Whole house purifiers fall into two basic categories. First, there are the ones that you have professionally installed somewhere in your home’s HVAC system. And the second type comprises plug in purifiers rated for very large spaces. Each have their pros and cons. And, that’s exactly why we’ve assembled a number of whole house air purifier reviews.
Plugin vs Pro
Plugin purifiers are pretty ubiquitous these days. The for around $50 to $100 dollars you can get one that’s actually relatively good. For larger spaces, however, expect to say goodbye to $400-1,500 of your hard earned cash. But, for that outlay you will receive a great product that just plugs into the wall. When you move… load it up and take it to your new home.
Professionally installed whole house purifiers look pretty affordable. In fact, a really good one will fall somewhere between $600 and $1,000 without installation. However, when you factor labor into the equation expect to pay four digits. When we priced one of, if not the, best whole house HVAC purifiers the final quote eclipsed three thousand dollars. Granter that’s the price for IQAir’s Perfect 16 one of the best you can buy. But, even parts and labor on something half as good will cost between one and two thousand (depending on the install difficulty).
When it comes to pricing we have to give the advantage to the humble plugin purifier. There’s no install to deal with. You can take it with you when you move. And, if it breaks send it back for repair or warranty replacement. You’ll never have to schedule a HVAC appointment with a plugin purifier. Any of those things needs to be considered when you’re pricing a whole house purifier.
Ease of Use
Your professionally installed HVAC purifier will toil away, year round, in the garage. The only time you’ll need to touch the purifier is when it’s time to replace or clean the filter. Other than that as long as your furnace blower is running… the whole house is getting fresh pure air. And, when you’re not heating or cooling you can just turn your system to “fan” mode. That and filter replacement are the only things you’ll need to worry about with a professionally installed whole house HVAC purifier.
Pro installs sound pretty sweet when you think about the coverage you get and the lack of interaction. They definitely take the cake in the “ease of use” category. But, there are some plugin purifiers in the market that require very little maintenance or input. You’ll pay a little more for that convenience but it is becoming more common. For example AirMega’s 300S and 400S are not only iOS and Android app enabled… they also work with Amazon’s Alexa products. On top of that they have pretty long lasting filters. But, most require pre filter cleaning from time to time.
Despite new smart devices and purifiers that are breaking into the internet of things arena, an HVAC purifier is still the choice for the lazy person purifier ownership crowd.
The difference in maintenance is almost a wash between the two. The plugin models may require more frequent attention in the form of pre filter cleaning. But, those units typically don’t require a full HEPA filter swap very often. It’s not uncommon to see intervals in the two to five year range on some of the better models.
When you do need to swap filters the replacement cost varies widely for both pro installed HVAC units and plugin purifiers. Some will surprise you when you see the price tag. While other MSRPs will be a bit of a relief. It really comes down to individual purifiers. One might have a crazy expensive set of HEPA filter replacements that last five years. Other units might need a much cheaper filter element changed every six months. The later is more often the case with HVAC purifier filters. Most of the ones we’ve seen last between 6 and 12 months.
As far as the actual swapping of filters is concerned we’ll give the edge to plugin purifiers. They’re typically pretty straight forward. HVAC units are too, but their location may increase the degree of difficulty. For example a system in the attic may require a ladder, a bit of crawling, or some ceiling joist balancing.
When it comes to how much stuff is pulled from the air an HVAC purifier will see a lot more volume every day that a plug in unit. And HVAC system, of any size, has a very strong blower. It’s not uncommon to see units that move one or two thousand cubic feet of air every minute. Plus, since the system is blowing into almost every room and extracting air through huge returns… the coverage is going to be a lot more substantial.
However, when you start thinking about what the filter pulls from the air the tables turn. Plug in purifiers typically come equipped with true HEPA filters and activated carbon. Combined they’ll capture gasses, VOC’s, and over 99 percent of particles down to .3 microns. Very few HVAC purifiers are that effective and hardly and use activated carbon to soak up odor and gases.
Noise and Energy Consumption
Noise and energy consumption aren’t really something you can compare when it comes to HVAC vs plugin whole house purification. Professionally installed HVAC units are typically just a filter box that is installed somewhere before the furnaces blower motor. Thus they technically don’t have a fan or motor of their own. That means the only energy they “consume” is any increase in load placed on the furnace’s fan. Plug in units on the other hand are stand alone appliances, every model has a fan and control panel that requires electricity to operate. The advantage here is clearly in the HVAC purifiers court.
The same goes for noise. The HVAC unit is silent, typically. Not only do the operate sans motor/fan… they usually live in the garage or attic with the furnace. And, that’s far from the ear of any occupants. The only noise they will hear is the woosh of air exiting the registers in each room. Plugin units are placed in living areas where their fans can be heard quite easily. Noise levels vary from one model to the next, but pretty much every one we’ve come across puts out a bit of white noise. Which in some cases is a benefit… especially in the bedroom of a home located in a busy neighborhood.
Our Whole House Air Purifier Reviews…
In a recent post we compared some of the most popular professionally installed whole house purifiers. There are a ton of different options to choose from but the ones we selected are great examples of similarly sized models. And, they’re some of the most popular options you can buy.
IQAir builds some of the best whole house plugin purifiers. We have a full company review that covers the basics of each model in their lineup. We also took a closer look at their most popular model when we reviewed their HealthPro Plus. IQAir is the way to go if you have a very large space to purify, like a large open floor plan home.
AirMega is the leader of the pack when it comes to smart purifiers. Plus thier 300 and 400 series purifiers can handle over 1,200 and 1,500 square feet respectively. That’s perfect for most homes (less the bedrooms). And, it’s perfect for lofts, apartments, condos, and small offices.