We spend most of our lives in our home. It doesn't matter if you are eating, sleeping, playing with your children or just watching TV you are breathing the air in your house.Unfortunately, building techniques and materials as well as things we bring into our house release harmful contaminants. The United States Environmental Protection Agency conducted a deep study revealing that the air indoors is five times more polluted than the outdoor air independant of where you live.
In most instances the elevated concentration of contaminants is harmless for most people. However, multiple conditions can make people susceptible to those level of pollution.
Air pollution risk factors
Asthma: If you or any of your family members suffer from asthma you are well aware that dust, strong odor and chemical pollutants can trigger an attack.
Allergies: Allergies could be triggered by a vast number of airborne pollutants including: dust, dust mites, mold spores, plant and fungi spores, multiple seasonal pollen, different chemical agents, cleaning products, strong odor and animal hair and droppings.
Smoke: If you are sensitive to smoke you know that even a neighbor smoking on his terrace or through an open window can elicit an attack. A next door business or a neighbor cocking could carry the smoke and odorant to your home and trigger an attack.
Pets: most of us love animals and our pets and would do whatever we can to keep them in our lives. Yet many people who love animals are sensitive/allergic to pet dander, odors and hair.
What can you do to reduce the risk factors?
- Vacuum your drapes, cartons, rags, and carpets regularly using a vacuum cleaner with high efficiency particulate air filtration (HEPA).
- Regularly clean your heating/cooling systems air filters.
- Install exhaust fans in your bath, laundry room and kitchen.
- Keep any chemicals, solvents, pesticides, glue or paint away from your living quarters.
- Follow the weather report and when you have high dust or pollen pollution reported avoid opening your windows and make sure your air conditioner filter is clean.
- Ban smoking indoor.
All of the above suggestions will help you reduce, to some extent, the level of indoor pollution. however, even if you follow our suggestions sometimes the pollution is just too high or you and your family members are just more sensitive and nothing you can do to solve the problem. In that case you should look for an air purifier that is suitable for your specific condition and needs that will remove the contaminants from your house and allow you to breathe freely.
What is an air purifier?
An air purifier is designed to remove contaminants in your indoor air and supply fresh clean air for you. It does so by sucking the air and passing it through a set of special filters which catch airborne particles and stream the clean air back to the room, thus guarantee you breath clean air. Removing pollutant particles will protect your airways and take a lot of stress off your lungs thus reducing the probability of triggering an allergic asthma attack.
Different types of air purifiers
There are multiple manufacturers and distributors of air purifiers that sell hundreds of models with different modes of action. However, in general there are only four basic different technologies for air purification that these devices use. Each of these technologies is suited for different types of air pollution.
This type of filtration technology is very common and considered to be the gold standard for combating indoor air pollution. True HEPA filter system consists of a highly dense paper filter that trap and hold airborne contaminants and release the filtered air back to the room. A real HEPA filter will guarantee that over 99.9% of contaminants in a size bigger than 0.3 micron will be caught by the filter. Many manufactures sell HEPA-like or HEPA-type filtration system. These have less dense filters and will catch only bigger particles, over 2 micron.
True HEPA air purifiers will remove: pollen, fungi and mold spores, pet dander, hair and dust. The advantages of this filtration system is its efficiency in trapping the polluting particles and removing them from the air thus making it safe for all respiratory risk groups.
The obvious disadvantages of the filtration system is the need for routine filter replacement to maintain system efficiency. This will increase your running cost. Moreover, since that system need to suck the air through the filter with some force, it could be noisy.
This system treat the airborne contaminants in a different way. Air ionizer uses high voltage to ionize (electrically charge) air molecules. The system will emit a cloud of charge air molecules that would latch onto the airborne contaminants. This process will cause multiple airborne contaminants to agregat and fall to the floor. This technology is highly efficient in removing very small particles down to 0.01 micron.
Air ionizer can remove the following contaminant from the air: Pollen, mold and fungi spores, volatile organic compound, some bacteria and viruses, dust and smoke. These air purifiers are quite as then do not need to move the air through the system. Moreover, hardly any maintenance is required and overall operating cost is much lower than HEPA filtration systems. On the other hand, air ionizers do not remove odorants and produces small amounts of ozone as a byproduct which might trigger asthma and respiratory problems in susceptible populations. Moreover, air ionizer does not remove the pollutant from your house, it just dropped it to the floor. To keep you house pollutant free you will need to constantly sweep and wash the floors and vacuum curtains, rags and carpets.
This filtration system is optimized to remove smell and odorants. The active carbon is a highly porous substance with large surface area that is optimal for trapping fumes, gases and odorants keeping your house fresh and clean. Thus, this filtration system will remove pollutants such as: cooking smells, smoke, pet odor, paint and solvent fumes as well as volatile compound found in cleaning products. This is the cheapest filtration system with low running cost. However, carbon filtration does not deal with the bulk pollutant you can find in your house is especially suited for people with high smell sensitivity.
Ultra violet (UV) light
Air purifiers based on this technology emit invisible UV light that attracts pollutants into the device and trap them inside. We cannot sense the UV light emitted by the device and is completely safe for us with no side effects. The UV light is highly efficient in destroying bacteria and viruses indoor, sterilizing the air from particles that can make you sick. This filtration system is optimal for people with weak/deficient immune system. The UV light can last thousands of working hours and thus maintenance and running cost are negelable. Since this technology if focused on killing biological active contaminants does not usually found as a standalone device. Instead it usually appears as an additional filtration system as part of a HEPA filtration system providing a more comprehensive solution.
Air purifiers have two main variants: classic and smart enabled version. Basically, classic air purifiers are old fashioned versions that don't give feedback regarding air quality or regarding which contaminant it has removed. Some classic version has digital control and sensors that help the device to do its job efficiently. however, the only feedback you can get with these devices is the dirts cluttering their filters indicating that the machine is removing something from your air. In contrast, smart enabled air purifiers are equipped with full digital control including an app for your smartphone. These apps provide all sort of date regarding air quality and the device performance. Some apps can tell you which specific pollutants are in your house at any given moment and how successful is your device removing them. Moreover, these smart enable air purifiers will inform you once your device is no longer working properly and instruct you on how and when you should address maintenance and filter replacement. Naturally, these important features of smart enabled air purifiers run their price up and they will usually cost 50-100 USD more their classic version.
Choosing the right size air purifier
If you figured out which type of air filtration system is best for family health, your next move is to figure out what is the volume of air you are trying to purify. Air purifiers are not one size machine that can do it all. Thus it is crucial that you make sure that the specific model you are considering can handle the size of the room it is going to be placed in. To do that you need to look for the device square footage rating. Your next step is to measure and calculate the designated room area and to make sure that the air purifier you are considering has a square footage rating bigger than your measurements. Don't try to save on this parameter if you want your air purifiers to perform well and according to its specifications.
Where should you place your air purifier?
Even if you made sure the device you bought has sufficient square footage rating, if you will put it in a wrong place in the room it will not perform well. So, what should you consider?
HEPA and carbon filter based air purifiers rely on a fan to suck the dirty air through their filters and blow the clean air back to the room. Thus, make sure you place them in a position with free air access without any furniture around it. Moreover, avoid placing these air purifiers against the wall (keep 2-3 feet clearance) as it will also block air streaming.
Air purifiers that use an ionic filtration do not rely on a stream of air running through the machine but ruther emit ionic cloud in all directions. Thus, you should avoid positioning these devices against the wall and furniture and you should consider placing it in the center of the room to achieve maximal performance.
Up to this point I have described the key features of air purifiers that can help you figure out which type of technology under which specific setup will be best for your family health. However, you will quickly find that air purifiers come with a wide array of additional features, upgrades and multiple options. Some of these features may justify their additional cost and some might be less or altogether irrelevant for you.
Here is a detailed list of features you might find on an air purifier:
- Digital control: Allow for better control over your air purifier as compared to dials and knobs.
- Adjustable fan speed: HEPA and carbon purifiers have several fan speed settings. This might be important if you just entered you house and you wish to have it purified as soon as possible. Once the air has been purified you can lower the fan speed setting to minimum.
- Pre-filter: This filter is designed to remove large particles before the air hits the more dense HEPA or carbon filters. Thus’ the pre-filter role is to protect the more delicate filters in the system. Usually this filter can be easily detached for cleaning.
- Timer: this feature will help you control your air purifier shutdown time and save on your electrical bill.
- Nightlight: This will help you find your air purifier at night.
- Filter replacement sensor: Thus sensor will inform you once the filter need to be replaced. This feature will help guarantee that your air purifier is working according to its specification and clean your air accordingly.
- Air quality sensor: you can find this feature on smart enable air purifiers. These sensors are connected to the main control board of the air purifiers and based on the specific pollutant level in the room will adjust the air cleaning level of the device accordingly.
- Antimicrobial treatment: Coating the internal parts and filter with antimicrobial agent prevent the accumulation of bacteria in your air purifiers and expend its lifespan and prevents the bacteria release back to the room.
- Plasmawave technology: This technology is an alternative to the ionizer technology. Plasmawave technology is based on water vapor to achieve the same result without releasing negative ions and ozone.
- Photocatalytic oxidation: A new filtration system that supplement UV air purifiers to oxidize chemicals and breakdown volatile organic compounds, mold, fungi and bacteria.
- Remote control: Enable control over your air purifier from anywhere in your house.Mobile app: This feature allows you to control your air purifier from anywhere. This is highly important especially if you want your family to arrive to a house with already clean air and avoid waiting for your air purifier to finish cleaning after you turned it on once you arrived home. Some apps will provide further details regarding air quality and specific pollutant at all times.
Other issues to consider
Noise levels: HEPA and carbon filter air purifiers use fans to suck the air through their filter before pushing the clean air back to the room. Naturally, fans make noise. This noise could be annoying especially if the air purifier is located in a bedroom and can disturb your sleep. Better speed control and the design of the fan blade will determine the noise level. if you bought an air purifier with insufficient square footage rating for its designated room it will need to work constantly at highest of turbo fan setting and naturally will emit stronger noise. Thus, make sure the air purifier you buy is compatible with its designated positioning in your house.
As any other home appliance, energy consumption is a parameter you need to consider before buying an air purifier. Moreover, air purifiers tend to work for long hours and in some instances constantly for days. Common air purifiers use 5-200 watts. To find the air purifier with good energy consumption I suggest you look for a device that carry the energy star rating.
You can reduce your operating and maintenance cost if you keep your air purifier properly maintained. This will also ensure your air purifiers will operate according to its specifications.Air purifiers with HEPA and carbon filter require regular filter replacement that could be costly. The filter lifespan is dictated by how much you use is and the quality of the air in the room it is located. You can check the manufacturer recommendations regarding filter replacement to estimate your future maintenance cost. Filter replacement cost is in the range of 10-50 USD depending on its specific type and size.
I hope this air purifier buyer guide helps you figure out how to choose the best air purifier that will protect your family's health. Today you can find online a variety of air purifiers made by different manufacturers and distributed by different vendors. Deal.guide will help you buy the right air purifier for you while saving fifty cents on the dollar.
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