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Air Purification vs. Whole House Filtration

There are several ways to fight indoor air pollution and to create a cleaner indoor breathing environment. Two great ways to do this are whole house filtration and room air purification. Whole house filtration involves attaching a filter to the HVAC system and filtering air that flows through the HVAC system. Though this is a great way to keep cleaner air flowing throughout the house, the biggest setback is that it only purifies air flowing through the system. Whole house filtration is generally a great way to filter air; however, depending on your air system, this may provide little to no relief.

Room air purification is different in that it filters air just in one room space. Air purifiers work by drawing air from a room, pulling it through a filter that removes particulates, and circulating clean air back throughout the room. Air purifiers are great for rooms like bedrooms, offices, classrooms, living rooms, or other rooms in which you spend a large amount of time. They are especially good for young children, elderly people, and for those who suffer from breathing problems like allergies or asthma. The only setback is that an air purifier is only efficient for cleaning one room, and it can be expensive to keep an air purifier in each room.


  • Removes harmful air pollutants
  • Improves indoor air quality
  • Concentrates clean air in one room space
  • Great for those suffering from allergies, asthma, or other breathing problems
  • Relatively cheaper filter replacement costs (as compared to whole house filters)
  • Available with highly efficient filters like HEPA and carbon filtration

How They Work

Air purifiers are designed to draw polluted air from the room. Air passes through a filter, or a series of filters, which traps harmful pollutants. Most air purifiers remove allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores. As these pollutants are removed from the air, a fan sends the clean air back throughout the room. The clean air delivery rate (CADR) really depends on the model. Some air purifiers do a fair job of cleaning the air, while others deliver high quality air purification; it just depends on the brand and the air purification that you are seeking.

An air purifier’s filter is the key ingredient to high quality air purification. The filter traps the pollutants, and it is the key factor that determines the purity of the air flowing back throughout the room. Without a good filter, an air purifier is useless. It is also important to keep the filters replaced regularly. As a filter traps more pollutants, it becomes clogged, inefficient, and eventually useless. Therefore, it is necessary to keep your filters replaced as regularly as possible.

Most Common Air Purifier Filters

HEPA Filters

HEPA (high efficient particulate air) filters are specially designed to provide high quality air filtration. Using special technology, HEPA filters remove 99.97% of all air particulates as small as 0.3 microns. This means they remove air pollutants like dust mite debris, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, tobacco smoke, and bacteria. HEPA is highly efficient and excellent for anyone looking for better air for a better breathing environment.

Carbon Filters

If you are looking for something other than relief from allergens, you may be interested in a carbon filter. Carbon filters are specifically designed to remove odors. Activated carbon filters use carbon that has been activated, or treated with oxygen, to trap tiny odor particles. Treating carbon with steam creates millions of extremely tiny, highly absorbent pores that trap tiny odor particles and gaseous vapors that cannot be trapped by regular particulate filters, even by HEPA filters. Impregnated carbon filters work by the same principle, but they also contain a chemical that traps VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are chemicals that are released by common household products like aerosol sprays, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and paints; they can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Therefore, these filters are extremely important.

Pre Filters

Though not all air purifiers have pre filters, the best air purifiers on the market usually contain pre filters. Pre filters are designed to remove large particulates like dust bunnies, hair, lint, and pet dander before the air passes through the main filter. This keeps the main filter more efficient for trapping smaller, more harmful pollutants. They also ensure a longer filter life for the main filter, which means longer-lasting filtration and lower replacement costs.