What are Air Filters and How Do They Work?

Learn about what air filters are and how they work to reduce pollutants like pollen, smoke, pet dander, bacteria, dust mites & more.

What are Air Filters and How Do They Work?

Air and HVAC filters are designed to filter out contaminants or pollutants from the air that passes through them. Cleaning and filtering the air can help reduce the amount of pollutants in the air, including particles that contain viruses. Portable air purifiers (also known as air purifiers) can be particularly useful when additional ventilation with outdoor air is not possible without compromising indoor comfort (temperature or humidity) or when outdoor air pollution is high. HEPA air purifiers are extremely efficient at removing smoke particles from the air.

In fact, we use smoke to test them, so our selections directly reflect their ability to eliminate them. It's helpful to think of them as a centerpiece of a comprehensive plan, which we detail in a separate guide to the best wildfire preparedness strategies and supplies. Yes, we have tested the Molekule Air (the flagship model) and the Molekule Air Mini. We have a separate section about them called The Worst Air Purifiers We've Tried.

Air filters do much more than you might think. They can reduce pollen, smoke, pet dander, bacteria, dust, mold dust mites, and more. You can choose how much filtration you need and get a replacement air filter that's perfect for your home.

Air filters in

central heating and air conditioning ducts in your home or in the portable air purifiers in your rooms help eliminate indoor pollutants.

In the case of pet dander, particles that cause pet allergies can be removed by using an air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter. Using air filters alone cannot guarantee adequate air quality, especially when there are significant sources of pollutants and insufficient ventilation. If you're plagued by allergies and have done everything you can to reduce allergens in your home, an air filter might help. Nor have we found evidence that the fan function of machines, as Dyson claims, makes them superior to other purifiers in distributing filtered air in a room. And the best filters trap indoor contaminants, such as dust, pet dander, and pollen, helping to clean the air in your home.

Using ACH to categorize air purifiers overcomes a common problem in the way manufacturers rate their air purifiers in their advertising. Therefore, their higher density of filter media reduces airflow; this results in higher energy consumption than HEPA filters. According to MIL-STD-282, to be considered a true HEPA filter, the filter must capture at least 99.97% of the particles in the air with a diameter of 0.3 microns. For more information on individual products that use filters, such as air purifiers, room air conditioners, and dehumidifiers, refer to their specific buying guides. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a rating of how much filtration your air filter is capable of doing.

They consist of a single piece of synthetic fiber or mesh with tiny or microscopic perforations; this is contained and transported in a frame and installed in the air cleaner equipment. They are used as a pre-filter in multi-stage air filtration systems to prevent large particles from reaching the main filter.

Suzette Childres
Suzette Childres

Extreme sushi junkie. Typical zombie fan. Friendly music enthusiast. Professional pop culture geek. Hipster-friendly social media evangelist. Typical pop culture scholar.

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