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Clean air isn’t only crucial to your health but also provides a comfortable environment in the home. This is the key reason why homeowners invest in air purifiers. When purchasing an air purifier, you can select either an ionic air purifier or a HEPA air purifier. Most people are concerned about the safety of ionic air purifiers, but they also don’t know clearly whether HEPA air purifiers are a better option. It’s for this reason that we have compiled information describing both ionic and HEPA air purifiers. We will provide their differences and show whether ionic air purifiers are safe to use.
What are ionic air purifiers?
This is an air purifier that operates without a filter system. Some ionic purifiers work by releasing ions that are negatively charged into the air while others use plates that have both positive and negative charges. The charges trap particulates, odors, and microbes from the air.
Air ionizers can trap contaminants as low as 0.1 microns. This is smaller than the size trapped by a HEPA filter. Nevertheless, the percentage of air that an ionic air purifier can clean can’t be determined easily since the trapped particles aren’t inside the physical filter as it’s for the HEPA filter.
Since ionic air purifiers don’t utilize filters, the burden of purchasing and replacing the filter is eliminated. This also means that there will be no noise from the air purifier due to the absence of motors that run the HEPA filters.
Nevertheless, there is an issue with the ionizers, in that, some of their models produce some amounts of Ozone as their by-product. This doesn’t concern most people, but for those who suffer from respiratory problems, they should be concerned about this due to the irritation they cause.
What are HEPA air purifiers?
As highlighted above, HEPA air purifiers utilize extremely dense filters. The motor and fan present in the air purifier take in the surrounding air and forces it into the filters. Any pollutants present in the air are caught and trapped in the filter.
The smallest size of particles the HEPA filters can catch is 0.3 microns and it eliminates 99.97 percent of the contaminants in the air. For the better performance of a HEPA filter, they’re required to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. This is dependent on the size and use of the air purifier. There are however high-quality HEPA filters that don’t require frequent replacement.
Difference between ionic air purifiers and HEPA air purifiers
Various things distinguish the two air purifiers. we will take a deep look at the differences to ensure that you have understood each clearly, and it gets easy to select the best one for you.
1. Their operation
In the above discussions, it’s evident that the air purifiers operate differently.
How does an ionic air purifier work?
There are two types of ionic air purifiers. They’re; an air ionizer and an electrostatic precipitator. They both work differently, thus we will look at each for a better understanding.
This is the most popularly used types of ionic air purifiers. They don’t rely on filters to clean the air in your room but work by releasing negatively charged ions in the air each time it’s turned on and allowed to run.
The ions released into the air attach to the contaminants in the air. As a result, the contaminants will get an additional weight from the negative ions, pulling them out of the air, and cling into the walls, furniture or drop on the floor. After the process, the air you breath is clean keeping your respiratory tract safe from airborne pollution.
This ionic air purifier is also efficient in cleaning the air. It’s however not widely manufactured and not popular in the market compared to the air ionizer. It doesn’t utilize a filter system too but uses a positively and negatively charged plate.
When the air purifier is turned on, the air is drawn by a fan through the system to the charged plates. Any contaminants in the air are trapped by the plates and don’t return to the air. This ensures clean air is maintained in the room.
Although the electrostatic precipitator is filterless, the plates need to be cleaned to remove the contaminants on the plate.
When you want to determine which is the best option for you between the two, you aren’t likely to get a plain answer. This is because your situation and personal preference play a role in this. You can’t dismiss the electrostatic precipitator by being less popular since it also has its strengths.
The technologies they both uses are very effective in cleaning the air. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the electrostatic precipitator may require more upkeep as its place require to be cleaned regularly for the best performance.
On the other hand, air ionizers release some amounts of ozone into the air as a by-product. Although the ozone is in traces and has no negative impact on your health, it’s good to consider this aspect, especially for people with respiratory issues. You should always look keenly on the specifications provided by the manufacturer on the amount of ozone produced in the air. Compare these amounts with those provided by the federal safety standards.
How does HEPA air purifiers work?
This air purifier utilizes a filter system. The HEPA filters they use were created by the US military during world war II to create an effective gas mask. This technology hasn’t changed a lot in recent times.
The filters remove the dangerous particulates in the air as well as the airborne contaminants. The motor and fan present in the air purifier take in the surrounding air and forces it into the filters. Any pollutants present in the air are caught and trapped in the filter.
The HEPA filters need to replaced at some point. This is meant to provide an effective performance at all times. As the pollutants in the air build up on the filter, airflow resistance will increase. Once there is less airflow into the filter, the level of cleaning decreases. A clogged filter moves the air with difficulty as it cleans it.
Interestingly, HEPA air purifiers use mechanical filtration, thus they don’t generate unwanted pollutants such as ozone. This makes them very safe to use.
To determine the rate of performance of HEPA air purifiers, you should check the MERV rating scale that rates the filters in the United States. They rate them on a scale of 1 to 18, where 18 is the highest in terms of efficiency.
2. Maximum area coverage
The HEPA air purifiers aren’t as powerful as ionic air purifiers in terms of area coverage. This makes HEPA filters efficient for small homes, while the ionic air purifiers are efficient in big rooms or large business premises.
The maximum area a HEPA air purifier can clean is 700 sq. m. it’s an efficient way of cleaning the air in your room. On the other hand, the ionic air purifier has a maximum coverage of more than 3,500 square meters. This is the reason why its popularly used in business premises.
3. The difference in prices
The technology utilized by HEPA air purifiers is higher than the ionic air purifiers. This makes the HEPA air purifier more expensive than the ionic air purifiers. You may find a good ionizer at a cost of about $50 while a good HEPA air purifier may cost more than $150.
Additionally, since the HEPA filters need to be replaced at some point, this means there is an additional cost when operating the air purifier. New filters are required to maintain the effective performance of the air purifier.
4.The popularity differences
Ionic air purifiers were more popular in the 1990s. the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze was the most popular at the time. A similar model known as the Ionic Pro air cleaner was also popular at the time. However, the Ionic Breeze air clean declined in its popularity in the early 2000s. This was due to unfavorable reviews as a result of improved air cleaning testing.
Since then, the popularity of HEPA air purifiers increased, and they’re the most common type of air purifier that is purchased by the majority of the consumers. The popularity is boosted by not emitting harmful by-products such as the ozone, although the air purifiers producing the ozone emit them in traces that aren’t harmful to the human health, some people are concerned about this aspect.
HEPA Air purifiers with Negative Ionizers
As discussed above, the HEPA air purifiers have less maximum air coverage compared to the ionic air purifiers. To improve the performance of the HEPA filter, negative ionizers are added to it. Most of the HEPA air purifiers have negative ionizers, it’s difficult to find a HEPA filter without a negative ionizer.
Most people are concerned with the ozone emitted by the ionizer, this has led to the requirement of the state of California to have all the air purifiers lab-tested to ozone. Due to this, the negative ionizers are designed to ensure that the amount of ozone emitted in the air is well maintained and isn’t harmful to human health.
Once the negative ionizers are added to the HEPA air purifier, they create a negative charge that allows the HEPA filter to capture more pollutants. The negative ionizers are small in size and are available in different shapes.
How is Ozone tested?
A certified lab in the US does ozone testing. The testing is usually extensive and the measurements are taken at different sections of the air purifier. The negative ions can travel at various places of the air purifier, hence the need for the measurements.
The testing takes about 8 hours, with all the measurements taken. An air purifier passes the test when the result is less than 0.05 ppm.
There can’t be a situation where an air purifier produces zero ozone. Although the emission of the ozone is maintained, there are various things in the home such as nail polishes, cleaning supplies that produce fumes when in contact with ionizers. Nevertheless, the amount of ozone emitted shouldn’t be more than 0.05 ppm. Always check the manufacture’s specifications for this amount.
Are the Ionizers safe to use?
From the above discussion, it’s evident that the ionizers are safe to use. This is because the ozone is tested, and only purifiers emitting 0.05 ppm ozone is allowed to be sold by the manufacturers. Don’t confuse ionizers with ozone generators that emit high levels of ozone.
You should now be equipped with information surrounding HEPA air purifiers and ionic air purifiers. You will be in a position to determine what will work well for your satisfaction as you now know their strengths and downside and any other information that affects your choice. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications for the level of ozone emitted by the air purifier.