What Should I Look for in a Good Air Purifier?

The best air purifiers are those that effectively disinfect air from dust, smoke, pollen, and other airborne particles. Consumer Reports recommends more than two dozen models in their air cleaner ratings, most of which use a HEPA filter and some also have carbon filters. To choose the right size air purifier for your needs, consider the square footage of the room you want to purify. It is important to use an air purifier that contains a properly sized filter; too small and it won't filter the air properly, too big and it's an exaggeration and a waste of electricity.

Air purifiers are tested and evaluated based on their Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which is essentially a measure of the efficiency of the air purifier or the amount of clean air it can deliver in a room of a specific size. Both airflow and particulate removal efficiency are used to calculate it, and it is a standardized test carried out by an independent group. When testing air purifiers, Consumer Reports verifies certification and ensures that the air purifier is only used in a properly sized room. They also look at the size (i.e.

footprint) of the purifier product for the intended room and the score based on whether the purifier appears to be an appropriate size or too large for the space. It's important to note that air purifiers are different from air quality monitors. An air purifier will actually eliminate air pollutants, whereas even the best indoor air quality monitors can't. An air quality monitor simply detects the types of pollutants in the air and reports the level of various substances.

These units are good for people who want to know exactly what types of pollutants are in the air so that they can find the root source to eliminate them. Choosing the right filtration technology is probably the most important part of buying an air purifier. Different types of filters can address different types of indoor air pollution, so it's essential to make sure you're getting one that can meet your specific needs. To keep energy costs low, try looking for drives that consume less than 100 watts at their highest configuration.

For example, Molekule Air uses 20 to 80 watts of energy when in use, and Molekule Air Mini only uses 18 to 53 watts. The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy offers an online calculator that can help you determine how adding an air purifier may affect your annual energy bill. Specialized air purifiers made to combat mold and bacteria are the best way to make sure you stay healthy while you're inside. For best air cleaning results, it is recommended to use the air purifier continuously throughout the day.

If you have allergies or asthma and are looking for an air purifier to help you manage your symptoms, you should also consider the hourly air change rate (ACH) of an air purifier. Pre-filtering the air in this way removes a lot of stress from the lungs and ensures that you only breathe clean, fresh air indoors. In addition, considering the low levels of ultraviolet light present in residential air purifiers, it is doubtful that this feature provides a significant additional benefit in terms of improving indoor air quality. Once you narrow down your primary air quality concerns, your search for an air purifier becomes much more manageable; just look for a model that is suitable for your room size, design preferences, noise level and budget.

Four main types of filters are used in modern-day air purifiers: mechanical filters (HEPA), activated carbon filters, ozone generators, and ultraviolet light filters. Mechanical filters trap particles as small as 0.3 microns in size; activated carbon filters absorb odors; ozone generators produce ozone which oxidizes particles; and ultraviolet light filters kill bacteria and viruses with UV radiation. Because activated carbon filters don't fight particles, many air purifiers have an activated carbon filter and a mechanical filter to trap particles. For best results when using an air purifier, set a calendar reminder to change the filter based on its maintenance schedule so that you don't need to rely on filter replacement lights.