How an Air Purifier's Ionizer Works

Helping Clean the Air More Efficiently

Lasko Wind Curve 2551 Tower Fan With Lonizer
Photo Courtesy Amazon

When you buy an air purifier you often have the option of getting a model that has an ionizer. A built-in independent ionizer helps to trap airborne particles and more efficiently clean the air in your home. This may help you breathe better, as long as you are vacuuming and dusting frequently. However, an ionizer's usefulness can be hampered if you don't change the HEPA filter often enough.

How an Ionizer Helps Clean the Air

Ionizers work due to the electrical effects of positive and negative charges, which are attracted to each other. When the air cleaner’s ionizer is turned on, voltage is applied to a series of built-in needles, creating electrons which are discharged into the air. When these electrons attach to air molecules, negatively-charged ions are formed.

These negative ions are expelled into the room where they attach to positively-charged dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, and pet dander to form larger particles. These can more easily be trapped by your air cleaner's filters. These particles can also descend to the floor to be vacuumed later. They may attach to positively charged surfaces in the room and the grill of your air cleaner, requiring frequent dusting.

HEPA Filter

If your HEPA filter requires cleaning or is close to the end of its lifespan, particles may not be filtered but may be returned to the room. For this reason, the ionizer should be turned off until the filter is changed. If your home has more than the average amount of allergens such as animal dander or smoke, the usual lifecycle of a HEPA filter can be greatly reduced.

A House With Pets Should Replace Filters Monthly

A household with multiple pets should expect to replace their air purifier's filter monthly, if not more. Check your air cleaner's operation manual for recommendations on how often to change your filters, but do keep in mind that these guidelines are based on average home air quality and may not take pets into consideration.

air purifier ionizer
Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018 

Freshens the Air in Positive Ways

Some could argue that an ionizer air purifier also freshens the air in a positive and healthy way. Negative ions are present in the natural environment wherever the air is stirred up, especially around waterfalls, ocean surf, rivers, and mountains. Think of how you feel or breathe close to a waterfall. It's quite energizing, similar to the air right after a rainfall.

Many people believe that negative ions promote wellness when there are more negative ions than positive ones in the air you breathe. This is scientifically unproven and has largely remained a wellness strategy. On the other hand, positive ions are also present around you, in carpets, draperies, and allergens in your home.

Examples of Air Purifiers and Fans With Ionizers

The Honeywell HFD-120-Q Quiet Clean Tower Air Purifier is a good example of an air purifier with an ionizer, plus it has very good features for the price. Ionizers are also available as individual air quality machines and are included built-in features in some air circulating fans, such as the Lasko 2551 Wind Curve Platinum Tower Fan. This type of feature in a fan would help to freshen the air as it recirculates it around the room to make you more comfortable.