Air Purifier Cost

These are the average costs of different types of air purifiers:

HEPA Air Purifier – The cost of HEPA air purifiers ranges from $50 to $1,000, depending on capacity, quality, and anticipated coverage radius.

UV Air Purifier – UV air purifiers can cost as low as $50 or as much as $800. It will mainly depend on the model you choose.

Activated Carbon Air Purifier – Activated carbon air purifiers start at $100 and go up from there.

Adsorbent Purifier – Adsorbent purifiers generally cost from $90 to $300, depending on the manufacturer and dimensions of the air purifier.

Ionic Air Purifier – A competent home ionic air purifier can range in price from $40 to $300. Those with HEPA filters, fans, and other enhanced functionalities will be more expensive.

PCO Air Purifier – If you are going to look online, the usual cost of PCO air purifiers are normally around $300 to $500,

Electric Precipitator – Electric precipitators usually cost around $400 to $1000.

Ozone Generator – The prices may vary greatly as it will mostly rely on the size and features. However, the usual cost of ozone generators is around $100 to $500.

Air Exchanger – Air exchangers normally cost $1000 or more.

Types Of Air Purifier Filters 

Air purifier in bedroom with wood bedHEPA Filter

Most health departments highly suggest high particulate air (HEPA) filters as they can eliminate at least 99.97% of airborne pollutants and contaminants such as microbes and particles as small as 0.3 microns. With a MERV value exceeding 16, HEPA filters give the maximum protection for your house.

UV Filter

UV filters eradicate bacteria and viruses by emitting short-wave ultraviolet rays. The UV lights decontaminate the air as it travels through the HVAC component with germicidal radioactivity. UV filters are extremely efficient at destroying germs that might be harmful to your health, such as mold spores.

Washable Filter

Although certain forms of air filters go with replaceable and disposable selections, washable filters are an eco-friendly way to cut costs. The starting cost of this air filter type for HVAC systems is considerable, but it must be regarded as an investment that would last for a long time. However, washable filters must be adequately maintained to function properly.

Electrostatic Filter

Electrostatic filters generate static electricity by using little cotton and paper-made fibers, which work as a magnetism for dust and other air pollutants. The magnetic force is powerful enough to keep these contaminants from spreading all across your home, making them one of the greatest options for those looking for an allergen-fighting filter.

Media Filter

Conventional filters with increased MERV ratings may not be as effective as media filters. Media filters give the very same grade of filtering as high-MERV filters but without the restrictions of airflow or stationary pressure.

Media filters, on the other hand, have a larger surface area, which effectively prevents considerable stationary pressure while delivering better filtering. Media filters are incredibly low-maintenance and excellent for filtering bacteria and other microscopic airborne contaminants.

Spun Glass Filter

This form of filter, which is one of the most prevalent types of HVAC filters, is made by spinning together filaments of fiberglass. It is one of the greatest types of AC filters as it is inexpensive, disposable, and safeguards air conditioners and heaters from dirt.

Spun glass is one of the most effective forms of AC filters on the market. However, if you are looking for an air purifier, a more high-tech model might be preferable.

What Is The Best Type Of Air Purifier?

White air purifier with new HEPA filter placed in the living roomA HEPA air purifier is arguably the best type of air purifier as it is the safest and most environment-friendly option of all types in this list.

HEPA air purifiers provide a more hygienic atmosphere by trapping allergy-triggering mold spores and germs. Furthermore, this type of air purifier produces no ozone or other dangerous byproducts.

The most efficient in capturing airborne particles are HEPA air purifiers.

However, most HEPA air purifiers contain extra activated carbon-based components to remove odors and pollutants that the HEPA filter cannot capture by itself. You should keep an eye out for these types of air purifiers.

Alternative Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality

White air cleaner in a living room with a wood floor, gray mat, sofa, and bookshelvesReplace Your Air Conditioner’s Filter – Air-conditioning units are constantly working to keep your home at the optimal temperature year-round.

However, as they cycle through all that air, they filter out some of the usual air contaminants. Their air filters gradually become clogged and cease to function.

Not only does this harm your interior air quality, but it also ruins your AC system, perhaps leading to expensive repairs in the future. To avoid this, clean your AC filters on a constant schedule, or acquire an air-conditioning service agreement that covers filter replacement, particularly if you are allergic to pollen or live in a polluted city region.

Don’t Neglect Your Other Air Filters – Inspect the filters in your other home appliances if you seriously wish to enhance the air quality in your house.

Your vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, and cooking vents must all be scrutinized and serviced regularly. It is suggested that these common household filters be cleaned or replaced every several months.

Inspect your air ducts – Air ducts are in charge of moving cold and hot air around your house, ensuring a pleasant environment in each room.

Dust, allergens, and even bacteria can develop in your ducts over a period, lowering your general air quality. Hire an expert to ensure that your ducts are distributing clean and fresh air.

Maintain the Cleanliness of Your Mats and Carpets – Mats and carpets do more than just make your house more comfortable. They function as their own air filters, capturing dust and other pollutants in their many strands.

Dry your carpets and mats on a weekly basis, and they will continue to work for you, enriching the air quality in your home simply by resting on your floors. You may check out our types of carpet ultimate guide for more related information.

Regulate the Humidity in Your Household – With several strategically placed dehumidifiers, you can minimize the quantity of moisture in the air and prevent the development of bothersome molds.

There are several humidifier alternatives available to assist you in maintaining regular humidity levels and provide suitable living surroundings in your house.

Visit our guide for various types of home cooling systems and our furnace duct cleaning pros and cons for more related content.

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