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Essential Air Purifier Options and Features to Look For

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M aking an informed decision when it comes to the air purifier system that best serves your needs doesn’t only resume to picking the right type functioning-wise but to the technologies, features, and options it uses to provide optimal performance.

Generally, you would be tempted to buy a product that comes with as many features as possible, but it’s important to know what the aspects that make a difference at the end of the day are. To give you a clearer picture and make sure you’re using the finest product there is, we will list these essential features and options in the following, so stick with us until the end to be prepared when you shop.

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Features and Options Worth the Money

1. Important filter media:

  • Pre-filter – Its action covers the removal of larger-size particulates so that it spares the main filter media from overworking itself too quickly, which would lead to an untimely replacement (evidently, it would imply extra costs more often too). Due to its presence, the main media can focus on trapping dust, pollen, allergens, particles that are smaller in size and generally more dangerous to your health.
  • HEPA filter – While HEPA-like and HEPA-type filters can be quite effective in pollution reduction as well, it’s the True HEPA filter that you should aim for as media with this title is so dense that it captures over 99,97% of particulates passing through it, even those down to 0.3 microns in size.
  • Activated carbon filter – The most effective media when it comes to odor removal, regardless of the source. Works for smells that are sourced by cooking, pets, smoking, chemical cleaning products, perfumes, and more.

2. UV sterilizing light:

The UV light in air purifiers kills bacteria, germs, and viruses so that you are provided sanitized air indoors. In its operation, this sterilizing function destroys the DNA of the aforementioned microorganisms, its germicidal properties turning them harmless.

3. Ionic generator:

It releases ions into the air, their purpose being to bond with positively charged pollutants, the latching process adding more weight to the particles, which causes them to drop and adhere to the ground or surfaces situated in their path.

However, beware that this function also generates ozone, which is dangerous for asthma and allergy sufferers, and can even cause side-effects in healthy folks. Our advice is to opt for a system that lets you turn this specific option on or off as you like so that you can run it only when you’re not around.

Instead of taking chances with this feature, better opt for a system like the Winix PlasmaWave 5300-2 that attacks polluting particles at a molecular level without actually emitting ozone when it runs. The technology resembles that of an ionic generator, but without any of the negative effects.

4. Filter change indicator

Tend to be forgetful? Worry no more that you might accidentally overlook filter replacement and end up with polluted air indoors without even being aware of it as this feature has you covered, a special indicator light turning on when the time comes to perform mandatory routine filter change.

5. Fan speeds:

The more the merrier as you get to pick at what level the system should run according to either what you consider is needed at that moment or to how much noise you want it to produce. On higher speeds, it makes more noise as the fan circulates faster to pull in the air more rapidly to clean it, whereas at lower settings it is quieter but also slower.

6. Air quality sensors:

If we were to name one feature that tops them all, it would be this one. The presence of the sensors indicates that the air purifier can monitor air quality to determine on its own, automatically, how to operate. This means that it will adjust the operating speed according to air pollution levels, even turn on and sit in stand-by as needed, all to optimize power consumption and ensure clean air indoors 24/7.

7. Smartphone app:

Generally more common with smart air purifiers, the existence of a companion app modernizes the way you use the system as you can wirelessly control it via your smartphone or tablet. Generally, the app also includes data regarding indoor air quality, so you can keep track of current environmental conditions from wherever you are, all from your smart device.

Other Aspects to Look Into

  • Included remote control: While all systems can be controlled via buttons or knobs that are situated on the actual device, some can include remote controls for a more convenient operation. With it, you can sit on the couch and not move an inch to change the settings, so it’s an option worth considering.
  • Portability features: Unless you’ve acquired a heavy-duty air purifier for the basement and you don’t intend on moving it from that location, portability is an aspect to check out as it will allow you to relocate the unit as you please, moving it from one living space to another. The features that make it portable include caster wheels (so that you can push and move it where you need) and built-in handles (to more easily get hold of the unit and relocate it).
  • Energy Star certification: We cannot stress enough the importance of this label as it shows that the system flaunts lower operating costs as opposed to most models in its range. This energy efficiency doesn’t only translate into cheaper running costs but it implies that the product is safer for the environment as well.
  • CADR ratings: An AHAM certification that is only awarded to products that meet or exceed strict standards in air purification, it is displayed as three numbers that each indicate the system’s efficiency when it comes to reducing specific particles from the air, more precisely tobacco smoke, dust, and pollen.
  • Noise level: Evidently, you wouldn’t want to get stuck with a device that makes as much noise as a wood chipper. The lower the noise threshold the better as you can work or even sleep in the same room with the system, all without it disturbing or distracting you.

What to Avoid

Now that you know what to look for, let’s dive into the aspects that pose an issue and that you should preferably avoid in the system you acquire. What you should look for and avoid include ozone emissions, the inability to control the ionizing function, and a fanless design.

Ozone emissions:

Ozone is bad news, you shouldn’t inhale it, especially if you suffer from asthma. This irritating agent can make allergies worse and it leaves you with a sore throat, to name a few. Other health repercussions seen even in healthy individuals who don’t suffer from any respiratory illnesses include shortness of breath, chest pain when inhaling, wheezing, and coughing.

As they exclusively produce ozone in their operation, ozone generators get quite a pretty bad reputation. But the rep is based on facts, and the truth of the matter is that it’s not smart to use one in your home. Its purpose is to mask odors, so if you are struggling with this issue and want to get rid of foul lingering odors in your home, it’s best to avoid it altogether or at least make sure to not sit in the same room with the unit when it runs, and preferably let approximately 2 hours pass before you enter the room once it’s done.

Ionizing function that cannot be turned off:

While an ionic generator is a feature worth considering as it does have its upsides, the inability to turn it off when you are in the same room with the system or simply when you don’t consider that it is needed is something you need to avoid. Thus, instead of an air ionizer that exclusively uses this technology, better acquire a filter-based system that features ionic generation possibility.

Fanless design:

It might sound like a good idea to get one as there’s no noise involved with its operation, but the truth of the matter is that fanless air purifiers only eliminate a very small portion of the pollutants in the air as the systems are not able to obtain the high airflow of fan-based models. Thus, avoidance is preferable as efficiency is minimal.

What to Consider When Buying an Air Purifier

  • Brand reputation: It might not always be an indicator of a product’s quality, but more often than not, the manufacturing brand can give you a pretty good idea when it comes to performance, durability, and reliability. A widely recognized brand is more likely to invest in parts and technologies, not sacrificing quality to end up making profit as it doesn’t need to. Thus, make sure to look into brands that are known to produce the highest-quality air purifiers if you want to have a sense of safety about your purchase.
  • Maintenance costs: Provided that you respect upkeep conditions, the air cleaner is bound to perform up to your expectations. This is why air purifier maintenance must be looked into beforehand to know what will be required from you to keep the system up and running immaculately. Keep in mind that, depending on how many filter media it uses and their type, replacement costs can get quite high, so it’s good to decide beforehand if the product is worth the hassle or not.
  • Power draw: With these products, you can generally expect power draw ranging from 50 watts to 200 watts. Ideally, you should get your hands on a model that consumes as little power as possible so that you can run it even 24/7 if you choose so, without having to pay a fortune when the bills come.
  • Compliance to your air purification expectations and needs: Not only does the system need to be efficient in its operation, but it has to match your expectations when it comes to performance as well. If you suffer from allergies, you need an air purifier that removes allergens from the air, whereas if you have smokers who can’t quit and light their cigarettes up inside, you would be better off with an air purifier for smoke as it complies with your needs better. What’s great is that the air purifier market is filled with specialized systems that target certain air pollution issues, ranging from smoke, odor, allergens, all the way to microorganisms, so you won’t have a hard time finding what you seek.
  • Features: The previous list of essential features and options is what you need to double-check before you make a pick, crossing off as many of the items on it so that you rest assured knowing the product provides you with all the latest and most useful functions available.
  • Warranty: If you plan on making a long-term acquisition and not a seasonal one, then you must look into the accompanying manufacturer guarantee when it comes to repairs and replacements. This way, you know for how long the company covers the product and you get a better sense of how qualitative it is as well (evidently, a long warranty indicates the product is lasting and reliable).

Final Words

Now that you are aware of the important elements to look into when you acquire an air purifier, all that’s left is to decide which of these features and functions are most important for you and get your hands on a system that complies with your highest expectations. Clean air indoors is unachievable without an air cleaner, and to make sure the one you use helps combat pollution issues as effectively as possible, knowing what matters when it comes down to specs is all that counts. By using the info you have gathered here in your search, we are confident that your pick will satisfy all of your needs!

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.