Air Purifiers vs. Air Conditioners

Today, there are many great appliances available that allow us to control the quality and temperature of the air circulating in our homes, providing us with both comfortable and clean air throughout all seasons of the year.

Unfortunately for many consumers, they just don’t know which type of appliance would be best for their specific circumstances.

For instance, do you know what the difference is between an air purifier and an air conditioner? What purpose do they serve? How are they different? And most importantly, which one is the right product for you?

These are all very common questions among consumers, so in this post we are going to explain how these devices work and how exactly they compare to one another.

Comparing an air purifier to an air conditioner

So, what is an Air Purifier?

As their name suggests air purifiers purify the air in the environment. They achieve this by removing pollutants and particulate matter from the surrounding indoor air. This includes the removal of things like dust, pollen, pet hair and dander and many other “antigens” that may affect air quality or irritate any pre-existing allergies.

For this reason, they are commonly used by people with common health conditions such as asthma, rhinitis and those with other types of allergies such as hay fever.

Types of Air Purifiers

There are several different types of air purifier’s available on the market, each defined by the type of mechanism they use to purify the surrounding air. Here is a basic overview of the different types of air purifiers and how they operate:

Basic or HEPA Air Purifiers

These are the standard types of air purifier that contain some kind of air filter, for example, a HEPA air filter. The air from the room is drawn into the device and passed through the filter, which fulfils the role of trapping any particulate matter in the passing air.

Ionizing Air Purifiers

This type of air purifier relies on the production of ions, but they do not work by trapping the particles. Instead, the charged particles attract neutral particles in the air causing them to become charged. This results in them being attracted to other charged surfaces in the environment, meaning that they are no longer floating in the air but instead stick to surrounding surfaces.

Electrostatic Filters

An electrostatic air purify could be considered a hybrid between a standard and ionizing purifier. Just like an ionizing purifier they work by charging neutral particles in the air, but instead of allowing them to simply stick to surrounding surfaces; they contain a filter that traps them. The plate used in electrostatic purifier’s also does an effective job at killing bacteria and other pathogens in the environment, so does have an added benefit.

What is an Air Conditioner?

As you may have guessed an air conditioner’s job is to condition the air, which is typically thought to be just air temperature, but it can also include the humidity and overall air quality inside your property.

Air conditioning units are typically part of a larger HVAC system, usually including ventilation, ductwork, thermostat and a digital interface, but there are many other varieties too. For example, sliding window air conditioners, which are standalone units installed into windows, as well as portable air conditioners that are designed for activities like camping and/or travelling.

How do Air Conditioners Work?

Air conditioners work by using a refrigerant gas and the principle of heat transfer. Warm air from the surroundings is drawn into the unit where it is cooled down by a refrigerant gas inside of a component referred to as the compressor.

As the gas is pressurized inside the compressor it then passes through tubes where it rapidly transforms into a liquid then back into a gas. This process results in the production of cold air as the heat in the gas rapidly increases, which is then released via an exhaust pipe, leaving behind conditioned, cold air.

The now cold conditioned air is passed over evaporator coils, where it is then circulated back into the living space with the aid of a mechanical fan.

Air Purifiers vs. Air Conditioners: How do They Differ?

As you may have already concluded the main difference between these two popular appliances is that they have two very different functions. Although both work to improve the condition of the air, the role of air purifiers is limited to removing contaminants in the air.

Air conditioners on the hand mostly function to reduce the temperature and humidity of the air. Although it’s worth noting that there are now air conditioning units with built in air purifying systems, such as those that utilize UV lights to kill bacteria, fungi and other potential pathogens.

The majority of air conditioning units also contain filters, which just like standard air purifying units trap contaminants as air passes through the system. However, the main function of the filter in AC’s is to protect internal components from damage as opposed to air purification. Yet, they certainly do trap pollutants that would otherwise end up in the air, but their efficiency and performance in this regard is nowhere near that of an actual air purifying unit.

Concluding Thoughts

So which type of appliance is right for your situation? It really is a simple decision to make, if your main concern is helping to alleviate sinus issues or allergies, an air purifying unit is what you’ll need. However, if you are more concerned about cooling your home and decreasing humidity, then a good quality air conditioner is what you are looking for.