Pollen allergy, asthma, pets ... respiratory diseases are a reality more and more present and their prevalence is increasing. If this is your case, you may have considered buying an air purifier (or it has even been recommended by health personnel), a device very similar in appearance to air conditioners but with the mission of providing better air.
How an air purifier works
The mission of a air purifier is to eliminate elements present in the air: pollen, dust mites, dust, tobacco smoke... in general, pollutants. As a result, it restores a cleaner air and in some cases, with less odors, because they trap the particles that are responsible.
Air purifiers are used to remove particles from the air. To do this, they first capture the ambient air with a fan and, after passing through a filtration system where the impurities are trapped, the air is returned to the room.
Although there are several technologies to purify air such as electrostatic precipitators or the use of ozone, the one used commercially is high efficiency filters.
High efficiency filters offer an effective and safe solution. Of course, they are not perfect, needing to be replaced periodically to continue to do their job. In fact, the starting point when choosing an air purifier will be precisely how much retention they offer. The best air purifiers can effectively remove dust, pollen, pet dander and various chemicals or toxins from the air. As such, they can offer a wide range of benefits for people with allergies or respiratory disorders, such as asthma.
The retention capacity of the filter that integrates the air purifier is essential because it determines the quality of the air that will enter the room. In this sense, it is recommended to look for models equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters.
Why this nuance? For a filter to be called medical HEPA, it must meet certain standards, ie it must trap all particles equal to or greater than 0.3 microns in diameter with an efficiency of 99.97%.
Thus, one can also find other models with "HEPA-type" filters, generally more affordable but also less efficient, which either do not meet the medical HEPA standards or have not been tested in independent laboratories.
2. How big is the room to be cleaned?
The next aspect to evaluate is the square footage of the room we are going to purify the air from. It is not the same thing to make it work in a room of 10 square meters than in a room of 50 square meters.
To size the room, we will simply calculate its volume. That is: its surface area multiplied by its height. Air purifiers offer this information or an approximation of the area to be purified in their specifications.
It is important to know this information in order to be able to size our purification needs, so as not to invest more than necessary in an oversized purifier.
Along with the purification needs, there is the power required to achieve it in the time specified in the specifications. In general, the more cubic meters we need to cover, the more power we will need. This power is usually given in terms of the flow of purified air per unit of time.
If there is a shortage of power, the air purifier will be forced to run longer, which in the long run will affect both the performance of the device, its useful life and its electricity consumption.
It's easy to forget about the noise section when choosing an air purifier, a mistake we'll pay for as soon as we take it out of the box and get it working.
If it is true that due to its size, it is a portable device, we must take into account that the air purifier will work in our home continuously, in our presence and sometimes, when we sleep or do activities that require silence.
In this sense, it is worth looking at the level of noise generated, always looking for those that are quieter or have a night mode. However, it is not the same to use it in the baby's room as to put it in an office.
To get an idea of the noise levels, some remarks: the ideal for sleeping is that it is less than 30 dB and the noise generated by a refrigerator in good condition is between 30 and 50 dB.
5. Other factors to consider
After reviewing the basic factors, there are others that may be of interest.
How they are managed and whether they are programmable. While the most basic models are controlled on site from the unit itself, there are programmable and remote controlled models or even an app to manage it electronically. Although they are not as popular as air conditioners or robot vacuum cleaners, there are already some models that can be integrated into the smart home, so that we can manage them using a voice assistant.
This includes sensors so that they work autonomously, detecting variations in air quality and particles, adjusting both their operating time and power used.
That they have additional technologies that complement the purification of HEPA filters such as ionization, activated carbon or ultraviolet light. Thus, those with an additional carbon filter are interesting if you want to neutralize odors, ionizers help neutralize particles and UV light helps neutralize bacteria accumulated on the filters.
Frequency of filter replacement. The useful life of a HEPA filter is limited, and while the manufacturer usually provides an approximate time frame for changing it, there are models that signal deterioration of this key part.
It includes a quieter night mode with dimmed panel lighting and a filter change indicator. It lends itself well to a room size of 150 square feet and is one of the most popular models. Its medical grade HEPA filter filters out particles as small as 0.3 microns and is of great benefit to allergy sufferers.