A Buyer's Guide to Air Purifiers
Purchasing an air purifier for your home? Here are some factors you should consider before your big buy
Considering that the idea of an air purifier wasn’t even conceived of 20 years ago, what’s the need for it now? If that’s a question whirring in your head, consider this – air pollution causes up to 7 million premature deaths a year, according to a UN Environment Assembly report.
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An air purifier isn’t a magic wand that conjures away 100 per cent of the pollution in your vicinity. Also, the promise of 99 per cent effectiveness is an outcome of fastidiously controlled lab conditions, and likely won’t apply in your home. In your home environment, there may be other factors that impede air purification – such as the location, flow rate and functional efficiency of your model, and whether your windows are open or closed (open windows can invite new particles, so your air may have a constant inflow of pollutants). The result? Your environment might not be as clean as the brand claims had you believe.
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Most air purifiers specify their coverage area, so it’s wise to use your room size as the primary determinant when choosing one. For maximum efficiency and a noiseless experience, go for a model with a coverage that exceeds your room size.
Air purifiers come in an array of filter technologies, namely HEPA, activated carbon (AC), electrostatic, and ionising. As mentioned earlier, HEPA is considered the global gold standard in air purifying technologies, claiming to purify up to 99.97 per cent of air particles.
CADR calculates the volume of air an air purifier can filter in one minute. Effectively, it is an indication of how quickly a purifier can function. The higher the rate, the better the capacity.
Air Change Per Hour (ACH)
ACH refers to the number of times the air in a room is processed and cleansed in an hour.
Like most other home technologies, air purifiers require regular maintenance. Expect to have to change the main filter yearly and the carbon filter every six months. Consider the filter replacement costs when you compare models and prices.
If your air purifier will find a home in your bedroom, you’ll likely want a silent experience when it’s on. It’s best to visit a showroom to try a product demo of your selection to check noise levels before you buy.
With an expensive buy comes the worry of affordable maintenance. While you may be advised to clean your device’s sensor every two months, and wash the pre-filter every month, your filters will have to be changed on a regular basis. Make sure to check the warranty and maintenance terms for your model.
Recognised brands are a safe bet when it comes to servicing and spare parts, vis-à-vis cut-price brands with questionable service policies.
The great thing about most air purifiers is they can be moved to wherever you need them. Unless you plan to invest in several units, pick a portable model with a handle, to be able to move your device from room to room swiftly and easily.
Fly-by-night brands that sell cheap can cost you far more in the long run in terms of maintenance, repairs and servicing. It’s a good idea to fork out a little extra now with a reputed brand and save your pennies in the future. Some brands to consider are Honeywell, Philips, Dyson, Panasonic, and Sharp.
Air purifiers that come with a built-in fan work better than those that come without one (these rely on natural air circulation), although they might be slightly noisier.
A servicing indicator lets you know when it’s time to clean out or replace your clogged filter.
A timer can be useful if you want to programme your air purifier to turn off automatically after running for a preset period.
With various modes to suit the season, speed modes allow you to tweak your air purifying system in line with your needs.
A handle can be gold for moving your unit from room to room.
With a remote control, conveniently change your air purifying setting from across the room.
A dirt sensor makes a unit more intelligent, allowing it to adjust its fan speed to the dirt or dust levels in the air.
A pre-filter that can be washed and reused can save you lots in the long run.
The National Environment Agency’s list of portable air cleaners with their CADR number can be found here.
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