Most people are surprised to learn that the air inside of your house is usually much dirtier than the air that is outside. Why? First, many common products off-gas VOCs into your home. Second, your home provides a pretty tight seal against what’s outside. But, that seal also traps things inside. Third, too much moisture promotes the growth of mold and mold spores. And, if you have pets around your home, they may be constantly shedding fur and leaving dander throughout the home.
Energy efficient homes keep the heated or cooled air inside, but this also traps everything else inside. The EPA has shown cases where air inside is 100 times worse than the air outside!
Therefore, it is crucial to buy an air purifier that not only us under budget but also packs great features. Below we review the best air purifiers under $100.
Why do I need an Air Purifier?
Every time someone smokes a cigarette inside of your house, it is carrying toxins into the air. When you open doors and windows pollen and other allergens blow in on with the “fresh air.” All of these particles float around in your house, then set in the clothes, hair, carpet and upholstery. It doesn’t help that your central heating and cooling system and fans circulate these particles throughout the house.
With infectious diseases and illnesses that require clean air, as well as allergies and asthma taking effect on more people than ever before, the concern for clean indoor air, is increasing rapidly. People are looking for ways to improve their indoor air quality and air purifiers are often the quickest and most cost effective solution for cleaner air.
The Gizmos You’ll Find in a Cheap Purifier
There are seven air purifiers “technologies” that you’ll want to understand if you’re on a budget. The sub 100 dollar price range is filled with terrible purifiers that use clever terms to make you think they’re purifier is a good value. Here are some of the things you should know first:
- HEPA Filter and HEPA-Style Filter
- Ionizers and Ion Generators
- Ozone Generators
- Adsorbents (Activated Carbon / Charcoal)
- UV light
- Industrial air purifiers
Although most of the air purifiers accomplish the same task, they accomplish it in different ways, using different methods and materials. Also, some air purifiers can pick up the tiniest of particles in the air, while others can only get larger particles. Yearly maintenance costs vary with each type of purifier too.
These types of air purifiers clean the air by passing it through a small filter and removes particles. We have seen these types of filters in our own homes already as they are typical connected to indoor heating and cooling systems.
Between the air return duct and the furnace, a filter housing is put in and the filter cartridge slides into this housing so that all air flowing into the furnace from outside is filtered. This removes harmful contaminants from the air and prevents damage to the furnace by reducing dust and dirt build-up. Some people also place filters into the air return vents in each room of a house.
The density of the filter determines the size of the particles that pass through. The more dense filters have smaller gaps, allowing it to catch smaller particles. The smaller the filter, the more expensive the air purifier will be. HEPA High Efficiency Particulate Air HEPA filters meet the Department of Energy standard for removing particles from the air.
The filter must consist of a material with diffusion of less than 0.03 percent (.03%) of particles that are 0.3 micrometers in size or larger. The filter must also allow a specific amount of air to flow through it. The amount of air flow required varies by the size of the filter. The ULPA (Ultra-Low Penetration Air) standard is much stricter. In addition to their familiar household use of cleaning air of allergens and dust, more advanced HEPA filters are used by the nuclear power industry.
For these specific air purifiers, there is a method called corona discharge used to create charged molecules called ions. Most atoms moving through the air have the same number of negatively-charged electrons as they do positively-charged protons. The corona discharge is a tiny but powerful electrical field and any particle passing through it will pick up an additional electron, giving the particle a negative charge. In some instances, particles may have an electron knocked off of it instead, giving it a positive charge.
Typically, large particles in the air such as dust are more likely to be ionized. Large particles make larger targets for the electrons as they pass through the corona discharge. When a particle is charged, it attracts to anything with the opposite charge. For this reason, there are two metal plates within the purifier (one negative charge, one positive charge) to attract these particles.
An ozone generator works similarly to an ionizing purifier, however, it is intended to alter molecules of oxygen and turn them into ozone. Oxygen that is in the atmosphere exists as dioxygen which is a molecule made up of two oxygen atoms. When the molecules come into contact with a corona discharge (or UV light) dioxygen molecules split into unconnected oxygen atoms, giving off free oxygen.
Ozone air purifiers are rarely recommended. We concur with the strong evidence that ozone does not accomplish air purification and it is also known to be a toxic gas. Ozone also reacts willingly with other chemicals in the air, attaching and forming new compounds that can be dangerous.
Chemical air purifiers use adsorbents to capture molecular sized pollutants, odors, gasses, vapors, and further. Gas molecules escape even the best HEPA filter because they measure a scant 0.001 micron or smaller. The adsorbent material inside of these types of purifiers takes care of odors, fumes and other chemicals in the air. Adsorption happens when one substance is trapped on the surface of another substance.
Activated charcoal is an example of an adsorbent with its extreme porous design easily traps molecules passing through it. Activated carbon/charcoal filters excel at adsorbing different odors and gases. They also help in neutralizing smoke, chemicals, and fumes. When carbon is treated with oxygen, it opens up millions of pores.
Ultraviolet radiation forces certain molecules to become sterile and undamaging. UV light cleanses the air as it passes through, eliminating the potential harm of many airborne bacteria and viruses. UV lights kill these particles without any actual filter, but instead, with rays of ultraviolet light that destroy them as they pass through it.
The UV air purifier aims at helping those with asthma, lung complications, or allergies.
The Best Air Purifiers under $100
We look at a lot of purifiers. And, while most of the “great” ones are hundreds of dollars, we do know of a few that cost less than a hundred dollars. While these may not be able to clean a whole house or lack some of the features found in more expensive models, they offer an unbeatable value for the improving the air quality in your home.
The The GermGuardian AC4825 is up to 99.97% efficient in removing allergens such as dust, mold, pollen, pet dander and smoke from the air passing as it passes through it.
The GermGuardian AC4825 has multiple levels of cleaning to help improve your indoor air quality. The purifier provides a HEPA filter, a pre-filtered charcoal layer, and UV-C power. These 3 powerful layers capture 99.97% of airborne particles and kill germs and bacteria. You should also check out the detailed GermGuardian AC4825 review.
- Indicator lights to show when to replace the Filter or UV-C bulb
- Included air ionizer
- Filters have shorter lifespan than some other models
Holmes True HEPA Allergen Remover HAP726-U
The Holmes HAP726-U helps to fight against common household odors using the power of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. It has four speed settings, a programmable auto off timer and a filter life monitor. The carbon odor filter inside provides the odor killing power of baking soda. Holmes designed this unit to trap larger particles and eliminate odors that come from pets, garbage, bathrooms, litter boxes, smoke and cooking.
- Electronic filter monitor
- Automatically runs for up to 16 hours.
- Not easy to clean
Honeywell HFD-120-Q Tower
The Honeywell HFD-120-Q Tower ionizing tower fan uplifts the purity of air inside your home. It includes a permanent pre filter, so no need to buy new ones for maintenance. The built-in ionizer grounds airborne particles for easy vacuum cleanup.
- Washable filters
- On/off oscillation control
- Auto-off timer only allows for up to 5 hours
With all of the pollutants in our air today, an air purifier may be an important part of your household. Whether it’s for allergies, illness, or just because you want to breathe better. There are various air purifiers you can choose from to fit yours and you family’s needs.