Electronic Air Cleaners: A Critical Look
The Pros and Cons of Electronic Air Cleaners
Clean air! What can be wrong with that? So then how can there be both pros and cons to buying and using electronic air cleaners today? And if you are planning on buying one, you’re definitely not alone because since 1990 the number of people bringing them into their homes and offices has been on a steady incline.
So the first positive aspect is that for folks who really need them for health reasons, they can be the key to relief. No doubt about that. Especially for people with allergies, asthma, and other breathing disorders. So then what about people who don’t need one and buy one anyway? The answer to that, is that for a good percentage, it is an avoidable expense.
Still one more downside is that it’s hard to get real usable information on electronic air cleaners. So many numbers, and so many jumbled facts, and so many different combinations of new high tech technologies. Why on earth can’t they just make it all more simple to understand, and also how can things like the lifespan of a filter, for instance, apply to all people in all situations?
The answer to that is they can’t. Of course the level of the dust and air pollutants coming into your home has a lot to do with the performance of electronic air cleaners and their air scrubbing feature components. So step one for anyone who wants to breath cleaner air in their home, is to seal it up at the doors and windows. Then if you want to allow dander shedding animals into your home, that’s your decision to make.
Now for even more plus sides of the argument, and the first one is even if you don’t have any health issues that require that the air in your home or place of work be scrubbed, there are still other benefits. Less dust to clean is one, and also you won’t find your electrical household appliances and your computer getting gunked up with dust.
Then again a good quality electronic air cleaners of the correct size and power can help to make your home smell more fresh, and clean. Filled with air that’s just more pleasant to breathe than it otherwise would be. Then yet one more thing in favor of using electronic air cleaners, is just like so many other consumer electronic products, as the technology has improved, so too have the prices dropped.
In fact it’s now possible to bring the exact same level of technology into your home by way of today’s electronic air cleaners that hospitals use to scrub their air of germs, and bacteria. A feature that has only recently been made available for homes. Highly advanced technology that uses ultraviolet light waves to kill bacteria, mold, fungus, and disease pathogens on contact.
- Pro Proven relief for breathing disorders
- Pro Less dust to clean and fresher smelling air
- Pro Less dust gumming up electrical components
- Pro Hospital grade anti airborne germ and pathogen technology
- Pro Lower prices on today’s better air cleaners
- Con An added expense you may not even need
- Con difficult to get information in simple terms
- Con Lacking effectiveness in an unsealed home
A Good Electronic Air Cleaner to Consider: The Honeywell F50
Type the words “electronic air cleaner” into your computer, and up will pop a veritable smorgasbord of portable units of all types and sizes. Perfect for moving from room to room, and some of the larger models will even service more than one room. But then what about a whole house electronic air cleaner like the Honeywell F50?
There are a few reasons as to why this and other whole house units tend to listed way in the back, after the portable models, and once you read them they may seem familiar to you. They’re probably some of the very same reasons why you might tend to skip over them in favor of a portable unit.
Cheaper and Loaded With Catchy Features
Small portables are cheaper than whole house models. They’re loaded with lots of features like gauges, and timers etc. Most also remove smaller pollutant particles down to .03 microns, and catch a higher percentage “by volume”. Keeping in mind that is “by volume”. Let’s face it. No doubt about it. Reading about some of the better, more feature laden portables can be quite impressive.
So then take a “quick look” at a good handful of the reasons why people who chose to go with the internally mounted whole house Honeywell F50 do it, and you may find yourself being equally if not more impressed. A “high volume” electronic air purifier that mounts into your AC duct-work. Completely out of sight.
What About Those Percentage Numbers?
Now don’t let the percentage numbers fool you here because even though this unit might catch a lower percentage of suspended dust particles, your AC unit pushes “ far more air” than a smaller portable unit. Do the math and see for yourself that even with lower percentage numbers, the higher volume means that you are getting “more actual air” being cleaned.
What About that Whopping .02 Micron Difference?
It’s the same thing with other numbers too. Like the size of dust particles that certain electronic air purifiers will, or will not remove, and the magic number that so many show seems to be .03 microns. Now the Honeywell F50, being a larger, high volume unit, is rated to only go as low as .05 microns. A difference of .02 microns.
The first thing that you have to do here, is not “get lost” in these “microscopic” numbers. Yes there is a difference in .02 microns here, but unless you have a condition that requires as close to sterile air as possible, this infinitesimal number difference should make absolutely no difference to you.
Consider the Higher Air Volume of the Honeywell F50
Also keep in mind that these numbers are rated for machines operating in optimal conditions. Essentially with a new filter. Now once again the high volume of the Honeywell F50 weighs in here because its larger filter will process a much larger amount of air. Smaller units on the other hand require more filter maintenance to operate at optimal conditions.
Finally a Much Cleaner AC System
Then the last thing to take into account, is that because the Honeywell F50 sits at the front end of the air intake of your AC duct system, it filters “all the air” before it goes through it. This in turn means that your heating and cooling coils stay so much cleaner, as well as the actual air ducts that under normal circumstances would function as giant dust, and pollen depository in your home.
The Bottom Line
So while you will pay more for the Honeywell F50, when you consider the performance factors and the actual volume of air being cleaned in “your entire home”, it’s by far the better deal. Also with this unit, not only do you get all the air in your entire home scrubbed, but your AC unit, and all the duct-work as well is kept clean and dust free.
Other Popular Options in Portable Air Cleaners
Then again there can be more than one good reason why a whole house system may not be for you. For instance maybe your home isn’t even equipped with a central air conditioning system, or perhaps you’re living in a rental. Then again maybe you’re just like so many other folks and you simply want a “moderately priced” unit that will suffice in your main living area during the days, and in your bedroom at night.
The Hamilton Beach 04383
If this is your case then one bit of shopping advice, is rather then doing hours of tedious online research, simply follow the pack and go with a “proven popular” selling model like the Hamilton Beach 04383 HB TrueAir Allergen Reducer Air Purifier. At around $50 US you can’t beat the price for a one room unit, and its permanent vacuum clean hepa filter means no ongoing expense for replacement filters.
Another nice thing about this popular selling air cleaner, is that it has “no high tech” extra features to run the price up and be the source of future malfunctions. Just one simple knob on top of its tower design that turns it on, and off with a three speed option. It’s rated for 160 square feet which works out to be 13′ by 12′. About the size of your average sized bedroom.
Holmes HAP 242-UC
Then there’s the “very popular” Holmes HAP 242-UC desk top electronic air purifier that falls within about the same price range as the Hamilton beach 04383. It’s also similar in that it’s a simple featureless “problem free” design that only has a three level power knob, and an off-on switch. There are however, some very noteworthy differences with this particular make and model.
For instance the Holmes HAP 242-UC advanced “multi-stage” hepa filter system is designed remove odors and trap particles down to .02 microns in size. Highly unusual for an air purifier this size and in this low price range. Still one more difference, is that this model doesn’t have a permanent “vacuum clean” filter system, so it does require periodic replacements. It’s also rated for fewer square feet. 109, while the Hamilton beach 04383 is rated for 160.