Air purifier advertising frustration? How to interpret and buy right
Unlikely. Advertising needs to sell air purifiers. Right? The claims exaggerate the benefits, with the wording always upbeat, never negative and key facts excluded.
It’s hard to know where to start and what to believe. So frustrating. Yet you have to make sense of it because an air purifier is key to your families health.
But all is not lost.
This article explains where advertising is misleading and what is not being said. So, you’ll learn how to interpret the claims made.
With this knowledge, comparing air purifiers becomes a breeze. And you can avoid unwelcome surprises.
Let’s get started.
- 1 When is air purifier advertising misleading?
- 2 What do air purifier advertisements not say about the product?
- 3 How to interpret what advertisements say?
- 4 What else do advertisements say about air purifiers?
- 5 Embrace advertising as your friend.
When is air purifier advertising misleading?
True HEPA Filters vs. HEPA Filters
The US Department of Energy sets a standard for High Efficiency Particulate Air filters (HEPA.) The standard requires they capture at least 99.97% of particulate matter, 0.3 microns and larger.
Often advertising quotes the air purifier has a HEPA filter. And you could be mistaken it meets the standard. But the fine print might say “captures less than 99.97%” or the threshold is “larger than 0.3 microns.” Filters like these do not meet the standard. You must read the detail to check.
Some manufacturers refer, therefore, to “True HEPA filters.” This way they highlight their air purifiers contain genuinely compliant filters. Being compliant means greater effectiveness at removing particulate matter, and making the air in your home cleaner.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHMA) certify their models using the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) rating system. Their advertising quotes the CADR. While not misleading, be aware the rating is only a test for particulate matter. So, the rating does not consider non-particulate contaminants such as gases, airborne viruses, bacteria, and molds.
Moreover, the test results suggest a certainty that is not entirely believable. Consider the nature of the tests performed:
- CADR testing looks at the broad range of particles between 0.1 and 1.0 microns. Most health-damaging particles are .5 microns or less. So, it’s not testing for the more damaging particles.
- The testing is only short-term. It does not assess the impact of continuous use over an extended period. Nor does it test how the quality of maintenance impacts performance.
- Each unit tested is adjusted to the highest air cleaning mode setting. So, the ratings do not include any assessment of effectiveness at lower speeds.
Knowing these limitations, you need to consider the nature of the contaminants you want an air purifier to remove before choosing an air purifier.
The AHMA manufacturers use the CADR testing results to provide guidance on coverage. And these are useful for comparison purposes.
But treat the quoted results with caution. They happen in ideal laboratory conditions. It’s likely the results overstate the capacity of the unit. So, you might want to apply a discounting factor to the quoted room size. For instance, if your room has a capacity of 18m³, you may want to opt for a model with a coverage of 20m³ or even 25m³. That way you’ll know you’re buying an air purifier with sufficient capacity.
What do air purifier advertisements not say about the product?
So, is there any useful information you don’t find in advertising? Or is it either understated or underplayed?
The answer is yes.
Questions about noise are a recurring theme on air purifier review sites.
Advertising material rarely provides decibel ratings for the different speed modes of a model.
And to be fair, this is a tough one for manufacturers. The more air a purifier sucks in, the louder the noise. But an air purifier is more effective processing a larger volume of air.
So, noise is a necessary accompaniment with air purifiers. But, noise doesn’t feature in the ads. It’s one aspect where you may have to grin and bear it for the sake of having cleaner air. Or at least choose the time when you run the unit.
Apart from testing a unit at home, reading reviews and paying attention to noise complaints is the only way to get a feel for the noise a purifier makes.
In California, air purifiers that produce over the minimum level of ozone cannot be sold. But, finding the actual amount of ozone generated is difficult. So, you don’t know whether it’s close to the minimum level or well under.
And outside of California, no restriction exists. So, you can’t know whether an ozone generator is safe, as no ozone levels are reported.
To be safe, choose a purifier type that doesn’t generate ozone at all, such as filters or oxidization-based purifiers. Alternatively, look for a model stating the amount of ozone generated; and use the California law as a guide: Choose a model that produces no more than 0.050 ozone parts per million.
The replacement cycles for filters are a function of your indoor air quality. The dirtier it is, the greater the frequency of replacement. With an increase in frequency cost rises. Advertising often provides the replacement filter model number. But rarely is the cost quoted. You must go searching for that.
Other Missing Information
Often the type and power ratings of the motors used are not provided. So, it is hard to tell what is the likely robustness of the unit’s operation.
Few, if any advertisement, say air purifiers are a supplement to the purifying the air. The first approach is always to eliminate the source of contaminants in the air. Only afterward should you consider how an air purifier is best suited to help.
And you’ll have to work out your lifetime cost estimates. The calculation includes unit cost, filter replacement cost, and electricity. No advertising provides that level of detail.
Many times, the country of manufacture is not given. Not knowing the country is frustrating for those who like to buy home-made.
How to interpret what advertisements say?
Next, we come to what advertising does say about air purifiers that need interpretation:
All ads quote room size. Also, AHAM manufacturers state the CADR. CADR is the basis for calculating room size and are based on 8 feet ceilings. Does your room have higher ceilings? If so, change your calculation of capacity for the different height.
Filter Replacement Cycle
Most advertisements quote the filter replacement cycle. But room air quality and daily operation time both affect filter replacement. Estimating the impact of air quality is difficult. But you know how long each day you’ll run the machine.
To compare models, check the daily operational time used to calculate the replacement cycle. One manufacturer quotes replacement based on 18 hours’ operation per day. Elsewhere in their material, they recommend 24 hours’ non-stop operation. So, you need to adjust the frequency of replacement to reflect the extra running time.
Other manufacturers calculate replacement on a time basis without regard to air quality. It may be that your air filter will last longer than the period quoted because your air is not as dirty. Or vice versa. Again, this requires a change to replacement timings.
Manufacturers advertise the type of technology installed in their air purifiers. They list the air contaminants their unit reduce or remove. Normally this is accurate. But a cautious person would check the technology is appropriate for the contaminants quoted.
What else do advertisements say about air purifiers?
The following information is usually reliable:
- Model Types – General and for specific needs, like best for pets or baby.
- Weight & Dimensions – useful to determine whether you need casters or at least carrying handles if you’ll be moving the air purifier from room to room.
- Technology and Filtration System (Type, Components/Stages)
- Filter details, e.g. whether washable or non-washable
- Fan Speeds
- Wattage, Energy Star Rating
Air purifiers come with many features. Manufacturers emphasize these to differentiate their model from the competition. Unsurprisingly, details of the features are often in greater detail than for the major components.
The features quoted can include:
- Operating/Control Panel
- Mode (Manual or Automatic)
- Sleep Mode
- Filter Change Indicator
- Smart Sensors (Air Quality)
- Remote Control
- Wi-Fi, Timer (Manual or Programmable)
- Child Lock
- Child Lock Indicator
- Carrying Handles
Embrace advertising as your friend.
No longer read air purifier advertisements with frustration.
Because you now know how to use the advertisements to your advantage. Correct?
Check off each model advertisement against the points in the article. Get the data you need to compare models and choose the air purifier right for your family.
Ready to start checking?