With the increasing amount of pollution all over the world, many people are turning to air purifiers. However, most people do not know how and where to place their machine for optimal operation. This article will highlight the important things you need to keep in mind when using an air purifier at home.
The things you’ll need to consider include purifier type and configuration, purifier/room sizing, and best location within a room. These all work together and limit placement within a space you’re trying to clean.
We love our Honeywell 50250-S, but it shares a common problem among purifiers. The 50250-s design requires that you place the machine 3 feet from a wall. That’s why we always recommend verifying suggested distances and placement before submitting an order. When it comes to placing a purifier in a room and getting the maximum performance… purifier intake/exhaust design dictates placement more so than other factors. Bottom line; always check the manufacturer recommendation for placement.
Sizing the Room
Most purifiers will provide a recommended room size, in square feet. However, that is just a starting point since square feet neglects the actual volume of air in a given space. And, since the machine will need to exchange the air in the room numerous times per hour. We always assume that the rating uses the standard ceiling height of 8 feet (2.4 meters). Therefore if you have tall ceilings, look for something a bit larger.
So, why is evaluating room size important. That’s easy. You’re balancing price, performance, and how much room the purifier itself occupies. For example, an undersized unit will labor away, struggling to impact the air quality in a large room. But, it will probably cost less up front. And it doesn’t take up much room. Conversely, an oversized unit will improve air quality rapidly and guard against new pollutants. Unfortunately, they’ll present you with a higher purchase price.
Where you will see things balance out is the long-term cost of ownership. First, you’ll probably spend less money on electricity and replacement filters on a larger, more expensive machine over the years. But, in some cases, the initial price difference is so great that you could buy multiple small machines and filters for the price of a really good purifier.
So the best advice we can offer is to buy a larger unit but within reason. There’s no reason to put a whole house purifier from IQAir in a 600 square foot studio. But, it would be even more foolish to think that a smaller, but awesome, unit like the Coway AP-1512HH is going to make a difference in an open floor plan with high ceilings.
Choosing the right purifier for your space
The size of the room you want to purify is important. However, the layout of the room is also a critical factor. Place a small purifier in the deepest recesses of an L-shaped room and circulation will be horrible. Unless you have the power to really move some air.
Another thing to consider is surfaces. Textiles like carpet, curtains, and upholstery trap dust and pollutants. While leather, hardwood, and blinds merely collect it… until you have a chance to dust. The point is that if you have more soft goods it’s more difficult to remove settled dust and pollutants. So, when someone walks across the carpet or plops down on the couch your purifier is presented with an increased workload.
Other factors include how much activity is done inside the room as far as people walking around and how often the doors are opened and closed. These activities contribute to the stirring up of dust and other airborne particles that have settled on the furniture, floors, and walls. Generally, you will look for a range of 2 to 8 air exchanges every hour. The
Generally, you will look for a range of 2 to 8 air exchanges every hour. The most efficient of HEPA air purifiers consider 2 air exchanges being the most acceptable.
Where to Place an Air Purifier
The placement of the machine is one of the factors you need to consider when looking for an air purifier. If you are planning to place the machine inside a single room, the most recommended option would be the one that operates quietly with fewer air exchanges during the night. However, you may want to consider placing a purifier in each room of your home.
- In a bedroom. Putting an air purifier in your room will help those with allergies sleep a little better. But, it will also act as a white noise machine that will help mask various noises from indoors and out.
- In a bathroom. Remember when people would say “light a match!” Well a small purifier placed on the bathroom counter is a much less embarrassing way to address bathroom smells. It’s also a good way to keep musty towel odor and shower funk under control.
- In the kitchen. Cooking odor is a tricky problem to fix. Some smells come on hard and fast while others build up slowly. We like to place a smaller purifier near the slow cooker to keep odors under control. For, powerful odors that take minutes to fill your home… we bring a purifier into the kitchen from another room. We also crank the fan on the vent hood and open nearby windows.
- In the laundry room or closet. Freshly folded laundry every day is something that eludes 99 percent of the population. For those of us with families and jobs, our dirty clothes are going to pile up in the hamper for at least a few days. A good sized purifier will help prevent your closet or laundry room from smelling like a gym bag.
- Where you exercise. We exercise in our family room. And, to keep the “family gym” smelling fresh… we placed a purifier right next to the door. We also like knowing that when we’re short of breath, the air we’re sucking in is the cleanest it can be.
- Where you watch TV. This is another tricky one. We originally placed a Honeywell 50250-s in our family room. But even on low it was a little too noisy for movie time. We’ve since swapped out numerous purifiers in search of the perfect balance of performance and silent operation.
- In the basement. A basement is one of the biggest nasty air offenders in your home. They’re damp, collect dirt and dust, and always smell musty. Finding the perfect basement air purifier requires some planning and evaluation. But, when you find “the one” it’s a game changer. You may also want to pick up a dehumidifier for your basement. In our old house we used a dehumidifier and purifier together and it made our subterranean Seattle retreat so much better.
- In your car. This one should be much more obvious than it is to most people. Purifying the air in your car is a no brainer. It’s a small fairly airtight space that you spend a ton of time inside (commutes of an hour each way are not uncommon). And the roadway or highway is the source for much of the pollution we see in our atmosphere. We have an article about the “why” but without going into the details just think about all of the car exhaust you breathe in while sitting in traffic. If you commute with a child you should definitely upgrade your in-cabin filtration. But, be careful there’s a lot of gimmicky car purifiers out there.
Best Location for an Air Purifier
Closest to Source
If you are living with a smoker or sleeping with one, it is best that you place the machine close to the source. The closer the air purifier to the source of the pollution, the faster it can capture the particle that is providing you the grief. On the other hand, if you happen to have a neighbor who has an intense habit of lighting a cigarette, it is best that you place the air purifier near the wall or vent where the odor is coming from. Although trapping odors are not originating in your home can be quite a challenge, placing the air purifier near the source can be a good way of alleviating the level of pollution coming in.
Keep Surroundings Clear
Also, we recommend that you avoid placing the machine behind a furniture or directly below the shelves. This is because the majority of air purifiers come with an intake near the front of the air purifier. It is best that you let the machine have access to as many airborne particles as much as possible. Placing the machine under a shelf will only allow the machine to provide fresh only in the underside of the shelf. As a general rule of thumb, it bests that you keep a few feet of clearance at the front, sides and top of the machine to ensure optimal efficiency.
Placing the machine under a shelf will only allow the machine to provide fresh only in the underside of the shelf. As a general rule of thumb, it bests that you keep a few feet of clearance at the front, sides and top of the machine to ensure optimal efficiency.
Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that there are some electronics that can cause interference to the operation of the machine. As much as possible, avoid placing the air purifier near televisions or stereo equipment. Nonetheless, air purifiers are known to be computer-friendly so placing the machine near smaller appliances is no problem at all.
Keep the Room Shut
Air purifiers also operate more efficiently when all doors and windows are shut. This enables the machine to purify the air in the room without interference from other rooms. This is because air tends to flow wherever there is an opening. If you do not fully close doors and windows, the air purifier will try to pull in air from outside. This can affect the machine’s overall performance.
This notion may sound counterintuitive since most people open their doors and windows to allow fresh air to get inside. However, smaller particles such as dust and pollen are hard to be seen by the naked eye. More particles that come in will only leave your machine hard at work at all times. During summer, when hot temperature runs rampant, you can place the air purifier near open windows to allow it to trap some airborne particles as they enter the room. However, make sure that you choose a safe location since exposing the machine to hot temperature can damage it over time.
The good thing about using a portable air purifier is that you can use it anywhere in the home throughout the day. You can place the machine in the living room during daytime. This allows you to sit on the couch while reading your favorite book or watching television. You can easily move the air purifier to your bedroom an hour before you go to sleep.
Floor, Counter, or Wall?
About 80 or 90 percent of purifiers are large enough that you’ll have to put them on the floor. However, for some jobs (e.g. bathroom, desktop, kitchen) the counter is the best location. It’s much closer to the source. And, then there are the purifiers that are wall-mountable. They’re awesome if you’re short on space or have little ones crawling around. We also think they’re great for “poker rooms” or anywhere you might find yourself enjoying a cigar. You can mount them fairly high compared to other options and as we all know smoke rises. That means you’ll trap more smoke before it has a chance to dissipate.
To sum things up, the two important considerations for choosing the right location for an air purifier are safety and airflow. You should ensure that the device is placed where no one will run into or trip over it.
One of the best things about a plug-in purifier is that they’re portable. Buy a purifier or two and experiment with placement and location within a room. It’s only limited by your imagination and cord length.