How Does an Air Purifier Work? – The Latest Technologies

By Consumer Advise Team
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The air purifier’s primary function is to clean the air of any harmful particles or allergens such as dust, pollen, gases, mists, pollutants, viruses, etc. The air purifiers are of two main types depending on the purifying technology, the electric attraction method, and the air filtration method. Though some operational ways are different based on the varying types and shapes of the best air purifiers, the primary working process is very similar.

Both types have a fan at the backside to pull in the outside air inside the purifier. Once the air is inside, it goes through the plates or filters installed in the purifier to be purified. The working method is different for all types of air purifiers.

For instance, the process of working can be categorized in ways- electric attraction and air filtration. Let’s check what they are and how these processes can influence effective air purification.

How Does An Air Purifier Work

Electric Attraction Method

The air purifiers that work based on the electrostatic energy, are used to separate the unwanted molecules and VOC from the air. Many of these pollutants are charged or bipolar, so using oppositely charged particles to make them neutral. The three methods under this type are-

1. Electrostatic precipitation

In this process, air purifiers work with a precipitator wrapped with high voltage electric current-charged wires to separate the air particles after being drawn inside the purifier through a fan.

This type needs high voltage electric current charge-induced wires attached to the plate to use on the pollutant particles of air after being drawn inside the purifier through a fan. The plates are called precipitators. Here the wires carry oppositely charged particles that attract the particles to the wire and release the clean air.

2. Negative ion generator

Air purifiers with negative iron generator uses negatively charged ions to nullify the particles’ electric flow and prevent them from floating in the air.

This type of air purifier requires the negatively charged ions to nullify the particles’ electric flow and prevent them from floating in the air. This can make both work on their own and alongside HEPA filters.

Negative ion generator

3. Electret Filters

In air purifiers with electret filters, synthetic fibers generate static electricity inside the purifier to attract and differentiate the particles from the air when it flows through the purifiers.

Air Filtration Technology

There are also other methods of working such as activated carbon filtration, ultraviolet GI, and photocatalytic oxidation methods. The activated carbon-made filters absorb the unwanted particles and release clean air. Also, the UVGI method sterilizes the air before emission.

air filtration technology

The last method is mainly used in the air purifiers attached to HVAC for purifying a large quantity of air by oxidizing it and degrading the volatile, harmful inorganic, and organic components. Integrated air purifiers are also being researched and developed that can be helpful in both the home and car.

Another type of technology is the filtration method, that works with different types of filters to purify the air. In this method, the air is drawn inside the device using a fan, and then it passes through the filters. The different types of filters are-

1. HEPA filtration

This type of air filter mainly needs fine sieves to trap the air’s harmful and unwanted particles when it passes through the filters inside the purifier. The finer the sieves are, the better and more purified the released air. These are mainly called HEPA filters that work well with air purifiers and can trap 99.97% of 0.3 micron or larger-sized particles including VOCs.

HEPA filtration

Advantages of HEPA

  • Besides dust particles, it also removes airborne viruses, bacteria, dust mites, mold spores, and pollen.
  • HEPA filters eliminate pollutants once and for all. They do not release these harmful particulates back into the atmosphere.
  • Easy accessibility and maintenance.

Disadvantages of HEPA

  • HEPA filters are pretty expensive.
  • High maintenance cost.
  • Noisy during high-speed operation.

2. Activated carbon filtration

This method uses an activated carbon-made filter to absorb the foul odor present in the air when it passes through the air purifier. This air purifier filter works flawlessly and absorbs not only unhealthy particulates but also traps fumes and chemical gases.

Advantages of Activated Carbon

  • Purified air without any foul smell.
  • Easy to maintain and replace.
  • Cheap in price.

Disadvantages of Activated Carbon

  • Other than purifying the smell, activated carbon filtration does not have other uses.

3. Ultra Violet Light purification

In this method, the UV rays are used to sterilize the air as it is forcefully passed through the UV lamps installed inside the purifier. This method works to remove the micro-sized components from the air.

Ultra Violet Light purification

Advantages of UV

  • Kills germs, viruses, and bacteria.
  • Prolonged life.
  • Easy to replace.

Disadvantages of UV

  • It cannot remove dust particulates.

4. Photocatalytic oxidation

This method is mainly used in those air purifiers used to purify large amounts of air or compatible with HVAC devices. This method uses a photocatalytic oxidation system to oxidize and degrade the organic, harmful components like VOC present in the air. Later it needs short-waved UVCs to sterilize the air further.

Advantages of Photocatalytic oxidation

  • Powerful air filtration method to remove small particles up to 0.001 microns.
  • It is more advanced than HEPA filtration.

Disadvantages of Photocatalytic oxidation

  • Air purifiers with photocatalytic oxidation are expensive.

How to Use an Air Purifier?

Working with an air purifier is very easy once you get the hang of it. There are just a few things that need to be kept in mind before using one.

  1. Proper placement of air purifier in a room

First and foremost, an air purifier needs a good and free space to work correctly. Place all sides, including the top side, at least one foot away from the wall and the front side facing the room. The purifier must get enough space at the back to draw in the air. Also, make sure to use the size that fits your room perfectly.

  1. Point the flow of fresh air in the correct direction

Often, it is seen that the fresh air is not flowing into every corner of the room due to misplacement. Make sure to know where the air is getting released from and then place that side in such a way that it can cover the desired areas.

  1. Keep windows and doors closed

After placing the air purifier in the perfect place, make sure to shut the doors and windows. They can not clean more air than their capacity. The more outside air enters your room, the harder it will be for your purifier to clean it and provide you with clean air. Please don’t open the doors unless it is needed.

  1. Plug it into the electricity and switch it on

After all the necessary precautions are taken, check the wiring of the air purifiers. Once it is done, plug it into the electricity. Make sure that the voltage and wattage of the socket match the prescribed ones of the purifier. Now switch it on and set the mode and air cleaning speed as necessary.

  1. Regular cleaning and maintenance

Once you are done using an air purifier for the day, immediately clean the filter to avoid mold formation or any other reaction. Also, perform regular maintenance on the purifier to make it durable and efficient.

  1. Never turn off an air purifier

Nowadays, air purifiers come with technologies and durable bodies to work for a whole day without getting turned off. It is also built to save power and electricity as much as possible if there are no open windows or doors. Other than the cleaning time, there is no need to turn it off. 

Air purifiers are not harmful to health if appropriately maintained, and there is no ozone emission. It also becomes difficult to purify the air after it has not been purified for hours, so there is no need to switch it off if not extremely necessary.

Now that you know the basics make sure to implement them appropriately to your benefit. Also, these are steps that are only applicable to portable or single-room air purifiers. For larger purifiers, it is best to take the help of professionals.

This is all about the working method of air purifiers. During purification, releasing the fresh air into the room is the same for all types. Thus, assess the methodologies with pros and cons to find a suitable air purifier for your home.

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