Air cleaners and purifiers can filter the air your family breathes by removing particles such as dust, pet allergens, odors and smoke from your home. The air that is returned to the room is much cleaner. Air cleaners are available in portable units or whole-home systems.
There are many on the market with various filtration stages and some have enhanced air quality features, so prices vary considerably. Before you start shopping for an air purifier, these tips can help you sort through the air cleaner features.
Where Will You Place The Air Cleaner?
Portable air cleaners can be used in any dry area of your home. The most likely area is the room where it can be of most benefit - where there is the largest concentration of allergens, or the bedroom where you spend the most of a 24 hour period.
You can even take a small unit with you on vacation for use in motel rooms. If you intend to transfer it from room to room often, you may want to consider a compact model. Find a level and secure spot for it close to a plug-in outlet, and at least 3" or so from the wall for adequate air circulation. Certain models require more clearances - read the product manual.
Capacity of the Unit for Size of Room
What size or capacity of air cleaner depends totally on the size of the room area you intend to use it in. Efficiency ratings are based on average room sizes, and how many times per hour that volume of air will pass through the unit. Measure your room's dimensions and buy according to the recommended coverage area (or higher than required). Decide on special features you'd like, like quiet and multiple settings. Some have night lights which is quite handy.
Generally, the more filtration - the better. Read the packaging for features such as 3 stage (or more) filtration. You can also find the CADR rating on the packaging. The air cleaner pulls air in and it passes first through a pre-filter, trapping larger particles.
If there are multiple filtration stages, the air would then pass through additional filters such as a HEPA-type or a carbon filter. Certified HEPA® filters can remove more than 98% of particles that are airborne making these the most efficient. Each filtration stage means more screening and removal, so more is better.
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Availability of Filters
If your unit is not a common brand, you may have difficulty finding replacement filters later. This may impact what brand you decide on. Also check on filter prices, it's good to know ahead. HEPA® filters cost more than carbon filters. It's a good idea to buy a replacement set of filters to have on hand at the same time you purchase your air cleaner. For best performance, follow the manufacturer's recommendation as to when to change filters; it does vary by model.
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Certification & Prices
Air cleaners are not cheap, especially those with multi or HEPA® filters. Additional features such as an ionizer or nano-silver technology will increase the price considerably. There are HEPA-type filters which cost less, but if you want genuine HEPA®, ensure the registered trademark is present on the packaging.
Know what you are buying and inspect the unit for certification, efficiency ratings and to ensure that it meets the product standards for your area. Also check for warranty details. Make sure a parts list is included - this could help you later. Take get the best air purifier, take time to compare prices and read reviews to learn how consumers feel about their air cleaner purchases.
It's Home - Now What
Ensure it keeps operating efficiently. Change or clean carbon, pre-filters, and HEPA filters regularly. Some filters need changing every couple of months, and HEPA® filters every 2-4 years. Confirm filter change recommendations as noted in your product manual. Some pre-filters may be washable. Vacuum often the intake airflow grates on the outside. They tend to collect a lot of dust and particles when they pull air in, as does the area near the air outflow.
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Other Notes & Hints
Changing the pre-filter often will protect the HEPA® filter which is more expensive to change. Keep door closed to the area if possible for better cleaning efficiency. Buy a unit made for a larger area - it will clean a small room better. If unit is in a bedroom, set it to 'quiet' mode for nighttime and 'high' for daytime. For best efficiency, it should run continuously.
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Enhanced Air Purifying Technologies
Some air purifiers have features such as an ionizer which discharges ions to the room. This can help to remove further particles. Nano-silver technology has bacteria protection benefits and is a feature in many small home appliances.
Another air purification system that is gaining popularity is bacteria-fighting UV technology. UV which stands for ultra-violet rays that kill bacteria and other microbes, has become a standard in many homes to improve drinking water quality. Some purifiers do not necessarily just trap particles, but destroys them such as Oreck's Professional Air Tower with Truman Cell Technology.
The Germ Guardian Air Cleaning System featured has several outstanding features to clean minute particles and bacteria from the room, with True HEPA, UV and odor reduction.