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Air purifiers: Filter out airborne hazards

Clean up: (from left) The Honeywell Air Touch; Eureka Forbes Aeroguard with Acton; and Sharp FP-F30E-H.

Clean up: (from left) The Honeywell Air Touch; Eureka Forbes Aeroguard with Acton; and Sharp FP-F30E-H.

You can’t do much about the polluted air outside, but you can breathe a little cleaner air in your home. Here are some air purifiers that can help.

Clean air is in short supply, thanks to all the unseen particulate matter floating around. According to data released recently by the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi is in the “severe” pollution category, while Chandigarh has alarmingly high levels of particulate matter. The situation is pretty similar in many other parts of the country.

Now that winter is setting in, cooler air closer to the ground level traps smoke and other particulates, worsening air quality. The smoke from Diwali firecrackers will remain suspended in the air longer; smog conditions in certain parts of north India are already making it difficult for people to breathe. And, unfortunately, the situation isn’t much better indoors.

But while you cannot really do much about the outdoor air, air purifiers can help improve the quality of air indoors to some extent. They cannot remove carbon monoxide or propane, but can filter out pollutants like particulate matter, aldehydes, chlorinated hydrocarbons, ethers, esters, ketones, halogens and sulphur dioxide.

Why invest in an air purifier?

If you keep the windows closed, particularly at night, the bedroom could have too much carbon dioxide a few hours after you’ve fallen asleep. If you open the windows, you are letting in the polluted outdoor air.

An indoor air purifier can help trap allergens and viruses, allowing cleaner air to reach your lungs.

We had tested some air purifiers in summer. New devices have come in since, tweaked for Indian conditions. There is greater emphasis on the thickness of each filter and fan speeds have been boosted for quicker clean air output. To make the buying decision easier, we have broken this down into the typical room sizes found in modern-day homes, and identified which purifiers work better in each.

For the study room

The ideal air purifier for most study rooms should be powerful enough to clean room sizes up to 250 sq. ft (23.2 sq. m.).

Known for its air conditioners and home appliances, Carrier Midea has also added air purifiers to the line-up. The MAPTT253EBN (Rs.12,999) has a three-filter set-up—pre-filter, HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) filter and activated carbon filter—as well as an ionizer to remove odour and pollen particles, and quickly cleans smaller-sized rooms. This has an extremely high maximum Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 270 cu. m. per hour (m3/h).

Then there is Sharp’s FP-F30E-H (Rs.19,000), which comes with the Plasmacluster Ion technology—this replicates the positive and negative ions found in nature. These ions float around the room, attaching themselves to mould and viruses—they draw out the hydrogen on the bacteria surface, breaking down its proteins. This purifier has a more compact form factor. The design is such that it pulls in air through the back, which means you cannot place it against a wall.

For the bedroom

The bedrooms in most modern-day apartments are usually 250-350 sq. ft, which is well within the range of most purifiers.

The Eureka Forbes Aeroguard with Acton (Rs.12,990) is a powerful purifier, with a maximum CADR of 205 m3/h, and also includes a negative ion generator—negative ions are created in nature by water, air, sunlight and the earth’s inherent radiation, and clear the air of dust, mould spores, pollen, pet dander, odours and cigarette smoke. The Aeroguard with Acton improves the bedroom air quickly, and works well even if outdoor air is coming in. The niggle is that the unit works only with a wireless remote control, and there are no hardware keys on the device itself.

Indian company Atlanta Healthcare has the Beta 350 (Rs.14,950), which surprised us with its tremendous attention to detail. Unlike Philips purifiers, which use the traditional air-conditioner air filter as the pre-filter, and Panasonic purifiers, which integrate the pre-filter in other filters, Atlanta Healthcare uses a very fine washable fabric pre-filter. It captures dust, and that enhances the life of the next layer of filters in the purifier, particularly in our dusty environment.

The Beta 350 is best at maintaining the room’s humidity levels because it has a glass fibre HEPA filter. This is good news for users who tend to suffer from a dry throat in winter. It has a fairly high 225 m3/h CADR too.

Carrier Midea’s MAPFS331ECL (Rs.18,990) has a comparatively lower, 170 m3/h CADR, which means it takes a few minutes longer to clean the same room size than the Eureka Forbes Aeroguard with Acton. This, however, shouldn’t be a problem since these devices will ideally be running the entire day. The MAPFS331ECL is also the simplest to use and packs in all the features—ionizer, sleep timer, and a three-filter set-up.

For the living room

For bigger rooms upwards of 350 sq. ft, be they living, dining or home theatre spaces, the speed at which a purifier delivers clean air matters more. Which is why, the higher the CADR, the better.

The Eureka Forbes Aeroguard with Acton Advance (Rs.21,990) can deliver a maximum 500 m3/h CADR. That makes it among the most powerful home air purifiers—yet the fans cannot be called noisy. This also has a Nano-Photocatalytic Filter, which eliminates toxic gases better than standard carbon filters.

Honeywell’s Air Touch (Rs.24,490) is the best-looking air purifier, especially the one that comes in a champagne gold colour. The 300 m3/h CADR cleaned the air in a 400 sq. ft room in 15 minutes, even though the company claims a maximum efficiency area of 270 sq. ft. The air is pulled in from the sides, and exits through the big vent at the top. The beautiful air quality LED display switches between red, yellow and blue, depending on the purity of the air. It will indeed look good in the living room.