Electrostatic Air Purifier

A Comparison of Electrostatic Air Purifiers

In this article we explain the electrostatic air purifier.

We review how it works, the advantages, and disadvantages.

 

How it works

 

electrostatic charge

An electrostatic air purifier uses an electrical charge to remove particles from the air. The most common type is known as an electrostatic precipitator. It has a series of plates that the air passes through.

The first set of plates in the electronic air cleaner are negatively charged. The negative charge is passed onto the particles that move through the air cleaner.

A second set of plates are positively charged. So the negative airborne particles are attracted to the positive plates.

This air purifier has no filter like you see in a HEPA air purifier.

 

Advantages

  • Filterless.  Permanent type filter so there are no filter replacements
  • May use less energy
  • May be quieter
  • Can be good for odor removal

Disadvantages

  • Poor performance for allergy and asthma sufferers and dust removal
  • As plates become dirty the performance will get worse
  • On the MERV filter rating scale it is considered a MERV 1.  This is the lowest rating.
  • Can produce secondary pollution such as ozone and other gases
  • Requires frequent cleaning. The California Air Resources Board oversees ozone emissions of air purifiers. They state that most people do not properly maintain electronic air purifiers. As a result they can produce even higher levels of ozone. The interaction of ozone in a home has been shown to produce other gases such as formaldehyde.

 

Overall, the electronic air cleaner is not a good solution.  Especially if you are looking to remove allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, etc.

Or if you are looking for fine particle removal for asthma or COPD.

While the appeal of a permanent filter is strong the performance in our testing is poor.

Furthermore, it can introduce safety concerns like secondary pollution such as ozone or formaldehyde.

Ozone and Secondary Pollution

In the electrostatic air purifier reviews, it is important to look at ozone.

As stated above, ozone is a by product of electronic air cleaners.  This is a form of pollution.

Ozone is a lung irritant and you do not want to breathe it in.  With that said there is one area where ozone is effective.

This is in odor removal.  An ozone generator is effective with many odors.

 

One issue with the testing for ozone is that it is not possible to simulate the actual environment. As a result an ionizing component can test safe in a test chamber. But not test the same in a home.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) certifies air purifiers for ozone emissions. According to their research they make several statements. “there is still a need to exercise caution because some devices could produce unhealthful levels of ozone in more realistic conditions…Caution also is warranted because introduction of any amount of ozone into indoor spaces may result in increased levels of formaldehyde, ultra fine particles, and other pollutants due to the reaction of ozone with terpenes and other chemicals emitted from modern consumer products and building materials. Additionally, operation and maintenance practices of air cleaner owners have the potential to significantly impact the amount of ozone produced. Recent survey results indicate that most California air cleaner owners operate their indoor air cleaning devices continuously and year round; however, owners typically do not maintain their devices as instructed by the manufacturer. This can lead to excess ozone generation and greater ozone emissions than observed in the tests reported.”

The state of California passed a law in 2010 on ozone emissions. As a result, there have been fewer electrostatic air purifiers on the market.

 

Conclusion

An electrostatic air purifier uses electrical charges to clean the air.  There are both advantages and disadvantages to this air cleaner.

The main benefit is no filter to replace.

The downside is lower performance and creation of ozone.

 


 

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