We all want clean air and our homes are the best place to control our environment. But instead of 3 or 4 air purifiers, wouldn’t a dozen houseplants do the job just as well? Apparently not:[blockquote size=”full” align=”right” byline=”California Air Resources Board”]A few researchers have reported that certain houseplants can remove significant amounts of indoor air pollutants. However, subsequent reviews and a study in office buildings and portable office buildings indicated that houseplants have minimal effect on indoor pollutant levels.[/blockquote]
So there’s no natural way to clean your personal air space. As I started this brief product review of 4 popular air purifiers I probably had some unrealistic expectations. It’s been the season of the Portland air pollution crisis, so I wondered if I could hedge my bets, keep my own space pristine.
All 4 of my new air purifiers are out to clean the air of particulates.[blockquote size=”full” align=”right” byline=”CARB”]The most common air cleaning devices will remove some of the particles from the indoor air, but will not effectively remove certain types of pollutants, such as very fine particles, bacteria and viruses, carbon monoxide, radon, odors, and some allergens such as those from roaches and pets.[/blockquote]
As you start your own search for the perfect air purifier, read the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) “Air Cleaning Devices for the Home“.
Only after I’d ordered these 4 air purifiers did it occur to me – Can I get similar results by upgrading my central air conditioning filter? Depending on your HVAC unit, for $25 some of you might. In my case, my LEED certified apartment building already uses a high quality filter, and when I talked to Camfil in Milwaukie I learned there wasn’t an upgrade option for me.
In the market yourself? You’re going to need more than one of these air purifiers – think of where you spend the most time: the kitchen, the bedroom and your living room, that’s a minimum of 3 units.
Pick Your Purifier: Wrapping up the review
Of the 4 air purifiers I’m testing 2 stand out.
Let’s finalize this review by starting with the least expensive GermGuardian 4825, available on Amazon for $100, it’s rated their #1 Best Seller – how often can you go wrong with the Wisdom of Crowds? But unless the space your trying to purify is a broom closet, you’ll want something bigger.
It’s not an absolute rule, but comparisons based on CADR, the Clean Air Delivery Rate, will help you to match a unit’s capabilities to the size of the room.[blockquote size=”full” align=”right” byline=”EPA”]The CADR is a measure of a portable air cleaner’s delivery of contaminant-free air, expressed in cubic feet per minute.[/blockquote]
Size matters: here’s how they line up based on CADR:
- GermGuardian 4825, CADR 100, $100
- BlueAir 203, CADR 155, $329, “perfect for a small bedroom”, attractive
- Honeywell True HEPA, CADR 300, $215
- Whirlpool Whispure, CADR 315, $294
Since they arrived one at a time, each unit got its moment in the spotlight. The Honeywell unit arrived last. With it’s 3 big, thick filters plus the overlaying carbon filter, this unit stands out for power, filtration and value. I’ll be ordering another soon.
As mentioned earlier, the Whirlpool unit is my wife’s least favorite – she feels it’s the least asesthetic looking of the four. Your opinion may vary. Consumer Reports rates the Honeywell and the Whirlpool almost neck and neck.
How have my expectations changed?
I know none of these units will protect me from toxic emissions, like those that were spewing from Bullseye Glass. I’ve got air hazards indoors and out. Zeus Cafe is burning wood in their pizza oven 7 days a week – that’s a good reason to keep my windows closed.
Inside I’ve got 2 cats and an apartment full of cat dander. Next week I’ll be traveling, while I’m gone my son’s girlfriend will be cat sitting – she loves the kitties, but she’s allergic. The kitties will get extra cuddles next week because the filters will be minimizing the impact of their dander. That’s my hope anyway.
Being new to Portland, the allergens this spring have packed a wallop. It must be working – my wife has been allergy-pill free for a week now.
The big advantage
These air purifiers offer a defense during forest fires. Last summer was terrible – one weekend I couldn’t leave the apartment when smoke from fires in the Gorge blew into Portland. Will it happen again? My friends all said they’d never seen anything like it, but climate change brings nasty surprises. Massive fires have already hit Alberta and it’s only May.
Of course, keeping the air clean at home means keeping doors and windows closed. That’s taken some getting used to. As you consider adding air purifiers to your personal space there are a few other changes in order: no wood fires! Not in the fireplace, not in the backyard, either. The particulate matter from wood fires is now classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
If I were to start over I’d order 2 of the Honeywell units. Besides standardizing on a common filter, they’re powerful enough to clean much of my apartment. I’d place one in the bedroom and one near the kitchen. In my case I have the BlueAir in my small home office, while the GermGuardian works the narrow hallway. I’m set for now. Turning on the air conditioner during the warmest times of the day has made my happy home cleaner, cooler and a bit healthier, too.