HEPA vs Ionic Air Purifier: An In-depth Comparison

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Indoor air pollution is a real threat that not everyone knows about or pays attention to.

While a high-quality air purifier model offers a great solution, how do you know which one to choose?

We will help you make the right decision with the help of this HEPA vs ionic air purifier comparison.

HEPA air purifiers and air ionizers are two of the most popular and energy-efficient options today.

So, if it is your first time buying an air cleaner, it might all boil down to these two types of air purifiers. Below is a rundown of the pros and cons of each device.

Why Should You Pay More Attention To Indoor Air Quality?

Before we get to the advantages and disadvantages of each type of air purifier, let’s dive a bit deeper into airborne particles.

No matter how careful you are or tidy your house might look, there is a good chance that the air inside your home won’t be perfectly clean.

That is because the air from the outside can still get inside every time you open a door or window.

If you live in an area with a lot of dust particles, you can count on them to find their way into your indoor environment.

Moreover, the level of air pollutant particles increases if you have pets or do home renovations.

Aside from pet odor, you have to deal with dander, airborne allergens, and other dangerous particulates.

That makes an effective air purifier a must-have even if you don’t suffer from respiratory conditions.

How Does a HEPA Filter Work?

Now that you know why you should get an air purifier, it’s time to discuss how each type of purifier works.

It will help you understand them better, allowing you to make the right decision when the time comes for you to buy one.

What Is It?

Let us start with the HEPA air purifier, which stands for high-efficiency particulate air

It is the most common type of air cleaner in the market today and is also among the most effective.

A high-end HEPA air purifier removes up to 99.97% of all harmful particles that float inside your home.

It’s worth noting that it is designed for airborne pollutants no smaller than 0.3 microns.

However, since these finer particles often stick to larger particulates, most of them get removed from the air, too.

How It Works

What a HEPA purifier does is that it draws in the ambient air and forces it through the filter. The filter then proceeds to trap the microscopic particles carried by air.

So, as contaminated air enters the purifier, clean air goes out.

The more air particles it traps, the dirtier the filter gets. That said, it would take a long time before you would have to replace or clean it.

You can expect a frequency of six to 12 months, depending on the conditions in your home.

hepa vs ionic air purifier

How Does an Ionic Air Purifier Work?

An ionic air purifier is also known as an electronic air cleaner

It works differently than a HEPA air purifier in that it uses electrical charges instead of physical filters.

There are two major types of ionic purifiers: air ionizers and electrostatic precipitators. Here’s how each of them works:

Air Ionizer

This type of purifier uses ionic technology, which releases negatively charged particles into the air.

These negative ion charges stick to a wide range of particles, making them too heavy to float in the air.

As a result, they fall down to the floor, tabletop, counter, or any other surface in your home.

All you have to do after is wipe the surfaces clean so that they do not float back into the air where you might inhale them.

The whole process might sound complicated at first, and you might imagine a very complex piece of equipment.

However, it is not an advanced technology because it has been around for a long time. Also, you can easily operate air ionizers with a push of a button.

Electrostatic Precipitator

An electrostatic precipitator is based on the same basic principle, taking advantage of the chemical properties of airborne particles.

That said, it does have a couple of key differences. 

The first one is that it uses both positive and negative charges; the second is that it traps the particles using metal plates.

This type of air purifier uses a fan to draw air through the machine. As air passes, the plates collect the pollutants.

To keep the device working efficiently, you need to clean the plates from time to time. That said, you won’t have to worry about spending money on replacement filters.

HEPA vs Ionic Air Purifier: The Pros and Cons

At this point, you should already know why an air cleaner is important and how the different types of purifiers work.

However, you need more information to solve the HEPA vs ionic air purifier conundrum.

Here’s a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of choosing one type of purifier over the other:

HEPA Air Purifier Pros

As mentioned, air purifiers using HEPA filters are among the most popular options among homeowners today. 

One of the biggest draws of a HEPA air purifier is that it is very effective at what it does.

In fact, you can expect 99.97% of all particles that are 0.3 microns or larger to be removed by this device.

That is very hard to match, whether by an ionizer or any other type of air cleaner.

Also, once the pollutants are trapped, they remain there. You do not have to think about cleaning all surfaces or disturbing the dust and sending them back into the air.

Another thing to like about HEPA air purifiers is that they are pretty easy to maintain. Simply clean or replace the filter every six months or one year, and you are good to go.

That said, most of the products from today’s top brands come with many useful features.

Some models can heat or cool a large room, which means you save money because you do not have to buy additional appliances.

A lot of newer units also come with safety features like the auto shutoff mode, which kicks in if you accidentally tip the device over. 

HEPA Filter Cons

HEPA air purifiers come in many sizes and design options. Plus, they have extra features that are very helpful in various situations.

However, all of these benefits come at a cost.

HEPA filters are generally more expensive than their ionic counterparts or other types of air purifiers.

What’s more, many models use filters you need to replace from time to time, which means additional costs on your part.

Be that as it may, you will find that a HEPA air purifier is worth investing in.

This is especially true if you are allergic to certain airborne particles or suffer from respiratory conditions.

Another thing to consider is that, by itself, a HEPA filter does not do a very good job of removing odor.

It can trap allergens, dust mites, and other dangerous particles but is not optimized for finer pollutants.

That is why most manufacturers today include carbon filters in their HEPA air purifiers.

Ionic Air Purifier Pros 

Perhaps the best thing about ionic air purifiers is that they are more affordable than HEPA air purifiers.

They cost less upfront, which is great if you have a limited budget.

Plus, once you buy an air ionizer, you do not have to spend more money on replacement filters. All you have to do is clean the unit to optimize its efficiency.

On top of this, ionic air purifiers are designed to remove finer particles, something that a HEPA filter is not very good at.

They can help get rid of odors, making them very helpful if you have pets or love cooking exotic food.

In terms of design, ionic air purifiers are more compact, so they’re perfect if you live in a small apartment or condo unit.

You can easily move them from one part of the house to another, and you won’t have any problem finding a spot for them.

Ionic Air Purifier Cons

The first thing you need to know before buying an ionic air purifier is that it produces ozone, which is dangerous to your health.

It can cause headaches, shortness of breath, sore throat, and a host of other problems. The higher the level of exposure, the worse your symptoms will get.

This alone should be enough to make you think twice before taking one of these devices home.

Another thing to consider is that ionic air purifiers make more noise than their HEPA counterparts. Also, they are not very effective at removing larger airborne particles.

Make the Safe Choice

Both types of air purifiers have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

However, the risk that comes with using an ionic air purifier is just a bit too much for some people.

At the end of the day, you should make the safer choice, which is to buy a HEPA air purifier.

It might be more expensive, but it will help you and your family breathe more easily.

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