Filter vs filterless air purifiers – which is better?

Are you considering an air purifier for your home? There are lots of options when it comes to air purifiers. One of the choices you will have to make will be between the presence or absence of filter material.

Unfortunately, you can’t just decide on which is the best by looking at the purifier specs or even trusting their ads. Luckily, we have compared filter vs filterless air purifiers below. With this information, you can understand their differences, advantages, and shortcomings, and choose the best.

What are filtered air purifiers?

Filtered air purifiers, as the name suggests, are air cleaners that use a physical filter. The filter material traps airborne allergens and pollutants, removing them from circulation.

There are several different types of air purifiers, depending on the type of filter used. They include:

1. HEPA air purifiers

These are the most common types of air purifiers. They come with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes even the smallest airborne pollutants.

A good filter can remove 99.97% of particles, up to a size of 0.3 microns. However, higher-grade HEPA filters, for example, HEPA 13 ad 14, can remove up to 99.995% of pollutants as small as 0.1 microns.

2. Activated carbon air purifiers

These air cleaners make use of a filter material made of activated carbon. These remove the pollutants by absorbing them. Therefore, they are very effective at eliminating volatile organic compounds, gases, and odors.

3. Electrostatic air purifiers

Electrostatic air purifiers use electricity to charge the pollutants, similar to what ionizers (filterless) do.

However, they do come with a filter material (usually a porous, synthetic fiber) where the charged particles are collected. Therefore, they – technically – belong to the class of filtered purifiers.

4. Metal filter air purifiers

These are air purifiers with a metal filter, usually made from metals such as aluminum. The metal filters are effective at trapping large particles, which is why they are commonly used in exhaust ducts and HVAC systems.

In air cleaners, they can be used as pre-filters – combined with other filters such as HEPA and/or activated carbon.

What are filterless air purifiers?

Filterless air cleaners, on the other hand, are simply air purifiers without a filter. Instead of the mechanical filter, they sanitize the air by using different technologies. They include:

1. Ionic air purifiers

Also known as ionizers, they work by releasing negative ions in the air. These reverse the charge of the particle pollutants, which causes them to fall and stick on various surfaces, for example, furniture.

2. UV air purifiers

UV purifiers use ultraviolet light to sanitize the air. The light is very effective at killing microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and germs.

3. Ozone-based air purifiers

Ozone air purifiers, or ozone generators, as they are known, use ozone gas to eliminate airborne particles.

The extra oxygen molecule in the ozone attaches itself to pollutants, causing them to disintegrate. Therefore, they are very effective at getting rid of odors and mold spores.

However, there are some health concerns with ozone purifiers, starting with the fact that ozone gas can be harmful.

4. PCO air purifiers

PCO (photocatalytic oxidation) no-filter air purifiers make use of the photocatalysis technique. It basically involves concentrating an intense light on a metal surface, creating ions that oxidize and kill airborne pollutants.

Are filterless air purifiers good?

While they don’t have a physical filter, filterless air purifiers are still effective in cleaning the air.

Depending on the pollutants being targeted, they can even be more effective than filtered purifiers.

Filter vs filterless air purifiers – which is the best?

When deciding between filter vs filterless air purifiers, the decision will be based on a lot of factors. These include pollutants being targeted, energy use, level of noise, coverage area, maintenance, and by-product containment.

Below is a look at how each type of purifier delivers based on the factors:

1. Type of contaminants

Filtered air purifiers are great for targeting odors, allergens, dust, dander, and microorganisms. On the other hand, most filterless air cleaners are perfect for bacteria, viruses, and germs due to their sanitizing effect.

2. Coverage area

Filtered purifiers use mechanical filtration, which involves the intake of air from the room. As such, too much work is involved, which limits the coverage area. Filterless ones, on the other hand, don’t use mechanical filtration and can cover larger areas.

3. Energy use

Due to mechanical filtration, energy usage with filtered purifiers is higher than with filterless ones.

4. Level of maintenance

Filtered purifiers require regular maintenance in cleaning or even replacing filters. With some types of filters, for example, HEPA, replacement costs can be very high. With no-filter air purifiers, you will only need very little maintenance.

5. Noise level

Noise from fans can be loud in filtered purifiers more so when running at maximum capacity. With filterless air cleaners, the noise levels are low – usually a hum.

6. By-product containment

Filtered air purifiers trap the pollutants and any by-products inside. On the other hand, the filterless ones release them into the air. And while they are mostly safe (inert), some – like ozone or ozone by-products – can be harmful.

Wrapping up

So, which is the best between filter vs filterless air purifiers? Both come with a set of advantages and drawbacks. Therefore, the choice depends on your needs and preferences.

For example, if you want to remove allergens and odors, filtered purifiers with HEPA and activated carbon filters are the best option. However, if you need to neutralize pathogens, no-filter air cleaners are an excellent choice.

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