There is nothing more important than air quality when it comes to living comfortably in your own home.
However, one of the most confusing things when it comes to air quality is the terms for all the cleaners and air purifiers.
What is the difference between an air purifier and an air filter? And which one is better for your home?
Join us as we dive into the details below!
How Are Air Purifiers and Air Filters Similar?
Before you can understand the nitty gritty of air purifiers and air filters, you have to first learn the difference between the two.
Air purifiers and air filters are two types of air cleaners. Air cleaners are built into HVAC systems – whether the HVAC system is a furnace or air conditioner.
Air cleaners filter airborne particles that might affect air quality. Most air cleaners are placed between the air return duct and the HVAC system, letting air pass while removing particles.
Because of this, air purifiers work in a similar manner as air filters. Both types of air cleaners filter out the same pollutants, and thus serve the same purpose.
In general, air cleaners remove particles such as smoke, pollen, dust mites, dead skin, mold spores, pet dander, airborne pathogens, cigarette smoke, volatile organic compounds, and other airborne contaminants.
With how air cleaners trap smaller particles, they improve indoor air quality, leaving you with clean air that won’t smell unpleasant or trigger any allergies.
This is especially important if your HVAC system consists of air conditioning, since your home’s air is circulated over and over again.
Therefore, both air filters and air purifiers work to reduce indoor air pollution and create cleaner air.
What Is the Difference Between an Air Purifier and an Air Filter?
Now that you know how air purifiers and air filters are similar, let’s take a look at how they are different.
How Air Purifiers Work
Air purifiers filter out air pollution, improving indoor air quality.
Many air purifiers often use simple air filtration to trap pollutants, then neutralize airborne particles using various kinds of technologies.
For example, some air purifiers use electrical charges to trap smaller particles that may not be filtered by a physical screen.
Other air purifiers may use ultraviolet light to sterilize airborne particles that may affect your health.
An air purifier works to improve your home’s air in five simple steps:
- A fan draws your home’s air into a vent.
- The air passes through several filters that remove large particles, such as dust.
- The air then passes through finer filters that remove smaller particles, such as air pollution.
- The air purifier may have a deodorizer which will remove any unpleasant smells.
- The air purifier may also have a neutralizer, which will sterilize any germs.
The air is then circulated back into the room.
How Air Filters Work
Most air filters come pre-installed in your HVAC system – especially in air conditioning systems – and they are amazing at filtering out larger particles.
An effective air filter uses one or more kinds of screens to sieve out particles.
Sometimes, there are even pre-filters, which trap large particles so that the succeeding filters don’t get clogged up and can filter out tiny particles such as bacteria.
This is done in three simple steps:
- Your HVAC system draws in air, which gets forced through the air filter.
- The air first goes through the pre-filter, if there is one present in your air filter.
- The air then gets pushed through the main air filter, which might use a HEPA filter, electrostatic technology, or a simple paper filter.
Your HVAC system then circulates the clean air throughout your home.
Now that you know how an air purifier works, it’s time to become familiar with all of the different types there are.
An air purifier can come in a wide variety of forms, but there are three main types of air purifiers that have become popular over the last few years:
- Ionic air purifiers
- UV air purifiers
- Ozone air purifiers
Each type of air purifier uses different methods for improving indoor air quality. Because of this, we will be diving into the details for each air purifier in separate sections below.
Ionic Air Purifiers
An ionic air purifier is one of the most common types of purifiers available in stores.
The way ionic air purifiers work is through an electrical charge. By creating an electrical charge, the air purifier creates an electrical field around it.
This electrical field then affects all charged particles around it. These charged particles are also known as – you guessed it – ions!
And since the electric charge in the ionic air purifier has a negative end and a positive end, it is able to attract both positive ions and negative ions, since opposite charges attract each other.
But how do ions help purify air?
The way it works is that, while ions in the air are being attracted by the electrical field in the air purifier, they attach to impurities along the way.
So, while an ion travels towards the part of the electrical field with a charge opposite to its own, it’s simultaneously dragging impurities out of the air.
Through this method, ions are used to remove various pollutants, including bacteria.
UV Light Purifiers
Another popular kind of air purifier is a UV light purifier.
As you probably already know, UV stands for ultraviolet, which is a type of light that has a wavelength range shorter than visible light, so you can’t see it.
UV light is also a kind of electromagnetic radiation, which means it is capable of sterilizing whatever crosses its path.
In fact, you may have already tried sterilizing with ultraviolet light if you put your mattresses out in the sun every now and then, since UV light is what gives sunlight its sterilizing effect.
When it comes to an air purifier, a UV sterilizer helps sterilize a wide variety of particles in the air. These particles include everything from mold spores to airborne pathogens.
Because of its sterilization effect, a UV light air purifier makes these particles harmless. Dead spores won’t lead to mold growth or allergies, and dead pathogens won’t infect you with any nasty diseases.
Ozone Air Purifiers
The last type of air purifier we will cover is an ozone air purifier.
An ozone air purifier works by generating ozone, which is a deodorizer and gets rid of any nasty smells.
However, there is a problem with using ozone generators.
Unfortunately, ozone is actually a toxic gas, and it can be dangerous if you end up inhaling large amounts of it.
Since the whole point of ozone generators is to create ozone, the indoor air quality of your home may be affected by a higher level of ozone normally present in nature.
This could become a danger to your health, so always be sure to check that your air purifier doesn’t generate more than 50 to 60 parts per billion.
Next up, we have air filtration.
There are two main types of air filters that can be installed in your HVAC system:
- HEPA filters
- Activated carbon filters
These two filters have different specializations and are best used in different ways, so we will be covering them in separate sections below.
A HEPA filter, also known as a high efficiency particulate air filter, is considered the best filter on the market.
This is because a HEPA filter is capable of trapping both larger dust particles as well as particles as tiny as 0.3 microns! Plus, HEPA filters trap 99.97% of all airborne particles.
Because of its efficiency, a HEPA air filter is used in all kinds of settings – from residential, to commercial, to medical.
Although it can be a bit pricey, a HEPA air filter is the best way to go if you want to prevent hay fever. This is because it’s the best at filtering out dust mites, dead skin, pet dander, and other possible allergy triggers.
Activated Carbon Filters
In the last few years, activated carbon has become an extremely popular material for absorbing nasty smells and toxic materials like tobacco smoke. In fact, some people even ingest it for health purposes!
And because of how it is highly porous, activated carbon has also made its way into air filters.
An activated carbon filter traps airborne particles in its pores, cleaning the air in your home.
Although they can be used to trap particles in general, activated carbon filters are best if you want to collect large particles, filter out volatile organic compounds, or absorb tobacco smoke.
How Do I Improve the Indoor Air Quality of My Home?
You’ve learned all about the different types of air cleaners, but how do you know which type of air purifier or air filter is best for your home?
If you’re just looking for something to help improve the air quality in your house, a simple review of the descriptions above should help you.
However, if you really want to make sure that the air in your home is as free of any pollutants as possible, the best thing to do is to consult a professional HVAC technician who will have the expertise necessary to recommend the best solution for your home.
Book Your Appointment with One Stop Heating and Air Conditioning Now!
Here at One Stop Heating and Air Conditioning, we have a team of HVAC professionals who can help you achieve the best air quality for your home.
From UV lights, to air cleaners, to air filters, to air purifiers, we’ve got you covered! Say goodbye to smoke, pollen, dust mites, and more with our services.
Plus, we also offer AC repair, AC installation, and AC maintenance – all of which are important for keeping your air as pristine as possible.
So what are you waiting for? Book an appointment on our website using our Service Form!
Wasatch Front, UT, and surrounding areas
611 W 9560 S Suite E, Sandy, UT 84070