Air Purifier Vs Air Filter – What’s the Difference in 2024

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Did you know that the average person spends about 90% of their time indoors? With that in mind, it’s crucial to ensure the air you breathe is clean and healthy.

That’s where the debate between air purifiers and air filters comes into play. Both have their advantages and can significantly improve your indoor air quality, but which one is right for you?

In this article, we will explore the key differences between air purifier vs air filter, their functions, and the pros and cons of each.

So, if you’re looking to create a fresh and breathable environment in your home or office, keep reading to discover the best solution for your needs.

Difference between an Air Purifier and an Air Filter

When comparing an air purifier to an air filter, it’s important to understand the key differences between the two.

Air filters are designed to catch large airborne particles and keep HVAC systems clean, while air purifiers go a step further by removing or neutralizing harmful contaminants that standard air filters cannot. They also remove particles like dust mites, pollen, mold spores, carpet fibers, lint, and are specifically recommended for maintaining HVAC system cleanliness and trapping larger particles.

On the other hand, air purifiers use various technologies to improve indoor air quality. They can remove impurities such as pet dander, dust, pollen, smoke, and biological contaminants. Air purifiers may also sanitize the air by zapping viruses and pathogens. They use methods like UV light, ionic or electrostatic filters, or a combination of these to trap particles and gases.

Air purifiers are especially useful for removing finer particles, neutralizing odors, and improving overall indoor air quality.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Air Purifier

LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home Allergies Pets Hair in Bedroom, Covers Up to 1095 ft² by 45W High Torque Motor, 3-in-1 Filter with HEPA sleep mode, Remove Dust Smoke Pollutants Odor, Core300-P, White

Levoit Vital 200-S Smart Air Purifier

Exceptional filtration performance

Whisper Quiet Technology for undisturbed sleep.

Sleek design that blends into any home decor.

Best Overall Air Filter

Filtrete 20x20x1 Air Filter, MPR 300, MERV 5, Clean Living Basic Dust 3-Month Pleated 1-Inch Air Filters, 6 Filters

Filtrete 20x20x1 Air Filter

6-pack of filters for extended use.

Captures unwanted particles for a cleaner home environment.

Works with various heating and cooling systems.

Levoit Core 300-P Air Purifier

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – Exceptional filtration performance with a 99.97% efficiency for ultrafine particles.

Reason #2 – Whisper Quiet Technology for undisturbed sleep

Reason #3 – Sleek design that blends into any home decor

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – Replacement filters are specific to Levoit brand.

For those seeking the best overall air purifier, the Levoit Core 300-P Air Purifier is an excellent choice with its high-performance filtration and sleek design.

With a powerful 45W long-life high-torque motor, this purifier can effectively clean the air in a 1,095 ft² space once per hour.

The Levoit Original Filter is HEPA-grade and has a 99.97% filtration efficiency for ultrafine particles as small as 0.1~0.3μm, including pollen, dust, and animal dander allergens. This filtration performance has been independently tested and proven.

Additionally, the Core 300-P features Whisper Quiet Technology, reducing noise levels to a near-silent 24dB in sleep mode for undisturbed rest.

Its sleek design, awarded the Red Dot in 2020, allows it to seamlessly blend into any home or bedroom decor.

Choose the Levoit Core 300-P Air Purifier for the best overall air purification experience.

Best For: Those who want a high-performance air purifier with a sleek design.

Product Dimensions8.7″D x 8.7″W x 14.2″H
Floor Area1095 Square Feet
Specification MetEnergy Star Certified, ETL Certified, CARB Certified, EPA Certified
Noise Level24 dB
Particle Retention Size0.3 Micron
Controller TypeTouch
Wattage45 watts
Item Weight7.48 pounds

Filtrete 20x20x1 Air Filter

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – 6-pack of filters for extended use.

Reason #2 – Captures unwanted particles for a cleaner home environment.

Reason #3 – Works with various heating and cooling systems.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – Slightly different dimensions from nominal size.

The Filtrete 20x20x1 Air Filter is the best choice for those looking to improve the air quality in their home. With its 3-month pleated design, this 6-pack of filters helps capture unwanted particles from your household air, contributing to a cleaner and fresher home environment.

The filter’s dimensions are slightly different from the nominal size, measuring 19.69 x 19.69 x 0.81. It’s designed with exclusive Filtrete 3-in-1 technology, which pulls in and traps unwanted particles, allowing cleaner air to flow through. With a 300 MPR and MERV 5 rating, this filter effectively captures many particles from the air passing through it.

It’s versatile and can be used for changing the air filters in your furnace, air conditioner/heating system, or HVAC system. To ensure optimal performance, it’s recommended to change the filter at least once every 90 days. Plus, you can subscribe and save up to 10% on your orders when you set up a delivery schedule.

Best For: Those looking to improve the air quality in their home.

MaterialElectrostatically charged filter media
Product Dimensions20″L x 20″W x 1″Th
MERV Rating5
Compatible DevicesAir Conditioner, Furnace
Item Weight0.61 Pounds

How does an air filter work and what contaminants does it remove?

Air filters work by trapping particles such as dust mites, pollen, mold spores, carpet fibers, and lint from the air. They play a crucial role in improving indoor air quality by removing various contaminants.

Here’s a list of pollutants that air filters can effectively remove:

  1. Dust mites: These microscopic creatures are a common allergen and can cause respiratory issues.
  2. Pollen: Airborne pollen from plants and trees can trigger allergies and worsen symptoms in individuals with respiratory conditions.
  3. Mold spores: Mold can grow in damp and humid environments, releasing spores that can lead to allergies and respiratory problems.
  4. Pet dander: Allergens from pet fur, feathers, and skin can linger in the air, causing discomfort for those sensitive to them.

Can I upgrade my air filter to capture more pollutants?

Consider upgrading your air filter to capture a wider range of pollutants and improve indoor air quality. Upgrading your air filter can be a simple and effective way to enhance the air purification process in your home.

One option is to upgrade to a filter with a higher Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. Filters with higher MERV ratings can capture smaller particles, including allergens, dust, pet dander, and tobacco smoke.

For even better filtration, you may consider investing in a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. HEPA filters have MERV ratings of 17 to 20 and are highly effective in removing airborne particles.

Another option is to pair your upgraded air filter with an air purifier. Air purifiers, equipped with technologies like UV light or electrostatic filters, can further sanitize the air and remove harmful pathogens and gases. Additionally, carbon filters can help eliminate odors and chemicals from the air.

Common types of air filters


Upgrading your air filter can significantly enhance the air purification process in your home, and understanding the common types of air filters available is essential. Here are four common types of air filters to consider for your air purifier or furnace:

  1. Activated carbon filters: These highly porous filters are excellent at trapping a wide range of pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They’re particularly effective in eliminating odors and harmful gases from the air.
  2. Fiberglass filters: These disposable filters are designed to capture particles in layers of fiberglass material. They’re cost-effective and can effectively filter out larger particles such as dust and pet dander.
  3. HEPA filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters are renowned for their high efficiency in trapping 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. They’re extremely effective in removing airborne particles that can trigger allergies and respiratory issues.
  4. Washable filters: These filters can be cleaned and reused, making them a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. They’re capable of filtering out larger particles and can be a good choice for those who want to reduce their environmental impact.

Understanding the different types of air filters available can help you choose the right one for your specific indoor air quality needs. Whether you opt for activated carbon filters, high-efficiency particulate air filters, or other types, upgrading your air filter will help ensure clean air and a healthier living environment.

How Air Purifiers and what contaminants does it remove?

When it comes to air purifiers, there are several types that can effectively remove contaminants from the air:

  • UV light air purifiers use ultraviolet light to neutralize mold spores and bacteria.
  • Ionic air purifiers bond particles to negatively charged ions, removing viruses, bacteria, and pollen.
  • UV/catalyst ionizing hybrid air purifiers which are prominent in reducing bacteria, viruses, odors, and mold.

These different types of air purifiers offer various methods to target and eliminate specific contaminants, ensuring cleaner and healthier air in your space.

RELATED: The Best Wall Plug-in Air Purifiers in 2024

UV Light Air Purifiers

UV light air purifiers are highly effective in neutralizing harmful airborne contaminants, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores, that standard air filters are unable to remove. Here’s a list to help you understand how UV light air purifiers work and what they can do for your indoor air quality:

  1. UV light air purifiers use ultraviolet (UV) light to kill or deactivate microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, and mold spores.
  2. These purifiers are particularly effective in treating the air particles that pass through your HVAC system, ensuring that the air circulating throughout your home is clean and safe.
  3. UV light air purifiers can be installed as part of a whole-house air purification system or used as portable devices in specific rooms.
  4. By neutralizing harmful contaminants, UV light air purifiers can greatly improve air quality, reducing the risk of respiratory illnesses and allergies.

Investing in a UV light air purifier can be a great way to enhance the effectiveness of your air filtration system and ensure improved indoor air quality.

Ionic Air Purifiers

Ionic air purifiers use negatively charged ions to effectively remove particles like viruses, bacteria, and pollen from the air by bonding them to the ions. Unlike traditional air filters, which rely on physical filtration, ionic air purifiers work by emitting ions that attach to contaminants in the air.

These purifiers are particularly useful for improving indoor air quality and are effective in neutralizing harmful contaminants that may be difficult for standard air filters to capture. Ionic air purifiers are also efficient in removing odors and can be beneficial for individuals with allergies, asthma, or respiratory issues.

Additionally, these purifiers don’t rely on filters, making them low maintenance and cost-effective for long-term use. Whether in a small room or larger spaces, ionic air purifiers can help remove particles and improve indoor air quality in various settings.

Uv/Catalyst Ionizing Hybrid Air Purifiers

After exploring the benefits of ionic air purifiers, let’s now shift our focus to the effectiveness of UV/catalyst ionizing hybrid air purifiers in removing a wide range of contaminants and enhancing indoor air quality. These hybrid air purifiers, such as the REME HALO, utilize a combination of UV light, catalyst, and ionizing technologies to neutralize harmful contaminants and provide comprehensive air purification.

Here’s what they can remove:

  1. Bacteria and viruses: The UV light in these purifiers effectively reduces bacteria and viruses, helping to create a healthier indoor environment.
  2. Odors: The catalyst technology helps to eliminate unpleasant odors, such as those caused by cooking, pets, or smoke, improving the air quality in your home.
  3. Mold: The UV light and catalyst work together to target mold spores, inhibiting their growth and preventing mold-related issues.
  4. Allergens and particles: These hybrid purifiers are particularly effective at targeting a wide range of airborne particles, including dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens, ensuring cleaner and fresher air.

Do You Need Both an Air Filter and an Air Purifier?

If you want to ensure the cleanest and healthiest air in your home, it’s important to consider to have both an air filter and an air purifier. While they’ve some similarities, there are key differences between the two that make them complementary in improving indoor air quality.

An air filter, typically used in HVAC systems, is designed to catch larger airborne particles such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. It helps to remove these pollutants, but it may not be sufficient in addressing finer particles and dangerous fumes that can impact respiratory health.

On the other hand, an air purifier goes beyond filtering the air. It also sanitizes it by eliminating harmful contaminants like bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Air purifiers use various technologies such as UV light, ionic filters, or a combination of methods to trap and neutralize these pollutants. They’re particularly beneficial for individuals with respiratory health concerns or those seeking the cleanest air possible.

Frequently Asked Questions: Air Purifier vs Air Filter

What is the difference between an air purifier and an air filter?

An air purifier is a device designed to remove particles from the air, whereas an air filter is a component primarily used in HVAC systems to trap large particles from the circulating air.

Are air purifiers and air filters interchangeable terms?

No, they are not. While both are utilized for cleaning the air, an air purifier focuses on enhancing the quality of the air by removing contaminants, whereas an air filter mainly targets large particles to prevent them from entering the HVAC system.

How do air cleaners and air purifiers differ in their functions?

Air cleaners generally refer to all devices used to clean the air, including air purifiers, which specifically work to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the air inside a space.

What role do portable air cleaners play in improving indoor air quality?

Portable air cleaners are designed to remove particles from the air and assist in enhancing the quality of the air in a specific location, such as a room or office.

How does air filter vs air purifier selection impact indoor air pollution?

The choice between an air filter and an air purifier can significantly impact the reduction of indoor air pollution, as each device is tailored to address specific contaminants.

Can residential air quality be improved with air cleaners or air purifiers?

Both air cleaners and air purifiers can contribute to enhancing the quality of the air in a residential setting. These devices are designed to remove pollutants such as dust, smoke, pet dander, and pollen from the air, leading to cleaner and healthier indoor air for occupants. However, it is important to choose high-quality air cleaners or purifiers that are appropriate for the size of the space and effectively filter out the specific pollutants of concern.

Can an air purifier be used with an air conditioner?

Yes, an air purifier can be used in conjunction with an air conditioner to further improve the indoor air quality. While an air conditioner is primarily responsible for cooling the air, an air purifier focuses on removing particles from the air to provide cleaner air.

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Ira Njoroge

Hey, I’m Ira Njoroge, the founder of MySpaceAffair. Early on in my life, I had a passion to embark on a mission to create a cleaner, and more organized household. With a bachelor's degree in engineering after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2015 and seven years as a General Contractor and professional cleaner, on top of my DIY Enthusiasm. I saw the need for a reliable information source for homeowners. My passion, diligence, experience, and hired professionals confirms the reliability of all the advice given in My Space Affair and I hope to provide you all with reliable and thorough content!