Each room in your house is used in different ways. They each have different pollutants that require different methods of purifying the air. Which air purifier is the best one for a given room?
First, you need to know which air purifier technologies are effective in removing specific pollutants. Then you can match each room in your house to the right air purifier. Which air purifier is the best option for the kitchen? Is there an air purifier that is perfect for your bedroom? What should you consider when choosing an air purifier for a child’s room? You can find answers to those questions by understanding how different air purifiers work.
This does not mean you need to buy a separate air purifier for each room. Most modern air purifiers are easy to move from room to room, so you may be able to move them around as you need them, making sure to use the best one for each room.
Room factors to consider in air purification
There are several factors to consider when choosing the best air purifier for a room.
- Size of the room – A larger room is going to require an air purifier capable of cleaning a larger volume of air. Unfortunately, there is not a reliable measurement to determine what is best. The industry standard, CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) measurement, has limitations. It is designed to measure the amount of clean air that passes through an air purifier, but is biased towards units with large fans and high speeds. It indicates a general concentration decrease of some specific particles, but the reading does not necessarily measure how effective it is at removing the common types of pollutants. A big, powerful fan does not necessarily make an air purifier more effective. That said, if you want to clean the air in a large room, an air purifier with a very low CADR rating will probably not get the job done.
- Room usage – How you use a room can have an impact on your choice of air purifier. A room where you prefer to watch movies or quietly read may be a bad place for a loud air purifier. Conversely, you may appreciate the white noise in a room where you mostly sleep. A room where you do a lot of cooking or eating meals with strong odors may need a different air purifier than one where you do crafts and hobbies.
- Ventilation – A room that has good ventilation, like a kitchen vent fan or large windows with a good cross-breeze, may change the air purifier requirements, since it provides the option to open the windows or turn on the fan to get rid of smells or other pollutants, while other rooms do not have this option and would have a special need for an air purifier.
- Types of pollutants – Think about the most common type of pollutant in the room. Common household pollutants can be sorted into a few main categories: particulate matter, bioaerosols (such as mold or bacteria) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). While there are other types of pollutants, these categories are useful for making general decisions about which air purifier to use in a room.
Types of Air Purifiers
Different air purifier technologies deal with different types of pollutants better than others.
- Ionizing/ozone generators – Ionizing air purifiers are designed to remove particles by attaching an electrical charge to pollutants in the air. . However, as a side effect, they produce ozone, which is itself an irritant. According to the EPA, ozone can aggravate asthma, impede lung development and cause other respiratory problems. The EPA does not recommend using them. Ozone generators simply create ozone. This can react with some VOCs and remove them from the air, but they still are not a good idea to use on a regular basis because the ozone itself is a pollutant.
- HEPA filters – A HEPA filter is designed according to a government specification requiring it to remove 99.97 percent of all particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter. They are designed to remove particles from the air such as dust, pet dander, some elements of tobacco smoke and wood smoke. HEPA filters trap particles on a filter surface and do not remove gases like VOCs in the air.
- Carbon/charcoal filters – These filters use a type of activated carbon to remove VOCs from the air. They are not effective at removing particulate pollutants, and they must be changed frequently to be effective.
- Hybrid – Hybrid air purifiers combine different technologies into a single unit. These may be effective at handling multiple types of pollutants, but sometimes have other drawbacks, such as frequent filter replacement or poor air flow.
- PECO – PECO technology uses filters that have been coated with pollution-destroying nanotechnology that chemically changes pollutants into safe gases like carbon dioxide and water. The filter removes substances from the air and VOCs, ozone, or floating biological particles such as bacteria, viruses, and mold spores are safely rendered inert and dissolved into their component parts.
Room by Room
VOCs are a significant concern in a baby’s room, primarily because new baby furniture might offgas chemicals that are harmful to a developing child. An air purifier that can handle VOCs may help to take care of unpleasant smells. Particles like dust and pet dander might be an issue, in which case a hybrid air purifier is a good choice. Avoid ionizing purifiers and ozone generators, as ozone is not good for developing lungs. Consider the noise level of the air purifier. Some white noise might be desirable to help your baby sleep, but one study found that excessive levels of white noise could be harmful to infants [Hugh, et al]. Finally, consider how stable the air purifier is. An air purifier that can easily tip over might not be safe to have around small children.
Living rooms often have lots of furniture and rugs or carpets, and they are often high-traffic areas. The combination means that a lot of dust gets trapped and then stirred up whenever someone walks through. A HEPA filter to remove particles may help in this situation, though it should be replaced regularly to prevent particle buildup on the filter surface. If your living room has a lot of brand new carpeting or furniture, offgassing could generate high levels of VOCs [UC Davis]. A carbon filter may help take care of VOCs, as well as strong odors if you eat meals in your living room, or have pets that sometimes smell unpleasant. Likewise, a carbon filter should be replaced when saturation occurs.
Not everyone has a smoking room. However, if there is a smoker in your house, you may be trying to limit the impact of their smoking by restricting it to one room. An air purifier that handles VOCs is very important. This will take care of many of the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke, as well as the smell. However, particulate pollution in tobacco smoke is also a serious concern, so the air purifier in your smoking room needs to handle that as well [Sahu, et al].
Dust and dust mites (as well as dust mite feces) is a significant problem in the bedroom, as they can be trapped in pillows, bedding and mattresses and may aggravate allergies and asthma. Other allergens such as pollen may also accumulate in the bedroom. A good HEPA filter can help with particles in a bedroom, though it would not address VOCs that offgas from mattresses or furniture. An air purifier that interrupts your sleep will not be a good choice for a bedroom, so consider if you would prefer a quiet air purifier, or one that generates steady white noise.
Strong food odors are the main issue here, and those odors are caused by VOCs from cooking food. The best air purifier for the kitchen will be one that can handle VOCs, such as one that uses charcoal or another form of carbon. Particles that are generated during cooking are also an issue in the kitchen. Of course, make sure your kitchen vent fan is working properly, as that is important to run during cooking.
A vent fan is very important in the bathroom. It removes strong smells, but more importantly, moisture. Moisture build-up in a bathroom can easily lead to the formation of mold. If your bathroom is not vented, an air purifier needs to be able to handle VOCs to remove unpleasant odors. An air purifier will not remove moisture, however. If mold becomes a problem, an air purifier that removes particles from the air may be a good choice, since mold spores are large enough particles to be captured even by non-HEPA filters. However, if you choose to use a HEPA filter, consider replacing the filters regularly, as there is the possibility that mold may collect and multiply over time on the filter surface. This will be an issue that the Molekule PECO air purifier directly addresses, as mold and other organic particles like bacteria are destroyed.
A basement is similar to a bathroom, in that moisture and mold are often the primary problems you need to deal with. Good ventilation and running a dehumidifier are good steps to take while considering an air purifier in your basement. The best air purifier for a basement will depend on how you use that part of your house. If you treat your basement like a living room, see the living room entry above. If it is more of a workshop or utility area, you may want an air purifier that removes particles from the air (for woodworking or some hobbies that generate a lot of dust), or one that is better at removing VOCs (for hobbies involving paint and glue).
Thinking carefully about how you use the rooms in your house and the types of pollutants generated in each room can make it easy to determine what air purifier is the best one for your bedroom, living room, child’s room or kitchen.
The Molekule PECO technology was developed over two decades by research scientists to address the problems of traditional air purifiers, which simply collect pollutants on filters. The Molekule air purifier has a dual-phase filtration system that both removes larger particles in a Pre-Filter and destroys the tiniest particles, such as VOCs, allergens and mold with proprietary PECO technology. The device is designed to be portable and can be taken into different rooms depending on your usage, but is recommended to be placed in your bedroom while you sleep to receive the most benefit.
Good indoor air quality is important for your home, and the Molekule air purifier can help offer clean air to the rooms where you and your family spend time.