What’s The Difference Between An Air Purifier And Humidifier?

Difference between air purifier and humidifer

Are you unsure of the differences between an air purifier and a humidifier? Hey – it’s totally ok! A long time ago so was I!

Ultimately, if you’re reading this post it’s because you’re wondering, “What’s the difference between an air purifier and a humidifier?” As it turns out, they both serve different but important roles in improving the air quality where you live.

As I own both and have benefited from both, I’ll share with you my personal experiences as well.

Contents

Infographic – Air purifier and humidifier facts

Difference between air purifier and purifier infographic

What do humidifiers do?

Vicks V745A humidifier image

Common humidifiers like this super-popular Vicks V745 warm mist model take water and use heat to turn it into water vapor that raises humidity. Have you ever noticed how running a hot shower steams your mirrors and raises the moisture in the air? Humidifiers work the same way.

Humidifiers are electromechanical devices that increase the humidity (moisture) level in a room. They work by slowly taking water in a tank and turning it into a fine mist or vapor which rises in the air in the air where they’re used.

While it may not sound like much, humidifiers really can make a really big difference not only on your overall comfort but your health as well!

How they work

A range of different types exist, but most fall into a few basic categories:

Warm mist: uses heat from electrical power to generate steam

Cool mist: uses other methods like an ultrasonic device to change water into vapor (not heated)

Electromechanical: some use an electric motor and blades or another device to stir the water and create a mist

How dry air affects you

Image of a woman with a cold

Speaking from personal experience, during the wintertime I had difficulty sleeping at night due to discomfort in my nose and sinuses. It was mainly due to what happens to our bodies when the air moisture level drops. I also had a painful, dry cough which caused even more suffering!

The mucus linings in your body’s respiratory system and nasal cavities can become more dry than normal, resulting in discomfort. You’re also more susceptible to sickness under these conditions, too.

Additionally, dry skin becomes a concern and it’s especially tough on people with sensitive skin or other issues.

When I caught a cold, it was much harder to sleep because of the dry air. I felt terrible! It wasn’t until investing in a humidifier that I got relief and could sleep better. My cold symptoms were also less severe when using it.

Colds and sinus problems

Your nose needs gooey mucus to trap viruses and other icky invaders before they can get you sick, dry nostrils can also make you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, and the flu.

Getting sick is already tough – but it’s even worse in dry air! Maintaining a healthy humidity level is essential for healing cold or other sicknesses. You’re more prone to suffer coughing, sneezing, and even feel the effects of dust and allergens more than you normally would.

I don’t know about you, but I sniffle quite a bit when I’m having nose problems. After using my humidifier I’ve enjoyed much less discomfort than I used to.

Allergies and asthma

Another result is that those with asthma may have an attack triggered. When using the heating system in your home, dust, pollen, and other allergens are often distributed in the air. They can irritate your airways.

If you already suffer from allergies you’re also more likely to feel the effects. Dry air promotes the movement of particulates like allergens and dust more so than a comfortable humidity level does.

Humidity levels and comfort

Relative humidity comfort scale image diagram

What humidity level do I need?

For most people, a comfortable humidity level falls in the range of about 30-50%. However, note that it varies by person.

During the wintertime and when using heat the moisture can drop dramatically – well below 20 and even 10%! That’s an extremely dry condition.

In tropical climates humidity levels are very high. If you’ve even run a hot shower for a long time it’s a similar effect.

While traveling abroad I’ve visited countries where due to the high humidity I was sweating almost constantly and it was very uncomfortable. In high humidity conditions, your body can’t cool itself as it can under normal circumstances.

Use a humidity and temperature gauge

ThermPro TP50 humidity and temperature gauge

An inexpensive temperature and humidity gauge can be used to tell how dry the air is. They’re fantastic for when to use a humidifier. I keep one handy all year round. I love it!

There’s no need to get the moisture in your room or home exactly right – just remember it’s a general range. You can check air conditions where you are using a simple temperature and humidity gauge like the one shown here.

What humidity should I set my humidifier to?

A good rule of thumb is to aim for about 40-50% humidity when using a humidifier and you’ll soon learn what works best for you.

If using a gauge you can see what’s going on in your home and use your humidifier as needed.. Not only that but you can see patterns in your home as temperatures rise and fall.

Over time I’ve noticed that when I get the moisture back up above 30% I began feeling better and dry air symptoms stop nearly immediately!

During heavy winters and when my heating system is under heavy use, I set mine to high. Under easier conditions, I set it to low.

What does an air purifier do?

GermGuardian AC4900CA in living room

Air purifiers are often used in living rooms or bedrooms. However, they’re ideally used wherever air quality problems and allergies are a concern. Products like this GermGuardian AC4900CA have a tall “tower” shape. They use electric fans to move air through filters to clean the air.

Unlike a humidifier, an air purifier circulates the air and removes contaminants from the air by trapping them in filters. You might not be aware, but there are lots of unwanted elements in the air around you!

Some of the most common are:

  • Pollen and plant by-products
  • Dust mite elements
  • Dust
  • Pet dander
  • Airborne chemicals and odors
  • Outdoor debris brought in
  • Smoke particles
  • Trace elements of household chemicals

…and that’s just to name a few!

Air purifiers are commonly used to improve air quality by circulating the air in a room and removing foreign matter which causes odors, allergies, and health problems. They’re also capable of helping to prevent sickness by trapping some germs and airborne microbes.

How air purifiers work

How air purifiers reduce dust diagram

Air purifiers work by using electric fans to draw in air, force it through filters, and blow out clean air.

Note that although several types exist, most are filter-based and use replaceable filter sections to trap particles and even odors in the air. Other types exist such as ozone generators and ionizers, but the most common and most effective products rely on filters and air motion.

As they’re left to run and circulate the air in a room it becomes fresher and healthier as time goes by. Because of dust and other issues reappearing continually, they should be used regularly or as needed.

HEPA, pre-filter, and activated carbon sections

Purifiers are typically designed to work with 3 common types of filters:

  1. Pre-filter section
  2. Activated carbon (charcoal) section
  3. High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter

HEPA filters are made of very dense fiber-like material packed tightly and held inside a rigid frame. They’re designed to be very efficient and they can capture incredibly small particulates in the air down to 0.3 microns in size (A micron is 1/1,000,000 of a meter!). They’re excellent for allergy relief and other air quality issues but don’t really affect odors.

The pre-filter is normally attached to an activated carbon filter section. It’s a thin material that traps larger matter like hair and dust.

GermGuardian FLT11CB4 carbon filter diagramThe activated carbon filter is the portion of an air purifier that absorbs vapors and odors.

After some use a purifier’s filter will become used-up with the matter it has trapped. The carbon filter, after being in use for some time, will lose effectiveness as well.

Most purifiers have about a 6 to 8 months filter lifespan for the prefilter section and 6-8 months life span or even 12 months for the HEPA filter. (Note that the life expectancy relies heavily on the use and conditions)

For this reason, some provide a filter replacement feature to remind you when to check it. Although it varies by manufacturer and product, some allow the filters to be replaced separately while others require replacing a single filter assembly instead.

Air purifier benefits

Dirty air purifier filter that has collected dust

My air purifier’s filter after a few short weeks of use. Lots of dust removed from the air! I was surprised to see how much dust I had lived with for so long. My purifier reduced the amount of cleaning I had to do.

They’re especially helpful to people with allergies and breathing problems. However, they’re also beneficial in many other ways.

For example, they can help with dust and cut the cleaning you’ll need to do in your home. They can also trap odors and chemical vapors as well.

Pet owners can greatly benefit as pets generate dander and hair which triggers allergic reactions. Smokers or people dealing with cigarette smoke and odors know how strong those problems are.

An air purifier is great for dealing with those problems as well.

Additional features

Some purifiers like this popular GermGuardian AC4825 I reviewed also include a germ-killing feature to reduce microbes and prevent sickness.

Others feature timers, air quality sensing, and even a remote control or smartphone connectivity.

Summary – The difference between an air purifier and humidifier

To recap, here’s a simple explanation:

Humidifiers increase the moisture in the air by changing liquid water into steam or water vapor. They increase your comfort and restore a healthy humidity level often lowered in dry climates or wintertime conditions.

Air purifiers circulate air and remove air contaminants in a room by trapping them in filters. They provide for many common problems like bad smells, allergy symptoms, pet-related issues, dust mite effects, and reducing dust.

You can find out a bit more about humidifiers here as well.  If you’re considering an air purifier, you can learn more here about what kind you need.

You’ll find some great examples of excellent purifiers below $100 here.

What Type Of Humidifier Is Best For Baby Congestion?

What type of humidifier is best for baby congestion featured image

Congestion, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms of colds can really cause your baby to suffer a lot. Constantly breathing in dry air makes it even worse!

I know, as I’ve personally dealt with the same and it’s terrible. Buying a humidifier was one of the best things I ever did!

But what type of humidifier is best for your baby’s congestion? In this detailed post, I’ll show you.

I’ll also show you how to check the air moisture level, what humidity levels are best for babies, and a few recommended models.

Contents

Infographic – Baby and humidifier facts

What does a humidifier do for babies infographic image

Warm mist vs cool mist humidifiers

The two most effective types of humidifiers commonly sold today are:

  1. Warm mist
  2. Cool mist

(I won’t be discussing another type, evaporative humidifiers, that I covered in this detailed post because they’re not very effective for these types of baby problems)

While warm and cool mist humidifiers are very similar in what they do there are details you need to know.

Warm mist humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers like this very popular and inexpensive Vicks V745 model produce very fine steam that’s created by heating water. They’re fantastic for helping to relieve a baby’s dry nose and throat as well as congestion. They’ll also help your child sleep better, too.

Warm mist humidifiers increase the humidity in a room by creating a slightly warm steam that results from heating water.

Unlike cool mist humidifiers, the water vapor (steam) isn’t at room temperature but does have a bit of extra warmth that it adds to the room.

However, it’s a gentle, soft amount that’s not overbearing like running a hot shower or other sources of water vapor. Many feature a vapor level switch or dial to control how much they produce.

Additionally, warm mist humidifiers produce the closest thing to natural humidity found outdoors.

Cool mist humidifiers

Crane elephant cool mist humidifier

Products like the Crane elephant kid's cool humidifier create water vapor that increases room humidity differently. They use electronic methods such as ultrasonic technology to turn water into a fine mist. They don’t use or add heat to do so.

Cool mist humidifiers are similar in the job they do but a bit different in how they add humidity.

This type uses electromechanical technology like ultrasonic vibration to turn room temperature water into a fine mist released into the air. They do not use heat or add heat to a room.

While they’re great for helping many conditions a baby may suffer from, when it comes to the congestion it’s a different matter.

These types are a great match for dry climates as they won’t add temperature to a room.  They’re also still very helpful for relief from typical dry air symptoms like dry skin, difficulty sleeping, and greater sensitivity to allergens.

Warm mist vs cool mist comparison table

TOPICWARM MISTCOOL MIST
Water vapor method Electrically heated water (steam vapor) Electromechanically dispersed water (fine water vapor)
Helpful for common dry air problems for babies? Yes Yes
Adds heat to room? Yes No
Noise Level Very quiet Ultra quiet
Congestion Relief Very good Poor

As you can see, both have their strengths and weaknesses. 

What type of humidifier do I need for my baby?

Here’s the fast and short answer:

In most cases, a warm mist humidifier is best for your baby’s congestion. 

For conditions such as colds and other congestion-causing sicknesses, a warm mist humidifier doesn’t just relieve dryness for your child. They’re also very helpful for relieving congested sinuses and throat problems.

A warm mist humidifier’s biggest advantage is that it produces a warm steamy mist that’s extremely helpful for cold and sinus congestion relief. It’s a remedy that’s been around forever and is still recommended today by medical experts.

Just like how a hot steamy shower can help your cold by opening your sinus congestion and allow mucus to leave they work the same way. Additionally, the water mist brings the air back to a natural, healthy state.

What is humidity and how does it affect babies?

Humidity is a term used to describe the amount of water moisture in the air around you. We rarely think about until the air gets too dry and we begin to feel the effects. Condensation on cool objects (like the bottle pictured above) is caused by nearby water molecules in the air collecting (condensing) on a surface.

Humidity is of measuring the amount of moisture present in the air around us. For example, after a hard rain and when the sun comes out the outdoors feels very “muggy” and uncomfortable.

It’s because of extra moisture released into the air.

Likewise, the reverse is true. In dry climates and during the cold of winter the air feels very dry and we begin to feel the symptoms of dry air. That’s due to very low humidity.

Relative humidity is a scientific name that helps to describe how much humidity is in the air for a given temperature.

Humidity and temperature are both related to each other as only a certain amount of humidity can be held by the air for a given temperature.

How humidity affects your baby

Overheating baby closeup image

Babies are much more sensitive to hardships like higher temperatures, humidity problems, and air quality difficulties than adults. You should never assume they’ll be able to handle uncomfortable conditions the same way you can. It’s critical to give them safe – and comfortable – humidity levels at home.

High humidity

High humidity is found in many climates like those near coastal areas (locations near an ocean or other larger body of water). It’s also common in areas like where I live: the southeastern United States.

In those areas, the air, when humidity is high, feels exceptionally uncomfortable and even more “hot” even though the temperature might not be so high.

The reason is that high humidity conditions prevent you and your baby from being able to cool well. For babies this means that they’ll have a difficult time sleeping, they’ll sweat much more than normal, and they’ll be much more irritable and upset.

For situations with high humidity, you’ll need an air conditioner or a high-quality fan like I recommend here for cooling of your child’s sleep area.

Low humidity

The typical cold and other sicknesses (including congestion) are especially hard on infants and babies.

Low humidity causes several unpleasant effects for babies:

  • Dry skin
  • Drying and stuffy nose & sinuses
  • Rashes can become worse
  • Increased susceptibility to sickness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sensitivity to the dry air: coughing and symptoms that resemble allergies
  • Nosebleeds
  • Static electricity increasing and static cling
  • Recovery from sickness takes longer
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty sleeping

Unfortunately, the sad part I’ve learned is that so many of these are preventable. Sadly many mothers and fathers don’t use humidifiers to relieve the dry air which is responsible for their baby’s suffering.

It’s truly heartbreaking if you think about it!

At healthy humidity levels (between 40 to 60%) the human body produces normal and healthy amounts of mucous in breathing passageways such as the sinuses, throat, and nose.

When moisture levels are extremely low these membranes in the body dry out and cannot produce normal levels of protective and moist covering as the normally would.

This causes these breathing passageways to dry out and results in pain and discomfort. They’re also more susceptible to sickness-causing microbes and other airborne contaminants.

How to tell if you need a humidifier

Relative humidity comfort scale image diagramTo keep your baby comfortable, reduce sickness, and relieve congestion, you can use a humidifier to bring the level back into the comfort range as shown here. No need to get it perfectly exact – just bring it back to a healthy range for great results & comfort.

You’ll need a humidifier when the humidity drops to uncomfortable levels.

To be more specific, when the humidity around your baby’s room or in your home reaches 30% and below it’s time to use a humidifier.

The ideal range you’ll want is between 30%-50% approximately. It’s perfectly fine if it’s not exactly that number. We just need a general range to breathe and live well.

Ideally, a good rule of thumb to use is 40-50%.

How to check humidity levels

ThermPro TP50 humidity and temperature gauge

In order to know and check your baby’s comfort level, all you’ll need is an inexpensive one like this great little one from Amazon. Also called a “hygrometer”, it’s simply a digital humidity level meter that also measures temperature as well. I own one and it has helped me tremendously!

To know what’s really going on in the temperature and humidity around your baby, you’ll want to use a hygrometer, which is simply a device used to measure humidity levels.

Today’s models are inexpensive and use a digital device to measure, calculate, and display not only the humidity but temperature as well. They take the guesswork out of wondering how dry the air is around your child and home.

I own one personally and it has been incredibly helpful. When I became sick with a cold (and during times I wasn’t sick) last winter I was having difficulty sleeping.

My cold was even more difficult because of the dry air! I picked up a digital humidity and temperature gauge and discover the humidity in my home was very low – down to 20% and below.

Immediately I was able to see I needed a warm mist humidifier to help relieve my congestion. That’s exactly what I purchased and it helped me so much.

What to put in a humidifier for congestion

Vicks humidifier vapor liquid and pads example

Some, but not all, warm mist humidifiers allow the use of add-in liquids or pads to give added cold and congestion relief. Left: A medicated liquid example. Right: Solid pads, when placed into a provided special opening, release soothing menthol as the water vapor passes by.

Some humidifiers types (see below for a great example) have an extra feature that allows adding medicated vapor liquids or solid pads.

The humidifier then fills the air with the soothing combination which helps your baby’s congestion even more. Menthol and related mixtures are some of the most common.

However, it’s important to know beforehand that the model you buy allows these – especially liquids. 

Some manufacturers recommend that you don’t use anything besides standard distilled water.

While there of course just an option, they’re very helpful and your child will feel relief every time they’re used.

How much do humidifiers cost?

For both warm mist or cool mist humidifiers, you can expect to spend roughly $25-$60 or so depending upon the room size coverage, water tank size, and features.

Generally speaking, I’d recommend planning to spend around $35 and above for a great model that will be effective at relieving your baby’s congestion and colds.

Features to shop for

Ecommerce computer image

Although there are many inexpensive models on the market or those designed for small rooms, I don’t recommend those.

By shopping smarter and buying a model with a larger water tank you’ll save a lot of work and effort as you won’t have to refill the water tank as often.

Here are some other features I recommend:

  • Auto-shutoff for when the tank becomes empty
  • Low-water/shutoff indicator light
  • Adjustable humidity settings: High, low
  • Medicated liquid and/or medicated menthol pad support
  • Good quality design and simple use
  • Quiet operation

Editor’s Choice best value

Vicks V745A humidifier Editors Choice image

I’ve awarded the Vicks V745A my Editor’s Choice award and recommend it as the best buy and a great overall value.

It’s affordable (below $50) and provides all the same great features you need to help your child’s congestion, colds, and much more.

It’s also identical to the same model I own and personally use, so I speak from personal experience when I say I’m very happy with mine.

There are 2 steam settings (high and low). There’s also auto-shutoff when the water runs out, a 1-gallon water tank, an empty tank/shutoff light, and you can add both pads or liquids, too!

I get about 8.5 to 12 hours of use out of mine with one tank of water. It’s great for sleeping, and it’s very quiet.

Check it out! Be sure to head over to Amazon and see why so many people love it for their little ones.

What Uses More Electricity: AC Or A Fan? See What I Found Out!

What uses more electricity AC or a fan featured image

Yes, air conditioners are wonderful for cooling a room. I recently purchased one myself to get relief from the hot Georgia summer here. It was unbearable at times!

However, I was curious just like you about what uses more electricity – AC or a fan? I wanted to know not just which one uses more but by how much.

So I decided to do real-world measurements and show you which of the two draws the most power. I was pretty darn surprised by what I found!

Contents

Why I made my own measurements

Frustrated man at computer image
Have you tried figuring out power specifications for air conditioners or fans? If so, you have my sympathy! It’s often a pointless, time-wasting, and confusing process. Even worse, if you find listed specs they’re often not correct. I decided to find out for myself what I was dealing with.

Unfortunately, when searching for power consumption data from manufacturers you’ll find it’s either totally unavailable or somewhat incorrect (based on theoretical estimates). I don’t want to rely on estimates.

It’s rather frustrating to find out that very few if any air cooling product manufacturers offer decent specifications. Most have little to none available in my research.

In fact of the ones that do provider power ratings, often it’s only for the maximum (high-speed) settings. Lower speed settings such as low and medium had no specifications available at all!

Better just to find out for sure

In order to figure it all out and give you the best and most helpful information, I decided to take a hands-on approach.

I measured and compared the power consumption of an air conditioner and a fan that I own. They’re good, typical examples of what many people would buy and are a great reference point.

Products tested

AC vs fan electricity tested models image

For test purposes, I made power measurements using 2 typical products as examples. Left: A 5,000 BTU (small room) budget AC unit, the Emerson Quiet Kool window air conditioner. Right: A typical box fan used for cooling and white noise. Both are good choices as they’re popular and fit the price range many people shop in. They’re also around the same electrical power usage as many similar products on the market.

In order to get real-world data I knew it was important to measure power and collect data from real products in use.

What better way than with 2 of my air cooling products that very much like the ones you might use? To get good data, I measured electricity used from both my air conditioner and fan for a variety of power and speed settings.

To make it simple for you to see what it all means, I’ve provided a clear comparison graph and a measurement table as well below.

Measuring power use

Kill-A-Watt P4400 energy meter example

Rather than guess or rely on questionable manufacturer’s specifications, I used this inexpensive little energy meter from Amazon to check power consumption. Using the meter I was able to record accurate and reliable data to compare AC and fan power use.

I compared electricity used by recording measurements from this amazing little Kill-A-Watt P4400 energy meter I picked up from Amazon. It’s accurate to 2% and is fantastic for monitoring a variety of power supply details including wattage being consumed during use.

Measurement examples

In the image I’ve provided below you can see for yourself the measurements I took when testing. There’s an amazing amount of difference between the two!

I’ll cover this more in detail later.

AC vs box fan power measurement example pics

From top to bottom: Low, medium, and high settings I measured for power readings. You can see here the power use I observed for the air conditioner (left) and the box fan (right), measured in Watts. Notice how much more electricity the AC unit requires to run when cooling even when on low speed!

The results: AC vs fan electricity comparison data

I already had suspected that an air conditioner would draw more electricity to work that a standard ceiling or box fan, but I wasn’t ready for what I discovered!

As you can see below, not only does an AC unit use more electricity, but it requires a huge amount of power compared to a fan. Even when the cooling mode (compressor) isn’t in operation it’s at least almost the same power requirement as a fan at low speed.

How to read the measurements

Don’t worry, it’s actually quite simple! I just want to be sure there’s no confusion about what the numbers mean.

For the air conditioner, two main modes are available:

  • Fan only (no cooling): low, medium, and high
  • Cooling modes (compressor is in use): low, medium, and high

For the box fan, 3 speeds are available:

  • Low, medium, and high

I measured and recorded data for these settings for comparison in the table you see below. “Fan only” means the air conditioner is only powering the fan and isn’t actually cooling the air. While that’s a feature on many air conditioners, it’s not typically used often.

However, I measured the power consumption for those modes as well for reference purposes. I was dying to know more about how much power the air conditioner would draw when not cooling.

The most important values are at the bottom: these are a comparison of the low, medium, and high cooling settings used on both a fan and AC unit.

Those are what you should look at when comparing the two. (Note: “N/A” means not applicable, as a standard fan only has speeds to choose from as opposed to “cool” and “fan only” modes like an air conditioner).

AC vs fan electrical power comparison table

Measured / SettingFan (Watts)AC (Watts)
Fan only (Low)N/A57
Fan only (Med.)N/A60
Fan only (High) N/A63.2
Low Speed55449
Medium Speed66460
High Speed87467

AC vs fan electrical power comparison chart

AC vs fan electrical energy use comparison graph

As you can see in the graph, for similar settings an air conditioner uses a TREMENDOUS amount of electricity vs a fan. So much so that even when the AC unit’s fan is set to low there’s very little benefit – the power draw is within a few watts or so still. You can see how much more efficient a fan is than an air conditioner using my data here. I was blown away with what I measured!

What I discovered from my testing is that not only do air conditioners (yes, it’s very obvious!) use more electricity than fans, but they can use up to almost 9 to 10 times as much as a fan does!

That can mean a very significant impact on your electric bill.

What really surprised me was how much an air conditioner uses when it’s on the low setting. It was only a few watts below medium or high!

Fan only modes

Although air conditioners do have a “fan only” mode, usually it’s simply not helpful to cool you and your room like a traditional fan can.

That’s because (1) the built-in fan has a lower airflow rate than those you buy and (2) they can’t be adjusted to blow air directly where it’s needed for effective cooling.

In the real world, an air conditioner needs to be left in the cool mode in which the compressor is in use. Because a compressor is essentially a motor-driven pump, it requires a substantial amount of power to work and produce cold air.

That’s why air conditioners need so much electricity: they use a compressor to move pressurized refrigerant. This requires a large amount of mechanical force and a substantial amount of electrical energy.

In fact, you can see this happen with a car: using the air conditioner requires the engine to do more work and will increase fuel consumption over time.

How air conditioners work

Window air conditioner exploded view diagram

Indoor air conditioners work by circulating refrigerant which, when forced through an expansion valve, creates a temperature drop that is used to blow cold air into the room. The room’s warm air is pulled out through the front panel and released into the outside. Fans are used to blow cold air into the room as well as blow the warm air from the condenser into the outside atmosphere.

Air conditioners work using some amazing – yet extremely important – principles of physics. When a high-pressure liquid (in this case refrigerant circulated under pressure from the AC unit’s compressor) is forced through an expansion valve a large temperature drop occurs.

This temperature drop results in a cold refrigerant side which is piped through a section called a condenser. A high-speed fan, commonly called a blower, then blows cold air into the room.

The existing warm air in a room is also drawn out and blown into the outside air.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of electrical energy to drive the motor which turns the compressor which circulates refrigerant. That’s a big disadvantage that comes with using an air conditioner.

How fans cool you and your room

Fan cooling forced convection diagram image

Did you know? Fans don’t actually cool the air. They work by blowing across surfaces and removing heat into the nearby air, causing a temperature drop and a cooling sensation. Because they don’t need any heavy electromechanical devices as air conditioners use, they’re much more efficient in terms of electricity use. Note that certain fans are better than others depending upon your needs.

You might not be aware of it, but fans don’t actually cool you by blowing cool air. In fact, fans aren’t designed to drop the temperature of the air around you at all.

Instead, they rely on the concept of forced convection. 

What is convection cooling? How do fans cool you?

Does that sound like a strange or somewhat complicated concept? Don’t worry – it’s not. It simply means that forced convection cooling relies on moving air across your body and other surfaces in a room to move heat away into the surrounding air.

By doing so, the temperature is effectively reduced and you feel cooler.

Additionally, fans (depending upon the type, design, and features) can keep the air in a room continuously circulating which will prevent heat from building up.

Because of how they work, fans have to be pointed at the surfaces you want to cool in order to work well. They also will need to run continuously.

Once they’re shut off, the cooling effect stops since there’s nothing to transfer heat away from you.

Fans that have an oscillation mode are especially effective because they can continuously move automatically and blow air within a wide area in a room. Tower fans are especially helpful in this way and are very energy-efficient, too.

Recommended fans for cooling

Lasko T42950 Wind Curve tower fan example

Tower fans are a unique kind of cooling fan. Because of their tall design, they’re good cooling fans and offer a nice “wall” of soothing air in a room. Most use an oscillating feature to cover a very large area with circulating air for optimal cooling. Many also provide more advanced features that simpler models don’t.

For home cooling purposes, I recommend a tower fan. They’re especially well-suited for cooling you and your room because of their design.

Unlike traditional fans, they have a rotary fan blade design that has a very tall shape. When running they produce a very tall vertical area of air that’s great for cooling.

Additionally, most feature a side-to-side oscillation movement mode which allows them to blow a wide area of air within a room. Unlike standard circular or pedestal fans, they’re often better suited for keeping you comfortable.

You can find some of the best tower fans for cooling a room here.

Summary: AC vs fans – which uses more electricity?

I hope you’ve found my post helpful and informative! Here are the main points to remember:

  • An air conditioner uses roughly about 5-9 times as much electricity as a fan. While the amount may vary from model to model, this rule holds true for all of them.
  • Even on the low setting, an air conditioner uses as a very large amount of electricity when cooling
  • Fans are much more cost-effective in terms of energy use
  • Using an energy meter is a great way to make sure you know how much electricity your air cooling product is using

Do you have questions, comments, or suggestions about fans, air conditioners, or anything related? I’d love to hear from you.

Just post a comment below or reach out to me via my Contact page.

How To Tell Which Way A Fan Blows

How to tell which way a fan blows featured image

Fans are everywhere it seems! They’re critical for everything from cooling a computer’s CPU to keeping us comfortable or even helping with plant grow rooms. It’s honestly amazing how versatile they are.

But do you know how to tell which way a fan blows? If not, I’d love to show you how. Once you’ve got the basics down it’s not hard at all!

In this post, I’ll share with you the details you need to do so. Not only that, I’ll help you better understand how fans work along with sharing some helpful facts to know.

Contents

Infographic – Fan facts and airflow basics

How a fan blows and fan facts infographic

How to tell which way a fan blows – 3 basic methods

The great news is that generally speaking it’s easy to tell fan air direction if you know what to look for. Because of how they work (and how most are designed) there are great clues to help.

It also depends strongly on the fan’s intended use as well. Here are 3 ways to tell which way a fan blows:

  1. Using the fan angle and rotation direction
  2. By the type of fan and its intended use
  3. Fan directional markings

1. Fan blade angle and rotation direction

Fan air flow diagram

The direction a fan blows air is always determined by (A) the shape of the blades (sometimes called propellers) and (B) the direction they turn. If a blade is angled down and the fan turns in the same direction as the blade angle, it will blow forward. Likewise, if the blade is angled down and the fan turns the opposite direction, the reverse is true. Air will blow in the other direction (towards the back).

These two characteristics of a fan are probably the easiest and most common way to tell which way it blows.

That’s because a fan always has the same basic design in one form or another: fans use angled and slightly curved blades to cut through the air and force it forward or backward depending on the direction of rotation.

Here’s an animated image I’ve put together to help show this.

In this image you can see exactly what I’m describing: the fan is rotating in the same direction as its blades which are angled downwards. This causes air to blow upwards (to the front of it).

If the fan’s direction is reversed, the air will go the opposite direction as it would be forced downward (towards the rear) instead of the front.

An everyday example

CPU fan air flow direction example illustrated

Here’s a great example of how to decide which way a fan blows. This is a common small fan powered by direct current (DC) and used for many electronics cooling applications. Looking at the fan, we can see the angle of the blades and we know that most of these rotate clockwise (the same direction as a clock). Therefore, unless the power polarity is reversed, it will blow air forward.

The image above is a great example of a common fan you might run across. By looking at the fan and knowing which way the blades are angled, and knowing that it normally turns clockwise, I can see that it will blow air forward.

Of course, if for some reason the fan rotates in the opposite direction (unbeknownst to me) the air would be blown the other way.

2. The type of fan and its intended use

Diagram of axial and centrifugal electric fans

Fans generally only come in a few basic designs, most of which are axial or centrifugal types. Centrifugal fans normally only blow in the direction of the outlet as shown, while axial fans may be reversible in some cases. 

While many variations of fans exist, nearly all fall into just a few basic categories as the most important design principles are the same.

A fan’s direction is often fixed and largely determined by what it was designed to do:

  • Airplane propellers and jet engines always force air from the front to the rear
  • Ceiling fans are normally used for blowing air downwards into the room but can be reversed to force air to the ceiling
  • High-speed cooling fans of the centrifugal type blow forward
  • Home cooling fans normally blow forward and can’t be changed
  • Ventilation fans are mounted in a wall, window, or other assembly and spin to blow air out of a building

Lasko 3720 Weather Shield box fan in window

Most common home fans used for cooling like this Lasko 3720 window box fan are designed to blow only one direction: forward. You can see the blade shape in the picture which gives a clue about this as well. You’ll need to rotate the fan 180° to change the air direction.

Fans powered by alternating current (AC) such as common household 120V or 220V fans typically can only blow forward. However, direct current (DC) fans are often reversible.

That’s because DC power can change the operation of the electric motor inside the fan, causing the blades to spin in the opposite direction and force air to the rear.

3. Fans that have directional markings

Illustrated image of computer fan air flow direction

An example of some common fans with markings to show which way air blows. In both cases, there are 2 arrows: one to show the direction of rotation, and one to show the airflow direction. Left: This fan is the most common type, as it can be mounted backward if you need to reverse airflow. Right: This fan is less common but does have some uses where the airflow going to the rear is important.

While it’s not as common, some fans do have a marking indicating which way they blow. If you’re lucky enough to find that on one, it makes it even easier to tell!

Ordinarily, you’ll most likely find this on general-purpose fans like small DC powered fans for electronics cooling. However, from time to time it can be found on others.

It’s really handy to remember method #1 above. That way you can tell which way a fan blows nearly 100% of the time and especially if one isn’t marked with arrows or a label to tell you.

Did you know? Great fan facts

Fans are typically not very expensive but can be very cost-effective in many applications. They’re helpful for many common uses and problems, but there are some things you might not know about them.

Here are some great fan facts to know. Be sure you’re using fans to improve your quality of life (and save money) as much as possible!

1. They’re very energy-efficient vs. air conditioning

Tower fan money saving badge imageElectric fans can run and help cool you and your room with up to an amazing 60% less power than air conditioning units!

That’s because fans don’t need nearly as much electric current to work. Air conditioning (AC) units not only have to power an electric fan but also an energy-thirsty refrigerant compressor motor. That adds up over time!

2. Fans cool you…but don’t actually cool the air!

Fan cooling forced convection diagram image

Fans can make you feel cool and comfortable as well as cycling the room’s air to prevent heat from building up. But did you know? They don’t work by chilling the air. They work off of the principle known as forced convection.

Here’s a cool (no pun intended!) fact – electric fans don’t cool a room by dropping the temperature. Air conditioning units do so by removing heat from the air.

Fans create a cooling effect by the principle known as forced convection. That just means that fans cool your body and your room by forcing air across surfaces, removing heat from you into the nearby air.

They also keep air circulating within a room, offering a continual effect that makes you more comfortable.

Because of that, it’s important to have a well-designed fan with great airflow and especially one with an oscillation feature to move back and forth, covering a large area in a room.

Lasko T42950 Wind Curve tower fan example

Tower fans are specially designed to produce a comfortable airflow. They’re different from other types as they produce a tall, vertical area of air and often oscillate (move side to side) to cool a room.

Tower fans like the popular Lasko Wind Curve at Amazon are an excellent example of this.

3. They’re great for white noise

Lasko 3720 Weather Shield box fan front image

A simple but classic box fan like this popular Lasko 3720 model produces a soothing and calming “white noise” that can improve your quality of life. A side effect of how they work, the noise “masks” (covers up) outside noises like your neighbors, traffic, people talking, and more. It’s a great and cost-effective way to help you focus, relax, or sleep better.

Fans are also very helpful in some cases for blocking outside noises that cause us stress and interrupt sleep, studying, or working.

Models that produce a very high airflow rate and introduce a lot of turbulence near them as a side effect can produce a large amount of soothing white noise. Box fans are especially helpful for this.

If you’re interested in finding out more, here’s a great post with some of the best box fans for white noise you can buy.

Summary

Being able to tell which way a fan blows isn’t difficult in most cases. Just remember these basic tips:

  1. Look for directional arrows
  2. The power source type (AC or DC) and intended use
  3. You can nearly always tell from the blade angle and rotation

Do you have suggestions, more questions, or wish I covered some topics in more detail? Feel free to drop a comment below or reach out to me.

Additional reading

Want to know how much energy a fan can save? Find out how much electricity an air conditioner uses vs a fan here.

Need to cool out? Here’s a helpful post with some of the best tower fans you’ll find today.

What Are Air Purifiers Used For? What They Do And How They Help

What are air purifiers used for featured image

Maybe you know someone who mentioned their air purifier. Or perhaps you’ve got an air quality problem you need help with. Are you wondering “What are air purifiers used for?” If so, you’ve come to the right place.

As it turns out, there are some great benefits they offer and they can improve your quality of life. I own several and I speak from personal experience.

In addition, it’s important to know a few facts ahead of time to avoid buying low-quality and ineffective products.

Read on and I’ll do my best to share the details you need.

Contents

Infographic – Air purifier uses and benefits

Air purifier uses and benefits infographic

What are air purifiers used for?

Air purifiers have a fundamental purpose: they circulate the air in a room and clean it by removing particulates and airborne chemical substances permanently.

Essentially, they remove bothersome particles, odors, vapors, hair, and more to produce clean, healthy air. They also help sickness and allergy symptoms since they eliminate many causes that trigger both.

While there’s a long list of air quality issues they treat, they’re most often used to treat several common problems found in many homes. They’re used not only in living rooms but bedrooms, work offices, kitchens, or any area where the effects of air quality problems are felt.

Removing odors

Image of garbage cans at home

Odors are the result of substances releasing their molecules into the air which enter your nose. Many are just bothersome and offensive (like garbage) but others like building materials and chemicals are potentially harmful, too.

Have you ever avoided making one of your favorite meals because you didn’t want your home to smell like it for days afterwards?

Sometimes the most delicious foods, like fried fish or burgers, can leave strong smells behind long after we finishing eating them. Spicy foods are especially known to do this.

This is because cooking releases the molecular organic compounds in those foods into the air. Likewise, chemical sources like cleaning products or solvents which release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can cause very strong and potentially harmful odors.

Garbage, pets, and musty areas can also release a number of organic substances that we sense as odors. Some materials like the new carpet you’ve had installed or construction materials have “outgassing” properties, which means for a period of time they release elements into the air with a strong odor.

The activated carbon filter in many purifiers is a type of filter section that can absorb and trap these odors and vapors, leaving fresh air behind.

Of course, there’s no substitute for treating the problem at its source, but they’re a great way to freshen the air around you.

Relieving allergies

Image note about pet allergies

One of the most popular reasons for buying an air purifier is allergy symptom relief. Allergens come from a variety of sources: everything from pet dander to pollen. To make matters worse, dust mites feed off of pet dander and human skin waste, creating even more allergens! The ideal solution is to remove them from the air.

Allergens are one of the most common problems faced by people. There are so many sources of allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchiness, asthma, and more, that it can sometimes seem overwhelming

These symptoms are caused by allergens that move in the air around you and on to your skin and air passageways. Additionally, those that settle on surfaces can be disturbed and get into the air over and over to cause relentless problems.

When allergens enter our breathing passageways or contact skin they act as irritants our body reacts to.

Air purifiers help with this particular problem by using the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter section to catch allergen particles. Most allergens are a few micrometers in size and above (for reference, a micrometer or “micron” is 1/1,000,000 of a meter).

Some of the most common allergy sources they’re proven to relieve are:

  • Dust mite allergens
  • Pet dander
  • Plant pollen
  • Allergy-causing dust
  • Chemical allergens
  • Perfumes and cologne
  • Foods and other organic sources

HEPA filters trap the allergens in their dense fibers where they can’t escape. Fresh air escapes the other side and back into the room. They’re a safe and effective way to get relief. In the cases of odors (like perfumes or chemicals), these get absorbed by the carbon filter section (if provided).

Dealing with smoke

Image of a cigarette smoke particle under microscope

Smoke has an amazing amount of unhealthy elements and gases with chemical compounds. They get everywhere, and cling to surfaces! This image shows an aluminum silicate particle that’s microscopic in size – a by-product of cigarette smoke.

Smoke is a unique problem in that it’s a terrible combination of problems:

  • Bad odors
  • Chemicals released into the air
  • Particles that cling to and dirty surfaces
  • Health hazards when inhaled second-hand
  • Discoloration of surfaces if left untreated

Air purifiers are able to greatly help. Models with both a HEPA filter and activated carbon filter can trap a large portion of these, both when someone is presently smoking or from the remnants of smoke.

It’s important to understand that because smoke has so many incredibly small particles, it’s never a good idea to have smoke directly in your home. But if you can’t avoid it, or are simply dealing with the side effects, it’s great to leave the purifier running and you’ll feel a significant reduction in the problems.

Your health is very important. Did you know that second-hand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals? It’s terribly bad for your health over the long term!

Be sure to stay healthy and safe – I recommend a good quality purifier with a well-rated reputation for alleviating smoke problems.

Reducing and removing dust

Dirty air purifier filter that has collected dust

Dust is another bothersome problem that I have personally dealt with. In the image above, my GermGuardian AC4825 purifier captured a lot of dust in the pre-filter. I had no idea how bad my dust problem was! It’s great to have an easy solution that keeps it under control.

Dust comes from a variety and sources – fabrics, home materials, the ventilation system, and many more. Tiny particles enter your home or break from many surfaces, materials, or get carried in when your central heating or cooling system operates.

For me personally it has always been a problem.

Dust control results

Purifiers work very well for dust as they’re good for cycling the air in a room and filtering out dust particles (which are generally larger in size than many other air contaminants).

Often the pre-filter, a more coarse section that serves as a “first stage” for debris, traps them. In many cases after a large build-up, you can vacuum off the dust and re-insert the filter for more use.

I’ve seen a good amount of success keeping dust under control and my home doesn’t need nearly as much cleaning as it once did! Additionally, I’ve noticed I don’t sneeze as much as I used to since using my purifier.

Treating pet odors and dander

Woman petting white dog image

Pets are wonderful, but bring a few things we have to deal with when they’re indoors. Pets generate a lot of by-products like hair, dander, and odors. They can also bring in substances from outdoors.

Pets bring with them a number of issues – not just allergens:

  • Dander
  • Odors
  • Hair
  • Outdoor particles
  • Skin oils (often odor causing)

As I mentioned earlier, pet dander can trigger allergy symptoms inside your home and can cause a number of problems. However, additional nuisances like “wet dog smell” are caused by micro bacteria that are activated when dog hair becomes saturated with water.

Pet hair can be difficult to deal with as well. A purifier can’t remove all pet hair from indoors (once settled on surfaces) but airborne hair can be trapped.

Pet odors are often caused by the natural organic compounds the product and release into the air. The same happens also with the natural oils on their skin and body.

Adding an air purifier is definitely a great idea. As many pet owners have discovered, it’s a good way to reduce the stinky smells and mess at home.

Note that it’s recommended you still bathe your pet fairly often as again it’s important to treat the problem at its source.

How does an air purifier work?

How air purifiers reduce dust diagram

An air purifier is generally a pretty simple – but effective – device. They work by cycling air in a room and continuously trapping the elements (like dust, for example) that cause air quality problems. Shown is one of the most popular, the GermGuardian AC4825. I’ve owned and enjoyed mine for some time now.

Air purifiers actually generally aren’t very complicated at all, although the designs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some have more advanced features like timers, sensors, and more, but work using the same basic principles.

Purifiers cycle the air in a room and filter out unwanted contaminants using replaceable filter cartridges.

As you can see in the image above, it’s like running a fan in a room – except that as it moves the air more and more contaminants (or odors, and so on) are trapped. They’re removed permanently.

The HEPA filter I mentioned earlier is a type of very dense and efficient filtering standard. It defines this type of filter as being able to eliminate 99.97% of all particulates that enter it down to 0.3 microns in size.

That means for every 10,000 particles that flow through it, only about 3 can escape!

GermGuardian FLT11CB4 carbon filter diagram

Activated carbon is found in many types of filters, including for drinking water. Because of its properties, it’s good at removing chemicals and odors from the air. Good purifiers include carbon or some type of odor-removal treatment in their filter design.

Activated carbon, often built alongside the more coarse “pre-filter” section, is responsible for eliminating odors, volatile chemical compounds, and similar nasty airborne substances we hate and shouldn’t breathe in.

Carbon (also called charcoal) is treated to give it the ability to absorb and trap these unwanted substances passing through the filter.

It’s necessary as the HEPA filter can only trap solid particles – not gaseous ones. When used together they form an effective way to treat your air.

Nearly all filter-based (HEPA) purifiers aren’t harmful and don’t produce any unsafe by-products to worry about. They simply remove particulates and substances from the air.

Good reasons to own an air purifier

While it’s great to buy one to get relief for a particular air quality problem, there are other reasons they’re a great idea:

  • They can help prevent sickness
  • Promote better sleep and overall better health
  • Reduce distractions due to air quality annoyances
  • Are great for children and babies (who are more sensitive to air)
  • They’re helpful for dealing with home upgrade dust and odors

GermGuardian AC4825 side view UV-C feature glowing

Some products also provide a germ-killing feature like the one pictured above. They use an ultraviolet light (UV) bulb design to destroy airborne microbes and bacteria.

Ionizers are also particularly effective at sanitizing air to prevent sickness.

However, they’re not very effective for the other purposes I’ve listed in this post, so I can’t recommend them for most buyers. I’ve been disappointed with the ones I’ve tested.

Summary

Hopefully I’ve helped you better understand what an air purifier can do for you. After trying various kinds (I own and have tested many!) I can honestly say they improved my quality of life.

To recap:

  • Air purifiers are used to help with common air quality problems
  • They work by cycling the air in a room and filtering out contaminants, odors, and more
  • Good products include both a true HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter section
  • Filter-based purifiers are safe and don’t generate harmful by-products

Considering buying one? I’ve got a great list and a buying guide with some of the best purifiers under $100 here.

Personally, I highly recommend the one I own – the GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1.

Can An Air Purifier Make You Sick? Here’s What To Know

Can an air purifier make you sick featured image
Update: Looking for information about air purifiers & EMF radiation? You can see my new post about purifier EMF facts & myths here.

While the right air purifier can improve the air quality of your home, some people may wonder if they can make you sick.

Maybe you’re here because you’re asking yourself, “Can an air purifier make you sick?

When it comes to air purifiers, there are so many brands, types, and models, that make a lot of claims and have different kinds of air cleaning technology. But can they actually make your health worse?

Read on to find out what you need to know.

Contents

Infographic – Air purifiers and your health

Can air purifiers make you sick infographic

Why do people think air purifiers cause sickness?

Air purifier sickness confusion image
Because they’re such a popular product, there’s a massive amount of information and different terms used out there. A lot of it is either misleading, factually incorrect, or just plain confusing.

One thing you might hear about air purifiers is that they produce ozone or a by-product under different names (like “ions” and so forth).

Some are, in fact, not good for you.  Some products out there like ozone generators are sold as “air purifiers” when in fact they’re hardly effective and can cause problems.

In those cases, they’re advertised as creating an effective air cleaning air molecules (ozone) that is safe and naturally occurring in nature, but this isn’t the case. The ozone emitted by those types of air purifiers is the same as any other kind of ozone – and just as much of a problem.

Bad products can give good products a bad name due to the confusion and having consumers misunderstand how safe, effective purifiers really work.

What a mess!

Which types of purifiers are good and bad, and why?

The basics of ozone

Diagram showing ozone production and pair particles

Ozone is a by-product of products sold as purifiers that affect oxygen molecules. The basic idea is that safe oxygen molecules are split (often using a high voltage electronic circuit) and free oxygen atoms re-combine into unstable ozone (O3) molecules. These then can sometimes bond with, and affect, airborne contaminants and odor-causing substances. The problem is that ozone isn’t safe at high levels, and these products aren’t as effective as a HEPA purifier.

Ozone is that odd, “fresh” scent you may have smelled outdoors after a lightning storm or from a model railroad set at Christmas time. It’s produced when electricity affects oxygen atoms in the air, which can recombine into molecules with 3 (instead of 2) atoms.

The idea is that the ozone molecules will bond with and trap unwanted elements in the air. The big problem, however, is that at safe levels it’s very ineffective.

At ozone levels where the generator does make a difference, they’re not supposed to be used when humans are nearby as it’s a health hazard.

Image of human respiratory system

Ozone is inhaled when you’re in an enclosed room with products sold as “air purifiers” which are actually ozone generators. The side effects depend upon the amount of ozone you’re exposed to.

Basically, ozone molecules are unstable and when breathed in they can affect your respiratory system. Ozone molecules cause a number of symptoms like irritated and uncomfortable passageways, headaches, pain and coughing, and more. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is very clear that ozone is a lung irritant and they don’t recommend introducing ozone-creating products into your home. While ozone can help remove odors from your home, it takes levels that are unsafe for humans to do so.

This means that air purifiers that depend on releasing ozone, called ozone generators, should be avoided.

Some types of electronic air purifiers, like air ionizers, may release small amounts of ozone as a byproduct. In that case, they’re generally safe and can’t make you sick or cause issues, but they’re simply not effective and are not worth the money in my experience.

Which air purifiers are safe and effective?

Levoit LV-H132 Vs Germguardian AC4825 comparison image
Air purifiers that are safe and don’t cause the symptoms of sickness, headaches, or other irritants are those that use a filter and do not produce ozone. Two excellent – and best-selling examples are the Levoit LV-H132 (left) and the GermGuardian AC4825 (right). These types of products work by simply filtering air, and don’t add any unsafe by-products into the air you breather. In fact, they make your air less prone to causing sickness or allergies!

Air purifiers that are filter-based are safe and cannot cause sickness or issues from their use. If anything, they prevent sickness and make the air around you safer and healthier to breathe.

They’re proven to be effective and some major brands have documented effectiveness, based on the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) lab testing standards.

The most reliable air purifiers are those that use High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.

These types of air purifiers don’t release any byproducts. Instead, they use a filter made of densely packed thin fibers to remove particulate matter from the air as it moves through when drawn in by fans.

Those thin fibers are woven into a dense mesh and pleated material. This way their surface area is increased. They’re based on an old standard which ensures they can remove 99.97% of particulate matter from the air.

HEPA filters can remove particles as small as an incredibly tiny .3 microns in size. A single micron is 1/1,000,000 in size, meaning that these filters can remove microscopic elements – everything from pet dander to microbes.

And the best part is, unlike air purifiers which make claims that are impossible to test, HEPA filters have specific standards that they need to meet so you can be sure that they actually work.

Air purifier HEPA filter material example close up
A close-up of a HEPA filter. Very dense and made up of tiny fibers, HEPA purifiers often are used with other filter sections like activated carbon and pre-filters to make their products more effective. When used together they’re more effective and can remove sickness-causing vapors, germs, allergens, and much more from the air you breathe.

HEPA filter-based air purifiers (a great example is the GermGuardian AC4825 I reviewed in detail here) work by filtering the air in a room continuously. They use an electric fan or fans to draw in air, move it through the filters, and force out fresh, healthy air.

Therefore there’s no way they can cause sickness. A good product cannot introduce harmful elements into the air you breathe or cause discomfort or any symptoms from use.

There isn’t any way for HEPA purifiers to make you sick, because they aren’t adding anything to the air. They are only taking away irritants that might exacerbate issues for people with asthma or other medical conditions.

Better-quality household HEPA purifiers also contain supplementary filters, like an activated charcoal filter, to trap odors and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that cause either unpleasantness or even health issues.

They’re also really helpful for dealing with second-hand smoke effects.

So what air purifier do I need?

The safest option is to use reliable, proven HEPA purifiers that will remove particulate matter from the air without releasing ozone. While shopping, you may also see some air purifiers that say “HEPA-type” instead of “true HEPA.”

This means that they don’t fully meet the HEPA standard of removing 99.97% of particulate matter from the air, but use a filter that is similar in design in some ways. They’re a lower-cost version without the same cleaning efficiency.

I’ve covered HEPA-type vs true HEPA filter differences in this helpful post.

It’s critical to shop wisely.

Poorly manufactured products have a variety of issues:

  • Poor efficiency
  • Some include ozone generators as a 2nd added feature but aren’t helpful
  • Poor odor absorption ability or none at all
  • Missing features you’d like to have
  • Lack of proven technical specifications
  • Poor or low buyer feedback

In summary – can an air purifier make you sick?

Here’s a quick recap of the important things to know:

  • Ozone generator products sold as air purifiers can cause symptoms of sickness and headaches
  • A HEPA purifier does not add anything to the air in your home, so it can’t make you sick
  • HEPA air purifiers actually remove things that make you sick, so they can actually help you stay healthy

Before purchasing an air purifier, it’s worth your time to make sure that the air purifier you are buying is both safe and effective.

For some of the best – and most affordable – choices, check out my recommended models for under $100.

I personally own and use the GermGuardian AC4825, one of the most popular sold today. Here’s my comprehensive and honest AC4825 review.

Do Air Purifiers Help With Dust Mites? What You Need To Know

Do air purifiers help with dust mites featured image

One of the most common causes of allergies, dust mites are a big problem for many people.

If you’re seeking relief there are a number of options available and some include natural remedies that can treat surfaces like your bed and fabric. However, there’s still the problem of lingering airborne particles they produce.

Do air purifiers help with dust mites? I have some great news, and I’ll explain more in detail below.

Contents

Understanding dust mites and the allergens they produce

Microscopic image of dust mites on fabric

A microscopic image of dust mites on fabric. Dust mites get into furniture and materials where humans and pets live – especially beds. You’ll have to take extra steps to get rid of them, but an air purifier can help. They’re great for fighting the nasty allergy-causing particles they release into your home’s environment.

What are dust mites?

Measuring only about 1/4 to 1/3 of a millimeter, they’re far too small to see with without a microscope.

Mites resemble translucent or almost white bugs. As they have 8 legs they somewhat resemble spiders and are classified not as insects but as arthropods.

One of the reasons they thrive so well in homes is because of indoor temperatures. They thrive at ranges of about 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius), and especially humidity levels of around 70-80%.

Mainly they feed on the tiny fragments of skin that humans and your pets produce daily. Not surprisingly these skin particles end up between threads and deep within layers in furniture, your bed, carpets, and even stuffed toys and clothing.

Note that it is critical to replace the filter after some time to restore the filtering ability after a large amount of mite matter has been trapped.

Dust mite allergens and the problems they cause

Info display details of dust mite allergies

It’s the waste products as well as the body parts of the mites that cause an allergic reaction for many humans.

As they die their dead bodies and waste are left behind. When clothing, furniture, and bedding are disturbed these leftover particulates can become airborne where they can cause skin, nose, and other symptoms when they land on your skin – and even enter your breathing passageways!

Why dealing with dust mites allergies is hard

Obviously, due to the tiny size, they’re hard to deal with and many things won’t have any effect, either.

The main difficulty lies in the microscopic sizes of the dust mite body and fecal matter which is the primary allergen source. Studies have shown sizes ranging from 5 to 40 micrometers (or sometimes called “microns”). 1 micron = 1/100,000 meter.

No sprays, deodorizers, or fans can help with that – you’ll always have that problem until they’re dealt with properly.

The other is that even if you manage to kill the dust mite population, allergens still will remain and will continue to cause allergies in people in the home.

Without question, the best solution is to completely remove dust mite allergens around you.

How an air purifier can help

How air purifiers reduce dust diagram
Air purifiers like the GermGuardian AC4825 work by pulling air through a series of filter sections using a small fan. As the air in a room circulates they reduce dust mite problems by filtering and trapping these mite allergens.

In order to do so a filter capable of trapping particles as small as 5 as microns mentioned earlier is necessary. The industry standard is the High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. These are a standardized type of filter which must meet the following requirements:

  • Filter and trap elements as small as 0.3 microns
  • Must trap 99.97% of all particles in the air that moves through the filter

This means if over a period of time that air containing 10,000 particles and substances moves into the filter only 3 will escape! An excellent amount of filtration.

Note that it is critical to replace the filter after some time to restore the filtering ability after a large amount of mite matter has been trapped.

Why you need a HEPA filter purifier

A true HEPA filter must meet these requirements – hence as you can see it is critical to have one that meets these criteria in order to reduce your allergy suffering.

Note also that most typically are also bundled with or attached to 2 other filter sections: one for filter larger elements (like air, larger dust particles, and so on) and a carbon filter with traps chemical substances like odor-causing chemicals or organic chemical matter.

Dust mite allergens will be no problem in this case.

Owners of air purifiers have reported relief and noticeably better breathing air in their home or other rooms after using on.

Note: It’s critical to replace the filter after some time to restore the filtering ability once it’s used up. That’s especially true after a large amount of dust mite matter has been captured.

Note that it is critical to replace the filter after some time to restore the filtering ability after a large amount of mite matter has been trapped.

Summary – do air purifiers help with dust mites?

The answer is a definite yes, but for best results, you need to treat fabrics, your bed, and furniture by killing them to remove the source of the problem too.

You’ll need to pick a quality purifier with a genuine HEPA-rated filter, and enjoying fewer allergies and much fresher and wonderfully clean air. I have a great list of affordable purifiers proven to relieve your allergies here.

Dealing With Dog Odors – Will Air Purifiers Help With Dog Smell?

Will air purifiers help with dog smell featured image

As a dog lover myself, I understand one of the little gripes we have about them: the smell. Dogs naturally produce odors and for some people it’s a bother.

Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying an air purifier to help. If so, you’re probably wondering “Will air purifiers help with dog smell?

I’ll share more with you about where dog odors come from and how air purifiers can – and can’t – help.

Contents

Where do dog odors come from?

Woman petting white dog image
Dogs naturally produce a few smells. Some of these mark their territory as well as help to identify them among other dogs. They naturally produce odors near their ear and paw pads. However, they don’t sweat on areas covered with fur.

It’s suspected that although they do have sweat glands for every hair follicle which do not produce perspiration. Instead, they may produce pheromones or some similar type of chemical secretion for signaling of some sort with other dogs.

Additionally, they have glands in the ears that can produce a slight odor. However, some of the most noticeable odor comes from their paws and nose which, when moist, can possibly produce a noticeable odor as well.

More places for smells to hide

Smelly ears may often be a sign of infection too, although a slightly “yeasty” odor can sometimes be noticed near their ears due to the natural organisms present in their ear wax.

The anal glands of dogs also are normally only concerned with producing odor when a dog produces waste – however, when irritated and enlarged, you might notice a distinct (and not very nice) odor from them.

A dog’s dander is actually microscopic skin cells shed and is one of the most common causes of pet allergies.

And of course, don’t forget your pet naturally brings in more odors when they have been outdoors and exposed to bacterial-containing matter and other matter such as grass, dirt, and plant waste by-products.

The infamous wet dog smell

Wet dog smell odor infographic

The “wet dog” smell actually has a scientific explanation that is very detailed. Basically, dogs have some organic chemical sources that are “amplified” and released when their hair is wet. This isn’t an everyday occurrence but it certainly explains one of the most well-known sources of odors from dogs.

Dog odors from other sources

Dogs (especially breeds with long hair) that aren’t cleaned well are prone to trapping dirt and other substances in their fur. They’re also prone to gather and collect organic material which can later lead to producing odors later.

Some are simply bad-smelling substances on their own (like garbage and other materials mischievous dogs get into).

Skin diseases have been known to increase the production of sweat which can radiate a smell that’s like a musty, damp odor. Dog breeds with deep skin folds are eligible for trapping bacterial substances or having an increased growth of yeast which again can present an unwanted smell.

Conditions in a dog’s mouth like ulcers and sources of infection can promote bacteria which, much like humans, causes bad breath and an offensive odor.

A few other sources of smells from dogs exist, too:

  • Foods containing fish meal or fish oil may encourage skin odor
  • Some medications or medicated shampoos
  • Flatulence due to a dog’s diet
  • A genetic likelihood of odor (especially when not bathed periodically)

How an air purifier can reduce dog smells

Illustration of HEPA air purifier for dust sections

The filter sections of a typical air purifier. For dog odors, the most important is the pre-filter with an active carbon filter included. This traps odors and other lingering substances in the air. It can also trap dog hair that’s airborne. The HEPA filter section removes finer problem-causing particles like pet dander, dust mite by-products, and much more. Shown is a 3-in-1 filter. The 1st and 2nd stages are combined in the pre-filter in this case.

Air purifiers work by trapping microscopic particles. Removing allergens and foreign matter to sizes even less than 1/1,000,000 of a meter are possible in the case of a true High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. A good air purifier can readily and efficiently remove 99.97% of all dog dander in the air.

This, of course, helps with smells as well as allergies due to dog hair and dander, but what about the other odor sources I mentioned above?

3 stage purifier filters explained

Many purifiers use what is sometimes called a 3-stage filter. In this case, the 1st stage is a more coarse filter for first removing larger elements from the air (in this case dog hair) followed by a carbon filter.

Active carbon filters actively attract – and trap – chemical odor sources like those produced by pets.

These are used in addition to the HEPA filter section and the remaining microscopic particulates like dust mites, airborne microbes, dog dander, and other particulates are permanently removed from the air.

A carbon filter is important and quite helpful for permanently removing odors that linger as they’re caused by organic and other chemical substances.

Other things you’ll need to do

As an air purifier can definitely help but cannot address all sources of dog odor, if you want to really reduce them you should consider picking up an odor-reducing shampoo.

They’re very effective at cleaning your pets and getting rid of those nasty smells.

Hypoallergenic pet shampoo Particular Paws

A high-quality pet shampoo can remove odor-causing bacteria & organic matter. For the best effect when trying to eliminate dog odors, you’ll need to bathe your dogs occasionally and use a high-quality air purifier.

In summary – will air purifiers help with dog smell?

The answer is yes! A high-quality air purifier is a great way to remove dog smells and allergy-causing matter, but it can’t remove 100% of them. It can definitely remove the majority though. Some remaining odor sources (like skin or mouth conditions) may remain if left untreated.

For a healthy dog, you can reduce most odors by:

  • Using an air purifier
  • Occasionally bathing your dog
  • Feeding them a quality diet.

If your dog has other health issues like I mentioned you’ll need to address those in more detail (like with specialized shampoos or medicines).

If you need more information about pets and how air purifiers can help, check out this page containing a number of helpful and related posts.

Tired of bad air? Here are recommendations and reviews for some of the best air purifiers for pet owners.