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David Brown Heating & Cooling, LLC Blog

The Difference in Air Purifiers and Air Filters—And Finding the Right Ones


The air in your house could probably be cleaner than it currently is. We can say this because it’s true for most homes. The construction of modern houses emphasizes making them energy efficient, and that requires building them “tight” so that little heat can move in or out. But this has the side effect of trapping air indoors, where it can become filled with pollutants, many coming from indoor sources. Improving the indoor air quality of your home may require installing an air filter or air purifier in Ashland City, TN.

But which one? And what’s the difference between the two? We’ll get into that below.

Air Filter

An air filter cleans the air by trapping pollutants in a fiber mesh as the HVAC system pushes the air through it. Air filters are “mechanical,” meaning they don’t need to have a power source—they work passively to collect unwanted particles. Air filters are effective at trapping larger pollutants, such as dust and dander, and stronger weave filters can trap even smaller pollutants. However, the more powerful an air filter, the more resistance it places against airflow.

Air Purifier

Also known as air cleaners, these IAQ devices do not use a physical mesh to trap pollutants. They instead create ionized/electrostatic fields or UV lights to remove or neutralize contaminants moving through the ductwork. Air purifiers must use an electrical power source to work, and they are effective against many tiny particles that often slip through the mesh of filters. Purifiers are often used to counteract odors, chemicals, mold spores, and bacteria.

This Is Not an “Either/Or” Choice

You don’t have to worry about picking either filters or purifiers: you can use both. In many homes, both is the preferred method. You will need to work with professionals to help you find the right filter and purifier combination as well as to install it. 

Most IAQ solutions for homes will start with locating the right type of air filter, since air filters handle the work of stopping the largest and most common indoor air pollutants. Choosing the right filter requires IAQ experts to match a filter strength with the HVAC system. For example, the HEPA air filter, a powerful filter used in many commercial buildings and medical facilities, will not work for most homes’ HVAC systems and will cut off airflow. The IAQ professionals will find a lower strength filter that allows the HVAC system to operate optimally while trapping a significant amount of pollutants.

If the maximum strength filter still permits many smaller contaminants to slip through, the next step is pairing the filter with an air purifier. Ionization purifiers work for a broad range of contaminants, while UV air purifiers target organic pollutants such as microbes, mold spores, and bacteria. With the right air purifier matched to the ideal filter, this IAQ combination can remove more than 98% of unwanted contaminants from circulating through the HVAC system and the home.

You can put your trust in our team when it comes to improving your home’s air. We offer high quality professional service and prize honesty in all our dealings with customers.

Call David Brown Heating & Cooling, LLC—“A Name You Can Trust!”

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