What is the Best Air Cleaner
If you have allergies or asthma or are just desire improved indoor air quality, then you have probably considered the purchase of an air cleaner. There are so many makes and models on the market choosing one can be overwhelming. HEPA air cleaner costs seem to run from inexpensive to extremely expensive.
Many people give up the search because it is just too confusing. Others purchase the wrong type or model and are unhappy with the results they see because they purchased the wrong thing. How do you know what air cleaner is best for your needs?
We hope to educate you so that when it comes time to buy a HEPA air cleaner, you will make the right choice for you.
What is a HEPA Air Cleaner?
To be labeled a true HEPA air filter or cleaner, the filter must arrest very fine particles. HEPA is an acronym that stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. It is a measurement that says that 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size will be captured or “arrested” by the filter. To be true HEPA, it must meet these requirements.
This standard was developed during research to develop the nuclear bomb. Scientists knew they had very small, very toxic particles with which to contend and needed a method of protection. Thus, the HEPA filter was born.
If a filter is marked HEPA type or HEPA like or hospital quality, then that does not make it true HEPA. When in doubt, be sure to ask if it is true HEPA.
What is the Difference Between a Filter and a Purifier?
A filter by definition removes particles from the air by trapping them and preventing them from becoming airborne again. A purifier removes particles or odors from the air. It may or may not use filtration to achieve purification. For example, some air cleaners are not filters but ionizers. An ionizer causes particles to fall from the air or to stick to electrically charges rods or plates. An ionizer does not filter the air. An ionizer is not a HEPA air cleaner: it is an air purifier.
Some air cleaners utilize various forms of technology (such as Airfree TSS) to incinerate pollutants. These air cleaners will pull air into the unit, expose it to extremely high temperatures to burn off any particles, and then release air back into the room. These units are air purifiers and not HEPA air cleaners.
Some air purifiers emit a super-oxygenated substance called ozone. Ozone is oxygen that consists of three molecules of oxygen instead of the normal two molecules in the oxygen that we breathe. This third molecule acts as an oxidizer or free radical to remove pollutants from the air. Ozone is very effective from removing organic odors but is toxic in large doses.
Ozone should not be used in occupied areas and never around people with asthma or allergies as it is a respiratory irritant as well. Unfortunately, some companies market ozone generators as air purifiers. These units are not HEPA air cleaners.
How Do I Pick The Best Air Cleaner?
The most important thing in making your air cleaner decision is the size of the room that you must clean. Large rooms need machines with large motors and large filters. Small rooms such as a dorm room or office cubicle can be cleaned with a small machine with a small motor and a small filter.
When evaluating a HEPA air cleaner, you want to know about the motor. The filter can only trap the particles in the air if they ever make it to the filter. You need a good motor to keep the air moving. If you look at the specifications for the unit, you should see the power of the motor as expressed in the number of cubic feet per minute of air it can move. This may be referred to as the ‘CFM” of the motor. The higher the CFM, the better the filter can clean.
The second factor is the size of the filter. Machines with small filters will need to have the filters replaced frequently. Not only filter changes a chore, but they add to the operating expense of the filter. You want a filter that is large enough to last several years unless you are willing to spend the time and money on frequent filter changes.
Stay away from machines with washable filters. These are generally pre-filters. If a “washable” filter is not thoroughly cleaned, rinsed, and dried before it is returned to the filter, it can harbor molds and bacteria. In that case, washing the filter just made the situation worse and not better.
Another consideration is if you want your HEPA air cleaner to remove anything else besides particles. Some makes of HEPA air cleaners (like the Austin Air Allergy Machine) utilize carbon to remove gasses and odors that ride on gasses. AirPura makes a HEPA air cleaner that is specifically designed to remove tobacco odors and chemicals. In addition to HEPA filtration, the T600 has filtration for tar and the chemicals found in tobacco smoke.
A final consideration is a warranty. If there is a problem with the machine, what is the warranty and what does it cover?
A quality HEPA air cleaner will not be inexpensive but should last for many years. As with any appliance that has a long life, the warranty is important to understand any limitations before you make a purchase.
If you are not sure what air cleaner would be best for your room size and budget, give The Allergy Store a call at 1-800-771-2246.
Be sure to know the size of the room in which the air must be cleaned and what you hope to remove from the air before you give us a call. Based on your personal situation, we will be able to recommend the proper air cleaner for your needs.
Wishing you the best of health
The Allergy Store