Air Sanitizer vs. Air Purifier: The Differences Between Them

With so many in-home air filtering machines on the market, it can be a real head-spinner to figure out which one may be best for you. What is the difference between an air sanitizer and an air purifier?

Air sanitizers and air purifiers are both effective in assisting allergy sufferers and managing asthma symptoms. An air sanitizing machine concentrates on germs, mold, and viruses, whereas an air purifier for residential use mostly filters out dust and pollen.

Air sanitizers vs air purifiers

To better understand the specific differences between an air sanitizer and an air purifier, I’ve broken it down for you below.

What is an Air Sanitizer and How Does an Air Sanitizer Work?

A UV air sanitizer is commonly referred to as an air sanitizing system. These are put in your home’s ductwork and produce UV light to purify the air as it passes through your vents. Air sanitizer systems help defend against mold, which can potentially be harmful to your health, as well as a variety of germs.

By projecting ultraviolet light waves into the interior of your air conditioner, furnace, or ducts, an AC or furnace UV air purifier sanitizes the surfaces within.

The UV lamps within your gadget are made to switch on and off with the system; they eliminate dangerous chemicals that build inside and might make you or your family unwell.

Remember that HVAC UV lamps only eliminate bacteria and germs. Viruses and certain common allergens (dust, pet dander, etc.) that could still be sickening your family won’t be eradicated by them.

The Benefits of an Air Sanitizer

A few advantages of using an air sanitation system are listed below.

  • Due to whole-house coverage, there are more air exchanges every hour
  • Great at eliminating mold spores, germs, and viruses
  • Aids in preventing the accumulation of dust on HVAC equipment

Disadvantages of Air Sanitizers

Even though product performance might vary substantially between makes and models, all machines have a few shortcomings:

  • The installation of an air sanitizer system can be very involved and costly
  • Not as efficient in eliminating pollen and dust

Do I Need an Air Sanitizer?

Everyone in your house benefits from the installation of an HVAC UV light, but individuals with allergies and respiratory problems benefit most.

Nevertheless, everyone can benefit from breathing cleaner air, especially given that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors, where pollution levels are often 2 to 5 times higher.

What Is an Air Purifier and How Does an Air Purifier Work?

A device that removes these pollutants, as well as allergens like dust, pet dander, and pollen, seems not only practical but also a healthy choice.

A recent United States Environmental Protection Agency report revealed indoor air can have up to five times higher levels of pollutants like mold, pesticides, and particulates than the air outdoors.

Unlike air filters, which just stop them from circulating, air purifiers purify the air by eliminating allergies, poisons, and other pollutants. But how exactly do air purifiers work?

Air purifiers are portable devices that combine an internal filter and fan to pull unwanted particles from the air in a specific room.

Purified air is then circulated back into the room. The filtration process repeats several times an hour, continually boosting indoor air quality.

Prior to the clean air being pumped back into the living space, these filters, which are often made of paper, fibers like fiberglass, or a mesh, catch and neutralize pollutants and particles as air flows over them.

Air purifiers can help eliminate the following:

  • Smoke
  • Allergens
  • Indoor toxins
  • Mold spores in the air

The Benefits of an Air Purifier

Knowing the local air quality index and being aware of the signs of poor air quality, such as headaches and weariness, as well as eye, nose, and throat irritation can help you realize how big of an issue air quality is where you live.

An air purifier can be the solution if you believe that breathing cleaner air at home would be beneficial for you.

The following are some benefits of using an air purifier:

Airborne Diseases May Be Reduced

Air purifiers use filters that catch the contaminants in the air. Researchers discovered that airborne SARS-CoV-2 was significantly decreased, if not completely eliminated, by using a HEPA filter in a Covid ward.

Before and after utilizing the air filter, but not while, virus evidence was found.

The adoption of HEPA filter air filtration devices, according to a recent study by Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, almost eliminated all signs of airborne SARS-CoV-2 in the Covid wards while also noticeably lowering the levels of bacterial, fungal, and other viral bioaerosols.

An air purifier won’t entirely protect you from contracting infectious illnesses that are spread via the air, however, it may lower your risk.

You May Experience Less Asthma Symptoms

Asthma episodes, which can be deadly, can be brought on by airborne pollutants including smoke, pollen, and dust, especially in youngsters.

In order to reduce your exposure to these toxins if you have asthma symptoms, an air purifier may help you control the air quality in your house.

It’s important to note that the Environmental Protection Agency advises against using air filters that create ozone since it irritates the lungs and aggravates asthma symptoms.

Airborne Mold Spores Are Greatly Eliminated

Air purifiers are capable of removing airborne mold spores.

Since mold spores can be as small as four microns, according to research published in Plos Pathogens, having an air purifier with HEPA filters in your house should help to limit the number of mold spores in the air.

An air purification system may be able to assist in preventing the growth of further mold in your house if you are successfully addressing the mold’s cause.

It does this by catching spores before they land and grow into additional mold.

For a detailed look at preventing mold, read more about how air purifiers assist with mold.

Helps Filter Out Harmful Chemicals

Homes can be filled with indoor pollutants, and outside pollutants frequently find their way indoors, especially if you live in a densely populated region.

This increases the likelihood of inflammation.

According to different research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, residing in extremely polluted locations, such as those close to highways or airports, has been associated with an increase in respiratory issues and infections.

Since an air purifier circulates clean air back into the space after passing contaminated air through a number of filters, it can help with a variety of indoor air contaminants.

An air purifier may assist to lessen the quantity of these pollutants that you breathe in if you use chemical cleansers or have equipment in your house that generates ozone or other toxins.

Air Purifiers Reduce Allergens in the Air

Air purifiers can assist people with allergies by reducing their exposure to environmental triggers since (HEPA) filters can capture 99.97% of air pollutants as small as 0.3 microns.

If you suffer from allergies or hay fever, keeping an air purifier in the room you sleep or work in may be quite beneficial since it will keep the allergen load in the air as low as possible, hence lowering your symptoms.

Just keep in mind that most air purifiers have a maximum room size in which they perform at their best, so huge drafty rooms or rooms with frequent traffic may not be the greatest places for them to be used.

A Reduction in Dust and Pet Dander

Our respiratory systems may get irritated by dust, microbes like mold spores or airborne germs, cigarette smoke, pesticides, disinfectants, pet hair, and dander.

According to a review published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, dust and dust mite allergens are also a major cause of asthma episodes, hence avoiding these triggers is recommended as the best course of action for reducing symptoms.

According to research published in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, our furry companions are also to blame, with pet dander serving as one of the primary triggers for many people with asthma and allergies.

An air purifier can help alleviate pet allergies.

Disadvantages of Air Purifiers

If you want to raise the standard of air within your home, buying an air purifier is a wonderful option. However, there are things to consider before making the purchase.

Many Air Purifiers Emit Harmful Ozone Gas

Three oxygen atoms make up the molecule of ozone. The fundamental oxygen molecule, which is required for breathing, is made up of two oxygen atoms.

The third oxygen atom in the ozone molecule has the ability to separate from it and reattach to molecules of other substances, altering their chemical make-up.

Ozone plays a crucial role in protecting against the sun’s damaging UV rays when it is present in the stratosphere where it belongs.

However, ozone is so hazardous on the ground that the EPA has designated it as an air contaminant.

The third oxygen molecule has the same potential to interact with organic matter both within and outside of the body.

Numerous issues may result from this. Chest discomfort, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation can all be brought on by even very minute levels of ozone in the air.

By not making explicit medical claims about the gadgets, manufacturers can get around Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance.

Since there isn’t actually any government regulation of consumer air purifiers (apart from HEPA, which we’ll discuss later), any claims that an air purifier is “government-approved” should raise a red flag.

The fact is that some types of decontamination have been successfully accomplished using ozone.

The DNA of the cell is destroyed when ozone’s unstable three-oxygen-atom structure disintegrates, ripping electrons from cell walls.

This can be helpful for cleaning medical equipment and, in certain situations, water. Ozone in extremely high concentrations is occasionally used to purge certain chemical or biological pollutants or smells from vacant areas.

However, utilizing ozone to “clean” the air in populated areas causes considerably more harm than good.

Additionally, marketing efforts have been successful in branding ozone-producing purifiers as “clean air” or “healthy air” since most people have a tendency to view ozone as a positive thing, which it is, in its right context.

Customers may believe that their air is clean and fresh because ozone may provide a fresh scent that is comparable to rain.

However, the fragrance is not a good gauge of the purifier’s efficiency.

The Upfront Cost of an Air Purifier

Air purifiers range in cost dramatically. One can pay as little as $39.99 to as high as $6,000 for an air purifier. The price all depends on the brand and how many square feet the machine is made to be suitable for.

An air purifier is thought to be a household item in 1 in 4 American homes.

The cost of air purifiers is high. The majority of the models that CR suggests cost upwards of $900 and more.

They may be costly to run as well because they normally need filters replaced once or twice a year and need to be used continuously.

Some models require the replacement of numerous filters.

For example, activated carbon filters that are supposed to eliminate smells must be changed every three months and might cost up to $50 each.

On top of that, the primary filters cost anything from $20 to over $200 apiece.

Air Purifiers Do Not Eliminate 100% of Everything

With the use of air purifiers, the air may be substantially cleaner and safer to breathe. They don’t, however, address every issue with indoor air quality.

Uncomfortable humidity levels and room temperature are among the factors affecting indoor air quality that an air purifier cannot address.

Unchanged Filters Can Worsen Air Quality

Dirty air filters are less effective in filtering out pollutants and may allow greater concentrations of dust and particulates to build up inside your residence, decreasing your indoor air quality and making your home a less comfortable place to live.

For maximum benefits and cleaner air, you should replace your air filter once a month.

Long-term storage of filters within the unit will cause them to become unclean and cease functioning properly.

You might be able to use your air filter for more than a month in specific circumstances.

You may be able to change the filter less regularly if your home is smaller since there is less airflow through it.

Big-city residents will require more frequent air filter replacements.

Smog and other air pollutants might enter your house, making it more difficult for your filter to maintain clean air.

Costs to Replace the Filters

Depending on the filter’s quality, an air purifier filter can be rather spendy. A HEPA filter of high standards can cost up to $50, whereas a typical low-standard filter is frequently available for $5 to $10.

The key is to not automatically assume that a higher-priced filter is of better quality. Marketing plays a big role in the price of air purifier filters.

The owner’s handbook for your purifier will specify the kind of filter you require based on the model.

In addition, how often you need to replace the filter depends on its longevity and the quality of the air in your house.

Thus, there is a wide range in the annual cost of filter replacement.

There Will Be a Slight Noise

Usually, the noise produced by an air purifier is categorized as background noise. However, the noise level of an air purifier varies based on its model and rate of operation.

You’ll probably hear less noise while utilizing a whole-house air purifier than if you utilize a portable room type.

Installed normally distant from your living spaces, amid your home’s heating and cooling systems, are whole-home air purifiers.

In the utility closet, basement, garage, or other installation location, the noise is frequently effectively contained.

When you use a portable air purifier, the machine is already operating in the space you are using it.

Because the unit is close while you rest, sleep, work, and engage in other activities in your living quarters, you’ll hear the operation noise more.

Odors Will Not Be Entirely Eliminated

For the time being, the verdict appears to be pending. The air may become cleaner and fresher by eliminating indoor air pollutants, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that this method may not completely eliminate odors and residual aromas.

In addition to appropriate ventilation, the EPA’s 2018 Consumer Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home suggests using indoor air purifiers to enhance air quality, refresh indoor air, and get rid of smells.

So, even while it’s not the perfect solution for an odor-free house, it could be a useful step in making your surroundings better while you’re working indoors.

Do I Need an Air Purifier?

If you have allergies or have learned that you have other types of contaminants in your home’s air, then perhaps you may want to research the purchase of an air purifier.

My biggest caution here would be to think twice before ever putting something that emits ozone into the air of your home. An Ozone purifier may end up doing more harm than good.

When Does a Home Need an Air Purification System?

You are the best judge of whether you need an in-home air purification system. To help you decide, do any of the following relate to you and your home?

You Moved Into a Brand New Home Freshly Built

That new house smell may contain pollutants like formaldehyde, a toxic substance known to have negative effects on health.

An air purifier may aid in filtering this poisonous air and increase the sense of security that everyone in the house has towards breathing healthier air.

If you have young children or infants, this is a very wise choice.

You Have Respiratory Problems

Respiratory conditions like asthma can cause attacks that impair lung function and, in extreme cases, make it impossible to breathe.

Doctors frequently advise keeping air quality as high as possible for households with kids or parents who have such illnesses in order to allow for comfortable breathing and to prevent health issues from developing.

The dangerous allergens that frequently cause these episodes are filtered out of the air by air purifiers.

The correct air purifier may improve air quality and provide everyone peace of mind, whether smoking, dander, or dust seem to make breathing difficult for afflicted family members.

You Live with a Smoker or Live Near a Smoker

Secondhand smoke is extremely damaging to the human body and can have major negative effects, according to studies.

HEPA air purifiers are made primarily to get rid of smells and impurities from smoking and tobacco use.

Your choice to purchase a purifier might have a big impact on how you feel if you live with or close to a smoker.

Your Home Has a Funky Smell

An air purifier could be precisely what you need to get rid of unpleasant odors and leave the air in your house fresh and more pleasant to breathe.

It’s possible for office workers or apartment residents to breathe drafts that come from another area of the building and convey unpleasant smells. Unpleasant odors may frequently seep into your home or working place.

These offputting smells can also come from sweaty teenagers, pets, or cooked brussels sprouts.

Before you ever notice the scents, it may help to get rid of them by placing an air purifier near the source.

You Have Pet Allergies

Numerous animal lovers and pet owners suffer from allergies that are directly linked to the pet dander, hair, and fur that are byproducts of sharing a home with these adorable creatures.

To make the atmosphere cleaner and healthier, an air purifier efficiently removes this dander from the air.

For families with both small children and dogs, an air purifier is a great investment since, in certain situations, young children are more susceptible to pet dander than adults.

Are Ozone Generators And Ozone Air Purifiers Safe?

Some appliances marketed as air purifiers purposefully release high levels of ozone, the same, primary ingredient in smog. Ozone generators are not only poor at purifying indoor air, but they also pose significant health concerns to both people and animals when inhaled.

How Much Ozone Do Ozone Generators Produce?

Ozone generators can create indoor ozone levels that are many times greater than what is recommended by outdoor health guidelines.

Ozone levels for indoor air that are too high may be caused by the fact that many commercial ozone generators produce more than 5,000 mg of ozone per hour of operation.

What Is a Hydroxyl Generator?

Hydroxyl generators utilize UV-C to eliminate germs, viruses, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and smells from the air. The air purifier only has to be plugged in and turned on to start working and purifying the air.

Uses for the generator include:

  • Getting rid of pet smells
  • Eliminating mold
  • Removing cigarette smoke from the air
  • Reducing fire damage smells

What Is an Ozone Generator?

An ozone generator is a tool used to create ozone gas. Ozone may be used to successfully purify water, but to eliminate air contaminants, ozone levels in the atmosphere must be quite high.

Health professionals advise that it’s crucial to maintain the environment so that neither people nor pets are exposed to high amounts of ozone.

Ozone generators may be quite helpful in this process for eradicating strong odors, getting rid of smoke smells, and removing mold. Hospitals, hotels, and even households use them, but as we’ll see, they may be risky and should only be used by skilled, licensed personnel.

Furthermore, materials like ceiling tiles and the lining of air conditioning ducts cannot be destroyed by ozone.

What Is Bi-Polar Ionization?

The bi-polar ionization technique, also known as needlepoint bi-polar ionization, produces positively and negatively charged particles in HVAC systems and portable air cleaners.

Since this technology is still in its infancy, there isn’t much research that evaluates it outside of lab settings.

Positive and negative ions surround air particles when bipolar ionization is applied in a space such as a room in a home.

This additional mass aids in the air particle removal process by allowing the particles to fall to the ground and be drawn in the direction of the building’s air filter.

Furthermore, the positive and negative ions attract hydrogen away from the disease as they surround air particles that contain pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores).

If special care is not taken in the product’s design and upkeep, bipolar ionization could produce ozone and other potentially dangerous byproducts indoors.


Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.