Questions to Ask When Buying a Carbon Filter Air Purifier

Filters that use carbon are ideal for removing general odors, smoke, chemicals, and gases. That means it’s popular to place a carbon filter air purifier in kitchens and bathrooms since the concentration of those pollutants is most prevalent there.

Almost all carbon filter air purifiers incorporate other filtration techniques, like HEPA filters to remove particles, UV light to anesthetize, and ionizers to convert contaminants into breathable compounds. In all likelihood, these hybrid air filters will provide fresher air, removing other contaminants even if you aren’t targeting them.

Which specifications should I pay attention to?

Looking at the stats for a single air purifier can be a puzzling sea of numbers. Unless you have extremely specific needs for your carbon-activated air purifier, you probably only need to pay close attention to the following:

  • Room Size: Pay attention to the room dimensions of the carbon air purifier you’re considering. It’s worth measuring your walls to make sure you’re buying a machine powerful enough for the space it will be cleaning.
  • Ceilings: Coverage areas for filtration are measured using the standard ceiling height for North America, 8 feet. If your ceilings are higher, look for an air purifier that can handle a coverage area proportionately wider than your room.
  • Air Flow Rate: Look for a measurement of how many times the purifier can filter the air in a specified sized room each hour. The maximum time turnover rate is 6 times per hour.
  • Noise: Since carbon air purifiers use fans to direct airflow through the filter, most models emit some noise. Noisiness can range from completely silent to the sound of a portable fan on the highest setting. To find a quiet air purifier, look at the sound decibels (dB). Some air purifiers even have a white noise generator, perfect for bedrooms. This feature effectively masks mechanical noises and morphs them into a gentle hum.

Is this carbon filter air purifier green?

There are many factors to consider if you are concerned with the carbon footprint your air purifier is leaving behind. Firstly, don’t let nomenclature confuse you.

The type of carbon used to clean the air is not the same type of carbon found in carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas linked to global warming. Solid carbon filters do not poison the environment.

Replacing Filters: Carbon filters must be replaced once saturated with filtered gunk. Filters that can be cleaned and reused are the best choice for minimizing waste. For filters that need to be thrown away and replaced, look for an air purifier that requires replacement less often. Remember that filter turnover, as reported by manufacturers, is an estimate and will depend on how polluted the air is; the more pollutants in the air, the more often the filter will need to be replaced.

Energy Use: Carbon-activated air purifiers run on electricity, so pay attention to how much energy they use relative to each other. Wattage or voltage will be listed under the specifications of a product.

Ozone: Be wary of air purifiers emitting ozone as a byproduct or cleansing medium. Not only is ozone hazardous to breathe, but ozone also contributes to smog and pollution. These types of filters are largely being phased out of mainstream retail outlets, but be wary of machines marketed as air purifiers that are ozone producers by design. Ozone may have a cleansing effect, but why purify the air dangerously when more efficient, safe alternatives are available?

Materials and Packaging: Look for air purifiers made of materials like metal. Avoid units made with plastic, and look for manufacturers that use recyclable cardboard and don’t use Styrofoam.

What is the purpose of activated carbon?

Granular activated carbon is created from familiar items. A hard, carbon-based substance, like a coconut husk or hardwood, is burned at extremely high temperatures with steam in a chamber with no oxygen.

The end product is activated carbon which is blackened and extremely porous. This process leaves the carbon fibers in a web with an enormous surface area. The science behind carbon filtration comes down to two mechanisms:

  • Adsorption: molecules in the air adhere to the surface of the carbon
  • Catalytic Reduction: the activated carbon has a positive charge which attracts negatively charged ions on contaminants to itself.

What type of carbon filter air purifier am I looking for?

With carbon filters, the rule is bigger is better. The larger, deeper, and heavier the filter is, the more activated carbon granules are in it. Each mass of carbon creates a surface area for pollutants to latch onto.

To be effective for a normal-sized room, the carbon filter in your air purifier needs more than a couple of pounds to improve air quality. Good quality carbon air purifiers have 8 and 30 pounds of activated carbon. It’s worth purchasing the largest carbon filter your budget allows.

What are my safety concerns?

Luckily, air purifiers aren’t inherently dangerous. Like all home appliances, ensure that your home can handle the power needed to operate your air purifier to avoid sparking an electric fire.

Additionally, suppose you have small children or furry friends. In that case, you’ll need to take precautions if your purifier is going to be placed in a room they’ll have access to.

Please choose a model that is sturdy and heavy to avoid knocking it over. Models come in all shapes, so if you have a baby, you can look for one with rounded edges.

Do I need extras?

Many carbon filter air purifiers have features that enhance user experience but don’t necessarily affect their air purifying ability. The costs of these extra bells and whistles are tacked onto the model’s price. These special features include:

  • Fragrance
  • Digital displays
  • Remote control
  • Filter light change indicator
  • White noise creator
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About the author
Martina began her writing career in 2011 and worked strictly online. She attempts to be as green as she can, which not only helps the environment, it aids in reducing her monthly expenses.

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