Smart Shoppers Air Purifier Rating Cheat Sheet

If you want something done right, do it yourself! Nothing could be truer when rating air purifier performance. Trustworthy reviews are scarcer than Dodo birds. So here is a ten point checklist to help you do your own air purifier rating.

#1 Determine the Type of Air Purifier

This is simple enough. There are six types widely marketed as air cleaners. Here is the bottom line:

  • HEPA uses a specialized filter capable of removing particulates down to .01 micron. This includes mechanically or chemically produced dusts and mists, biologically produced allergens and pathogens like bacteria and viruses. The 0.3 micron size often stated in ads refers to the Most Penetrating Particle Size. It only allows a mere three in ten thousand of these particles through.
  • HEPA Type: Maybe as good as 95% HEPA performance, maybe as bad as 50%. Who knows? Real data is hard to find. If you don’t know what you’re getting, why buy? Steer clear of anything labeled something-HEPA or HEPA-something.
  • Electret Type Electrostatically Charged Fibers make the best furnace filters you can buy. When used in an air purifier, like the 3M Ultra Clean, they do a good job. Unfortunately effectiveness declines steadily and they should be replaced every three months. A low initial cost is offset by filter replacements over the life of the unit. Good for allergies but compare lifetime cost against the better HEPA units.
  • Electrostatic Precipitators: Initial indoor air quality hong kong efficiencies lie in the 50% to 80% range, similar to HEPA-type filters. Unfortunately plate loading can reduce efficiency by as much as 80% in as few as three days. Regular maintenance cleaning is a must. Ozone is produced, often at dangerous levels. Avoid them.
  • Ionizers use high voltage to electrically charge particles causing them to “static cling” to something. Unfortunately they cling to walls and furniture producing the dreaded “black wall effect.” The EPA thinks they may also cling to your lungs. Avoid them.
  • Ozone Generators are banned in Canada, all but banned in California, and are very much discouraged by agencies like the EPA. Ozone sickens and kills. Reject utterly.

#2 Size Matters When It Comes To The Filter

More filter surface means less resistance to air flow, thus more air flow. More particles are captured with each pass. Room air is cleaned faster. The filter lasts longer before replacement.

#3 Total System Efficiency

Just because it has a HEPA filter doesn’t mean its nearly 100% efficient. Some air purifiers bypass air to help reduce backpressure and cool the motor. Some leak like sieves due to poor construction. Any air not going through the filter is air not being cleaned. Look for an air purifier proud to verify total system efficiency like the IQAir HealthPro series.

#4 Air Changes per Hour

For greatest health benefits you need 4 to 6 air changes per hour. This should be measured on some speed other than high. High is always the noisiest speed. So unless you’re fine with the sound of a hurricane in your home, find one that exchanges the air sufficiently at a lower speed.

#5 Filter Costs

Air purifiers with separate pre-filters, main filter and gas phase carbon filter usually cost less in the long run than those with fully integrated filter systems. Long filter life will also reduce your long term costs.

#6 Filter Changing Ease

Most air purifier manufacturers make it easy, but there are some that require tools and a major disassembly operation. Top quality doesn’t have to be complicated as proven by IQAir air purifiers.

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