With the air quality index flying off charts, roofs and what not in many parts of the country, the market for air purifiers is at its burgeoning best. Know that staying indoors does not mean you are breathing fresh air at all times. Outside toxic air gets a lot of opportunities to float into our homes and on mixing with allergens inside such as cleaning agents, varnishes, pollen, residues, pet dander etc, the resultant air is no less than what you find out on the streets.
Before you buy an air purifier, bring yourself up to speed with what you should really be looking at:
Check The Size Of Your Room
Perhaps the most important factor when you start looking for an air purifier. An air purifier smaller than the size of your room will just defeat the whole purpose. Look for ‘area coverage’ on the appliance and when in doubt, get one that is larger in room capacity. Experts say buying an air purifier for a 20-40 percent larger room than the one intended is best for optimal efficiency for too much pressure on the appliance will affect its longevity. A larger air purifier will also allow you to run it at a low speed for a more silent and economical operation.
Know The Filters
The heart of an air purifier and what the efficacy of the machine entirely depends on: filters. They say the more number of filters the air purifier has, the cleaner the air around you will be. While this is true, it’s not a rule carved in stone.
- HEPA: Other filters or no, your air purifier SHOULD come with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filter. Not “HEPA-like” or “HEPA-type” but “true HEPA”. The first two are not regulated by the government, so be wary. HEPA removes 99.97% of particles sized 0.3 microns and less that can go deep within our lungs.
- Pre-filters: The second most important filter (if you’re looking for more than one filter) is a pre-filter. A pre-filter effectively increases the longevity of the HEPA and hence the machine overall. The pre-filter has the primary task of blocking larger dust particles before they get lodged into the HEPA, relieving them from the additional burden and improving its operating life. While HEPA filters can only be replaced (every 12-18 months), pre-filters can be easily washed and cleaned – no recurring cost there.
- Carbon filter: While HEPA is the gold standard of air purifiers, they do not filter harmful gases and odour. Carbon filters are highly recommended for those who stay in or close to industrial areas.
What You Should Avoid:
Ozone Emitting Devices:
Ozone kills bacteria and viruses in the air, which is why many manufacturers milk the idea. It’s not a secret that ozone is a lung irritant and can affect Asthama patients severely.
Ionic air purifiers emit charged particles that latch onto airborne bacteria and drop to the floor. They don’t kill them, just move them from the air to the floor. So you do need to vacuum (thoroughly) up the room to finish the process. Nowadays, ionic purifiers come with an electrostatic collection plate to collect the contaminants. But in general, an ioniser on its own is not what we can call a fool-proof air cleaner.
What is CADR?
CADR or Clean Air Delivery Rate of an air purifier is the international standard for calculating how quickly it can clean the air in a room. In other words, the higher the CADR number, the more clean air it will throw into the room. If a small-sized air purifier claims a high CADR compared to those double its size, this is a red flag. Remember, an air purifier works by drawing in and throwing out air through its vents. So the size of the vents should be a clear giveaway.
An air purifier doesn’t have to be on all the time. Throw open the windows – allow the indoor air to change. The afternoon is the best time for you to risk opening the windows for some natural ventilation. The air quality is the least detrimental during this time of the day.
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