The most common bacterial species found in indoor air are Micrococcus, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcacea.
In total, however, it is estimated that there are more than 1,800 different bacteria and viruses floating around in our air.
Air purifiers were created in response to the increase in people experiencing side effects from breathing in these bacteria.
Even those without an allergy or asthma diagnosis can benefit from a good quality air filter in their home.
Many may struggle to understand why they are so expensive with such a wide variety of price points ranging from $50 to $500.
Why Are Air Purifiers So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
1. High-Efficiency Filters
Any quality air purifier will at minimum, contain a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter.
The advantage of a HEPA filter is that it meets the standards of efficiency and purification levels that have been determined by the Department of Energy in the United States.
An air filter that meets these standards can be trusted to provide your home with good quality air while removing a significant number of harmful bacteria and airborne viruses.
The standards these filters must fulfill, as determined by the Department of Energy, include:
- 99.97% of particles that filter through a HEPA filter must be caught
- HEPA filters must be able to remove microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns and larger
Some higher quality air filters far surpass the requirements of the Department of Energy.
These filters may offer even more advantages than a HEPA filter.
When searching for an air purifier, ensure that the purifier houses a HEPA filter at a minimum.
If uncertain, check the brand for the company to determine what air quality standards they meet.
An efficient air filter should capture the smallest size of particles from the air as possible.
As mentioned previously, HEPA filters capture particles as small as 0.3 microns or micrometers.
For a size comparison, the diameter of a single human hair is 70 microns.
The naked eye is able to see as small as 40 microns.
A white blood cell is 25 microns and a red blood cell is eight microns.
Viruses, bacteria, and other chemicals floating throughout the air are made up of a variety of particle sizes.
However, a small bacterium averages about 0.5 microns.
Not all air purifiers are able to capture the same size of particles.
At most, customers should ensure the purifier they are selecting is HEPA certified.
If uncertain, the majority of high-end purifiers will give an estimation of the sizes of particles captured using micrometers.
Many lower-end purifiers do not meet the HEPA standards and will not publicly state what size of bacteria they can capture.
While the visual appearance of an air filter may seem simple, many specific materials must be combined to successfully create an efficient filter.
The raw materials required include:
- Borosilicate glass fibers or plastic fibers made of polypropylene
- An acrylic binder to bind to the glass or plastic fibers
- Plastic case to enclose the filter together
Other filters, such as an electrostatic precipitator also contain materials like:
- A plastic case
- The HEPA filter
- A fan that utilizes electricity to push air through the filter
- Steel wires and steel charging plates
Odor-controlling filters are also equipped with a post-filter.
This filter is made up of activated carbon.
The materials utilized in a variety of filters increase in cost depending on the overall quality of the filter.
4. Manufacturing Process
Once the necessary materials have been gathered, they must be put together in the appropriate way to function successfully as intended.
A. The Case
This process includes melting the materials and utilizing a mold to form the case.
Water is pushed through channels in the mold, which aids in cooling the plastic until it becomes a usable case.
B. The Electric Fan
The fan utilized to push the air throughout the purifier can often be purchased from a retailer that sells small parts.
The fan is composed of steel screws and metal fan blades attached to the collar of an electric motor.
C. The Filter
The filter itself is created by melting glass into small fibers and spun together to form a web.
This is done on a conveyor belt.
The filters can be produced to have a tighter or looser web depending on the speed of the belt.
The filter is eventually formed into an accordion pattern which is enclosed in the case and prevents it from folding in on itself.
D. The Activated Carbon Filter
The activated carbon filter is used in reducing odors in the air.
To create this, raw material (usually a type of foam or cloth) is infused with activated carbon in powder foam.
This carbon filter is installed in the chosen filter, whether it be a HEPA filter, electrostatic precipitator, or other.
5. Waste Created During Production
Beyond the normal materials and assembly process, the disposal of waste materials also plays an impact on the price of the completed air purifiers.
In the creation of the activated carbon filter, there is leftover filter material that must be discarded.
After being installed and utilized in a purifier, these carbon filters can be recycled once worn down.
However, recycling centers often request payment to recycle materials of this sort.
Some may consider this an extra unnecessary burden (both financially and in principle), and so these filters usually end up in a landfill.
In the forming of the plastic cases, there is leftover plastic that must be discarded or recycled if possible.
Ions produced in certain filters (e.g., electrostatic precipitator) are released into the air.
These ions interact with oxygen and therefore can produce ozone at low levels.
At low levels, they are not dangerous.
However, the ongoing accumulation of ozone creates a problem.
HEPA filters have a lifespan of a few years, and due to the frequent air being passed through and the accumulation of particles in the accordion-style filter, they do wear out.
These filters often end up in landfills as they cannot be recycled.
Often, replacement filters are expensive.
Some companies do offer a subscription program to receive new filters on a timely basis for a discounted price.
6. Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)
The measurement of an air purifier’s ability to clean the air that filters through it is called the Clean Air Delivery Rate.
The rating that an air purifier is able to receive is important.
A purifier with a higher rating may sway a customer when determining what brand of air purifier to purchase.
The purifiers with a higher rating are also more expensive to purchase initially, although they will likely last a longer time than a cheaply made alternative.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) created and monitors the CADR standards.
They recommend purchasing an air cleaner with the highest CADR possible, as those purifiers clean the air more often and at a faster rate.
The AHAM created the ⅔ Rule, which states that the CADR of an air purifier should be equal to ⅔ of the room’s area in which it cleans.
AHAM uses the example of a 10 feet by 12 feet room.
The air purifier should have a CADR of 80 or higher.
Additionally, in order for a purifier to have an Energy Star efficiency rating, other CADR expectations must be met.
Higher quality air purifiers will have this rating, which indicates that the dust CADR rating is at minimum twice as high as the highest fan speed.
Again, these will have a higher price point due to the ability to filter dust particles.
7. “Smart” Technology
Technology is constantly advancing.
We now have doorbells that have cameras in them and send alerts to our smartphones when someone approaches.
Some heating and cooling thermostats connect with our smartphones and allow us to select the temperature of our home when we’re not even physically there.
So too has the technology in air purifiers advanced to better suit our continuously advancing society.
There are many “smart” air purifiers today that offer technological advantages like wifi connectivity.
These models connect to the wifi so that they can track the outdoor temperature and humidity.
They also connect to your smartphone with an app that allows the user to control it.
Other models sense the quality of the air in the home and automatically adjust their settings.
With these technological advances comes a higher price tag on the initial purchase.
Additionally, any future upgrades in software or technical issues may require a visit from a serviceman and future unexpected costs.
As well, these models require that the owner have wifi connectivity, which is an additional monthly cost.
8. A Long-Term Warranty Plans
Similar to our vehicles and other significant home purchases, the majority of expensive, high-quality air purifiers are covered by a long-term warranty plan for a specified amount of time.
Higher-end companies also tend to cover more in their warranties than a lower-end device would.
These warranties can be a cost saver when experiencing problems in the future.
Additionally, some brands like Alen Air, offer an exclusive lifetime warranty when signing up for their filter subscription.
This repeating monthly cost may appear to be a burden, but the warranty advantages may save the owner money in the long run.
9. Marketing Tactics
It is important to verify the quality of the purifier, by looking for the ratings described above and by vetting the brand.
Marketing companies are paid to make products look better and more expensive than they are.
Marketing tactics are designed to make air purifiers look sleek and elegant.
To entice the consumer into purchasing for a much higher price than the purifier is actually worth.
Some companies go so far as to add their own technology to make the purifier appear better, without really offering any better air purifying qualities.
For example, LED lighting, compartments to place an air freshener, and handles for easy carrying.
These are all qualities that make the purifier look more appealing to the consumer, but when it comes to the sole purpose of the machine (air quality) it does not have an effect.
The “add-ons” simply provide the company with an incentive to increase the price by a significant amount.
Air quality around the world is declining every year.
Some countries, like India, experience a significant dip in air quality during their winter months.
IQAir is a company that provides real-time air quality information and partners with organizations across the globe to fight against air pollution.
They reported on the most polluted countries in 2021.
According to the company’s rankings, Bangladesh, Chad, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and India had the worst air quality across the globe.
In these countries, and many others, the demand for air purifiers has been increasing in response to the increasingly poor air quality.
Similar to the marketing tactics described above, many companies are taking advantage of the demand to increase their profits.
Many people, especially those who already experience allergies or asthma, are desperate for clean air and are willing to pay whatever is necessary to obtain these air purifiers.
Unfortunately, many are so eager to purchase whatever is available that they do not stop to consider their options and determine which is the better brand.NEXT: Can All Monitors Be Mounted? (Explained)