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Which Whole House Air Purifier Should I Choose?

If you want to improve the air quality of a single room in your home, a portable air purifier will do just fine; however, if you are looking to clean the air in your entire home, you’re going to need something a bit bigger to get the job done, like a whole house air filtration or purification system.

As the name suggests, a whole house air purifier is designed to purify the air throughout an entire home. It’s fitted to a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and as air passes through it, airborne pollutants are removed, and clean, purified air then circulates through every room in your home. As you can imagine, there are a lot of whole house air purifiers on the market, but the wording that’s used to market these systems can be misleading. Some actually are whole house air purifiers, while others are really nothing more than larger sized portable units, and while they may filter large quantities of air, these larger portable units won’t actually cleanse all of the air in your home. In order to be considered an actual whole house air purifier, the filter  has to be fitted onto the airflow of your home’s HVAC system. It’s important to note, however, that if your HVAC system does not rely on forced air, like baseboard electric heat or a boiler, you won’t be able to utilize a whole house air purifier, and rather, you’ll need to use a larger portable unit.

To learn more about whole house air purification and to determine which one will best suit your specific needs, keep on reading.

Types of Whole House Air Purification Systems

There are two main types of whole house air purifiers: duct-based systems and furnace filter systems.

Duct-Based Air Purification Systems

As you probably assumes, this type of whole house air purifier is built directly into the existing ductwork of your HVAC system, and there are two different types: return air and supply air. The primary difference between the two is the location where the purifier is placed within your ductwork. The former, a return air system, is installed where the air from your house returns into the furnace prior to being heated and/or cooled. On the return side, a basic replaceable media furnace filter is placed. With the latter, a supply air system, the filtration is situated between the furnace and the vent of your home’s HVAC system, and the air is purified prior to being directed throughout the vents.

No matter the type, all duct-based air purification systems do need to be properly maintained in order to ensure that they continue to function properly. Generally, maintenance requirements are pretty simple; for example, it could involve changing out the filter every so often or just cleaning the collector plates once a year. We should point out, however, that the location where the filters are placed will determine whether maintaining the filter is convenient or inconvenient. For instance, filters on basement furnaces tend to be relatively easier to upkeep, while filters that are situated in a crawlspace is a bit more challenging to maintain.

The Best Duct-Based Whole House Air Purifiers

There are several different duct-based whole house air purifiers, and in our opinion, the following models are among the best.

Amaicare 10,000

With three stages of HEPA filtration, this duct-based system is fitted in the return air duct of an HVAC system. The filter needs to be changed out annually, and on average, the system runs less than $4,000. There is also a third stage upgrade that you can opt for, which features a carbon filter that removes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other types of harmful gaseous airborne contaminants; however, do note that this filter upgrade does have to be changed more frequently; usually about once every three months or so. Since a powered fan, which maintains proper air flow, is included, the energy consumption of the Amairicare 10,000 is about 600 watts.

IQAir Perfect 16

The IQair Perfect 16 also features HEPA filtration and it’s installed in the return duct of an HVAC system. The MERV (the rating system that measures how efficiently an air filter is at trapping small particles) of this system is 16, so it’s highly efficient. Similar to a lot of other HEPA whole house air filtration systems, the IQair Perfect 16 does reduce pressure levels in the system and could potentially minimize heating and cooling. In order to avoid this problem, you might want to consider a more powerful or a supplementary blower. On average, this duct-based whole house air purification system costs between $2,500 and $3,200.

Beyond by Aerus G4 Whole Home Filtration

With a price tag of just under $2,000 on average, this is one of the most affordable whole house air purification systems. It features three-stage filtration, which is comprised of an apre-filter, a HEPA filter, ad a carbon filter. It features a high-powered fan that moves and cleans the air throughout the system on a constant basis, even when the HVAC system isn’t on. The HEPA filter removes the majority of particles, and the carbon filter removes most VOCs and odors. Similar to all other HEPA whole house air purification systems, the Beyond by Aerus G4 Whole Home Filtration does not generate ozone, which is a highly toxic gaseous material that can irritate the respiratory tract.

Furnace Whole House Air Purifier Systems

With a furnace whole house air purifier system, as the name indicates, the filter is fitted where the air return from your home’s HVAC system enters the furnace. Rather than purifying the air, the purpose of this type of system is to protect the components of the furnace from debris that would otherwise enter it. Since the filter traps that debris and stops it from entering the furnace, the air that blows out of your HVAC system will be cleaner. The primary advantage of this type of whole house air purification system is the price, as it’s significantly less costly than a duct-based system.

Here’s a look at our recommendations for the best furnace whole house air purification system.

AprilAire 5000

The AprilAire 5000 is an electrostatic furnace whole house air purification system that relies on mechanical filters to trap debris before it enters the furnace. It runs, on average, about $600, which, as far as whole house air filtration systems go, is quite affordable. It does need to be professionally installed, the internal electrodes do need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and the system does require annual maintenance. To ensure optimal functioning, the manufacturer recommends keeping the air running through the HVAC system on a constant basis; in other words, you’ll need to keep your HVAC fan running, even when you aren’t heating or cooling your home.

Honeywell Electronic Furnace Filter

With a price tag of about $500, on average, the Honeywell Electronic Furnace Filter is mounted into the ductwork of an HVAC system, and it needs to be installed professional. In order to remove fine particle matter, the filter utilizes electrostatic perception, and it also uses pre and post filtration. With electrostatic perception, voltage is applied to airborne particles as they make their way through the purifier, and a charge is transferred to those particles. In the collection chamber sits oppositely charged plates, and the charged particles are attracted to those plates. The collection chamber is known as a “cell”.

While the Honeywell Electronic Furnace Filter is effective, there are some downsides. Firstly, it requires a significant amount of maintenance. That’s because the electrostatic plates and wires within the system become less efficient when they’re dirty. Secondly, the voltage does generate ozone, which is a gaseous material that can be toxic in nature, and it can accumulate in enclosed locations. If you suffer from allergies, are prone to respiratory infections, or have been diagnosed with a chronic respiratory condition, using this type of system may not be in your best interest, due to the ozone production.

Lennox PureAir

With a price tag of about $1,300, this is the most expensive furnace whole house air purification system. It needs to be professionally installed, which comes with an additional fee. Thanks to the filters and UV-light-based PCO system, the Lennox PureAir system has a MERV 16 rating and it can effectively remove or destroy airborne particles, biological pollutants, such as bacteria and viruses, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It does not generate any ozone as a side effect and can actually reduce ozone levels in your home’s air.

Large Portable Air Purifier

We discussed how some devices are marketed as whole house air purification systems, but they’re actually large portable air purifiers. If you want to cleanse the air of a larger space in your home and don’t want to invest in a whole house filtration system, this may be an option for you; however, do note that it will not filter all of the air in your home. With that said, if you feel that this type of air purifier will best suit your needs, we recommend the following unit.

Oransi Erik 650A Air Purifier

With a price tag of approximately $1,600, the Oransi Erik 650A Air Purifier is not installed into the HVAC system of your home, but rather it sits in a single room, and therefore, it can only be used to clean the air in one room at a time. However, with that said, it does a very good job of eliminating airborne pollutants and increasing indoor air quality.

Summing It Up

If you’re looking to invest in a whole house air purification system, the models discussed above are all great options to consider. If you’re planning on purchasing a whole house purification system to remove potential mold spores, having a routine inspection performed by a reputable professional is highly recommended. Mold spores can be hazardous to your health, and often, the spores are not detected or picked up by an air purifier. To ensure your home is in tip-top shape and that you aren’t unknowingly putting yourself and your loved ones at risk, get in touch with the leading mold inspection professionals: Mold Inspection and Testing.

At MI&T, we’re proud to be hailed as one of the most trusted mold inspection companies. Our team of fully licensed and insured, and highly knowledgeable associates will conduct the most comprehensive assessment of your home in order to determine if mold is, in fact, present, and if so, what needs to be done in order to eliminate it (and improve the air quality in your home).