Air Purification vs. Air Disinfection -
454 views | November 23, 2021

Air Purification vs. Air Disinfection

Learn how proven air disinfection technology can be a crucial step in making our homes and businesses safer. UVC air disinfectors may be a better option for you than the best air purifiers.

Not Just Clean Air. Safe, Disinfected Air.

With the disruption caused by COVID-19, families, schools, and businesses of all kinds have become aware of the importance of maintaining clean, safe air to breathe. Disinfected air is especially critical in the winter months when people spend more time indoors—often gathered together for various activities and holiday events.

While air cleaners for homes have been on the market for many years, most units aren't designed to deliver the high level of protection needed to keep you safe from airborne pathogens such as molds, bacteria and viruses including Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) its variants. For more complete and effective protection, you need to know the difference between various devices and how they operate.

Air Filtering Purifiers

Air cleaners use a filter to help remove dust and other particles from the air. They may use a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter to remove these contaminants and capture some fine droplets of pathogen-containing organics. While HEPA air purifiers can make the air smell better and somewhat safer to breathe, they only capture some contaminants in the air and don't render them harmless. What's more, air filter changes are required, which opens up the possibility of coming into contact with contaminants trapped on the filter.

Ozone & Reactive Air Purifiers

Ozone air purifiers use ozone or other reactive chemicals or materials to neutralize some bacteria or viruses they encounter. They do this because ozone is an oxidizer that can break down some cell membranes and help alleviate contaminants. Yet, they have never been proven to be highly effective; in fact, ozone can damage your lungs at higher levels and harm pets, plants, and materials in your home.

UVC Air Disinfectors

Air disinfectors work on a different principle. Instead of simply filtering the air to remove pathogens, they expose pathogens to a powerful type of UV (Ultraviolet) light that essentially destroys bacteria or viruses like coronavirus and makes them harmless. The principle is used in laboratories and is designed to be 99.9%+ effective in achieving disinfection 1. It is necessary to use UVC light to achieve this level of protection, as it is the most effective in this disinfection role.

What makes UVC light different?

When pathogens like coronavirus are directly exposed to UVC light, it kills germs by destroying their genetic material, rendering them inert. Today, many public and private facilities use direct UVC exposure nightly to blast empty subway cars, operating rooms, locker rooms, and other places people may gather to eliminate the threat of pathogens.

The UVC light must be powerful enough to do the job

In cases where direct surface contact is used, these blasts are done at night or when rooms are unoccupied because exposure to UVC light is dangerous to skin surfaces and the eyes.

However, using powerful fans and air movement chambers combined with proven UVC light-blocking technology, air disinfectors like the Energy Focus nUVoTM Tower and Traveler devices* can provide effective protection while operating safely throughout the home or even in your car. This technology takes any contaminated air into the device and only exposes that to the UVC light—so no light is allowed to escape outside of the unit. This precaution avoids any possible exposure to people or pets.

What to know about UVC Air Disinfectors:

  • There is no filter to clean, so you can avoid any exposure to pathogens at changing times. Also, with no filter to buy or change, you can save money over the unit's life.
  • If you can see any UV light emanating from the unit, it's not powerful enough to do the job. Many devices claim to use UV light for disinfection, but it's not strong enough to be effective. Effective UVC light must be shielded from direct exposure to humans, and light-blocking technology achieves this for safe, daily use in the home.
  • Effective disinfection doesn't come cheap. Achieving the needed level of protection requires advanced technology and intense, safe UVC light. Low-cost units simply can't deliver what you need to keep your family safe.
  • Units must move enough air to provide effective disinfection. Buy a unit that's designed for the space you need to keep safe, like a car, an office cubicle, or a family room. The fan must be powerful enough to bring lots of air into the unit to be disinfected; the CFM (Cubic Feet Per-Minute) rating will be the key here. Most devices will tell you what size of the room they can effectively clean and how many air changes per hour (the air volume moved per hour divided by the size of the space) it can handle.
  • UVC bulbs offer long life and effective operation. Make sure yours is replaceable and check on the cost. If you run your Air Disinfector a lot, you'll need a replacement somewhere down the road.

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Today, it's COVID-19…and while vaccines are available and more people are getting protection, scientists tell us new variants may come along. It's only a matter of time until a new pathogen appears somewhere to expose us to sickness. There's also the common cold, flu, and many other airborne pathogens—which are always with us. Proven air disinfection technology can be a crucial step in making our homes and businesses safer. UVC air disinfectors may be a better option for you than the best air purifiers.

*FirstEnergy Home, and any FirstEnergy affiliates, are not affiliated with the manufacturer of the product, nor is there any endorsement or sponsorship between the product manufacturer of the product and FirstEnergy Home or any of its affiliates.

© 2021 FirstEnergy Home

1See White Paper: Combatting Coronavirus and Elevating Environmental Hygiene through Innovations in UV-C Disinfection Technologies | Energy Focus