The Top 10 Best Air Purifiers of 2016

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Air Purifiers: Questions & Answers

What is an air purifier?

An air purifier is a device that filters the air in your home and removes small particles like pet hair, dust, pollen, smoke particles, mold and plant spores. Some air purifiers also remove gasses and fumes.

Do I need an air purifier?

Air purifiers are useful for any home where there are pets, are great for allergy sufferers, and can help anyone lead a cleaner, less polluted life. People living in especially dusty areas or areas with high pollen will find air purifiers help them breathe easier in their home. Allergy sufferers should consider an air purifier, as it can help reduce allergies by taking pet hair and dander, dust mites, pollen, and other common allergens out of the air. If you live in a household where someone smokes, air purifiers can also help reduce the amount of smoke in your home.

Will an air purifier get rid of odors?

Certain types of air purifiers will neutralize and remove odors from your home; for example, carbon filtered purifiers will neutralize odors, as will ionic purifiers.

What types of air purifiers are there?

Air purifiers can have a number of different styles of filters. There are HEPA filters, or “high-efficiency particulate air” filters, carbon filters, charged media filters, ion and ozone generators, and antibacterial filters. HEPA filters are industrial-grade filters. Carbon filters use activated carbon or charcoal to neutralize fumes, gasses, and odors within the home. Charged media filters use a particle filter along with an electrostatic charge. Ion and ozone generators release particles into the air that bind to impurities and attach them to a nearby surface. Antibacterial filters are treated with germ-killing agent that destroy bacteria and viruses. An air purifier can use one or more of any of these sorts of filters.

Which type of air purifier is the best?

The best type of air purifier is a purifier that has HEPA filters. HEPA filters were originally developed by the Atomic Energy Commission and are now the standard air filter for airplanes, hospitals, and industrial factories. A HEPA filter must remove at least 99.97% of contaminants from the air, and must be able to filter particles as small as .3 microns. They are regulated by the United States Department of Energy. Beware of air purifiers that advertise filters called “HEPApure” or “truHEPA”, or anything but “true HEPA”; these are HEPA-style filters, but are not actual HEPA filters. Good air purifiers will also include multiple filtration systems, like a HEPA filter paired with a carbon filter, or a pre-filter that has antimicrobial agents paired with a HEPA filter. The second best sort of air purifier will utilize a charged media filter, which generates an electrostatic charge that drags particles into the filter.

How big is a micron?

You will see as you shop for air purifiers that different filters can trap particles of different microns. For reference, dust mites can be as small at 10 microns, pollen can be as small as 2 microns, pet allergens can be as small as .3 microns, and tobacco smoke can be as small as .003 microns. Most common household allergens are large enough to be trapped by even non-HEPA filters.

What is CADR?

CADR, or clean-air delivery rate, is a measure of an air purifier’s efficiency. CADR is determined by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers and is the best way to tell what size room an air purifier can work effectively in. A CADR above 350 is very good, and below 100 is very poor. The CADR of your purifier should be no less than 2/3s the square footage of the room you plan to use it in.

What is ionization?

Ionization is a process by which charged particles are released into the air. These charged particles then bind themselves to impurities in the air and either get dragged back into the purifier’s filter or force the impurities to settle on a nearby surface. Air purifiers that only offer ionization often cause small pockets of dirt and dust to gather on walls or furniture, while air purifiers that have an ion generator as well as a filter will trap the impurities in the filter.

What is ozone?

Ozone is a clean-smelling gas that is generated by many ionic filters and electrostatic filters. Some purifiers are even pure ozone generators. While there is no definitive evidence that ozone negatively affects human health, it is not recommended for anyone with asthma or COPD to use an air purifier that generates ozone, and many people prefer to avoid ozone-generating purifiers due to worries about possible lung damage.

Will I need to replace my filters?

Depending on the air purifier you buy you may need to replace the filters. HEPA filters do need to be replaced every year and a half or less depending on usage, while carbon filters need to be replaced every three to six months. Some non-HEPA filters are permanent and are cleaned with a vacuum, but they should be cleaned regularly. Typically, pre-filters do not need to be replaced, but do need to be cleaned often.

Are air purifiers loud?

Some air purifiers are louder than others; typically, air purifiers come with different settings like high, medium, and low. The noise of a purifier depends on how high you set it, as well as the way it is made. The noise generated by an air purifier is very similar to the noise generated by a white noise machine, which many people use for sleeping. It can also sound a little bit like a fan. Some people do not find that the noise generated by air purifiers bothers them, and actually helps them sleep at night, though others are very sensitive to noise and will be annoyed by even the quietest air purifier.

Are air purifiers expensive?

The better the air purifier, the more expensive it will be. You can get cheaper, lower-quality air purifiers if your allergies are not severe or you don’t have pets, but people with serious allergies, pets, tobacco smoke, or lung disease should invest in higher-priced filters. Air purifiers range from as low as $30 to as much as $1,000.

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