We previously released an air purifier buying guide targeted toward home consumers. While much of that advice will still apply, businesses have their own unique needs. Below are 4 questions you (or your facilities/building manager) should ask before investing in air purification.
1. Which Contaminants Does My Business Need to Address? Which Technologies Should I Use to Address Them?
Purification technologies can be sorted into 2 broad categories: passive purification and active purification. Passive purification moves air through an internal mechanism where contaminants are either captured or treated. Meanwhile, active purification treats the air while it is still out in the room.
There are many forms of both active and passive purification. The technology you want to use will depend on the contaminants your organization most needs to address. Layering multiple technologies can be particularly valuable in the workplace, where many of the following contaminants converge.
Particulates are collections of liquid and solid airborne particles exuded by everything from renovations to desk plants. Though there are some active means of removing particulates, the passive method of fibrous filters is the most tried and true.
If you are looking to address small particles (such as air pollution infiltrating your building from the busy roadway outside), you’ll likely want a portable purifier containing a true HEPA filter. If you are looking to address large particles (such as dust, pollen, or some dust mite allergens), you may simply want to use a mid-MERV grade filter in your existing HVAC system.
Pathogens include bacteria, viruses, and sometimes mold spores. Assuming your workspace contains more than a single individual, you’ll want a purifier that addresses pathogens.
As mentioned, passive purifiers need to wait for contaminants to move through an internal mechanism; however, there is no guarantee that pathogens won’t infect people before they even reach such a mechanism. Thus, we recommend using active purification to neutralize pathogens.
New wood flooring, carpets, and furniture in your workspace can release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air. VOCs are a large category of odorous, carbon-based gases, many of which are harmful to human health. VOCs are also produced by working with dyes, paints, and finishes.
Activated carbon filtration is a proven, passive method of VOC and odor removal. In addition, ActivePure is based on a technology that was first created to neutralize VOCs in an enclosed space. Many devices with ActivePure Technology also include an activated carbon filter to address VOCs and odors using a two-pronged approach.
2. Do I Have an HVAC system?
You certainly already know the answer to this question, but it greatly affects your purification options.
- Portable purifiers are an excellent option for those without an HVAC system. Portable purifiers are freestanding appliances ranging from the size of a cell phone to an office printer. They also are excellent when your workspace needs rapid, supplemental purification, since “installing” them means plugging them in and turning them on.
If you have an HVAC system, you may want to explore induct purifiers. Induct purifiers can be quickly installed into your HVAC system, using your building’s existing ventilation to maximum advantage. They are also an excellent space saver. Induct purifiers can take the form of filters, electrostatic precipitators, advanced photocatalytic oxidation (aPCO), and several others.
- (Note that the wrong filter grade can damage your HVAC system if you decide to go with induct fibrous filter purification. See our blog on how to lower HVAC costs for more information.)
- Ceiling purifiers split the difference between portable and induct; they can be installed in or along the ceiling with or without an existing HVAC system. These lack portability but conserve floor space.
3. How Visible Do I Want Purification to Be?
Visible purification reassures your employees/guests/patients/students/customers that you are doing everything you can to ensure the best indoor air quality. As freestanding appliances, portable purifiers are always visible.
However, some companies’ branding might require that purification remain out of sight. Induct purifiers solve this issue automatically. Ceiling tile air purifiers can be a subtle solution as well.
If you decide to go with induct or ceiling units, but you still want your purification to be visible, there are other ways to let customers know. For example, ActivePure created window stickers to let people know they’re in a space protected by our technology.
4. How Large Is the Area I Need to Treat?
Most purifiers should have accompanying manufacturer data stating how large of an area (in cubic feet or meters) the purifier can efficiently cover. Of course, this requires you to know the volume of the room you want to purify, so ask your building manager for this information before you start shopping. Occupancy level can also affect coverage. Depending on your workspace's busyness, size, and infrastructure, multiple units may be necessary.
Keep in mind that most air purifiers are sized for a room with a maximum ceiling height of 8 feet. If your ceiling is higher than this, you may need a more powerful purifier for it to operate as intended.
Next Up: Speaking with Distributors
These are the most important questions any business can ask itself before beginning its search for air purification. Once you begin shopping, however, there are 5 additional questions you’ll need to ask your distributor. (We’ll release this guide on speaking with distributors soon.)
In the meantime, follow us for additional information about how to improve indoor air quality.