Different Types of Air Purifiers – Complete Guide

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Air purifiers come in different shapes and sizes. Some are made for complete purification, while others are more specific and purify just certain pollutants from the air. The majority of the purifiers utilize one or more filters in combination to provide a complete filtration process.

Choosing the type of purifier for you requires several considerations. One is what type of purification you need – a complete one, or just one aspect of purification. Other considerations should be your personal preference, the design of the device, and of course, the cost.

Also, some people prefer certain types of purifiers to others. The types of purifiers are separate from others based on their filter type. Mechanical filters are still the most popular, although various newer technologies are more and more prevalent, such as ionizers, ozone purifiers, and UV filters.

In this article, we will go over each and every type of air purifier filters and help you decide what type of filter is for you. Also, some purifiers do a better job at cleaning certain pollutants, while other filters are for almost all pollutants.

The main types of purifiers are:

  • Activated carbon air purifiers
  • HEPA Air Purifiers
  • Ionic Air Purifiers
  • Ozone Air Purifiers
  • UV Air Purifiers

Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Activated carbon filters are one of the most common types of filters we will find in air purifiers. That just confirms that activated carbon is a very effective solution for removing pollutants from the air, and especially, for clearing foul odors.

For almost 2000 years, activated carbon has been known to have purifying capabilities. At first, it was used for cleaning water, and in the 1900s, for air. It was even used in gas masks for soldiers during WWI, as it was so effective that it could block toxins.

Now, we see activated carbon in air purifiers to clean the air. But what makes activated carbon so effective? The main difference between regular carbon and activated carbon is that the latter is put through a baking process to dry the carbon out.

This removes the impurities from the carbon and makes microscopic fractures, where pollutants can get trapped. Once this space has been completely used, the activated carbon filter must be replaced.

That is how it is used in activated carbon filters. Normally, activated carbon is combined with other minerals, such as zeolite. While activated carbon is effective at removing various types of pollutants and odors, it can’t remove everything. For example, it won’t remove formaldehyde, so other filters must be combined with this filter.

In most purifiers, activated carbon filters are used in combination with other filters like HEPA filters or UV filters, ionizers, etc.

HEPA Air Purifiers

HEPA air purifiers are possibly the most common type of purifiers. They use HEPA technology to clean the air, and the filters that utilize this technology are very effective.

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA has become the symbol of quality when it comes to air purifiers, as they provide possibly the most complete filtration process of all the purifying types. For a filter to be considered “True HEPA”, it should filter at least 99.97% of all air pollutants that can be as small as 2 microns.

However, there are many other HEPA filters that brand themselves as HEPA, but are not as effective as the True HEPA filters. For example, we may have HEPA-type or HEPA-like filters that use the HEPA technology to brand themselves, although they may not be as effective as the True HEPA filters. When buying a HEPA filter, the best way is to choose a True HEPA for maximum performance.

HEPA filters will provide complete purification of the air, getting rid of the following pollutants:

  • Dust mites
  • Allergens
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Small particles

That is the efficiency of HEPA filters. Mostly, they are replaceable and need to be replaced after several months or even years. However, some HEPA filters are also washable filters, removing the need to replace them and the additional cost connected to it.

While HEPA filters are great for purifying the air, they won’t remove odors or smaller particles like bacteria and viruses. This is why it is commonly seen in combination with other filters in air purifiers.

Ionic Air Purifiers

When it comes to ionic air purifiers, the public has a very split opinion. For some, they present the best way to clean the air without much noise and a relatively sustainable system. For others, ionizers present a danger to their health, and a slightly less effective way of purifying the air.

The truth lies somewhere in between. While they are not as effective as HEPA filters or even activated carbon filters for removing the smallest particles, they will work almost silently, meaning that you mostly won’t notice when they run, unlike other filters that can produce significant noise levels.

There are two main subtypes of ionic air purifiers:

  • electrostatic precipitators
  • air ionizers.

The first type, the electrostatic precipitators, utilizes two filters: the negative and the positive filter. As the purifier traps the air, the pollutants will collect on negative and positive filters, or charged plates.

This means that these plates will also get dirty often, so you will need to wash them from time to time. While they are effective for removing certain pollutants, they are not as effective as HEPA filters, for example.

The other type of ionic air purifier is air ionizers. This is the type that many people are choosing nowadays, and there are pros and cons to it.

The biggest positive to this type of filtration is that it is silent, as they don’t have a filter or a motor. This filter will emit negative ion charges into the air, which will then attach to the various particles and pollutants, making them easier to trap. The problem is that these ions can attach to anything, including you and your lungs.

Ozone Air Purifier

Ozone air purifiers are causing a big debate whether they are viable or not for purifying the air in households. The main reason behind this debate is that ozone is arguably a harmful chemical, or a molecule that in high concentrations, can cause various health problems.

On the flip side of the coin, ozone is known for being very effective at removing airborne chemicals and strong odors. In fact, it is possibly even more effective at doing that than some other types of purifiers.

However, it is not recommended to stay in a room with an ozone purifier for longer periods as it can cause damage, and a long-term one too. Naturally, when we are able to smell the ozone, then we can know that it is potentially causing damage to us and our organs. It will have a very fresh, crisp smell to it, which will make the air feel very pure.

That is why it should only be used in moderation. Ozone can be especially harmful to children, older people, and small animals that you might have in your home. Usually, ozone purifiers are combined with other types of purifiers, such as HEPA filters, and are somewhat rarely found alone as purifiers.

Ideally, they should be used when there is nobody in the room to freshen the air and make it more breathable. Under no circumstance, however, should they be used for longer periods when there are people next to it. Under proper and controlled use, ozone purifiers can be very effective.

UV Air Purifiers

Out of all filtration types, UV light filtration is possibly the most effective for killing harmful bacteria, viruses, and germs in your house. While HEPA filters will trap all sorts of pollutants and allergens, they will not kill smaller microbes in the air, such as bacteria and viruses. That is why UV purifiers or filters are often introduced to increase the scope of filtration of a purifier.

Often, UV purifying filters work in combination with other types of filtration, especially HEPA filters. UV filters have a UV lamp that will emit UV waves or light, which actively damages and destroy the genetic material of the bacteria and viruses in the air, making it impossible for them to survive and reproduce.

Like with other purifying types, there are pros and cons to this type of filtration. Namely, it won’t remove other types of pollutants, such as larger particles in the air, like pollen, dust mites, and other allergens. But it will be very effective for getting rid of the bacteria and the viruses in the household.

So we can see that UV purifiers are often combined with other types of filtration, especially HEPA filters.

What is the Best Air Purifier for You?

That is a question that only you can answer; however, there are many considerations that you should keep in mind when choosing the right purifier for you.

Namely, the biggest of them is the scope of filtration you need. Some filters are better than others at getting rid of viruses, while others remove odors, larger particles, or both. In many cases, a combination of various types of filtration will be the most beneficial.

If you are looking for a complete purifying system, you must be prepared to spend more. Quality filters can cost, although you will be getting premium quality and complete filtration. These combine various types of filtration, such as HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, UV filters, or ozone filters. Rarely do we see just one specific type of filtration in a purifier. Ionic filters can also be considered.

For example, if you suffer from allergies and asthma, then HEPA filters are essential for softening the symptoms or getting rid of them completely. HEPA filters will remove allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and other larger particles to reduce the symptoms. However, HEPA filters alone won’t remove bacteria and odors, which is why activated carbon filters and UV filters are often added.

If you have foul odors in your home and you want to remove them, then you should consider getting an excellent activated carbon filter. For hundreds of years, this technology has been known for being very effective at eliminating or reducing the odors in the air, thanks to its activated carbon.

For removing bacteria and viruses, UV filters and ozone filters will be the most effective. They are beneficial if you are concerned about viruses and germs, and if you want to reduce the risk of illnesses and diseases, as well as for reducing the symptoms and for better recovery.

Again, a combination of these types of filters will do wonders for the air in your home.

Why Should You Use an Air Purifier?

Without an air purifier, you are at a higher risk of catching bacteria and viruses, and with them, diseases, you will be breathing a much lower quality of air, you will be exposed to allergens such as dust and pollen, and the odors will be persistent.

Air purifiers will:

  • Remove allergens, chemicals, and toxins
  • Remove odors
  • Get rid of bacteria and viruses
  • Decrease the symptoms of allergies and asthma
  • Increase the indoor air quality

Indoor air pollution is a big problem nowadays, and the good news is that we can do something about it. We can fix the source of the contamination, but in some cases, that is just impossible. That is why it is necessary to remove the allergens and pollutants in the first place, which is where a good air purifier comes in.

In fact, more than 80% of the population is exposed to indoor air pollution, whether it be smoking, allergens, pollutants, chemicals, toxins, bacteria, viruses, odors, etc. Air purifiers help you reduce the risk of exposure massively.


To conclude, there are many types of air purification readily available to us. Some are more effective than others, and some are also more popular. While some types are still heavily disputed nowadays, there is no denying that a good air purifier can significantly improve the quality of life for us.

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