In this Guide we will look at how different models of Air Purifiers work and what you should look for when making your purchase.
Before you invest in an expensive Air Purification system whether it is a whole home or single room device it should be noted that when possible the most effective way of getting clean air into your living space is by opening a window or by use of an air exchanger on your HVAC system.
Home Air problems come in two types:
Particulate pollutants: This includes common dust, animal dander hair, pollen, dust mites, bacteria, molds and other materials with solid physical properties.
Gaseous pollutants: gases from stoves, carbon dioxide, pesticides, out gassing of foam plastic and paints, cleaning products, adhesives and other pollutants in their gas form.
What Pollutants can Air Purifiers Remove?
For the most part air cleaning systems can remove most particulate and gaseous pollutant however their effectiveness and cost may be out of the range of the normal home instillation.
Oxygen Levels – One important note Air Purifiers can not normally improve the levels of Oxygen in your room. This is important to know if you are setting up a hobby paint booth or live in a home with problem CO2 levels. Your best solution is to cure the problem by introducing fresh outside air and not try to clean your way out as if you were in the space shuttle where no fresh air is available.
There are two main methods of removing particulate. Either mechanically with a filter or through an electrostatic charge.
Mechanical filters come in a variety of levels of efficiency and work by passing room air through the filter to capture the particulate. The more efficient the filter is the faster it will need cleaning or replacing. Some filters can remove only larger particles of dust and hair fibers while high efficiency filters (HEPA filters) may be able to trap and filter much smaller particulate like pollen and molds.
Although some filters will say they can trap a virus the level of efficiency needed to effectively trap a virus can only be found in hospitals and commercial clean rooms. While it is possible that inspection of a standard home filter may show a virus on the filtering material it should not be relied on as a way to stop the spread of disease.
Cost of Particulate Filtering Systems
The initial cost of a Mechanical filtering system with removable filters can be relatively low. The cost of operating the system over time will be found in the replacement of filters. If you have an Ink Jet printer you understand that the printer may only cost $50 but to operate it over the course of a year can get extremely high if you constantly need to replace the ink cartridges.
Electrostatic Filtering Systems often have a higher initial cost and depending on the design may or may not need replacement or cleaning of a secondary particulate filter.
Electric Costs – Each device that you purchase should have a rating that describes the watts required and the approximate cost over a period of a year. Be careful when using the yearly electric estimate prices. They often do not rate the cost for constant operation or use year round.
Gaseous Pollutant Filtration
There are times when you may want to remove or treat gaseous pollutants in your home. As first noted the best way to improve air quality is often by introducing fresh outdoor air into your living area. The cure of Gaseous Pollutants should be first conducted by eliminating the source of the pollutant.
Gaseous filtration can be accomplished through UV light and Carbon filtration.
If you are in need of this type of filter you should consult the manufacture or a certified professional.
Manufacturers often rate their filters good better best to give the consumer a quick idea of how a filter may perform The MERV rating system was adopted to rate different filters from different manufacturers against each other to provide a common standard.
The MERV Rating system is a number from 1 to 20 with one being the worst and 20 being the best. When looking for a HEPA filter you may see manufacturers describing a HEPA Type filter however true HEPA filters have a MERV Rating of 17 and above.
Home Furnace Filters are rated at a MERV rating of 1 to 4 and most personal or single room filters are rated at a level of 5 to 12 on the MERV scale.
Most filters with a rating over 8 can provide some relief for people that suffer from pollutants but if you are in need of a device for medical reasons you should consult your doctor and use the device they suggest in the method they suggest.
The use of a home filtration device can provide relief for most people but inspection and modification of your home may be required to give an ultimate solution.
Replacing carpets with hardwood floors, changing of bedding materials and reducing dust buildup by using a humidifier are all options that you should think about.
Proper maintenance and care for your filter system is also important. Follow manufacturers directions for use and cleaning.
If your necessity is medically related you should consult with your doctor and a trained professional.