What Is the Best Air Purifier for Wildfire Smoke? A Portland Tech Answers

With wildfire seasons becoming more intense the past few years, it’s a good idea to combat the negative effects that wildfire smoke has on your indoor air quality.

One way to combat the effects of wildfire smoke is to use an air purifier, which can help remove contaminants, like smoke, from your home’s air.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the following questions:

  • What are the differences between types of air purifiers?
  • What type of air purifier is the most effective against wildfire smoke?
  • What other things can you do to protect yourself against wildfire smoke?

Want professional advice on which type of air purifier would be best to combat wildfire smoke? We’ve provided the Portland community with honest recommendations for 40+ years.

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What are the differences between types of air purifiers?

Let’s talk about three main types of whole-home air purifiers, how they work and what they can remove from your indoor air.

HEPA air filters

High efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters can catch ultrafine airborne particles. They are made of interlaced glass fibers and the ultrafine particles get stuck on the fibers, keeping the particles from entering your indoor air.

HEPA filters can capture dust, pollen, mold and bacteria and effectively remove particles that are 0.3 microns or up. A micron is a millionth of a meter. In comparison, a grain of salt is 40-60 microns. However, these filters can be restrictive on airflow; you should consult an HVAC professional before installing a HEPA filter.

Activated carbon filters

The activated carbon filter works by absorbing pollutants inside carbon beds installed within air filters. Through a chemical process called adsorption, the pollutants adhere to the carbon beds, removing them from your indoor air.

Activated carbon filters are most effective at removing pollutants like gases and odors from chemicals and fumes. They can remove particles between 0.5-50 microns (a millionth of a meter) in size and are not effective at removing ultrafine particles.

Many people choose to use both carbon filters and HEPA filters because carbon filters can eliminate odors while the HEPA filter catches particulate matter.

UV air purifiers

With the help of UV-C light, UV air purifiers can render pollutants (e.g. fungus or algae) harmless by disrupting their DNA. UV air purifiers cannot remove particulate matter from your air.

Like carbon filters, UV air purifiers are often sold with HEPA filters to thoroughly clean your home’s air. The UV air purifiers can kill airborne bacteria and organisms while the HEPA filter actually removes the airborne particles from your home’s air.

UV/Catalyst Ionizing Hybrid

These hybrid purifiers can remove VOCs and reduce exposure to many common bacteria, viruses and mold. They can also force smaller airborne particles to clump together smaller, making it easier for your filters to catch the tinier particles. For example, RGF’s REME HALO purifier is a hybrid purifier that has become popular with customers who want to improve their overall indoor air quality and the health of their home’s occupants.

In conclusion, air purifiers vary the most on what type of particulate matter or pollutant they can remove.

What type of air purifier is the most effective against wildfire smoke?

The best type of air purifier for wildfire smoke is a HEPA air filter.

HEPA air filters are the most effective against wildfire smoke because they are designed to trap particles between 0.4-0.7 microns, and wildfire smoke particles typically range from 0.4-0.7 microns, according to AirNow.gov.

HEPA filters are capable of removing 99.97% of all airborne particles that are 0.3+ microns big. This is because HEPA filters have enough densely packed fibers to catch these small particles.

In short, if you’re looking for the most effective solution for removing lingering particles of wildfire smoke in your home, we recommend getting a HEPA filter.

The only thing HEPA filters are not effective at are removing the gaseous odors that stick around during wildfire season. This is why we recommend using both a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. While HEPA filters are designed to remove lingering particles of wildfire smoke in your indoor air, activated carbon filters are designed to get rid of odors and gases. Having both means you’ll be protected from the wildfire smoke and its odors.

What other things can you do to protect yourself against wildfire smoke?

Tip #1: Get an air quality monitoring system and replace your HEPA filter often

To ensure your HEPA filter is as effective as possible against wildfire smoke, replace the filter often. This is because a HEPA filter won’t be able to do its job effectively when it’s clogged. While HEPA filters usually last 6 months to a year, you’ll want to replace it more frequently during wildfire season.

To make it easy to know when it’s time to replace your HEPA filter, get an air quality monitoring system. The air quality monitor will help you monitor your smoke levels, which will help you decide when to replace your HEPA filter.

Tip #2: Don’t vacuum unless with a HEPA filter

Wildfire smoke particles can settle on your surfaces. You’ll want to make sure you don’t accidentally re-circulate the particles throughout your home by vacuuming and kicking those particles up into the air. Either mop or use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

Want to know other ways to protect your indoor air quality against wildfire smoke? Contact Four Seasons

Our indoor air quality experts know the challenges that wildfire season brings to our Portland community. We’re here to help you decide on an indoor air quality solution that will help bring peace of mind and that fit your budget and needs.

Contact us today!