Most people never cared about the air quality they inhaled until the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. With most manufacturers claiming that the air purifiers they produce can kill viruses, more people are paying attention. Nonetheless, it helps to wonder what electronic air purifiers are and how they work?
Electronic air purifiers are air filters that eliminate dangerous particles in the air using electrically charged filters. While it’s generally effective at removing particulate matter, it’s not recommended for indoor use, thanks to ozone emissions. If you have asthma or some serious allergies, you’re better off with other types of purifiers.
There are many air purifiers in the market today, with electronic ones receiving most of the backlash. In this article, you’ll learn what electronic purifiers are, how they work, and why so many people don’t recommend them.
What are Electronic Air Purifiers?
Electronic air purifiers, also known as ionizers or electrostatic precipitators, are air filters that run on electricity. They reduce the number of unwanted particles in your home using electrically charged filters after passing through a prefilter.
The specific procedures that an ionizer uses to purify the air are so technical that the average user doesn’t care. However, if you’re part of those that don’t, you can skip down to the advantages and disadvantages, which matter to everyone.
An electronic air purifier constantly generates a Corona discharge to the areas where air passes through into the room. A corona discharge refers to the flow of current into a neutral fluid to create a plasma region. This region will make the large air particles either gain or lose an electron, charging them positively or negatively.
After the charges on these particles change, they get attracted to a set of collector plates in the purifier. These collector plates have negative charges to that of the particles modified by the discharge from the filter. Since opposite charges are known to attract, it’s only logical that the collector plates will naturally attract the pollutants.
When the collector plates attract pollutants over an extended period, the user is expected to remove and clean them. Unfortunately, electronic air filters will eventually stop effective without proper and regular cleaning, failing in their natural task.
The electronic purifiers’ theory may be excellent on paper but is problematic in real-life implementation. While discharging the chemicals required to modify air pollutants, it emits chemicals that may be dangerous to humans.
To avoid starting on a negative note, I’ll outline the advantages of an electronic air purifier in the following section. I’ll also list some of the disadvantages and why you should consider choosing a different air purifying technology.
Advantages of Electronic Air Purifiers
Despite the generally unfavorable perception of electronic air purifiers, many people still use them. The primary reason why people still use them is that they perform certain functions efficiently.
Here are some of the primary advantages of most electronic air purifiers that are still keeping them in the market:
Lessens Asthma Symptoms
Asthma is generally a prevalent condition triggered by impure air, smoke, and dust. To reduce the occurrence of discomforting asthma attacks, most people use air purifiers inside their homes. While it doesn’t matter what kind of air filter you’re using, electronic purifiers have been confirmed to be especially effective.
If you’re asthmatic or live with someone with asthma, you may want to consider getting an electronic air filter. This is even more binding if you have pets, as they release allergens that may cause asthma symptoms to manifest.
Removes Unpleasant Odor
Every smell in your room results from the physical presence of certain particles, even if they’re invisible. So, deductively, the best way to get rid of unpleasant odors is by eliminating the smelly particles in the first place. From everything I’ve said so far, you should know that electronic air purifiers are generally effective at removing unwanted particles.
If your room has a distinct smell that you want to get rid of, you may want to try an electric air purifier. As long as you clean the collector plates regularly, your home should always smell naturally fresh.
Prevents Airborne Diseases
There’s almost no chance of spreading airborne diseases in a home that uses air purifiers correctly, regardless of the type. Airborne diseases spread through microscopic droplets that the average electronic air purifier will quickly catch.
Even if a part of the family manages to contract an airborne disease, everyone would be much safer. The air filters generally catch the droplets before it gets to another person, leaving no chance of any disease transmission.
Easy To Maintain
Almost every point here discusses the usefulness of air filters without emphasising how electronic ones are superior to alternatives. While this is partly because electronic air purifiers are no better, they have unique benefits in certain ways. One of these ways is about maintenance, as electronic air purifiers are easier to maintain than all other alternatives available.
The only kind of maintenance you need to keep your electrostatic precipitator running is cleaning or changing the collector plates. Rest assured, this doesn’t happen very often, as you only need to clean these plates once every three months.
Disadvantages of Electronic Air Purifiers
There are many reasons why the majority of electronic air purifiers are garbage. Especially with the existence of alternatives like HEPA purifiers, there’s no real reason why you’d want an electrostatic precipitator. If you’re collecting information to make a purchase decision, the preceding sentences won’t be much help.
Here are some of the disadvantages of electronic air purifiers to know before buying one:
Produces Harmful Chemicals like Ozone
If you’ve done any preliminary research about electrostatic precipitators, you should know they emit ozone while purifying the air. Ozone is a dangerous chemical to which you shouldn’t expose yourself. Interestingly, most of the particles that an electronic air purifier removes aren’t nearly as damaging as ozone.
According to studies, using an electronic air purifier indoors raises the ozone concentration by six times outdoor levels. Additionally, the generated ozone interacts with the chemical inside your home to create fine particulate pollution. Therefore, if you have several allergies, asthma, or both, you may want to ignore these kinds of purifiers.
They Become Less Efficient Over Time
Depending on who you ask, electrostatic precipitators range from almost ineffective to lowly efficient. One thing everyone can agree on is the fact that these purifiers become less effective at their job over time. Unless you clean them very frequently, you’re leaving lots of particles on the table.
Most manufacturers will claim that cleaning once every three months is sufficient, but studies falsify that claim. Not cleaning your electronic air purifier for a month might be the difference between 60% efficiency and 98% efficiency.
They Only Remove Particles
Electronic air purifiers may remove invisible particles, but it still only removes particles. When it comes to other forms of matter like gas or smoke, there’s not much it can do against those. So if you’re looking for a filter to remove something other than small particles, an electrostatic precipitator won’t be much help.
Are Electronic Air Purifiers Safe?
When you learn that electrostatic precipitators are banned in California, you’ll already have an idea of where this is going. With so many advantages listed in favor of this technology, you may wonder: are electronic air purifiers safe?
In a study by California, it was discovered that electronic air purifiers release ozone during corona discharge. While the ozone they release isn’t enough to kill you suddenly, it’s a legitimate cause for worry. When you add the indoor emissions to what you’re already exposed to, it quickly sums up to a damaging amount.
In addition to ozone, electronic air purifiers also emit formaldehyde which can be detrimental to your health. Formaldehyde is a confirmed carcinogen, a fancy word for anything capable of causing cancer. So if you dread cancer like everyone else, you may want to avoid electronic air purifiers in favor of alternatives.
Most people believe the hate isn’t deserved, as “ozone” is the only argument in an anti-electrostatic precipitator’s dictionary. As a person who knows the potential ozone hazards, however, I can confirm that the hate is well deserved.
Exposure to this chemical, especially in confined spaces, can cause several symptoms over an extended exposure period. These symptoms include shortness of breath, inflammation, chest pain, and cough. Unfortunately, many people hide these symptoms, as they don’t link them to anything dangerous at first.
However, continuous exposure to this chemical may cause long-term problems that are usually irreversible. Permanent damage to the olfactory lobes and lungs isn’t a rare side effect of continuous exposure to ozone indoors.
Summarily, most health professionals generally do not recommend electronic cleaners due to legitimate safety concerns. In some places like California, these air cleaners are entirely banned for the safety of unsuspecting citizens.
While you may argue that most electronic air purifiers don’t emit an instantly damaging amount of ozone, why risk it? Many alternatives have been proven safe, making the choice of an electrostatic precipitator unjustifiable.