Because of their usefulness in enhancing indoor air quality, air purifiers have exploded in popularity in recent years. As the prevalence of respiratory problems like asthma and allergies increases, so does the need for air purifiers to help relieve their symptoms. Of course as technologies continue to evolve, it is no surprise than even air purifiers can wear the “smart” moniker as our world becomes more and more connected every day. In this article we’re going to discuss 7 benefits (some obvious, and some not so obvious) of air purifiers and the role they can play in your life to live happier, and live smarter.
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What Exactly is an Air Purifier?
The term “air purifier” refers to any appliance designed to clean the air in a specific space of any potentially harmful substances. It takes in surrounding air and “cleans” it using a variety of filtration and purification technologies.
These technologies include pre-filtration, HEPA filtration, and activated carbon filtration, which work together to capture and eliminate harmful particles from the air. The pre-filter captures larger particles, such as hair and dust, while the HEPA filter captures smaller particles, such as pollen and bacteria. The activated carbon filter is designed to remove odors and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air.
There are even air purifiers that use UV (ultraviolet) technology to clean the air. These purifiers typically have a UV-C light that helps to kill germs, bacteria, and viruses in the air, as well as on surfaces.
UV-C light works by damaging the DNA or RNA of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing and rendering them harmless. When air passes through a purifier with a UV-C light, any microorganisms in the air are exposed to the light and are effectively neutralized.
Not all air purifiers will use all the technologies together. Some focus one just one technology, while others may combine a handful of technologies together to create a more well-rounded performer.
What Makes a Smart Air Purifier … Smart?
Take a standard air purifier and pair it with software that you can control via mobile app and you essentially have a smart air purifier. A smart air purifier will also be equipped with advanced sensors and filters that work together to detect and remove harmful pollutants from the air.
Why would you want a smart air purifier, you might ask? Well, there are definitely a few reasons we can come up with such as automation, remote-monitoring, and convenience.
Some purifiers, like the Govee Smart Air Purifier above have sensors built to analyze the surrounding air to detect dust particles and adjust it’s filtration power accordingly. For example, if you just finished cooking dinner, and it detects a high level of odor in the air, it may crank up the fan to 100%, and once the odor has been eliminated, it will then automatically turn down the power and quietly hum along in maintenance mode.
Another great feature of certain smart purifiers is the ability to monitor the air quality within the app remotely. Maybe you went on vacation, and the house has been unoccupied for a week and that musky smell is starting to build up. Well, before you come home, you can pull up the app, turn on your air purifier so that by the time you are home, your home will be smelling fresh as can be. The Coway Airmega 400 is one of small handful of smart air purifier capable of this functionality.
One more notable feature is the convenience of being able to see when the filtration elements needs to be replaced or cleaned. HEPA filters, carbon filters all have set lifespans, and will need to be replaced every so often for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. It is very convenient to be able to have the machine tell you when these elements need to be maintained.
Again, not all smart air purifiers will have these features, but these are features that may or may not be important to you when it comes to your buying decision.
7 Benefits of Air Purifiers (Smart or Not)
The most obvious benefit of an air purifier is improved air quality, duh! But there are some detailed benefits that may or may not be as obvious to you, and we will be presenting them to you in hopes to help you make a decision to help you live a better, smarter life, especially if you’re on the fence. Here goes…
The elimination of allergens from the air is one of the most important advantages of air purifiers. Pollen and dust mites are only two examples of allergens that may be removed from the air by using a purifier, lowering the likelihood of an allergic response.
Let’s not forget our favorite furry family members! As cute and loving as they are, pets are one of the primary causes of allergies in humans. Their fur is a magnet for all kinds of particles that they pick up while out and about. Along with their own dander, these particles can cause great discomfort if they cause our allergy to flare, so consider getting an air purifier to help reduce some of those reactions.
By reducing the amount of allergens in the air, air purifiers can help to alleviate symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and congestion. This will also help you reduce the reliance of over the counter allergy medication and save you money in the long run.
With an air purifier, you can breathe easier and enjoy a more comfortable living environment, even during allergy season.
Dust and other particles in the air may be removed by using an air purifier. Asthma and allergy sufferers might benefit from this since dust is a common trigger.
As mentioned prior, air purifiers use a variety of technologies to trap dust and particles to create cleaner breathable air. One of the most effective technologies is mechanical HEPA filtration. Modern air purifiers use HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which are designed to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns. HEPA filters work by trapping particles in a dense mesh of fibers, which allows clean air to pass through while trapping dust, pollen, pet dander, and other particles.
Another technology is chemical filtration via activated carbon. Activated carbon filters work by absorbing compounds onto a porous surface. Is the same technology found in drinking water filters as well as those found in aquariums to keep toxins out of the water.
Electrostatic filters is a filtration technology that utilizes a static charge to attract particles to a collection plate. These filters are particularly effective at trapping larger particles such as dust and pet hair. They require frequent cleaning for maximum effectiveness.
Of course, there’s also the most basic method of filtration by using pre-filters. These are generally mesh or foam material designed to capture larger particles before they reach the primary filter. These filters can help to prolong the life of the primary filter and improve overall air purification efficiency. They also require frequent cleaning via water rinse and air dry.
Air purifiers may help lower mold spore counts. Because of their potential to trigger allergic reactions and respiratory difficulties, mold spores should be contained as much as possible.
The filtration technologies often serve multiple usage. HEPA filtration with it’s ability to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns does include mold spores, which are typically 1-30 microns in size and will be stopped by the dense mesh fibers of a quality HEPA filter.
UV-C light, a technology discussed earlier is very effective at killing mold spores. In fact UV-C light has been shown to be effective not only at killing mold spores, but other microorganisms as well (such a air-borne bacteria and viruses).
Activated carbon filters (surprise!) can also be effective at removing mold spores from the air, as they are able to absorb volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are often times produced by mold. By removing these compounds from the air, activated carbon filters can help essentially to reduce the overall concentration of mold spores.
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is used by certain air purifiers to kill airborne germs and viruses. This is especially useful for limiting the transmission of disease in crowded settings.
This may seem a bit redundant, but both UV-C and HEPA filtration technology also serve to kill germs and viruses. We’d rather sound repetitive and get the point across so that you will be 100% confident when you come to make your buying decision. We are, after all, talking about our long-term health.
A technology that may not be found commonly in many air purifiers is Photocatalytic oxidation (PCO). This method uses a combination of UV-C light and a catalyst to break down germs and viruses in the air. When the catalyst is activated by UV-C light, it produces a reaction that creates hydroxyl radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can break down organic compounds, including germs and viruses.
It’s worth noting that while air purifiers can be effective at reducing the overall level of germs and viruses in the air, they are not a substitute for proper hygiene practices. Additionally, not all air purifiers are effective at killing germs and viruses, so it’s important to choose a model that is specifically designed for this purpose if this is a concern for you.
Odors from cooking, pets, and cigarettes may all be removed from the air with the help of an air purifier. This has the potential to improve the quality of life and health of the community.
The technologies used to tackle odors are the activated carbon and HEPA filtration methods, but there are some purifiers that use ionizers to help eliminate pungent smells. Ionizers work by emitting negative ions into the air, which attach to positively charged particles like dust, allergens, and odors, causing them to fall to the ground.
Please be aware that while ionizers can be effective at eliminating some odors, they can also produce small amounts of ozone, which can be harmful in high concentrations. This isn’t a huge concern for your consumer grade air purifier, but it something that you may need to take into consideration, so we wanted to at least mention it here.
Air purifiers may enhance indoor air quality, which in turn can help you get a better night’s rest if poor air quality keeps you up at night. Individuals with sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, may benefit greatly from this.
No way? You might be thinking. But logically this makes sense. With smart air purifiers today, you will be able to create an environment with less allergens, better air quality, less orders, and potentially even more sterile (clean of bacteria and viruses), which can all lead to a better night’s sleep. No more sniffles and coughs to keep you up at night.
It’s important to note that while air purifiers can potentially improve sleep quality, they are not a cure-all for sleep problems. Other factors like stress, diet, and sleep habits can also have a significant impact on sleep quality, and should be addressed as well.
The use of air purifiers has been shown to boost productivity and improve health by reducing airborne contaminants. This is especially useful in commercial settings where unhealthy air quality might cause employees to miss work.
This is something that might not be as obvious until you really think about it. Everything that we’ve covered so far accumulates to improved air quality which can lead to improved personal health. When we’re not worrying about the next allergy attack, we can see improvements in our mood as well as our focus, which ultimately can lead to better productivity.
This may not be something we can systematically measure easily, but there are research studies that have been done specifically looking at air quality vs productivity in the work place. In a study done by D. P. Wyon in 2004, researchers were able to conduct an 8-week experiment concluding “it has now been shown beyond reasonable doubt that poor indoor air quality in buildings can decrease productivity”. One can then reasonably infer that the opposite is also true, that better air quality can also increase productivity in the work place.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Air Purifier
- Room size: Consider the size of the room where you will be using the air purifier. Choose a purifier that is appropriate for the size of your room.
- Filter type: Always look for a purifier with a HEPA filter, which can capture small particles and allergens. Vast majority of purifiers will use HEPA filtration so you shouldn’t need to look very hard.
- Noise level: Consider the noise level of the purifier, especially if you will be using it in a bedroom or other quiet area.
- Smart features: Look for a purifier with smart features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and app control, which allow you to monitor and control the purifier from your smartphone.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long do air filters last?
Depending on the type of filters, their lifespan will vary. Many filters simply require cleaning while others will require a complete replacement. The manufacturer will provide you with guidelines as each model differs from one to another.
In general, pre-filters rarely need to replaced unless they are physically damaged. You can simply rise them under water, or give them a light scrub (depending on the material), then air dry and use them again. Same with electrostatic filters, which for the most part, you can get away with just wiping them down.
HEPA on the other hand may or may not be washable, but generally speaking should be replaced about 6 months to 1 year of usage. Activated carbon may need to be replaced a lot more frequently depending on your household. Generally speaking if you are constantly trying to filter out odors in home (maybe you cook often) then you will need to change the carbon more often.
Can I sleep with the air filter on?
There is no harm to sleeping with your air purifiers on. The one factor that may need some consideration is the noise level. Some air purifiers are more quiet than others and will be more conducive to a better nights sleep. In fact if you have a high quality smart air purifier, it would probably be a good idea to sleep with it on.
Should I leave my air purifier on all the time?
While it doesn’t damage your health to leave the air purifier on all the time, you may want to consider factors such as noise and cost of utilities for leaving on an air purifier all the time. This can vary from unit to unit, so if you have a very quite, very efficient unit with a lot of smart features, you will be just fine leaving it on all the time.
Why does my air purifier smell?
One of the main reasons why air purifiers will smell over time is maintenance. Moisture in the air can cause buildup inside your air purifier, so it is a good idea to check your system if it begins to smell and give it a thorough cleaning. It may also be an indicator that it’s time to change out some of your filters.
So are air purifiers worth it? We absolutely think so! Are smart purifiers worth it? That decision will be up to you! Here are Smart Design Living, we always advocate for smart technology. We believe technology exists to improve our lives so we can focus on the things that are more important to us, such as spending time with loved ones.
We believe that incorporating an air purifier (smart or not) into your home or place of business is a great simple decision you can make. They help cleaning the air by removing allergies, trapping dust and other particles, lowering mold spores, killing germs and viruses, getting rid of unpleasant smells, facilitating restful sleep, and boosting efficiency. Given all the ways in which they may help, it’s no surprise that more and more people are investing in air purifiers. We certainly hope this article helped you make that same decision.