Written by Brad Crawford
An air purifier is definitely the most effective method for keeping your home and your family allergen free this spring. Whole house air purifiers trap particles as the air passes through the filter in the air conditioning, central heating system or the forced air heating system in your home.
Portable air purifiers are also available which, although not as efficient as a whole house air purifier,do provide a good alternative to properties which do not have central heating or air conditioning.
Portable Air Purifier or Air Cleaning Units
Houses which do not have central air conditioning or heating systems can have the option of a whole house unit which is free standing and may typically involve installation in the attic with ducting to each individual room, or alternatively portable room air filters which can be moved from room to room as required.
Most portable air cleaning units use HEPA filters which utilize pretty powerful fans (more powerful than is possible with a general furnace application) or ion air purifiers which utilize electrostatic precipitators. These do not need to have the powerful fans which make them much quieter than the HEPA filters.
Some portable air purifier units can be incredibly noisy, which is one big disadvantage. The reason for the noisiness is simple – these units require a lot of wind in order to push the air through the finest filters on the air purifier unit. One possible solution is to switch the unit on to high during the daytime when there is more background noise around and turn to low during the night when all is quiet.
The price of portable air cleaning units varies quite widely depending upon the type of unit youchoose. You can pay as little as $150 or as much as up to $1500. Those which utilize replaceable HEPA filters often have an added yearly expense of around $40 to $100 for the specialized filters.
The way to determine whether you have a suitably sized air cleaning unit for the room is to check the CADR – the clean air delivery rate – which should be around 2/3 of the area of the room. A room measuring 300 square feet would need a CADR of at least 200.
Whole House Air Purifier Unit or Filters
Whole house air purifiers are the most efficient and most popular type of air purifier – built into the ductwork of the air conditioning or forced air heating systems and trapping particles as they pass through the filters. There are four different types of these whole house air purifier units:
Flat Filter Units
If your property has a forced air type furnace already installed, then you do have some sort of air filtration system in place already. The system will be fitted with a fiberglass filter which does need to be changed every month; in fact, you can change it even more regularly if you remember – the more the better. If the filter gets clogged up with dust it will stop the furnace from working efficiently and can cause it to overheat. The filters are actually designed to protect the furnace from the damaging effect of large dust particles and can also help to make your home a dust free zone for longer periods of time.
Electrostatically charged pleated filters can attract allergens such as pet dander and pollen and need to be changed every couple of months for the best results. Don’t worry, it won’t break the bank, they will only set you back about $15.
Extended Media Air Purifier Filter
This type of air purifier looks a little like a pile of furnace filters all on top of one another and measures around 8 inches. These boxy “accordions” are significantly more effective than thetypical filters made from regular fiberglass. One drawback is that you need a professional to install them; the larger box structure must be plumbed into the existing ductwork in your property with adaptations made as necessary. Once you’ve had this type of air purifier filter installed, you can replace them yourself. Installation costs may be as much as $600 but once the large work has been done, they only cost around $60 per year to replace.
Electric Air Purifier Filters
Now we’re getting high tech! These units are sometimes known as electrostatic precipitators and,just like the extended media filter, must be incorporated and plumbed into existing ductwork. These rather ingenious devices help to keep the allergies out of your home by passing high voltage currents through the air, putting an electrical charge onto the particles. A collector is positioned with an opposite charge to gather up the particles in a similar way to a magnet. These are super efficient and even work on smoke particles which may be too small for other types of media filter.
Some experts quote this type of air purifier as up to 30 times more efficient than a traditional fiber glass filter. Yes, they really are that good. Another advantage of this type of device is that there are no filters to replace although the aluminum plates which collect the particles will need a wash every few months with soapy water. This type of air purifier unit costs between $600 and $1000 for purchase and installation, and operates using a 120 volt electric outlet.
Ultraviolet Air Purifier Filters
If you are as worried about germs as you are about pollen, pet dander and other allergens, then this could be the air purifier for you and your family. Ultraviolet filters are typically built in components onto an air conditioning or heating system, although they can be purchased as add-ons for between around $500 and $800. Hospitals use this type of air filtration system, particular in tuberculosis wards as the UV light can zap the airborne viruses and bacteria. In order for the system to zap the bugs, however, the bugs must pass through the filtration system; there is no protection against germs if someone sneezes right next to you, no matter how expensive or efficient the ultraviolet air purifier is.
Choosing the right air purification for your home often requires additional navigational help from an HVAC specialist. But, the extra up-front expense can save your family a lot of money and sick days as they filter out the allergens and viruses that often make you sick, or at the very least sneezy and uncomfortable.