How To Choose the Right Air Purifier for You.
Portable True HEPA Only Home Air Purifiers
The two major kinds of HEPA air purifiers are home/portable and built in systems for your HVAC. Builtin systems are not covered here.
There are portable units that can be moved from room to room. For San Francisco this is an ideal solution for older residences that have legacy heating systems.
A true HEPA only air purifier uses a paper, folded HEPA filter. There is no ozone or UV. If these options are present on your existing air purifier, it is recommended that you do not use them. Ozone in the amounts produced by home air purifiers is not enough to do anything more than add to the greenhouse gas burden of the world.
The amount of UV is similar – it won’t produce enough or the right kind of UV to kill much. Some home air purifiers have an electrostatic option. There are serious concerns that electrostatic options add more pollution to your air than they remove. And then there’s the bad smell they produce. Electrostatic and UV air solutions are appropriate for inline HVAC systems, but not portable units.
So, a True HEPA Only Air Purifier contains only a folded paper HEPA filter. A charcoal or carbon filter added to HEPA is acceptable. Carbon/charcoal removes VOCs (odors).
Why can't I use a plastic HEPA Filter and Wash it?
Dust is forced into the folds of the filter. When water is added, it washes some of the dust out, but some dust remains damp and lodged in the folds of the filter. Dust lives in mold. Water makes mold grow. So the next time you turn on your air purifier it will blow mold spores throughout your area.
The plastic HEPA filters should be replaced, not washed.
Does my Air Purifier Really Know the Air Quality of my Room?
Sortof. Here’s how it really works. There is a company called Breezometer that licenses real time sensor air quality updates based on EPA and other outdoor weather stations. Algorithms are used to modify the sensor output for your city and block.
Here’s a test for your device: Toast some bread and make sure you can smell the toast. Your reading should go up if your device is accurate.
Another good way to to open a bottle of nail polish next to the device. It should immediately read elevated TVOCs.
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Read more about Why Particles Matter here.
Read more about Allergens and Dust here.