Choosing the Right Air Filter for Your Home

By Robert Morrison
Robert Morrison
Robert Morrison
July 31, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Between work and being at home, you likely are like most Americans and spend up to 90% of your time indoors. Because you aren’t always able to get outside for fresh air, it is important to bring fresh air inside. To do this, you need to have a good air purifier. Air purifier technology has come a long way. In the past, there weren’t many types to choose from. Today, there are many different types you can buy, and they all have different features. Different air purifiers are used for various types of air pollution, with HEPA filters being among the most popular. Here are your options:

  • HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters – These remove a minimum of 99.97% of all airborne particles, as tiny as 0.3 microns. These filters were originally created by the Atomic Energy Commission to remove radioactive dust from the air. Only the tiniest particles can get through a HEPA filter. These are great for those who have allergies, because they trap a number of allergens, including pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. There is just one downside to having a HEPA filter. You need to change it every so often. They range in size and price, and the larger the model, the more particles it removes from the air. Clean Air Plus is one of the best places to buy this type of air purifiers.

  • Charged Media Filters – These are similar to electrostatic precipitators, but instead of collecting particles on plates, they use fiber filters. The filters can collect miniscule particles as small as 0.1 microns. The one problem is that the filters need to be replaced frequently as they only work efficiently for a short period of time. Some of the lower quality models produce ozone, but better models don’t.

  • Ion and Ozone Generators – These create charted particles or ions, and send them into the air. They mix with dust, and force the impurities to stick to surfaces. Unfortunately, this will leave spots of dirt on walls and floors, which will need to be cleaned regularly. They also emit ozone, which can irritate the lungs. These units are not good when there are children in the home, or people with breathing conditions. Even with these drawbacks, they are still the second-most popular type of air filter for homeowners.

  • Activated Carbon Filters – These are usually used together with other filters. They adsorb gases and odors, and are great when there are smokers in the house, because they neutralize smoke and fumes. Adsorption is when a chemical attraction allows materials to attach to one another. The activated carbon is treated with oxygen so there are millions of carbon pores. The chemicals and gases that are too small to be trapped by these filters can easily be removed with a HEPA filter.

  • Electrostatic Precipitators – These are similar to ion and ozone generators. The difference is that they capture impurities instead of making them cling to surfaces. Electronic cells are used to charge particles in the air purifier, and impurities are trapped on plates. These plates never need to be replaced, and they can be washed in your dishwasher. The downside is that some models generate ozone.

  • Antibacterial and Germicidal Filters – These are used to get rid of bacteria and germs. Some use a HEPA filter that is treated with chemicals that kill microorganisms in the air. Others use UV lamps for killing germs. These are most commonly found in hospitals, professional kitchens, daycare centers, and laboratories. In homes, they are ideal for mold control.

  • Pre-Filters – These will remove large particles such as pet hair. Pre-filters are found in just about all types of air purifiers. They are made from either a non-woven nylon or foam, and have electrostatic properties that help with filtration. The best types are those with activated carbon.   

Image Source: Lord Nibbo

Robert Morrison
Robert Morrison