Air Purifier vs Air Filter: Which One is Better for Your Needs?

Choosing between an air purifier vs air filter can be a bit tricky. This is because both of them work to reduce the pollutants. So which one to choose and why? Don’t worry, I am here to help you make a well-informed decision. Read on to find which one is a better pick. Let’s get started!

Quick Answer

While both devices aim to enhance the air we breathe, there are distinct differences between an air filter vs purifier.

Here is a rundown of a quick comparison between the duo:

  • Air purifiers use various technologies, such as HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, UV lights, ionizers, or ozone generators, to capture microorganisms.
  • In contrast, air filters are usually installed in the HVAC system or the furnace of a building and cleanse the air that passes through them.

But, there’s more to this ultimate comparison. Continue reading to learn about the pros and cons of each device, how they differ in various aspects, what types of air purifiers and air filters are available, and which one you need.

Let’s dive deeper into each one.

Positives and Negatives of Air Purifiers

Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a purifier.

  • High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters for superior performance.
  • Elimination of odors and chemicals.
  • Allergy relief and improved respiratory health.
  • Bacteria and virus elimination with UV-C light technology.
  • Air purifiers filter require regular replacements to maintain optimal performance.
  • Expensive as compared to its counterpart.

Positives and Negatives of Air Filters

Now that I have covered the benefits and drawbacks of purifiers, let’s see what air filter has to offer:

  • Prevent the accumulation of dust and debris within the HVAC system, ensuring its optimal performance.
  • Capture airborne particles, preventing them from circulating within the living space.
  • Minimizing the risk of respiratory issues and improving overall comfort.
  • Prevent the build-up of contaminants within the HVAC system.
  • Limited efficiency as compared to air purifiers.
  • In most cases, these are limited to large particles of pollutants.

Air Purifiers vs Air Filters: Uncovering the Distinctions Between These Cleaners

Air filters are rectangular devices:

  • With a material mesh that captures particles as the air passes through them.
  • They fit into your HVAC system and filter larger particles such as dust, lint, and pet dander.

Purifiers, on the other hand:

  • Separate devices clean the air with much more effectiveness. These can capture bacteria, mold spores, and VOCs.
  • They also offer advanced filtration technology.
air purifier vs air filter distinctions

It is crucial to understand the differences between air purifier vs air filter when you have plans to enhance your home’s air filtration system or seeking the best option for combating allergies and respiratory issues.

Let’s explore their functionalities and the work behind improving indoor air quality.

An Insight Into the Air Filters

Air filters play a vital role in removing pollutants, such as dust, mold, bacteria, and allergens. They work by capturing particles as air passes through them, employing various filtration methods (HEPA, UV, and activated carbon) and materials.

Read Also: Best Budget Air Purifiers: 9 Top Affordable Models of 2023

What are the Common Types?

Let’s examine some standard varieties of air filters:

types of air filters

1. Fiberglass Filters

Cost-effective and widely used, fiberglass filters consist of layered fibers that effectively capture larger particles. However, their efficiency decreases when it comes to filtering smaller contaminants.

To learn more, watch this video:

YouTube video

2. Pleated Filters

Featuring a larger surface area and higher particle capture efficiency than fiberglass, pleated filters are particularly effective in capturing smaller particles. They are available in different levels of filtration, ranging from basic to high-efficiency options.

Want to know more about this one? Check this video out:

YouTube video

3. Electrostatic Filters

These filters employ synthetic fibers that create an electrostatic field, effectively attracting and trapping airborne contaminants. This results in a significant improvement in indoor air quality.

For more info watch the video:

YouTube video

4. HEPA Air Filter

Renowned for its superior filtration capabilities, High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA )excels in capturing particles that are minute as much as 0.3 microns with utmost efficiency. Their highly dense and intricate fabric structure works effectively in reducing allergens, mold spores, and other harmful pollutants.

This video will show how this filter actually works:

YouTube video

5. Washable Filters

The most cost-effective option to use a filter can be washable ones. They are able to remove any kind of pollutants and are ideal for regular maintenance and easy cleaning.

For more insights, watch this video.

YouTube video

Read Also: 8 Best Air Purifier with Washable Filter in 2023

6. Activated Carbon Filter

Activated carbon filters come equipped with a highly porous design and are excellent at trapping matter. They are often used as secondary or pre-filters due to their ability to remove odors and absorb certain gases.

Here’s the helpful video with further insights.

YouTube video

7. Media Filters

Media filters offer better benefits compared to standard filters when using an HVAC system.

  • They offer high filtration levels without compromising airflow or static pressure.
  • With a larger surface area, they effectively filter bacteria and small airborne pollutants.
  • They are easy to maintain, cost-effective, and require replacement only once or twice a year.

Please watch the video for more info:

YouTube video

8. Spun Glass Filters

Spun glass filters, commonly used in HVAC systems, are cost-effective and disposable.

  • They provide protection against large particles and dust for greater longevity of air conditions and cleaners.
  • While they might not be the best option for medical grade filtration, they serve as an efficient and affordable option for general filtration.

Check out this video for a better understanding:

YouTube video

Everything You Need to Learn About How Air Filters Work

Air filters operate by drawing in air and passing it through a series of filters to trap pollutants. Let’s understand the basic stages of purification:

  • Stage 1 – The impure air in the environment is drawn into the unit in order to capture pollutants.
  • Stage 2 -Once the particles are captured, the filter’s structure prevents them from passing through, effectively separating them from the clean air. This process allows the filtered air to continue through the ventilation system, while the trapped particles remain in the filter.
  • Stage 3 – After the complete filtration, the purified air is released back.

To see which air filter suits best your needs, watch this helpful video here.

YouTube video

What Can the Air Filters Effectively Cleanse?

Air filters can filter a variety of airborne particulates. These include:

  • Animal hair,
  • Smoking residue,
  • Flower dust,
  • Tiny bugs,
  • Dirt,
  • Charcoal,
  • Fungi,
  • Soil particles,
  • Fire ashes,
  • Mold colonies.
What can the Air Filters Effectively Cleanse

Now that I have covered everything you need to know about air filters.

Let’s dive into the world of purifiers and discover how they can significantly enhance the air quality in your space.

Exploring The Air Purifiers in Detail

Purifiers help to achieve a clean environment and improve the quality of the air we breathe. This is done by effectively removing pollutants and contaminants from the atmosphere, making the indoor environment healthier and more comfortable.

In this section, I will explore the different types of air purifiers, their functionalities, and how they work to provide purified air.

What are the Common Types?

Let’s explore some most known types of purifiers:

types of air purifiers

1. Ionic Air Purifiers

Ionic air purifiers utilize the mechanism of an electrical field that either positively or negatively charges the ions in the air.

  • These charged ions allow themselves to be attached to bacteria, viruses, or other contaminants present in the air.
  • The opposite charge within the purifier effectively removes them from the air by attacking them.

For more insights, check out this detailed video.

YouTube video

Read Also: Best Ionic Air Purifier: Pick from 11 Industry-leading Units

2. Adsorbent Purifiers

Adsorbent cleaners use preactivated carbon filters in order to absorb the particles captured by the unit.

  • The material used in activated carbon is highly porous, which increases its surface area, allowing it to effectively trap a wide range of molecules and remove them from the air.
  • This type of purifier is especially useful in eliminating odors and absorbing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • These purifiers are ideal for anyone who is sensitive to smell.

3. UV Light Purifiers

Ultraviolet radiation is used by light purifiers to render microorganisms sterile and harmless. UV light destroys the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, preventing them from reproducing and effectively neutralizing their presence in the air.

Here’s a detailed video covering everything you need to know:

YouTube video

Unveiling the Magic of How Air Purifiers Work

Air purifiers come in different sizes, colors, and varying degrees of filtration levels.

Here is a general overview of how a 3-stage filtration air purifier operates:

  • Stage 1 – Intake of Impure Air: This step involves drawing in impure air through the vent.
  • Stage 2 – Trapping Particles by Filtration: Once the air gets drawn in, the particles get trapped by a fine mesh of the pre-filter. Later on, the HEPA filter removes smaller micro-organisms.
  • Stage 3 – Removal of Unpleasant Smells: After the larger particles have been filtered out. The deodorizer of the activated carbon filter effectively neutralizes these odors so you can enjoy fresh clean air.
  • Stage 4 – Enhancing Air Quality Further through Additional Purification: Some advanced high-end purifiers also use special tools like ionizers and UV light to get rid of minute bacteria and viruses. This acts as an extra layer of protection against your line of defense against poor air quality.
  • Stage 5 – Outflow of Fresh Clean Air: In the final stage, the purified air is circulated outward to maintain a fresh environment.

Depending on the no. of filters and stages, the process may look different in the purifier that you own. Want to know more about air purifiers, I have got you covered. See this informative video to learn more.

YouTube video

What Do They Have to Offer You?

Purifiers can have several benefits for people who suffer from seasonal allergies, sinus problems, asthma, or unpleasant odors.

Some key advantages include:

what air purifiers offer

  • Relieving season-induced allergies and sinus issues: Individuals which allergies often get triggered with an itchy nose, red swollen eyes, and congested sinuses. An air purifier can solve all these problems by removing pollen.
  • Managing asthma symptoms: If you have a high dust particle count in your home, your family members with asthma might get frequent attacks by dust particles, smoke, chemical, and pet dander. Purifiers can help manage asthma symptoms by effectively removing these triggers from the air.
  • Eliminating odors: In order to get rid of unpleasant odors that may arise discomfort and annoyance. You should use an air purifier with an activated carbon filter to get rid of that particular stinking smell from pets, cooking smells, or ashy smoke odor from cigarettes.

To learn more about the working of purifiers, go through this comprehensive guide I made.

What Can Air Purifiers Effectively Filter?

Air purifiers are devices that can remove various pollutants and contaminants from the air.

Some examples of airborne particles and substances that air cleaner can effectively remove are:

  • Pet hair and skin flakes,
  • Plant spores,
  • Microorganisms,
  • Mold and mildew,
  • Cigarette smoke,
  • Dust mites,
  • Dirt,
  • Fungi,
  • Textile fibers,
  • Volcanic ash.
What can Air Purifiers Effectively Filter

By capturing and removing these pollutants, purifiers contribute to cleaner and healthier indoor air quality.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between Air Purifiers vs Air Filtration

The demand for effective solutions for improving indoor air quality has led many people to consider investing in air purifiers or air filters. However, when it comes to selecting the best option, it’s important to understand the nuances and make an informed decision.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between Air Purifiers vs Air Filtration

1. Limitations of High-Rated MERV Filters for HVAC Systems

Higher-rated MERV air filters have long been perceived as the go-to solution for improving indoor air quality.

  • However, recent studies have shown that they may not be as effective as initially thought.
  • While they can filter out some airborne contaminants, they are not as efficient in capturing smaller particles, including viruses and bacteria.
  • Additionally, the use of high-rated MERV filters can negatively impact the performance of HVAC systems, leading to decreased airflow and potential strain on the system.

2. Why You Need to Invest in an Air Purifier

For a more comprehensive cleaning of indoor air, purifiers are the way to go.

  • From various types of airborne particles like pet dander, pathogens, bacteria, VOCs, and dust mites. These devices can capture and remove these microbes from the air.
  • These air cleaners employ a variety of mechanisms for the best indoor environment by using HEPA filters, Pre-Filters, Ionizers, and activated carbon filters.

3. Scalability and Affordability of Air Purifiers

One of the best things about air purifiers is that they are scalable.

  • These systems come in various sizes and capabilities, making them suitable for any square footage, from small rooms to large commercial spaces.
  • They provide a long-term investment that yields continuous benefits without putting a considerable dent in budgets or grant funding.

Using Both Air Filters and Air Purifiers

While air purifiers are highly effective on their own, there are situations where combining them with air filters can provide an even more comprehensive solution.

Using Both Air Filters and Air Purifiers

  • The high-MERV air filter acts as a first line of defense, capturing larger particles and preventing them from circulating in your indoor air.
  • By complementing it with an air purifier, which can capture smaller particles down to 0.3 microns or even smaller, ensuring cleaner and healthier air for you and your loved ones.


Air Cleaner vs Air Purifier: 3 Important Differences

The Truth About Home Air Filters: 5 Important Facts to Know


What is a better air purifier or an air filter?

Air purifiers are better as they provide more comprehensive filtration capturing smaller particles. Air filters capture larger particles as the air passes through them.

Are air filters the same as air purifiers?

No, they are not the same. Air filters are part of your HVAC system that capture large particles. Air purifiers are specialized devices for purifying smaller particles and providing odor reduction.

Do I need an air purifier if I have an air filter?

It depends on how clean you want your indoor air to be and what kind of pollutants you are concerned about. Air filters can help reduce dust, pollen, mold spores, and other large particles. Air purifiers can help remove smaller pollutants and improve your indoor air quality.

What’s the difference between a filter and a purifier?

A filter is a fixture that traps particles as the air passes through it. A purifier is a device that eliminates contaminants using electricity, ionization, UV light, or other methods


When choosing between the two air cleaners, consider your specific requirements, room size, tolerance to noise, and budget. Both of them are excellent choices when it comes to purifying your home’s air.

If you believe that even a medium-level air filtration in your home is enough and want to save some money, then opting for air filters is definitely the way to go. But, if you want cleaner air and utmost purification, then putting your money in the air purifier is the right thing to do.

Personally, I would recommend combining a purifier with a filter to ensure the highest level of air filtration.