Air Purifier Technologies / Types of Air Purifiers

Choosing an air purifier technology or type of air purifier can be a pretty daunting task; with so many varieties and so much marketing hype and promotion by the various air purifier manufacturers, it can be difficult to make a confident, informed decision. Our goal is to help give you an unbiased review of the most common air purification technologies on the market today, as well as some insights into some new technologies that are gaining interest in the market. As a distributor for a variety of manufacturers, we want to assist you in identifying the air purifier best suited to your own specific needs and budget. Certain technologies are typically best suited to specific types of contaminants; in many cases, an air purifier that incorporates more than one technology, or the use of 2 or more air purifiers, will give you the best results possible for your situation.

We will discuss the following air purifier technologies (click on the name of the technology in the chart for detailed information):


HEPA - recommended for particulate reduction

Dust

Dust
excellent
excellent
Dust Mites
Dust
Mites
excellent
excellent
Mold Spores
Mold
Spores
very good
very good
Pollen

Pollen
very good
very good
Pet Dander
Pet
Dander
very good
very good
Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco
Smoke
fair
fair
Chemicals & VOCs
Chemicals
& VOCs
poor
poor
General Odors
General
Odors
fair
fair
Bacteria / Viruses
Bacteria/
Viruses
poor
poor

Activated Carbon - recommended for chemicals and odors

Dust

Dust
fair
fair
Dust Mites
Dust
Mites
fair
fair
Mold Spores
Mold
Spores
poor
poor
Pollen

Pollen
poor
poor
Pet Dander
Pet
Dander
fair
fair
Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco
Smoke
very good
very good
Chemicals & VOCs
Chemicals
& VOCs
very good
very good
General Odors
General
Odors
excellent
excellent
Bacteria / Viruses
Bacteria/
Viruses
poor
poor

Electrostatic Precipitators - not recommended

Dust

Dust
very good
very good
Dust Mites
Dust
Mites
very good
very good
Mold Spores
Mold
Spores
good
good
Pollen

Pollen
good
good
Pet Dander
Pet
Dander
good
good
Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco
Smoke
fair
fair
Chemicals & VOCs
Chemicals
& VOCs
poor
poor
General Odors
General
Odors
fair
fair
Bacteria / Viruses
Bacteria/
Viruses
poor
poor

Ionic / Ion Generators - not recommended

Dust

Dust
good
good
Dust Mites
Dust
Mites
good
good
Mold Spores
Mold
Spores
fair
fair
Pollen

Pollen
fair
fair
Pet Dander
Pet
Dander
fair
fair
Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco
Smoke
fair
fair
Chemicals & VOCs
Chemicals
& VOCs
poor
poor
General Odors
General
Odors
fair
fair
Bacteria / Viruses
Bacteria/
Viruses
poor
poor

Ultraviolet Light - recommended for microorganisms

Dust

Dust
poor
poor
Dust Mites
Dust
Mites
poor
poor
Mold Spores
Mold
Spores
fair
fair
Pollen

Pollen
poor
poor
Pet Dander
Pet
Dander
poor
poor
Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco
Smoke
poor
poor
Chemicals & VOCs
Chemicals
& VOCs
poor
poor
General Odors
General
Odors
poor
poor
Bacteria / Viruses
Bacteria/
Viruses
excellent
excellent

Incineration - recommended for microorganisms

Dust

Dust
poor
poor
Dust Mites
Dust
Mites
fair
fair
Mold Spores
Mold
Spores
fair
fair
Pollen

Pollen
fair
fair
Pet Dander
Pet
Dander
poor
poor
Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco
Smoke
poor
poor
Chemicals & VOCs
Chemicals
& VOCs
poor
poor
General Odors
General
Odors
fair
fair
Bacteria / Viruses
Bacteria/
Viruses
excellent
excellent

Ozone - WARNING: not safe for home use!

Dust

Dust
poor
poor
Dust Mites
Dust
Mites
poor
poor
Mold Spores
Mold
Spores
fair
fair
Pollen

Pollen
poor
poor
Pet Dander
Pet
Dander
poor
poor
Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco
Smoke
fair
fair
Chemicals & VOCs
Chemicals
& VOCs
poor
poor
General Odors
General
Odors
fair
fair
Bacteria / Viruses
Bacteria/
Viruses
fair
fair

As you can see from our ratings, no single air purifier technology adequately addresses all contaminant classes. For this reason, most high-end air purifiers will use a variety of technologies to achieve broad-spectrum contaminant removal across all major contaminant groups. For instance, both the Austin Air and Airpura brands use a combination of a HEPA filter (for particulate contaminants like dust, dust mites, mold spores, pollen and pet dander) and an activated carbon filter (to remove harmful gasses, chemicals, smoke, and odors). Airpura also offers an optional UV sterilizer to improve effectiveness against microbiological contaminants like bacteria.

It is also important to note that just because an air purifier uses a specific technology, it does not necessarily mean that it can effectively remove the types of contaminants that the technology can normally remove. For example, many inexpensive air purifiers contain an activated carbon or "charcoal" filter, but they often contain only a very small amount of carbon and are almost completely useless at removing odors and airborne chemicals.