Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Air Purifier
Do you really need an air purifier?
The answer is a resounding yes. Indoor air can contain microscopic particles (pollutants from outdoor pollution like haze and indoor sources like pet dander, cleaning supplies, cooking particles and etc) that are invisible to the human eye and can be hazardous to health.
As modern homes become better sealed to comply with energy efficiency requirements, pollutants can be trapped inside and the circulation of airflow is compromised. So, if you want a cleaner, fresher air in your home, a good air purifier unit could be just what you need!
However, you’ll likely be spoilt with choices when it comes to choosing a suitable air purifier for your home, as there are so many types and models available in the market. Here are some useful guidelines to help you expedite your decision.
The most common measure of efficiency is the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). It generally calculates how quickly (per minute) the air can be filtered and cleansed, relative to its cubic area. The larger the number, the faster it cleans.
You will usually find three CADR numbers, one each assigned to measure the effectiveness of cleaning smoke, dust, and pollen. For haze particles, the ‘smoke’ CADR is the most relevant measure.
The appropriate smoke CADR number should be at least three times the room volume in cubic metres.
There are other efficiency tests that different manufacturers and brands claim are more effective, like air chamber testing (Surround Air) and Cumulate Clean Mass (IQAir). However, not all products provide transparent measures of effectiveness/efficiency or may even use different tests, which makes an apple-to-apple comparison tricky. Thus, we recommend researching efficiency claims made by manufacturers — don’t just take their word for it.
When shopping for an air purifier, consider buying a unit that has High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and activated carbon air filter.
Air purifiers with a HEPA filter are effective at removing up to 99.97% of harmful airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. This includes bacteria, mould spores, pet dander, dust, and more. Meanwhile, an activated carbon filter can help to eliminate unpleasant odours so your indoor air remains fresh.
Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Tower Fan feature an activated carbon filter to remove gases, and a Glass HEPA filter that captures 99.95% of microscopic allergens and pollutants
If you want your air purifier to deal with germs, viruses, mould, and bacteria as well, do consider a unit that also has germicidal ultraviolet lamp technology as it removes these contaminants without any sort of filtration system. Instead, they use ultraviolet light rays to incinerate the bacteria as it passes through.
Caution: Be careful when buying air purifiers with ozone generators and ionisers, as these can produce a small amount of ozone as well as oxidants that can be harmful to your health.
The average cost of an air purifier ranges from as low as RM315 to a whooping RM6,000; depending on brand, additional features, and technology as well as its efficiency and effectiveness in relation to the square footage of your room.
Let’s review two air purifiers of the same brand; on the lower and higher end of the cost spectrum, for a glimpse of what the price tags have to offer:
A basic and affordable option, the SHARP Air Purifier 23m² FPJ30LB retails for about RM389 (approx). It has the cleaning capacity of 23m² (or 247 sq. ft.), which makes it suitable for small-to-medium bedrooms. Its filtration system includes a HEPA filter with a two-year lifespan and a ‘haze mode’ to collect relevant particles. Its noise level is about 23 decibels, which is comparable to a whisper.
On the other hand, a top-range model like the Sharp KC-860U Plasmacluster air purifier costs RM5,400 (approx) and has a cleaning capacity of 32m² (or 344 sq. ft.), which is suitable for a medium living room or large bedroom. Apart from its larger purifying capacity, it also comes with a ton of extra features. This model uses True HEPA (5-year life span) and activated carbon filters that are necessary for effective haze air purifying. Other features include a humidifier, a smart sensor, energy efficiency, and a type of ioniser built in. This model is also incredibly silent, running at only 19 decibels (without the humidifier).
Both models offer air purifying at its core; but the significant price difference is mainly due to the additional features and cleaning capacity. So do choose one that complements your needs (e.g. do you need just a purifier or a purifier with extra features?), the size of your home/bedroom and of course, your budget.
In addition to purchase price, do note the maintenance costs as well. Certain parts, like the filter, will need to be replaced and the frequency depends on its lifespan. So when shopping for an air purifier, be sure to take the cost and frequency of future filter replacements into consideration. The filter lifespan is usually listed in the product specifications.
Last but not least, when shopping for an air purifier, opt for a model with low noise levels, especially if you are going to use it in a bedroom. For a good night’s sleep, look for an air purifier that runs below 30 decibels. The lower, the better.