Filterless air purifiers are an attractive choice for anyone seeking clean air without the hassle and added expense of replacing dirty filters. However, filterless machines operate very differently than filtered machines, and there are not as many quality options available. More often than not we recommend that you choose a HEPA filter equipped unit, but understand that some people prefer a filterless air purifier. This guide to finding the best filterless air purifier aims to educate you on the different technologies filterless machines employ.
And, as always, we hope that we’ll also help you find a product that meets your needs.
The Difference Between Filter and Filterless
The vast majority of air purifiers on the market utilize a filter (or series of filters) to trap airborne pollutants. Dirty air is pulled into the machine by a fan, filter media removes particles, and exits the machine. Filtered machines are safe, effective and easy to operate.
However, because they trap contaminants in a filter performance will gradually diminish. And, since the majority of filters are not washable; buyers are forced to purchase expensive replacement filters. Intervals vary, but most will need to be swapped out every six months (although some will last a few years).
Filterless air purifiers avoid this extra expense by offering different types of reusable filtration technology. So, bottom line… the difference in purifiers is simple. Some use filters; others do not.
The Best Filterless Air Purifier Technology
In the world of filtered machines the HEPA filter is the industry’s most effective technology. However, filterless machines have their own gold standard of technology.
Air Ionizers are to filterless machines what HEPA filters are to filtered machines. There is no better option that will provide the same level of effectiveness in this category of purifier. The have pros and cons, but at the end of the day they provide an effective way to remove pollutants from the air.
Air ionizers take advantage of an electronic filtration system. Ionizers work by drawing air into the machine where it is then electrically charged with negative ions.
Particles like dust and dander carry a neutral charge naturally, but when they pass through an ionizer they gain an stick together like magnets. Earlier air ionizers relied on this technology to make particles heavier and fall to the ground, producing a mess around the air purifier. However, more modern machines solve that problem by adding collector plates to their purifier. These plates are also electronically charged, causing the particles to stick to them instead of falling to the floor.
This technology makes machines filterless because the collector plates do not need to be replaced. And, they are less of a traditional filter since they require electricity to attract particles instead of a “net.” When a collector plate becomes full of dust it is simply removed from the machine and washed with a sponge or cloth. Since there’s no filter, per se, you can use it over and over again with no costly replacement expense.
Ionizers and Health
Unlike standard filtered machines, filterless ionizers have some different effects on our health beyond just clean air. Some of them are beneficial and some can be dangerous.
One of the added benefits to ionizers is the production of negative ions themselves. The same negative ions that are produced by filterless purifiers are also produced in nature by things like rain, waves, and waterfalls.
The release of negative ions is what often gives these natural occurrences a calming effect. Negative ions find their way into our bodies and increase serotonin levels. Some say that this can help relieve stress and even reduce depression.
Ozone is the negative side effect that comes with ionic air filtration. Ozone is a byproduct of many electronic appliances in our homes like televisions. However, some air purifiers that use this technology emit levels of ozone that are dangerous to people with health conditions like asthma, COPD, or other respiratory ailments. Luckily, some ionizing air purifiers produce only trace amounts of Ozone, making them much safer to operate.
While Ozone gets a bad rap for its ability to irritate those nearby, it does have benefits. Ozone major benefit is that it quickly neutralizes odors. Commercial Ozone machines are frequently used by specialists after a house fire or flood. However, it is safer to run air purifiers that produce high levels of ozone when we are not in the same room – or home. Our recommendation… take the family and pets on a short trip if you need a little help from an Ozone producing machine.
Reviews of the Best Filterless Air Purifiers
This machine is among the best regarded filterless purifiers available. It’s backed by a five year warranty and it’s used in hundreds of hospitals to keep air clean and safe. RXAir claims that it kills and captures airborne viruses and bacterial; as well as pollen, dust, and pet dander. The purifier primarily relies on UV Light to eradicate nasty airborne pathogens, but it has a few tricks up its cylindrical sleeve to overcome some of the technology’s shortcomings.
First of all, as air is drawn into the base of the machine specially engineered baffles create turbulence and slow the air to expose as much of it as possible to UV light. Next, the UV light “zaps” living organisms and… well, ruins their day. We wrote a full overview of how this works earlier this year. The manufacturer also publishes lab results. Finally, as air exits the machine contaminants are collected on a specially designed mesh screen.
- 17 fan speeds
- Ultraviolet light purification technology
- Kills Germs and Viruses
- Used in hospitals and busy airports
- Fairly expensive
- Not as easy to clean as other purifiers
Oreck Dual Max Air Purifier
Oreck is renowned and trusted for making great household appliances. Especially vacuum cleaners. This machine from Oreck features a compact minimalist design. But, despite its small stature it contains a ton of cutting edge technology. Most notably, Oreck’s Truman Cell technology, one of the most effective dust collecting mechanisms in the ionizer market. The Truman Cell is more effective than simple plate-based dust collectors because it has more surface area to collect dust. If we had to choose a filterless purifier for looks, reputation, and warranty alone… it would be an Oreck.
- 2 fans provide maximum airflow
- 3 adjustable fan speeds
- Indicator light alerts you when the unit needs to be cleaned
- Includes remote control
- Produces some noise on high fan speeds
Best Choice Products Living Fresh Ionic Air Purifier
This machine is the best large capacity filterless air purifier, capable of operating in spaces of up to 3,500 square feet. This air purifier features a solid design and is constructed using solid cherry wood, giving it a high quality feel and appearance. It is also one of the most adjustable filterless machines on the market, giving you the absolute control of the machine. However, this is a pretty powerful Ozone generator. So, be very careful.
- Variable fan speeds and negative ion generator
- Solid construction
- Two removable ceramic plates for easy cleaning
- Very effective at eliminating odors
- Produces Ozone
Although each of these air purifiers can be used for a variety of applications, the best general-purpose machine is the Oreck Dual Max. And, that’s the one with the largest number of positve reviews elsewhere (including on Amazon.com). This machine features higher quality and does not produce significant levels of ozone. However, if you are looking for a machine specifically for odors, the Living Fresh Air Purifier is a better choice. But, we think that a activated carbon equipped filter model,like Austin Air’s Healthmate, would be even better at removing odor.
We hope this guide on the best filterless air purifier helped educate you on the different models available today. However, if you still prefer to own a machine with a filter there are a variety of other options available. We really think you should check out a HEPA filter model with activated carbon before you buy, but also hope we’ve been helpful.