Air Purifier vs. Dehumidifier: Difference & Comparison Explained

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Have you just bought a house that has a musty basement? Perhaps a major flood hit your city and left your home soaking wet. Now the entire place smells like mold. Should you buy an air purifier or a dehumidifier to get rid of the funky odors?

Tip: The Best Air Purifier Buyers Guide!

air purifier vs dehumidifierWell, both devices perform different functions. The good news is that by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll know where and when to use each device.

1. What is an air purifier?

An air purifier is an electronic device that cleans breathing air in confined spaces. It absorbs dust, mold spores, chemicals, pollen, and smoke to make your breathing air safer for your body. Air purifiers are common in hospitals in order to get rid of airborne bacteria and viruses.

2. Types of air purifiers

1. Activated Carbon Filter

An activated carbon filter is a pack of highly porous grounded carbon that resembles coal. It undergoes a chemical process to make it highly porous for a long period. One advantage of activated carbon filters is you can use them in a variety of air purifiers.

These filters are known for their efficiency in eliminating carbon monoxide. According to a 2015 CDC report, at least 10 victims die of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every month. Experts recommend purchasing powdered activated carbon filter because it offers a greater surface area for absorption compared to the granular type.

2. HEPA filters

HEPA is an acronym for high-efficiency particulate air. These filters are considered as one of the best thanks to high efficiency and durability. You don’t have to hire a technician to replace old HEPA filters due to their ease of installation.

How do HEPA filters work? First, a HEPA filter consists of a rectangular metal frame with a dense mesh of highly absorbent fabric. Air getting inside the purifier gets directed to the HEPA filters. There are usually two HEPA filters in an air purifier. The first one absorbs large particles such as feathers and pet hair. You’ll notice that the second filter has very tiny holes. Why? Because it traps finer contaminant particles such as pollen, smoke, spores, and chemical traces.

3. Electrostatic precipitator

Perhaps the scientific terms might make you assume that this type of filter is complex and costly. However, an electrostatic precipitator uses basic Physics principles to provide your home or office with fresh breathing air.

In school, you learned that opposite charges attract. Basically, the electrostatic precipitator uses electricity to apply negative ions to particles found in the air. When the purifier sucks in air, the negatively charged particles immediately get stuck to a large metal plate that’s constantly charged with positive ions.

4. Ozone generator

An ozone generator works by converting surrounding oxygen into a tri-oxygen molecule commonly referred to as ozone. Just like an electrostatic precipitator, this type of air filter charges surrounding air with electricity. However, an ozone generator uses way much power to convert oxygen into ozone.

Why is ozone important? Because it effectively absorbs toxic particles from breathing air. Most hotels use ozone generators to enable guests to get rid of cigarette smoke in their rooms with high efficiency.

Ozone generators are slowly getting phased out of the market over health concerns. A number of medical research shows that breathing ozone gas causes severe tissue damage.

The Beset Air Purifiers:

2. What is a dehumidifier and how does it work?

A dehumidifier resembles a heater in size and shape. It’s work is drawing in air and absorbing excess moisture. You need one during winter to avoid runny noses.

How does it work?

There’s a sensor attached to a control board that constantly monitors humidity levels. When humidity goes beyond a maximum point, the control board activates a motor-activated fan. This draws in air and directs it to the evaporator coil.

Dehumidifiers use a similar coolant to refrigerators. This coolant gets circulated and heated simultaneously inside the cold evaporator coils to absorb moisture from incoming air. So, where does this moisture end up?

Some dehumidifiers have collection systems that require you to attach them to a drainage hole. You might encounter others with a drainage bucket. Once it’s full, the bucket switch goes off and disables your dehumidifier.

3. What kind of dehumidifier do I need?

1. Desiccant dehumidifier

A desiccant dehumidifier uses a drum packed with sheets of highly adsorbent material. That’s no spelling error. Adsorption refers to molecules of a gas or liquid joining together on the surface of another item.

In other words, moisture from cold air doesn’t soak inside the sheets of adsorbent material. The droplets just collect on the surface.

One advantage is it’s easier to maintain because it has a lower energy demand compared to refrigerant humidifiers. They also operate silently. You can watch a movie without having to turn up the volume.

4. Differences and Comparison

Air Purifier Dehumidifier

Purpose Cleans breathing air in confined spaces Draws in the air and adsorbs excess moisture.

Types: Ozone generator, Electrostatic precipitator, HEPA filters, Activated carbon filters, Refrigerant, Desiccant.

  • Cigarette smoke  – Best suited to absorb smoke particles by using mechanical or ion-based filtration systems. Cannot eliminate tobacco odors because it lacks a filtration system
  • Damp weather  – Air filtration produces no heat. You’ll still get colds due to breathing air with high moisture. Highly recommended because it makes breathing air safer by absorbing excess moisture.
  • Furry pets at home  – Absorb any fur and whiskers that are floating around your living room. Not the best option because air gets sucked in only when humidity exceeds a certain point. Neither the cold evaporation coils nor the sheets of desiccant material have filtration properties.
  • Summer heat  – Lacks temperature control abilities. While it can’t produce a chilled breeze, it gets rid of excess humidity. This prevents the growth and spread of mold.
  • Allergies  – Highly effective in fighting allergies. The filtration system absorbs pollen, animal fur, and chemical traces in your home. Least effective because it lacks filtration
  • Basement – Reduce growth and spread of mold by a small degree through absorbing spores. Best solution because it keeps moisture within a safe level. This prevents musty odors Kids’ playroom It maintains a safe environment by absorbing allergens and airborne bacteria.
  • Keeps the room smelling fresh in case a child throws up. The best it can do is keep off colds and flu.
  • Rainy season – Very little use Prevents the growth of mold by regulating humidity levels in your home or office
  • Medical centers  – Relevant because it sanitizes the facility by absorbing pathogens in the air. Not suited for medical centers because it cannot filter out any bacteria or viruses.
  • Electronics  – Does little in extending the product life of an item Ideal for radio stations and server rooms because humidity control prevents moisture from damaging computers and other equipment
  • Food storage  – Lacks any features to preserve highly perishable foods Best suited for cold storage because it prevents mold from growing on the food through humidity control
    Painting No practical use Construction workers use dehumidifiers to enhance the paint drying process in geographical areas with high humidity
  • Renovating a flooded home – Cannot offer much Necessary for preventing the spread of mold and rotting inside walls.
  • Storing mechanical items  – No practical use Essential in regulating humidity to prevent rust
  • Furniture – Cannot offer much help Prevents excess humidity in the living room from condensing inside your furniture
  • Storing clothes  – Absorbs any spores that eventually end up as mold Highly effective because it prevents the growth of fungus due to excess humidity.

5. Air purifier maintenance tips

1. Wash the filters regularly

Cleaning your air filters regularly prevents any clogging. A clogged purifier is bad for your health because it doesn’t sanitize breathing air. Remember to use cleaning liquids recommended by the manufacturer.

2. Keep the purifier in an open space

A purifier requires plenty of free space to draw in contaminated air and release it when it’s clean. Confining it brings about overheating and clogging.

3. Inspect the grills regularly

The constant flow of air causes particles to get stuck in the grills. This buildup can clog your filters making your purifier less efficient. It’s advisable to monitor your grills monthly by dismantling your unit.

6. Air dehumidifier maintenance tips

1. Set your dehumidifier at 50%

A 50% humidity level is ideal for your home or office. Setting the humidity level below 50% will decrease your humidifier’s product life. Doing this causes your unit to work round the clock. Plus, it really spikes your electricity bill.

2. Clean the moisture drainage system frequently

Humid areas tend to attract mold. As moisture collects inside your unit over a prolonged period, you’ll notice a foul odor. That’s because this mold-infested moisture repeatedly gets exposed to heat in poorly ventilated areas.

Clean your drainage system once a month to avoid mold from breeding inside your dehumidifier.

Now you know!

When you come to think of it, both electronics seem to complement each other. For instance, children usually stick to indoor games when it’s rainy or snowing. As a parent, you want them to play in a safe environment and decide to get an air purifier. However, the cold weather poses another challenge, and that’s why you’ll also need a dehumidifier.

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