Ionic Air Purifier

Comparison of Top Air Ionizers

In this article we will cover how an ionic air purifier works.  We summarize the advantages and disadvantages of this filterless air purifier.

At the bottom there are links to ionic air purifier reviews.

 

How it works

The ionic air purifier is also referred to as an ion generator or air ionizer.

It is basically half of an electrostatic precipitator.

  • A negative electrical charge is emitted from the ionizer.
  • As airborne particles pass through the air purifier they pick up this negative charge. Then they attach to various surfaces, thus removing them from the air.

Here is a graphic that highlights how it works.

ionic air purifier reviews

 

This seems a little complicated.  However, all it is doing is just sending out an electrical charge into the air.  There is no filter.  It is a true filterless system.

Think about it like a television where the screen has a static charge.  This charge helps to hold the dust onto the screen.

The air ionizer does the same type of thing except it emits the charge into the air in your room.  The idea is that the charges will attach the dust particles.  Then the dust will stick to surfaces and not be in the air.

 

Ionic Air Purifier Advantages

  • Low cost
  • Small size
  • Silent

 

Ionic Air Purifier Disadvantages

  • Poor performance in the removal of pollen, dust, mold, smoke and pet dander.
  • On the filter rating scale it is considered a MERV 1 which is the lowest rating. In comparison, a high efficiency HEPA filter will be up to MERV 18.
  • Potential for creating ozone.

 

Ozone and Secondary Pollution

A concern with an ionic air purifier is the creation of ozone.  Ozone is a gas.  It is also known as O3.

Ozone can work well for odor removal.  The issue is it is a lung irritant.

In our tests we measure particle removal.  We show the results of the efficiency of the air purifier.  We do not have the equipment to test for gases.  This includes the removal of gases and production of ozone.

To compensate for this we review the tests done at leading laboratories and by the government.  We include a summary of their findings.  Although we do not factor gases into our rankings.  But, the ionic air purifier reviews show the filter efficiency.

 

What is an Ion?

Remember electrons and protons from high school physics?

If you are like most, the answer is no.  Anyways, don’t worry we will make it simple.

An electron is a negative charge.  A proton is a positive charge.

An ion means the number of electrons and protons are not the same for a molecule.  This means it has either a positive or a negative charge.

You have experienced this charge if you have ever felt a shock in cold, dry weather.

Anyways, for an air purifier what is emitted is a negative charge.  A negative ion is sometimes called an anion.

 

HEPA Air Purifiers with Ionizers

In our testing we have noticed that many HEPA air purifiers have an ionizer function.  Even though these models have an ion function we do not consider them true ionizers since the HEPA filter is the main way they filter the air.

The ionization is a way to improve the particle removal ability of the HEPA filter.

It consists of a low powered ion brush.  What it does it emit negative ions into the air.

Some models give you the ability to turn off the ionizer while others do not.  In our opinion it’s better to have the option to turn it off.

In reading reviews, we have found several people like the ionizer.  However, for some that are very sensitive to smells they did not like it.

With that said, we have not come across a HEPA air purifier that does not meet the strict California ozone requirements.  Each model is required to be tested to emit little to no ozone and within what is considered safe by the FDA.

 

Conclusion

Ionic air purifiers send out a charge.  This charge attaches to airborne particles with the goal of cleaning the air.

If you are looking for allergy or asthma relief or the removal of dust then an ionic air purifier is probably not the best choice. You would be better off with a HEPA air purifier.  You can also see do air purifiers work.

Since the state of California passed a law in 2010 to regulate ozone emissions there have been fewer ionic air purifiers sold as a result of concern for secondary pollution.