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by Katy Lindamood
Finding the right air purifier is essential if you're going to get the most out of your unit. Knowing which features you need and how large a unit you'll require is just the beginning. You'll also need to know how each type of air purifier works before you can decide which is best for your situation.
Choose the right size. Finding the right size for your air filter is the first step. Smaller units are generally best because they are able to be placed strategically throughout the house or business. While larger air filters are available, it's difficult to get enough air flow through the unit to affect the entire structure. Closed doors and other obstructions make it hard for even the most powerful air filters to have an effect on homes with more than just a few rooms. For large open spaces, a single large unit is sufficient, but when there are obstructions blocking air flow, the filtration may need to be broken up into smaller areas.
Know which type suits your needs. Picking out the right type of air filter is essential to picking the right model. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, for example, are excellent at trapping small particulates, like dust and pollen, and the more particulate matter that is trapped by the filter, the more efficient it becomes. HEPA filters are expensive, though, and must be changed at least every 12 months for residential models. For high-pollution areas, more frequent changes may be required. Carbon filtration is also a great choice. Carbon filters can absorb volatile organic compounds, which can affect air quality, and they can effectively trap odors as well. Carbon filters are often used in conjunction with a particulate filter, such as a HEPA filter. Ionizing or electrostatic filtration units send out charged particles which are drawn to impurities in the air. Because these air particles are then drawn toward a metal plate that doesn't need to be changed, these filters don't require frequent replacement. However, as particulates build up on the metal grates, the efficiency of the unit drops dramatically, and the amount of air moved around by such units is much lower than on units that feature a fan.
Change the filter often. Changing the filter on your air purifier is essential to getting the best performance possible. While some air filters work better as they begin to draw in particulates, eventually they will reach critical mass and be unable to hold any additional impurities. Air quality in the typical home is significantly worse than outside, and it's more than just allergens that pollute the air. Chemicals and other impurities are rampant indoors where doors and windows are often shut and fresh air is unable to circulate.