HEPA Air Purifier: Everything You Need To Know

Having clicked on this link, we are assuming that you have been searching different kinds of air purifiers on the web. But you are probably a little confused by a few of the terms. When you look at a number of different products the phrase HEPA air purifier keeps coming up… This can lead to confusion, and it is important to understand what the term HEPA means

This page will give some general background on HEPA air purifiers, and what it means for a product to be given this label. Below we have provided a number of answers to the key questions that you are probably asking yourself about this term:

A HEPA air purifier is a kind of purifier that has a special air filter. The term HEPA refers to the filter inside the air purifier. This filter must be able to collect extremely small particles that can become a problem in the household. These can be pollen, dust, pet dander, pollution, etc.… And they must be able to remove most of them from the space that the product is designed for. The exact statistics for this will be explained in the next question.

The technology for this has been around for half a century, so the science behind it is sound. To be given the label of HEPA, the product must meet a strict set of standards by the United States Department of Energy.

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How effective are HEPA air purifiers?

A HEPA air purifier is a highly effective air filter that is able to remove 99.97 of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. A product is only allowed to call itself HEPA if it is tested and proven to be able to do this. This is enforced by the United States Department of Energy. It sounds like a small figure because it is! Most of us would probably not have heard of these kinds of measurements before. So to help you understand, there is a chart below:

Micron Size Chart

As you can see from the examples, particles that are above 0.3 microns are generally the ones that bother us. So for an air purifier to be labelled HEPA means that it removes 99.97 of all the airborne contaminants that you can see in the chart above, as well as others…

What is a true HEPA air purifier?

One concept that has been understandably confusing people is the title True HEPA in a product description. You will stumble upon terms like HEPA-type or 99%-HEPA. This is basically a marketing term designed to get credibility from the reputation of the True-HEPA. It is very important to know the difference before you make your purchase.

If a product is labelled True-HEPA, it means that it MUST meet the requirements outlined above. These are strict minimum standards set out by the United States Department of Energy. If a product is a HEPA-type, they do not have to live up to this standard.

Many of these HEPA-Type products will boast similar statistics to the True HEPA. However, the wording they use can be misleading. For example, instead of saying they remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger, they will say removes up to 99% of allergens. Or some say removes 99% of particles 2 microns or larger. They know that most people don’t really understand that measurement, so they just put it in there to sound impressive.

Basically, they prey on the customer that has not done their research. So the bottom line is, a HEPA-type air purifier is a cheaper and less effective version of a True-HEPA filter.

Are HEPA air purifiers safe?

Recently there have been a few articles written about air purifiers that can be potentially harmful. This is a concern, but the good news is that most purifiers are completely safe. So how do we tell the good from the bad? Let me explain…

Some air purifiers use Ionic filters to collect air particles. These filters can give off a certain amount of ozone in order to function. But we have a natural amount of ozone in the air, so why would this be harmful to us? Well the amount of ozone in the natural environment, of course, is safe for us to breathe. It is when it exceeds this amount that it can cause problems.

In an article written about ozone producing air purifiers, the EPA says, “when inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. Ozone may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections.”

So what can we do about this? It is my opinion that you should avoid any air purifier that produces a significant amount of ozone. If the product has an ionic filter, then you will have to check how safe the ozone levels are. Some products with ionic filters are ok to use. But you must check if they are producing excess ozone into the living space.

You may hear arguments that ozone producing filters are fine in the home, but if the EPA is not convinced that it is safe, then neither am I!!

How do HEPA air purifiers work?

HEPA air purifiers have a simple method of trapping airborne particles. They are usually made from fibreglass strands and are placed in the form of a mat. When the particles pass through this mat of fibreglass, they get stuck to it. The filter uses an air stream that forces the particles to come into contact with the strands. Another way for the particles to become trapped is to get stuck to other particles in the mat. It sounds like a simple process, but it has proven to be very effective for half a century. HEPA filters have been used in vacuum cleaners and airlines also.

Are HEPA air purifiers the best?

There are a number of different air purifiers and filters that you can choose from. Many people choose to use a HEPA filter because of the standards that they must meet. As we have mentioned, there are lots of marketing gimmicks that are designed to fool the customer. But for a product to be labelled HEPA means that it must be a high standard filter. This is discussed in How Effective Are HEPA air purifiers?

If you are looking to get rid of pollen, household dust, pet dander, pollution or smoke, then this type of filter is very effective. Many of the best air purifiers will use HEPA technology that has been tried and tested for over fifty years. People concerned about their health in high pollution areas, tend to use HEPA air purifiers in their homes and offices.

Which HEPA air purifier is the best?

When you are choosing which HEPA air purifier is for you, there are a few things that you must consider. The first that people usually need to look at is cost. What is your budget? There are air purifiers available at lower, mid, and higher price ranges that will be effective in decontaminating your living space.

However, it is the features that will differ at those price ranges: how much space it will cover, how much noise it makes, the design, and the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). Some of the top brands of HEPA Air Purifiers are Blueair Air Purifiers, Austin Air Filters and for a low-cost brand with high CADR ratings Idylis Air Purifiers.

One of the main mistakes that people make when buying an air purifier is not checking the amount of space it needs to cover. So before you make a decision, measure carefully and look for a product that will suit that area. Below we have included recommendations for what we believe to be the three best HEPA air purifiers in each price range:

Low Range

Honeywell 50250-S
The Honeywell 50250-S is the best HEPA air purifier in the lower price range. It has a long life HEPA filter which lasts 3-5 years, a carbon activated pre-filter, can decontaminate an area up to 390 square feet, and has a Clean Air Delivery Rate of 250 for smoke, dust, and pollen. For the price that it sells for, it is an excellent product! This model has become one of the most popular air purifiers in any price range for this reason. It has all the basic features and is effective at decontaminating a smaller area. This will interest you if you are looking for the cheapest air purifier that is a good quality HEPA.

Mid Range

Blueair 503 HEPASilent
The Blueair 503 HEPASilent is great for decontamination of medium to larger areas. It has HEPASilent filters, which mean that it is quieter than a regular air purifier. The filter also cleans 99.97 of airborne particles bigger than 0.1 microns. It has a Clean Air Delivery Rate of 375 for smoke, dust, and pollen. The machine can decontaminate an area of up to 580 square feet. Customers tend to be most satisfied with the noise level and reduction in allergy and asthma symptoms. This product will suit people with noise sensitivity, as well as those looking for a quality air purifier.

High Range

Austin Air Bedroom Machine Air Purifier (HM402)
In terms of quality air purifiers that can decontaminate a really large area, this product is the best, in terms of value for money, and area coverage. This is a medical grade air purifier and covers an area of up to 1500 square feet! It has a long life HEPA filter that can last up to 5 years, which saves on maintenance costs. This product is designed and constructed in the USA. People who suffer from severe allergies have reported a major reduction in symptoms after buying this machine. So if you have a really large area that you need purify, or suffer from serious allergies, this air purifier is the best choice.

Best HEPA Air Purifier: Buying Guide

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