When it comes to keeping the air in your home clean, you have a variety of options. Air purifiers and ionizers are two common solutions. While these devices may look similar, they perform different functions and have their own set of pros and cons.
Air purifiers have filters that remove particles and pollutants, while air ionizers use electrical charges to ionize particles, causing them to become heavier and fall to the ground.
Both can be effective in improving air quality. But, the best option depends on your specific needs and preferences.
In this post, we’ll explore the different features and how the two devices compare. We’ll also answer some of the questions regarding air purifiers and ionizers.
What Is an Air Purifier?
An air purifier is a physical filtration system that works like a suction. It circulates the air throughout a room and passes the air through a filter. These purifiers can trap particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. As the filters capture particles, it allows clean air to flow back into the space.
They come in several types of air filters, but the most common are aluminum pre-filters and HEPA filters. Depending on the model of the air purifier, it may use a single filter or a set of these filters to improve the air quality.
Aluminum pre-filters catch bigger particles such as your pet’s fur, hair, and caked dust. High-efficiency particulate arrestance filter or high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter are the minimum standard in all air purifiers. This removes particles such as dust, mold spores, and pollen.
Unlike ionizers, air purifiers can eliminate particles from the room without dusting or cleaning. This is because there are no particles to pick up from the surface. When you clean, there’s a chance that you’ll easily disturb those particles and redistribute them into the air.
Because of this convenience and efficiency, HEPA filters in air purifiers continue to be a popular option for homeowners. They are great for people who have concerns on severe allergies or are sensitive to dust, mold, and mildew.
- Traps impurities within the filter, eliminating the need for cleaning or dusting surfaces or floors
- Improves the quality of indoor air by eliminating pollutants and allergens
- Effectively reduces symptoms in those who have allergies or respiratory problems
- Gets rid of odors and boosts overall air quality in a room
- Extends HVAC system’s lifespan by reducing the amount of dirt and dust in the air
- Has no harmful emissions
- Can be costly to purchase – filters last up to a year and needs to be replaced
- Extensive maintenance (pre-filters require cleaning every 30 days)
- Clogged pre-filters can weaken their efficiency and place a burden on the fans’ motors, leading to premature wear and tear
- May not be effective in removing certain pollutants like chemicals or gasses
- Noise level could be bothersome
What Is an Air Ionizer?
An air ionizer uses ionization to purify the air. It works by releasing negatively charged ions into the atmosphere, where they interact with particles like dust and smoke and increase their atomic weight.
Unlike air purifiers, ionizers make those particles too heavy to remain floating in the air. This will cause them to eventually land throughout the surfaces in your room. They may sit on your floors, or tables, or stick to your walls.
This means you’ll need to clean up those surfaces to truly remove them, otherwise, they’ll just sit in the room. So, it’s safe to say that an ionizer doesn’t actually get rid of pollutants.
They’re too heavy to be inhaled. But, as we’ve mentioned before, you can easily disturb them and distribute them into the atmosphere. Pets and people wandering through the room can also push the particles back up into the air.
It’s important to clean your surfaces with a duster or vacuum regularly. Doing so not only gets rid of them but also makes your ionizer perform more effectively.
Ionizers can be standalone units or integrated into other devices like air purifiers or HVAC systems.
However, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t use them as a substitute for adequate ventilation and routine cleaning. Besides producing ozone, ionizers may not effectively address all the issues concerning your home’s indoor air quality.
- Neutralizes and eliminates unpleasant odors from the air
- Great for larger spaces since it can cover twice the coverage of a purifier
- Minimal maintenance; doesn’t have filters that need to be replaced frequently
- Certain types of ionizers emit ozone, which can be harmful if inhaled in high concentrations
- Great for larger spaces; covers twice the area coverage of most air purifiers
- Requires cleaning the surfaces where particles land
Comparing Air Purifier vs Ionizer
Air purifiers and ionizers also vary in coverage, cost, and design.
Depending on the model and its CADR (clean air delivery rate), certain ionizers and purifiers may offer either a smaller or larger coverage area. But in general, ionizers have a larger coverage area than air purifiers.
You can place the largest air purifier in a large room, which may be enough for most applications, but it might not be efficient for use in large spaces like a corporate office.
A large ionizer, on the other hand, can cover as much as 3,500 square feet of air space. It’s a lot of coverage and should be enough to purify the air in larger spaces.
In general, HEPA filter air purifiers provide more advanced features, but at a premium price. They tend to be nearly often costing more than their ionic counterparts, which you can get for as low as $50. In fact, the cheapest decent air purifier is priced around the $100 range.
If you want to go for the technological advancements of a HEPA air purifier, make sure to go for one with washable filters to cut costs. Otherwise, a replaceable filter (which gets clogged over time) every 6 months to a year will cost you more.
What makes ionizers even more budget-friendly is that they don’t contain filters. Instead, they have metal collecting rods or plates that you can easily clean. And they don’t need replacement every year or so.
However, experts suggest that air purifiers are superior and worth the upfront cost.
While ionizers and ionic air purifiers are a fantastic budget alternatives for maintaining clean indoor air, HEPA air purifiers are the best choice for better air purification and health protection (no ozone emission). This is because they suck the air in and physically filter particles. Ionizers just trap them and make things dirty.
When it comes to design, HEPA filters offer more design options than ionic air purifiers. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes that look and work well in various environments. You can go for wall-mounted models, which is something that’s not available with most air ionizers on the market today.
Ionizers may come in freestanding units that can be tucked into corners. You’ll also find small and compact ones that you can place almost anywhere in your home.
HEPA air purifiers also come in a range of colors compared to ionizers.
Which Is Better: HEPA or Ionizer?
HEPA air purifiers are thought to be more effective at eliminating pollutants from the air. This is because it captures the particles and keeps them inside a physical filter. They have a 99.97% efficiency in removing particles as fine as 0.3 microns.
Air ionizers, on the other hand, only drop toxins out of the air but don’t really remove pollutants.
Should I Use Ionizer on My Purifier?
When purifiers became a need for many households, ion generators or ionizers became popular as well. They are inexpensive and can somewhat boost the HEPA filter’s performance.
This allows air purifier businesses to sell a greater clean air delivery rate (CADR) with a bit of additional expense. And this makes it a low-cost option to increase CADR. However, users are sometimes uninformed that these devices use ionizers, so they are oblivious to their potentially harmful impacts on their health.
It’s true that ionizers can effectively disinfect the air you breathe in, and so is the fact that they can emit harmful ozone, which makes up the Earth’s protective layer.
Should you use an ionizer on your purifiers?
It all depends on the type of purifier and what you want to accomplish with it. But if your air purifier already has a HEPA filter, we don’t see the need to add an ionizer.
Can You Use an Air Purifier and Ionizer at the Same Time?
Yes, you can. As we’ve mentioned above, you can use ionizers in conjunction with other air purification technologies like a HEPA filter. You can also combine ionizers with carbon filters. This helps remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), smells, as well as other pollutants from the air.
Overall, using an air purifier and an ionizer together can give a more thorough approach to enhancing a room’s air quality.
So, Which Is Better: Air Purifier or Air Ionizer?
In terms of efficiency in cleaning the air, research on HEPA air purifier vs ionizer shows that purifiers clean air far better than ionizers. This is because air purifiers capture particles, filtering them out from circulation. There are even special filters designed to fight microbes that might cause health issues.
Ionizers, on the other hand, only make those particles heavy enough to fall to the ground. This means that you still need to clean it up. And by cleaning it up, you are risking disturbing and reintroducing those particles into the air.
That said, you still need to consider your home’s specific needs.
Both devices are great for cleaning indoor air. But If you have asthma or allergies and are concerned about air pollution around your house, a HEPA filter-based air purifier may be the best option. But if you want to eliminate odors and smoke, an ionizer may be more suitable.
Got more questions about air purifiers and ionizers? Let us know—we’ll be glad to hear from you!