You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers (No, We’re Not RadioShack)
Considering the fact that indoor air pollutant levels are 2-5 times higher than they are outdoors, it’s no wonder that people are turning to air purifiers as a solution to their indoor air quality problems. However, there are tons of air purifiers on the market, so how do you know what to look for? Start your search here and get answers to the most common air purifier questions.
Q: Why do I need an air purifier?
A: Having an air purifier in your home will improve your health. Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. During this time, you probably believe that you are sharing valuable time with your family and friends (you very well may be), but there are probably some unwelcome guests weaseling their way into your lungs and causing problems. These guests include dust mites, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, smoke, exhaust emissions, VOCs, and chemical vapors. Allergy sufferers are the most likely group to see health improvements after the installation of an air purifier. You may also notice a downtick in illness with the elderly and young people in your home. We’ve even had customers report back that their sleep has considerably improved after having their air purifier installed.
Q: Portable purifier vs. whole house air purifier: Which is best for your home?
A: There is no cut and dry answer here. We’ll discuss some factors in your decision and let you be the final judge.
Factor #1 Ease of Installation
Portable purifiers are the unanimous winner here. Plug it in and you’re ready to go.
An HVAC specialist will need to install your whole house purifier.
Winner: Portable purifiers
Factor #2 Area of Air Cleaned
Portable air purifiers only clean one room.
Whole house purifiers are installed on your ducts. Whatever air is pulled through the return duct is cleaned. Whole house air purifiers clean the air of your whole home.
You can buy multiple portable purifiers to clean every room, but the whole house purifier comes out on top in this battle.
Winner: Whole house air purifiers
Factor #3 Maintenance
Whole house air purifiers typically only need semi-annual maintenance.
The standard filters in portable purifiers need cleaning every 1-3 months.
Winner: Whole house air purifiers
Factor #4 Price
A portable air purifier costs less than a whole house air purifier, but it would probably cost more to buy a portable air purifier for every single room of your home. If you only need to purify the air in a single room, then a portable air purifier is more cost effective. This could possibly be an option if you only have one allergy sufferer in the home and you place the purifier in the room where they spend the most time (bedroom, most likely). If you want the air in your entire home to be clean or multiple allergy sufferers live in your home, the whole house air purifier will be the best option.
Winner: It depends on the needs of your household, but portable air purifiers are less expensive.
If you’re curious about the cost of whole house air purifiers, ask our experts. We can help on your cost comparison journey.
Q: What are the different types of whole-house filters?
A: Air purifiers use filters to help clean your air. The following are the main types of filters:
- Flat Filters
- That matted-fiberglass furnace filter that you change every month does function as a very basic air filtration system. It removes large particles of dust from the air, but it doesn’t protect you from the microscopic particles that can really irritate your lungs. If the filter becomes clogged, it will stop working and force your furnace will be forced to work a lot harder than need be. Pleated filters usually cost a little more, but they do a better job and only have to be changed every 2-3 months.
- Extended Media Filters
- An extended media filter looks like a stack of furnace filters about 8 inches thick. The extra filtration media makes them more effective than the flat fiberglass filters. A large filter holder must be plumbed into the ductwork by an HVAC professional. The cost of installation and the media filter itself is around $400 to $600, and you’ll need to change the $40-$60 filter once a year.
- Electronic Filters
- As air passes through the electric filter, a high voltage current puts an electrical charge on particles. An oppositely charged collector plate grabs the particles on the other end of the unit. In theory, electronic filters never have to be replaced; they can easily be washed in the dishwasher. The main con with these filters are that if they are not cleaned frequently, they quickly lose efficiency. Also, be aware that electrostatic filters can generate ozone, a known lung irritant. Electronic filters will run you anywhere from $600-$1000.
- Ultraviolet Filters
- UV filters are commonly used in hospitals because of their ability to zap airborne bacteria and viruses. An ultraviolet filter is typically installed as an add-on to another whole house purifier, but there are ultra violet filters on the market that you can purchase by themselves.
- HEPA Filters
- High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are ideal for removing small pet dander particles, pollen, and dust mite residue. In fact, HEPA filters remove 99.97% of particles from the air that are 0.3 microns and larger. A word to the wise: HEPA filters have a wide range of ratings. Make sure that the air purifier you’re looking at doesn’t use a low grade filter. Low-grade filters aren’t able to trap a high percentage of particles which could leave your air riddled with pollutants.
If you have more questions about air purifiers, we are more than happy to answer them. Also, if you’re looking to read up a little more on air purifiers, check out our article, Choosing an Air Purification System.