What Is an Air Purifier and How Does It Work?
Most home air purifiers use a fan to collect air. Then, the air moves through one or more filters to collect pollutants before being recirculated.
These filters might incorporate a charcoal filter, to remove odors, and a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. A HEPA filter is at least 99.7% effective at capturing tiny particles down to 0.3 microns, such as dust, pollen, mold and some bacteria.
An air purifier can be portable and used to treat an individual room or it can be installed inside your HVAC system, giving powerful filtration for your entire home.
The EPA says it’s important to know that air purifiers can’t get rid of every contaminant from your house’s air. But when used along with an improved filter for your HVAC system, they can greatly lower the concentration of indoor air pollution.
What Should I Look for in an Air Purifier?
- CADR (clean-air delivery rate) rating. This measures the cleaning speed of the purifier for removing smoke, dust, and and pollen. Look for a CADR of at least 300, above 350 is really great.
- Size guidelines. For proper efficacy, you need a model designed to work in the room size. Choose a model that is designed for an area larger than the one you are outfitting it for if you want to operate it at a lower, quieter setting.
- AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) Verified mark. AHAM’s standards are design to ensure the safety, efficiency and performance of many home care appliances, including air purifiers. The standards are designed to provide a common understanding between manufacturers and consumers to help make the purchasing process simpler. While voluntary, most reputable air purifiers have undergone this certification program, which often provides a CADR rating and size guidelines.
- True HEPA filters. True HEPA filters are effective at removing ultra-fine particles (think: dust, dander, pollen, mold and other common allergens in the home). The industry standard for such is that the unit must be able to remove at least 99.97% of particulates measuring 0.3 micron diameter in a lab setting. Remember, it is important to note that in real life settings, the actual efficacy of these devices would be far less as new pollutants are constantly emerging. Note that there is no industry standard for the terms “HEPA-like” or “HEPA-type,” and are mostly used as marketing ploys to get consumers to purchase the product.
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