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How to Choose an Air Purifier

Jul 4, 2008
Which air purifier is right for me?

You may be asking that question after searching through the volumes of air purifiers that are on the market today. Don't give up. There is an air purifier that's right for you. Here are some easy tips for finding the air purifier that's right for your needs.

Define your needs:

Not all air purifiers are created equal. Before buying an air purifier, determine what kind of pollutants you need to eliminate. Areas of specialization for air purifiers include:

- Airborne particles
- Household odors and gases
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Micro-organisms

Asthma and allergy sufferers frequently experience reactions from airborne particles like mold, pollen, dust, and pet dander. Austin Air Healthmate Air Purifiers remove everyday airborne particles in your home, using a four-stage filtration system that addresses the complete spectrum of air contaminants. It's designed for safe, quiet operation and is guaranteed to remove 99.97% of all airborne contaminants.

For those concerned with tobacco smoke and other household odors and gases, the AllerAir 5000 DS is the solution for you. AllerAir 5000 DS air purifiers feature a unique tar-trapping pre-filter designed to absorb tobacco smoke, tar, fine ash, and other airborne particles. Every AllerAir 5000 DS air purifier contains a carbon and HEPA filter designed to eliminate lingering substances resulting from tobacco smoke and other particles even when active smoking has ceased.

If you're concerned with VOCs and other chemical fumes, IQAir offers an extensive series of air purifiers focusing on specialized needs. For example, the IQAir GC VOC air purifier not only filters 98% of all airborne pollutants, but also includes a customized gas, chemical, and odor control filter, which eliminates chemicals like butane, chlorine, freon, and sulfuric acid. And if you're suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or a chemical hypersensitivity, try the IQAir GCX VOC air purifier for heavy-duty purification.

While most air purifiers filter some micro-organisms, the NQ Clarifier air purifier features a five-stage purification process which removes a wider spectrum of allergens, gases, viruses and bacteria. In addition to a HEPA cloth and carbon media drum, the NQ Clarifier air purifier also contains a germicidal Ultra-Violet (UV) lamp filter to eliminate bacterial and viral micro-organisms. The NQ Clarifier air purifier is the perfect solution for those requiring an air purifier with hospital grade filtration.

Determine Coverage Needed:

You should also consider the size of the room in which you will place your air purifier. Each air purifier lists the square footage for the area in which it will work most effectively. Find the air purifier that will accommodate your square footage needs.

Although, the Blueair AirPod air purifiers are stylish and effective, they only offer effective air cleaning for an area of 45 cubic feet. However, the Blueair AirPod's compact size makes them perfect companions for office workers and frequent travelers.

In contrast, the AllerAir 6000 D air purifiers can effectively clean a maximum area of 1800 square feet. With two anti-microbial filters, a HEPA and carbon filter, and a pre-filter, the AllerAir 6000 D has enough filtering power to accommodate any large home or office.

Clean Air Delivery Rate:

In addition to room size, you must also consider the Clean Air Delivery Rate or CADR. The CADR measures the total volume of air that an air purifier cleans of a specific pollutant in one minute. CADR testing is performed only by an independent industry organization, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), to ensure quality control.

CADR test results are measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), measuring for three separate contaminants, tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. CADR results reflect the size of the particle removed, what percentages of particles are removed, and the volume of air actually moving through the system. The higher the CADR test numbers, the better the air purifier's ability to clean your indoor air.

Although some air purifier manufacturers use the air exchange rate to substitute the CADR numbers, they aren't the same. Air exchange depicts the number of times the total volume of air in the room is processed by the air purifier within a given period of time. Unlike the CADR, air exchange rates do not measure the overall performance of the filtration system and how effectively it removes specific contaminants. Only CADR numbers give a precise indication of the air purifier's effectiveness and performance.

As such, AHAM tested and certified the efficiency of the Blueair 501 air purifier, acknowledging this air cleaner with the Best of Class ranking. This CADR rating demonstrates the Blueair 501 air purifier's ability to effectively filter and clean airborne contaminates.

The Friedrich C-90B Electronic air cleaner, tested and certified by the AHAM, achieved one of the highest CADR ratings for removing tobacco, pollen and dust. Additionally, the efficient Friedrich C-90B is Energy Star qualified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy. These criteria become very important when considering the costs of your next utility bill and the efficiency of your air purifier.

Manufacturer's Reputation:

The brand name on your air purifier not only represents the type of air purifier you're buying but also the quality you are receiving. When purchasing an air purifier, it's important to consider who the manufacturer is and what kind of commitment they provide to their consumers.

The Whirlpool name has been around for decades, delivering not only a commitment to its consumers but also a commitment to the environment. In 2005, Whirlpool donated over $1 million in cash, products, and services to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, and the company continues to match employee contributions to the Hurricane Katrina charities.

Other companies, like Honeywell, Inc., have teamed with the American Lung Association to educate and promote clean indoor air quality and lung health to the general public. Like Whirlpool, Honeywell has been in business for decades and continues to develop and provide customers with quality and effective air cleaning solutions.

Filter Replacements:

Filter Replacements should always impact your decision to purchase specific air purifiers. Be cognizant of air purifiers that contain multiple filtration systems that will require multiple types of filter replacements.

Like most air purifiers, AllerAir air purifiers not only require Pre-filter and HEPA filter replacements, but carbon filter replacements as well. Although the HEPA filter requires replacement every three to five years, the carbon filter needs to be replaced every one to three years, and the Pre-filter will need replacing every two to three months. For models like the AllerAir 5000 EXEC air purifier that incorporate UV lamps, replacement bulbs for the lamps will be required approximately every 10,000 hours.

By contrast, the Austin Air air purifiers use an Austin Air HEPA filter and Permafilt Pre-filter that have been consistently ranked #1 in the world and carry a full five-year pro-rated guarantee. Although it's recommended that the Austin Air Permafilt Pre-filter be replaced yearly, the Austin Air HEPA filter requires replacement every three to five years and includes the Permafilt Pre-filter with the purchase. Join the Clean Air Club, our free air purifier filter replacement reminder program, and we'll automatically notify you when it's time for a filter change

Also consider the Honeywell Air Cleaners, which feature a True HEPA filter and an activated carbon pre-filter. While the permanent true HEPA filter never needs replacing, the activated carbon pre-filter will require replacing every three months.

But if you're looking to avoid multiple filters altogether, consider the Friedrich Electrostatic Air Purifiers. Friedrich Electrostatic Air Purifiers use washable plates and filters that can be cleaned with simple hand-washing or vacuuming. With a Carbon filter that requires replacing only after three to six months, you'll never have to worry about the headaches that come with multiple, frequent filter replacements.

Consider not only the types of filters that will need replacing when choosing your air purifier model, but remember also the filter replacement costs that may arrive as early as every 2-4 months or yearly, depending on the model you choose.


The price of an air purifier does not compare to the price of enjoying a healthy life. However, as you begin to calculate the price of your air purifier, remember to include the costs of your filter replacements. While you won't have the additional cost of filter replacements initially, over time filter replacement costs do add up and should be considered when pricing prospective air purifiers. Also, remember that you can save money on shipping costs by purchasing several replacement filters when you purchase your air purifier.

Just like cars, air purifiers range from your top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz to your affordable Honda, each one offering unique advantages and fulfilling specific needs for their owners.

If you're looking for an air purifier that's affordable and effective, consider the Whirlpool Whispure AP250 Air Purifier. With a True HEPA filter guaranteed to capture up to 99.97 of all airborne particles, a three-speed fan, and a filter change indicator that lets you know when it's time to change your filter, the Whirlpool Whispure AP250 Air Purifier is always a bargain.

Looking for an air purifier that's affordable and portable? Try the Amaircare Roomaid Air Purifiers. The Amaircare Roomaid portable HEPA air purifiers can travel with you to remove allergens like dust, smoke, pollen, mold, and even VOCs and auto exhausts. With an optional Auto Adapter kit, you can eliminate airborne contaminates even on the go.

Known for its sleek and stylish design, the Blueair 402 Air Purifier features an award-winning energy design that saves you money with low energy consumption rates. Even when running 24/7, the Blueair 402 air purifier costs as much to run as it does to power a single light bulb. With whisper-quiet HEPASilent operation, the Blueair 402 air purifier contains an easy-to-replace active carbon filter.

The Austin Air HealthMate Air Purifier is a steal with a specially engineered pure air vent, a four-sided air intake system, and a long-lasting, energy-efficient PSC motor to ensure allergy relief from airborne contaminants odors and gases. Additionally, Austin Air air filters have consistently ranked #1 in the world.

But if you're like most consumers who purchase an air purifier, you'll want to consider the air purifiers that top the rest.

The NQ Clarifier Air Purifier is in a class of its own. The NQ Clarifier Air Purifier filters a wider spectrum of allergens, gases, bacteria and viruses than any other air purifier on the market. With a UV light to filter bacterial and viral micro-organisms, the NQ Clarifier offers industrial strength air purification. Constructed from durable, non-offing gassing galvanized steel, the NQ Clarifier carbon and HEPA filters can be changed separately, so you don't have to replace both filters simply because one needs replacing.

The IQAir Clean Room H13 Air Purifier is a top-of-the-line air purifier, featuring a larger HyperHEPA filter with the highest air delivery and longest filter life of any IQAir particle filter system. The IQAir Clean Room H13 Air Purifier also offers an intelligent filter life monitor which bases filter replacement dates on actual use, speed settings, and air quality conditions instead of using a pre-set timer. With a filtration system that meets the standards of hospitals and laboratories, the IQAir Clean Room H13 air purifier can be used for residential or commercial needs.

When deciding which air purifier is right for you, don't be shy - get all the facts! Find the air purifier with the criteria that meet your standards, so you can feel confident in your air purifier purchase.
About the Author
Scott Smith is an expert on indoor air quality and air purifiers at achooallergy.com.
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