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CADR Rating Importance for Air Purifier Quality

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W ith any electronic, to determine its prowess, you have to look into the common specs. The same goes for air purification systems, the only way to viably compare models to each other, see how they perform toward the removal of common allergens and pollutants, and figure out what option suits your expectations best being to check the specs it presents. One of the common specifications you encounter for air purification systems is the CADR rating. But what does it actually stand for, and how does it influence the overall power and performance of the system? In the following, we will help you learn more about this metric and understand the difference it makes so that you more easily decide which model caters to your needs best.

What Does It Stand For?

Definition: CADR, which is short for Clean Air Delivery Rate, is a certified metric that serves as indication regarding air purification system efficiency in the reduction of specific pollutants from a certain size room.

AHAM is responsible for thinking up this metric and for performing the tests, the purpose of the project being to provide an objective standard that buyers can use as guidance to determine the quality of an air purification system and its compliance to their needs depending on the room size they intend to use the product in.

Higher ratings imply superior efficiency in the process of pollution reduction, the numbers provided in the rating system equating to speed. This means that the higher the rating is, the faster the system works toward reducing a specific air pollutant.

How the Test is Performed

Note: The CADR rating provides test results for system performance when tackling specific air pollutants, more precisely dust, pollen, and smoke.

A test known as the ANSI/AHAM AC-1 test is used to provide the metrics for CADR ratings, the test involving the placement of the air purifier into an enclosed space with a specific amount of pollutants. When 20 minutes pass since the system has been turned on, it will be shut down and air quality will be measured to compare air pollution levels to those prior to its operation, determining the difference made by its functioning in a given time span.

Purpose of the AHAM Rating Seal

Manufacturers often lie about their products, it’s not news anymore, hyping their products as much as possible to make them more appealing for customers. In the spec sheet, the manufacturer can basically list the maximum room size for which you can use the system as they like, but there is no proof or backing for their statement. This is where the AHAM rating seal comes into play as it shows the air purifier has indeed been tested for a specific room size and proven to be efficient in terms of pollution reduction.

Example: You have two systems, one that includes the seal and is rated to purify spaces of up to 300 sq. ft., and one that is listed by the manufacturer as being suited for spaces of up to 400 sq. ft. but without any backing for the claim. Your best bet is the CADR rated product as it has been indeed tested in a space of that specific size and shown to provide efficient air quality improvement, whereas the second option is solely backed by likely empty promises made by the producing company.

How It Benefits Consumers

  • It provides a convenient means for buyers to compare air purifiers so that an informed decision is made when a specific model is selected, the indication of the system’s performance when it comes to the reduction of pollen, smoke, and dust coming in handy especially in cases where these are the primary contaminants deprecating indoor air quality.
  • As the pollutants for which the test is performed are of different sizes, the results provide a good metric to see how the system handles a wider range of contaminants, from small- to large-sized particles.
  • As the test is performed by a neutral third party and pre-set conditions are used, you are provided with a truthful depiction of its performance under specific circumstances rather than solely relying on the promises made by the manufacturing company, which are likely pumped to make the product more appealing for potential buyers.

Testing Process Issues

  • As aforementioned, the test only takes into account the system’s performance when it comes to the removal of pollen, dust, and smoke, so if you seek an air purifier that handles the removal of microorganisms from the air, you cannot rely on this AHAM approved rating to provide you with any info regarding its performance in this specific sense.
  • The inability of the test to inform you regarding the purification system’s ability to reduce volatile organic compounds in indoor air is quite a major drawback as VOC air contamination is among the most common forms of indoor air pollution.
  • There are situations where the air purification system might work outstandingly for the first 20 minutes but begin to drop in performance quality as time passes. Seeing how the test is limited to this 20-minute time span, there can be situations where it won’t truthfully indicate air pollutant reduction quality in all models that have been tested.
  • Another issue is that the highest speed setting is used during the testing trial, so it only shows how the product performs when used at its full potential. If you were to use it for purifying the air in the nursery where you need for it to keep quiet, or your bedroom for that matter, you likely wouldn’t ever use in on the highest setting, but rather on the lowest one. Thus, the test does not depict how well it performs on lower operating speeds, which can be a drawback if you intend to place it somewhere where you aren’t going to use it at its full potential.

Final Words

While not perfect in the sense that it doesn’t test for all common indoor air pollutants, the CADR rating is a metric you should take into account when you search for an air purifier as the test is performed by an uninterested third party, depicting a truthful overlook of the system’s performance when it comes to the reduction of three common contaminating air particles, more precisely pollen, dust, and smoke. Evidently, it is not the sole stat you should look into but rather a good comparison ground to use alongside other factors, including air changes per hour, speed settings, accompanying features, operating modes, and more. Basically, to make an informed decision and be sure of the fact that you aren’t only going on promises made by the manufacturing company, that could lie to more easily sell their product, it’s preferable that you search for the AHAM seal and check the three test results provided for each of the contaminants checked.

Tobey Hunter
Tobey Hunter
Tobey is the editor-in-chief at Optima Institute, his prior experience as a niche product reviewer in air quality improvement systems helping shape his path to conduct thorough research toward selecting and analyzing products so that customers are satisfied with the provided recommendations. During his carrier, Tobey also gathered technical input that makes him well versed in understanding advancements in modern systems, helping readers in turn to better understand how modern devices help improve life quality.