Air Purifiers: What are they?
An air purifier is a device used to remove airborne particles from the air. It consists of two parts; an intake filter and an exhaust filter. The filters allow only clean, fresh or pure air into the machine while blocking out all other pollutants. Some types of machines have built-in filtration systems that can automatically adjust their settings according to your specific needs. Other models include manual controls, which require some maintenance but make it easier to maintain and operate.
Types of Air Purifiers
There are several different types of air purifiers available today. They range from simple units with no filtering system at all to sophisticated devices designed specifically for allergens.
Some machines use ozone generators, others rely on activated carbon filtration systems and still others utilize HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. All of these types of air purifiers work by removing particulates from the air. These particles cause various health problems such as asthma attacks, lung cancer and heart disease.
What Are Pollutants?
Pollutants are microscopic solid or liquid substances that can affect human health when inhaled or ingested. There are many different kinds of pollutants, including dust mites, pollen, mold spores and bacteria. Pollen is a major cause of hay fever and can trigger asthma attacks. Mold can grow in wet areas like bathrooms and basements, releasing allergens into the air. Bacterial infections can also be inhaled when walking through contaminated areas. Another major source of airborne pollutants are toxic chemicals from cleaning supplies, pesticides and even cigarettes.
Many people don’t realize just how many pollutants they’re breathing in on a daily basis. The air inside your home can actually be more polluted than the outside air in some urban and industrial areas.
For this reason, many homeowners are using air purifiers to remove contaminants from their living and work spaces.
Will an Air Purifier Help Me?
Air purifiers have many benefits for people suffering from various health conditions. If you or someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, an air purifier can help alleviate shortness of breath and other respiratory ailments. Pollen, dust mites and mold spores are common allergens and can be quickly eliminated with an air purifier.
If you work or spend a lot of time around chemical fumes or other types of pollution, an air purifier can lessen the effects on your health. Many people who suffer from long-term exposure to pollution develop lung cancer, emphysema and other respiratory problems.
An air purifier with a high-quality HEPA filter can reduce your exposure to dangerous chemicals and remove pollutants from the air, leaving you with cleaner, safer air to breathe.
Do Air Purifiers Really Work?
Many types of air purifiers do an excellent job of cleaning the air in your home or workspace. An air purifier is different from an air filter in that it has the ability to actually destroy airborne pollutants. When you use a high-quality air purifier, your health will benefit because the device is constantly destroying pollutants before you inhale them.
Air purifiers come in a wide range of prices. If you want to save money, you can buy a disposable paper air filter to put in a cheap fan.
This type of air purifier is fairly effortless to use and is great for emergencies when you want to relieve symptoms of asthma or allergies.
Other types of air purifiers are more long-term solutions for healthy living. If you’re looking for a more permanent air filtration system, it’s wise to invest in a high-quality device.
A good air purifier will have features like a HEPA filter, a built-in ionizer and an automatic timer.
When shopping for an air purifier, it’s important to do your research. Many manufacturers claim that their devices can eliminate up to 99% of airborne pollutants, but this just isn’t true.
If you see this claim, look at some of the fine print. You’ll most likely find that the purifier only destroys about 70% of certain particles.
On the other hand, some air purifiers can eliminate up to 99% of some airborne particles. When looking at these products, check and see what they say about elimination percentage for specific pollutants.
For example, an air purifier may eliminate 85% of tobacco smoke particles and 95% of pet dander particles. This means you’ll still have to vacuum or sweep up pet dander quite often.
Whether you’re shopping for a disposable paper filter to put inside a fan or looking to buy a high-end purifier, it’s important to make sure the device has the ability to handle the conditions of your home or workspace. For best results, look for an air purifier that has the ability to tackle the specific problems in your home.
What are the Different Types of Air Purifiers?
You can classify air purifiers using several different methods. The first way to classify these devices is by how they handle the air in a particular space. There are four types of devices:
1) Supply-Only Filters: These types of filters are commonly found in fan heaters, wall heaters and other appliances.
A supply-only filter takes in air from the front and blows it out the back. Unfortunately, these types of filters do nothing to clean the air.
2) Recirculating Purifiers: These devices have a fan that moves air through a filter.
The air then passes back into the room you’re in without going anywhere else. For this reason, recirculating purifiers do a great job of cleaning the air in that particular room.
Unfortunately, these devices don’t do a thing for the air in any other part of your home.
3) Supply & Recirculating Combo Filters: This type of filter works like a regular supply-and-recirculating purifier, but it’s bigger and heavier than the others.
This size is a good fit for larger rooms that you want to keep well-ventilated. If you suffer from serious allergies, look for a model with both a HEPA filter and an activated-charcoal filter.
These two filters work together to remove a wide range of toxic substances.
4) Whole House Filters: These filters are the largest and most powerful air purifiers available.
They’re good at removing dust, pollen, mold spores and various pet allergens from your entire house. Unfortunately, a whole house filter is too big to use in anything except your furnace’s HVAC system.
If you decide to buy one of these filters, have a professional install it for you.
The second way to classify air purifiers is by the area of the air that they clean. The two major classifications are:
1) Clean air purifiers: These devices cleanse the larger air particles from the air.
Most of these purifiers use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) filter to remove dust, pet dander, ragweed pollen and other airborne allergens. A few common types include portable room air cleaners with a HEPA filter and built-in wall or ceiling mount units with a built-in HEPA filter.
2) True HEPA purifiers: These devices clean the tiniest air particles from the air.
government created a classification system for air filters called the MERV rating scale. Higher MERV ratings indicate greater filter efficiency. Most true HEPA filters have a MERV rating of 12 (the highest possible). Because of their superior filtration abilities, these purifiers are great for people who suffer from serious allergies or asthma.
The third way to classify air purifiers is by their style of filtration. The two most common types found in air purifiers are:
1) Mechanical Filters: Also known as particulate filters, these filters use a physical barrier to trap airborne allergens.
The three main types of mechanical filters are fiberglass, cotton and electrostatic filters. These types of filters are cheaper than other filter types, but they require regular replacement to continue working effectively.
2) Chemical / Carbon Filters: Unlike mechanical filters, chemical filters don’t capture allergens directly.
Instead, chemical filters absorb the particulates and gases that make up allergens. They then trap these airborne contaminants in a sticky gel.
These filters protect your HEPA filter from being clogged and ensure smooth airflow.
While there are many types of air purifiers on the market, only a few are worth considering. The best air purifiers will have at least one specialized feature that sets them apart from the rest of the pack.
The three most common types of specialized features you’ll find on the market are:
1) Plasma Purification: Also known as P.
(Polymerized Activated Hydrogen), this type of purification uses an electric charge to transform oxygen molecules in the air into pure oxygen gas. (Oxygen is a natural disinfectant and can eliminate up to 82% of airborne viruses, bacteria and mold spores.) The P.A.H. process can also eliminate odors caused by pet urine, cigarette smoke, cooking, etc.
2) Negative Ions: Every day you’re exposed to positive ions from pollution, sunlight, electronic devices and many other sources.
Eventually these positive ions can make you feel run down, tired and just generally cranky. Negative ion air purifiers use an electric charge to neutralize positive ions in the air, creating a feeling of relaxation.
3) Oxygen Booster: Our modern lifestyle creates an environment that limits the amount of oxygen in our air.
When we breathe, our lungs absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. But carbon dioxide is a heavier molecule than oxygen, which means it’s harder for our lungs to absorb it.
That’s why many scientists believe that adding more oxygen to the air can make you feel more energized. In addition to making you feel relaxed, negative ions and P.A.H. (used in conjunction with a HEPA filter) can make you feel more energized by increasing the amount of oxygen in your air.
Not all air purifiers are created equal, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying before you part with your hard earned money. Fortunately, air purifiers are fairly simple machines.
They all have three basic parts: a fan, a filter and a power switch. Beyond this simplicity, there are a few different designs to choose from:
Stand-Alone Air Purifiers
The most common type of air purifier is the stand-alone air purifier. These air purifiers are fairly simple and easy to use.
All you have to do is plug them into a wall socket, adjust the settings to your liking, and they’re ready to go. You can place them anywhere in your home or office and they’ll get the job done. On the down side, they can be bulky and unattractive. Depending on the model you choose, some purifiers can also be noisy.
Portable Air Purifiers
While you might think a portable air purifier would be easier to use, they actually tend to be more of a hassle. Since a portable air purifier has its own internal batteries, you’ll have to remember to charge it every now and then.
Many models also have a short battery life, which means you’ll be charging it more often than not. If portability is your top priority, a portable air purifier is the way to go. Just remember to bring the charger with you wherever you go.
Whole House Air Purifiers
Whole house air purifiers are designed to treat the air in entire houses. If you’re serious about improving your indoor air quality, a whole house air purifier is the way to go.
The downside is they can be expensive and difficult to set up. If you decide to install one of these behemoths, be sure to hire a professional to do it.
Most air purifiers use one of three systems to clean the air:
1) Filters: These are the most common type of air purifier.
They contain an internal filter that collects dust, pet dander, pollen, molds and other airborne pollutants. Some filters can be cleaned or replaced, while others are disposable.
2) UV Lighting: Airborne pollutants are collected by a filter just like in other models.
In this case, however, the UV light causes the air pollutants to become ionized. This change in charge makes the pollutants heavy enough to fall to the filter where they can be captured.
3) Ionization: As the name suggests, ionization is the main method of pollutant capture used in these purifiers.
Ions are molecules that have a net positive or negative charge. Pollutants become ionized in the chamber before they reach the filters.
The ions are either attracted to or repelled by the filter depending upon their charge. Since like charges repel and opposite charges attract, the ions collect on the filter.
This type of air purifier is great at removing allergens such as mold, pet dander and pollen from the air. It isn’t very good at capturing dust, though, so you will still need to vacuum from time to time.
With the air purifier out of the way, you can now focus on the security system. You’ve narrowed it down to two contenders: a company called “Safe-T-Depot” and another called “Secure-M Products”.
Since Edmond was quite fond of making security puns, you can only assume that he would prefer the name “Safe-T-Depot”. As for reliability, you have no idea. You’ve never used either company, so you have no prior experience to go off of.
Your final decision comes down to price. Earl says that the best way to save money on this is to do it yourself.
He says he can give you all the instructions and help you need to install it yourself. If you go with a professional company like “Safe-T-Depot”, you won’t have to do any of the work yourself, but it will cost a pretty penny. It’s up to you.
Which do you choose?
Sources & references used in this article:
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Comparison of germanium and silicon needles as emitter electrodes for air ionizers by CG Noll, PA Lawless – Journal of electrostatics, 1998 – Elsevier
Equivalent circuits for air ionizers used in static control by JM Crowley, D Leri, G Dahlhoff, L Levit – Journal of electrostatics, 2004 – Elsevier
Apparatus for method to test efficiency of air ionizers and method for determining ability of an air ionizer to sustain a potential difference between an isolated object … by M Blitshteyn, WS Wright – US Patent 4,774,472, 1988 – Google Patents
Suppression of particle generation in a modified clean room corona air ionizer by PCD Hobbs, VP Gross, KD Murray – Journal of aerosol science, 1990 – Elsevier
Effect of long-term ionized air treatment on patients with bronchial asthma. by DP Jones, SA O’Connor, JV Collins, BW Watson – Thorax, 1976 – thorax.bmj.com
Surface dipole moments of close-packed un-ionized monolayers at the air-water interface by RJ Demchak, T Fort Jr – Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 1974 – Elsevier