Breathe Deep: Best Air Purifier for Your Home
Why would you need the best air purifier for your home? You might assume that the air inside your home is cleaner than the air outside. After all, cars don’t drive through the house, and smokestacks don’t billow black clouds in your living room. But you may be surprised to learn that your indoor air quality is most likely worse than the air quality outside. In fact, The US Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental health risks. How can this be?
The Air Inside Your Home
There are two main categories of indoor air pollutants: particulate matter and gaseous pollutants. Particulate matter includes things like dust, viruses, bacteria, pollen, molds, dust mite and cockroach body parts and droppings, and animal dander. Eww! Gaseous pollutants come from sources such as tobacco smoke, building materials and furnishings, and products such as paints, adhesives, dyes, solvents, caulks, cleaners, deodorizers, cleaning chemicals, waxes, hobby and craft materials, and pesticides. So…basically everything in your house (or at least it seems that way)!
For most people, these pollutants don’t pose an immediate danger. But for certain categories of people, like children, the elderly, allergy sufferers, or those with asthma, it might be a problem. If you are worried about the indoor air quality in your home, you might consider using an air purifier.
An air purifier is a device that scrubs indoor air of microscopic dust, pollen, mold spores and other particles or gasses. Keep in mind, however, that indoor air purifiers are not regulated by any governmental agency, so it’s important to do your research before buying to ensure you get the best air purifier for your home.
What to Look For
So how do you know that you’re buying the best air purifier for your circumstances? Let’s take a look at the different criteria you should consider before buying:
1) First, you need to make sure that the purifier is appropriate for your room size. Most manufacturers provide this information. Easy enough! You can also look at the clean air delivery rate (CADR). The CADR details the maximum square footage recommended in which to use the filter and how quickly it can remove three types of pollutants: dust (with a number ranging from 10 to 400), smoke (10 to 450), and pollen (25 to 450). The higher the value, the faster — but not necessarily the more thoroughly — the machine filters the air.
2) Check the type of technology the purifier uses. Different technologies are good for different purposes.
- Electrostatic purifiers are effective against allergens, particulates, some odors, and some gasses. They are not effective against bacteria and viruses, and the collection plates must be changed regularly.
- Activated carbon filter purifiers remove fumes, odors, smoke, and gasses from the air, but they are not effective against allergens, dust, or microorganisms. Since these purifiers have a filter, you have to change the filter regularly.
- HEPA filter purifiers take care of hair, dust, spore, mold, pollen, particulates, and some bacteria. They do not remove gases, viruses, or odors from the air, and they also require regular filter changes. This is the best air purifier choice for most since it handles the major causes of allergies and asthma.
- UV purifiers can remove viruses, microorganisms, bacteria, pathogens, mold, and organic gases from the air, but are not effective against other gases, particulates, or odors.
- Ionic purifiers can remove particulates, some viruses, smoke, and bacteria from the air, but are not ideal for fungus, germs or some viruses. These machines cause particles to clump together and fall to the ground, so fallen particles may make the floors and walls dirty.
3) If you’re looking for a purifier to help with allergies or asthma, look for one that is “Asthma and Allergy Friendly” certified. This is a relatively new certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, and only one brand has qualified for certification so far. You can feel sure that these purifiers don’t just redistribute the allergens, but eliminate them.
4) Beware of ozone. Some purifiers (usually those marketed as air fresheners) generate ozone for its pleasant-smelling fragrance. Ozone, however, is a lung irritant so you would do well to avoid these products.
There are many air purifiers on the market, but here are my top choices – ones you can feel good about buying because they do what they promise.
This purifier, as the name suggests, uses HEPA filtration to remove particulates and some bacteria from the air. It’s suitable for rooms up to 225 square feet in size. This model has two filters – a “pre filter” that captures larger particles, and the HEPA filter, which captures allergens and smaller particles. The Honeywell Pure HEPA is quite loud, but if you enjoy the white noise for sleeping, then it’s an ideal purchase at under one hundred dollars.
The Blueair purifier uses HEPA filtration and electrostatic technology to reduce particulates in your indoor air. The machine is actually Energy Star rated, which is nice since these devices can suck up a good amount of electricity. The Blueair is very quiet. I wouldn’t say it’s silent, but the noise it makes is very soft and not bothersome by any means. The unit is appropriate for rooms 175 square feet and under, so if you’re looking to use it in a very large room, consider another product.
The Winix Air Cleaner employs HEPA filtration and carbon filtration to tackle both particulates and odors in your home, making it ideal for those with pets. The machine is appropriate for rooms up to 284 square feet in size. It’s Energy Star rated, operates very quietly, and programs easily. The filters, which you must replace annually, can be a bit pricey.
The IQAir, while extremely expensive, is effective for an extremely large room – up to 1,125 square feet. This makes it ideal for living rooms or common spaces of the house. The technology is effective against particulates (including dust, dander, mold spores, and pollen) and low level gases and odors. The machine can be a bit noisy at higher settings, but is quiet when operating on the lower settings.
Best Air Purifier – Author’s Choice
Rabbit Air MinusA2 model SPA-700A ($459.95)
This is my top choice for best air purifiers because it is “asthma and allergy friendly” certified. It works in rooms up to 700 square feet, and has a variety of filter choices to tackle your individual concerns: germs, odors, pet allergens, or home toxins. The product is Energy Star rated, and can be mounted on a wall to keep out of reach of little children. In quiet mode, the unit is almost silent.
In addition to using an air purifier, be sure to keep your home well ventilated to improve air quality. It’s also smart to limit the sources of indoor pollutants. Some ways to do this are eliminating tobacco smoke, using no-VOC paint, installing natural fiber carpeting, and purchasing furniture made without harmful chemicals. These steps, along with using a purifier in your house, will ensure the best indoor air quality possible. Your health is worth it.
If you like this article, check out our other reviews on home products like best blenders