- Ionic Air Purifier Vs. HEPA Filter: The Differences
In this ionic air purifier vs. HEPA Filter comparison, we’ll thoroughly discuss the differences between ionic air purifiers vs. HEPA filters together with their pros and cons. This will help you decide which you should choose that suits your requirements.
Air purifiers are incredible tools that enhance indoor air quality by eliminating pollutants such as pollen, dust, smoke, pet dander, and pathogens from the air. These devices provide clean and healthy air to breathe which proves beneficial to people who suffer from allergies.
If you are planning to buy an air purifier, you might get confused by the different types of air purifiers available on the market such as ionic air purifiers and HEPA filters. Both improve indoor air quality but their operating principle is different.
Ionic Air Purifier Vs. HEPA Filter: The Differences
The difference between ionic and HEPA air purifiers is based on how each of them works in capturing and removing indoor air contaminants. The major difference between them is that ionic air purifiers eliminate pollutants using electricity. On the other hand, HEPA air purifiers utilize air filters to remove pollutants.
|Features||Ionic Air Purifier||HEPA Filter|
|Filters||Electrically charged plates are used instead of physical filters||Have True HEPA filters|
|Noise-level||Works at a low noise level||Produces a lot of noise|
|Ozone||Generates ozone||Does not produce ozone|
|Efficiency||Unable to capture very small air|
|Eliminates contaminants as small|
as 0.3 microns.
|Has washable filter plates that can|
be reused again
|Filers can not be washed and |
have to be replaced after a few months
|Space Coverage||Offers a wide coverage area||Not suitable for very |
To recognize the differences between an Ionic air purifier vs. a HEPA filter, we’ll talk about how each of them works to purify indoor air.
How Do Ionic Air Purifiers Work?
Ionic air purifiers are filterless devices, unlike HEPA air filters. There are commonly two types of ionic air purifiers namely electrostatic precipitators and air ionizers. Let’s discuss their mode of action one by one.
Electrostatic precipitators consist of positively and negatively charged plates. A fan moves the surrounding air across these plates and the air particles attach to the negatively charged ionizer due to which these particles also become negatively charged.
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After that, these negatively charged particles move across the collector plate which is positively charged making the negatively charged particles stick to the collector plate. Finally, the air particles adhere to the collector plate and the purified air comes out of the air purifier.
There are some limitations to using an electrostatic precipitator. It does not have the capacity to capture all the air pollutants. Moreover, its efficiency is greatly reduced when the collector plate gets dirty. So you’ll have to clean the plates frequently for their improved performance.
This is another type of ionic air purifier. It works by producing negatively charged ions that spread in the surrounding air. These charged ions cling to the airborne particles. The bound particles become too heavy to remain in the air and fall to the floor or surfaces such as carpets and curtains.
Air ionizers provide purified air but you have to regularly clean the surfaces in your home with a vacuum cleaner in order to remove air pollutants.
One of the major downsides of ionic air purifiers is that it produces ozone as a byproduct. Ozone is a harmful gas that pollutes the surrounding air. It poses adverse effects on human health. The presence of ozone gas in the air can trigger symptoms in people who have underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, or emphysema.
Despite being harmful, ozone is thought to be useful in eliminating cigarette smoke. It reacts with the chemicals present in the smoke and neutralizes them. This reduces the uncomfortable smoke odors.
Pros and Cons of Ionic Air Purifier
The pros and cons of using an ionic air purifier are listed below.
- Inexpensive- Ionic air cleaners are cheaper than other air purifiers available on the market.
- Reusable filter plates- The filter plates can be easily washed and reused which saves you from spending money on disposable air filters.
- Quiet air cleaner- Ionic air purifier features a whisper-quiet operation that provides a calming atmosphere.
- Wide coverage- This purifier covers a large space and is ideal for large rooms.
- Ozone- The production of ozone is one of the major drawbacks of ionic air purifiers that are produced as a byproduct of charged plates. Ozone creates air pollution and puts human health at risk, especially for asthma sufferers or those who have other lung diseases.
- Inefficient- Ionic air purifiers are less efficient than HEPA air filters as they are unable to remove many air pollutants such as VOCs, pet dander, strong odors, and other harmful particles.
- Frequent cleaning of house- In the case of air ionizers, charged particles adhere to the surfaces of your house such as carpets, curtains, or your clothes. You need to frequently vacuum clean these surfaces to get rid of these harmful air pollutants.
- Regular maintenance- Electrostatic precipitators need regular washing and cleaning as they only perform better when the plates are clean. When the charged plates get dirty, their efficiency declines to a great extent.
How Do HEPA Air Purifiers Work?
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. It is a pleated mechanical air filter that serves as the most reliable filtration system. HEPA filter-based air cleaners are more efficient in purifying indoor air as compared to ionic air purifiers. They can capture 99.97% of air particles that can be as fine as 0.3 microns.
A HEPA air purifier makes use of a fan that moves the surrounding air into the air purifier. First, the air in the purifier goes through a pre-filter that eliminates large air pollutants. After that, the air moves through an activated carbon filter that functions to reduce unpleasant odors. Next, the air goes into the true HEPA filter that captures very fine air contaminants. Eventually, purified and clean air exits the air cleaner and goes back into the atmosphere.
Unlike ionic air purifiers, HEPA air cleaners do not emit harmful ozone gases. Moreover, HEPA filters’ purifying ability gets more effective over time which means these filters work better in eliminating air particles as they get dirty.
If you are looking to purchase HEPA air purifiers, see the best air purifiers that use true HEPA air filters.
Pros and Cons of HEPA Filter Air Purifier
After understanding the working principle of HEPA air purifiers, we will briefly discuss some of its advantages and downsides as well.
Advantages of using HEPA Filter Air purifiers:
- Efficient purification system- HEPA filters are much better than ionic air purifiers in removing air pollutants and improving indoor air quality.
- Eliminates odors- Activated carbon pre-filter present in the HEPA purifier removes uncomfortable odors from your indoor air providing fresh air to breathe.
- Traps pet dander- As compared to ionic air purifiers, HEPA filters work better in capturing and removing pet dander. This is ideal for pet owners who suffer from allergies.
- No ozone production- HEPA air cleaners are safe to use as they do not produce toxic ozone gas. This purifier will work best for people who have respiratory diseases such as asthma or emphysema.
CONS of HEPA Filters:
- Very expensive- HEPA filters are way more expensive than ionic air purifiers. HEPA purifiers make use of disposable air filters which need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months to maintain their optimum function.
- Noisy operation- When the HEPA cleaner is turned on, its fan blows air around which results in a lot of noise from the purifier. On the other hand, ionic air purifiers work quietly at low noise levels.
- Hard to clean- Because of their sophisticated design, HEPA air cleaners are difficult to clean property.
- Can’t remove Ultra-fine particles- HEPA filters are unable to capture and remove very small particles that are below 0.3 microns such as some harmful gases, chemical fumes, and microbial pathogens.
Ionic Air Purifier Vs. HEPA – Which Air Purifier Should You Choose?
Choosing a perfect air purifier really depends on your personal needs and requirements. You should opt for ionic air purifiers if you want your air cleaner to purify a large space. Ionic air cleaners offer quiet operation and will be best for you if you don’t like noisy air purifiers. Moreover, if you are on a budget and don’t want to buy expensive air filters, ionic air purifiers might suit you well.
HEPA air purifiers will be perfect for you if you are looking for an efficient filtration system that removes 99.97% of airborne particles. It is ideal for people who suffer from allergies. HEPA purifiers don’t emit harmful ozone and they are safer in terms of health than ionic air purifiers.
Richard is a retired HVAC specialist and air quality enthusiast! With decades of experience in the field, this author has seen it all when it comes to air-related issues and knows just what it takes to keep your surroundings clean and healthy.