I’ve owned an air purifier for quite a number of years now, and to be honest, I’ve never looked back.
One of the first questions I found myself asking before I got my hands on my first ever unit was whether I should go for an ionic or a HEPA filter air purifier.
Whenever I went on the market, these were the primary air purifiers available, and to be honest, I had no idea what the difference was.
Luckily, I decided to research and I learned the difference between the two and which one would be the better option for me.
So, if you’re wondering if ionic air purifiers are better than HEPA filter air purifiers, you’ve come to the right place.
ioIn this article, I’ll be explaining their differences, benefits, and which type of air purifier I prefer.
And by the end, you’ll be able to figure out which air purifier would work best for your needs.
I’ve also included a short guide on how to buy the best air purifier for your needs at the end of the article to make things even easier for you. So, keep reading to learn more.
A Look at Ionic Air Purifiers
Ionic air purifiers aren’t as popular as HEPA filter air purifiers, but they are still being sold and used by many.
Ionic air purifiers are quite different in nature as they don’t use any fans to circulate and purify the air.
Instead, these air purifiers work by sending out negatively charged ions into the air. These ions bind with the particles that float around in the air, weighing them down and causing them to fall to the floor, which you can then easily hoover up when you clean your home.
Besides that, there is another sub-type of ionic air purifiers known as electrostatic precipitators.
These machines work in a similar fashion, but instead of sending negatively charged ions into the air, it uses both negative and positive ions to pull particles from the air towards a plate.
As a result of that, you won’t have to replace the components of these air purifiers.
Instead, you’ll just have to clean the plates of the air purifier. They are fairly low maintenance, so if you don’t want to have to deal with regular maintenance, such an air purifier would be a good choice for you.
With that said, the downside to these air purifiers is that they produce ozone gas when they interact with the particles in the air.
This can be dangerous, especially over long periods of time, which is why many people recommend against ionic air purifiers.
But we’ll get into more detail later on.
A Look at HEPA Filter Air Purifiers
HEPA filter air purifiers are the most popular option on the market right now.
If you go online and look for air purifiers, there’s a high chance that a HEPA filter purifier will be the first option to pop up.
This is because they are currently the most effective, efficient, and safe air purifiers for home and office use.
The reason they are so effective is because of the HEPA filter itself. HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air”. These filters are normally made out of very fine fiberglass threads woven into a complex web to capture very small particles.
To qualify as a HEPA filter, the filter needs to meet a certain set of standards. If it doesn’t meet the standards, it doesn’t qualify as a True HEPA filter, which is something you need to pay close attention to when looking for a HEPA air purifier.
HEPA air purifiers make use of fans, which suck in air from one side, run it through the HEPA filter and release it back into the air in your room. During that process, however, 99.97% of solid particles in the air such as dust, mites, pollen, and more remain trapped within the HEPA filter.
These air purifiers are ideal for people with COPD, allergies, or health-conscious individuals who don’t want to be inhaling all these particles. The only downside to these purifiers is that there are many manufacturers who use “HEPA-like” filters to cut costs. These filters won’t work as effectively, which is why you always need to search for true HEPA filters when buying an air purifier.
A HEPA filter air purifier will usually not emit or create ozone gas. There may be a couple of models on the market with negative ion features, but I only recommend getting these air purifiers if you can turn the feature on and off.
If there is a specific type of particle that you’re worried about – such as dust for example, you can take a look at our guide on the best air purifiers for dust.
Ionic Air Purifiers vs HEPA Filter Air Purifiers: Which Is Better?
I usually advise against getting ionic air purifiers. This is because HEPA filter air purifiers simply work so much better and are much safer overall. However, there are definitely some people who may benefit more from an ionic air purifier compared to a HEPA filter air purifier, and the only way to find out is to put both units in a head-to-head comparison.
So, let’s take a look at a couple of key performance areas of both air purifiers, which will help you get a crystal-clear image as to which of the two will better suit your needs.
To start, let’s look at the performance. And to do that, you need to look at how the air purifiers work.
Remember, the actual performance varies from model to model and there will always be some ionic models stronger than HEPA filter air purifiers and vice versa. However, in terms of the way they work, I give the point to HEPA filter air purifiers.
The reason for this is that the HEPA filter air purifier captures all the particles and keeps them away from your lungs.
If you have an ionic air purifier, chances are that the only thing it does is cause the dust and other particles to fall to the ground.
This means that you still have to sweep it up if you want to eliminate the dust.
Aside from that, it might not be as good at catching the finer solid particles, which will just remain in the air for you to breathe.
I’ve personally owned both ionic and HEPA air purifiers over the years, and if I had to choose, I’d go with a HEPA air purifier any day of the week.
If there was one area where I would give the point to ionic air purifiers it would be the price. This is because ionic air purifiers are generally more affordable than HEPA filter models.
So, if you need to get an air purifier and you’re on a budget, you might have better luck going for an ionic air purifier.
Granted, there are quite a few budget-friendly HEPA filter air purifiers on the market but these are usually very small models that are only meant for tiny rooms.
With that said, there’s a reason ionic air purifiers aren’t as expensive as HEPA filter air purifiers. As mentioned earlier, HEPA filters need to meet certain standards, which means that manufacturers need to pay closer attention to detail, which can drive the costs up.
Rest assured that even if you pay more for a HEPA filter air purifier, you definitely get your money’s worth. While you might save some money with an ionic air purifier, it won’t be as effective and it may not even be able to meet your needs.
Another reason why I always recommend HEPA filter air purifiers over ionic air purifiers is safety.
The main reason people get air purifiers is to create a safer and healthier environment at home, so if your air purifier poses danger, it kind of defeats the purpose of having it in the first place.
And I’ve found that while an ionic air purifier can effectively remove particles from the air, it does it in a way that could be bad for your health.
When negative ions react with dust particles in the air, the chemical reaction creates ozone gas.
This can be dangerous for people, especially in indoor settings. Exposure to ozone gas can irritate your lungs and lead to even more serious problems down the line.
Most people may not notice the dangers of ozone gas.
The reason for this is that ozone gas emits a “fresh” scent, so it may actually make the air smell cleaner, which is why many companies use some sort of ionizer in their air purifier.
With that said, you don’t have to worry about any of that with a HEPA filter air purifier. These air purifiers capture the particles inside the air purifier without emitting any ozone. So, if you really want full protection from harmful particles in the air, HEPA filters are your best bet.
How to Find the Best Air Purifier For Your Needs
At this point, you can probably tell that I prefer HEPA filter air purifiers over ionic air purifiers. And to be honest, this is something most people with air purifier experience will tell you.
However, it’s important to note that you can’t just buy any random HEPA filter air purifier and expect it to do the job.
Remember, everyone has different needs and preferences, especially when it comes to air purifiers.
So, it’s very important that you find the right model for you. And to do that, here are some of the things you need to consider.
Your Room Size
First things first: you always need to get the right air purifier for the size of your room. If you have a large room and a small air purifier, it isn’t going to do much. For the best results, it’s best to get an air purifier that can handle the size of your room without much trouble.
So, before going on the market, I highly suggest measuring the dimensions of your room. If you can get the actual square foot measurements, that will help you out immensely in your search for the best air purifier available. This will also help you with not buying an air purifier that is way too powerful for your room.
This is probably the most important statistic to consider when getting an air purifier. ACH stands for air changes per hour and it refers to the air purifier’s ability to clean all the air in a room in one hour. So, if you find an air purifier that can deliver 4ACH, that means that the air in the room gets completely purified four times every hour.
Usually, this measurement is placed along with the room size. So, make sure to find a model that has a range that includes your room size. 4ACH is generally considered the minimum for effective air purification, but for even cleaner air, you can opt for higher ACH ratings too.
If you end up getting an air purifier with a HEPA filter that also has a carbon active filter to help with cooking odors, then 4ACH is a very good minimum to aim for.
While a HEPA filter is enough to capture all the particles that can cause allergies, it’s important to understand there are different grades of HEPA filters. Ideally, you want to find HEPA filters that are H10 or above if you want the best results. But if you’re on a budget, basic HEPA filters would do just fine, especially if the air pollution where you live isn’t of particular concern.
With that said, you may also want an air purifier that comes with a multi-stage filtration system. For example, as I mentioned above, you can get an air purifier with an activated carbon filter on top of the HEPA filter. This air purifier will be able to absorb gaseous particles and even eliminate foul odors in the room, which is a huge plus.
If you were to ask me, I would always recommend a HEPA filter air purifier over an ionic air purifier.
The reason for this is that HEPA filter air purifiers are safer, more effective, and have the ability to capture even the finest solid small particles that could be circulating in your indoor air.
And while ionic air purifiers emit ozone and you have to sweep up the particles afterward, they are the more budget-friendly option. So, if you need an air purifier right away and are on a tight budget, then there’s nothing wrong with ionic models.