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How Many Stages of Filtration Does an Air Purifier Need to Have?

In this day and age, we’ve become a lot more cautious about exposing ourselves and our loved ones to dirty air. We really should’ve been doing this a long time ago, especially for those who live near construction sites, which can cause indoor air to be just as polluted (if not more) than outdoor air. Thankfully, there’s a simple appliance you can get to filter harmful contaminants from the air—an air purifier.

An air purifier is a simple device that draws in large quantities of air and passes it through a series of filters to capture microscopic particles. The air purifier then shoots the newly filtered air out of its exhaust, leaving clean, breathable air with considerably fewer air pollutants. Anyone suffering from seasonal or pet allergies will definitely appreciate having an air purifier around.

How Many Stages of Filtration Does an Air Purifier Need to Have?

However, this begs the question: how many filters, or stages, in a “series” of filters do I need? Are more filters better than fewer filters? What about optional filters? Worry not, friends, for we’ll explain everything you need to understand about the stages of filtrations in an air purifier.


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How Many Stages Are There?

Air purifiers come in all shapes, sizes, and cleaning capacities. In general, a larger air purifier—one that can mount on the wall, for instance—will come with more filters than a desktop unit.

Below, we’ll quickly go over the different types of air purifier stages and what they generally consist of.

3-Stage

The Blueair Blue Pure 411 is a short-ranged 3-stage air purifier. It uses the more standard series of filters, namely a washable pre-filter to capture large contaminants, an activated carbon filter that eliminates odors, and a HEPA filter that removes 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size.

Blueair Blue Pure 411
BLUEAIR Air Purifier for Home Allergies Pet...
  • SIMPLE ONE-BUTTON CONTROL: Easily adjust fan as-needed with one button to ensure optimal...
  • CLEAN AIR IN A MATTER OF MINUTES: Blueair’s HEPASilent dual filtration delivers more...

4-Stage

The Fellowes AeraMax 300 is a large-sized air purifier that comes with a 4-stage purification system. It has an activated carbon filter that doubles as a pre-filter, a HEPA filter, an AeraSafe antimicrobial filter that destroys bacteria upon contact, and a PlasmaTrue filter.

The final stage is an optional ionizer that statically charges the air to cause airborne particles to adhere to the filters more efficiently.

Fellowes AeraMax 300
Fellowes AeraMax 300
Fellowes AeraMax 300 Large Room Air Purifier...
  • 4-stage hospital-type filtration: effectively purifies air in large rooms 300 - 600 square...
  • AeraSmart sensor: monitors the air quality and automatically adjusts the fan speed to keep...

5-Stage

The Winix HR900 is a 5-stage that takes it a step further by coming with an additional pre-filter. It starts with the Ultimate Pet Pre-Filter, which traps pet hair, dander, and other large particles.

Then there’s a washable mesh pre-filter that catches common pollutants, such as airborne lint. The following stages are an activated carbon filter and a HEPA Filter. Then it finishes it off with an optional PlasmaWave, which is Winix’s take on an ionizer.

Winix HR900
Winix HR900, Ultimate Pet 5 Stage True HEPA...
  • The next generation of the wildly popular Winix 9500 Ultimate Pet Air Purifier
  • True HEPA filtration captures 99. 97percent of airborne pollutants, pet dander and...

6-Stage

The Rabbit Air A3 SPA-1000N is the perfect example of a 6-stage air purifier. It doesn’t come with optional filters, and all 6 stages are packed into a single filter system known as BioGS HEPA.

It delivers near-100% efficiency in removing particles 0.3 microns and larger, and it also absorbs odors, VOCs, and viruses. This specific air purifier also lets users customize its filters for specific needs, such as removing germs, removing allergens, absorbing toxins, and deodorizing the air.

Rabbit Air A3 SPA-1000N Ultra Quiet HEPA Air...
  • Expansive: Covers up to 1070 square feet, ideal for home or business settings, and filters...
  • Thorough: An advanced BioGS HEPA filter with 6 stages of purification and deodorization...

7-Stage

Aviano has pushed past the 6-stage-air-purifier boundary and created a model that has one additional layer of protection. It all starts with an aluminum pre-filter and a non-cold catalyst filter.

After removing larger particles, air passes through an activated carbon filter, then an antibacterial filter, and finally a HEPA Filter. However, if you want to kick it up 2 notches, you can use the UV-C filter that deconstructs microorganisms at the molecular level or the ionizer.

Aviano has pushed past the 6-stage-air-purifier

Aviano Air Purifiers for Home (up to 700 Sq....
  • Deluxe Home Air Purifier with 7 Stage Filtration Cleaning System— Get ready to breathe...
  • Includes 2 Bonus Washable HEPA Filters and a Remote Control! You are only as safe as the...

What Are Optional Stages/Filters?

Optional stages or filters aren’t filters in the literal sense. Instead, they’re additional functions that improve air-purifying performance in different ways.

The first kind of optional filter is an ionizer, which goes by many names depending on the brand. An ionizer delivers a static charge to an area, which causes zapped airborne particles to adhere more effectively onto the air purifier’s filter(s). The second type is a UV-C germicidal chamber. It uses multiple UV-C lights that destroy single-cell organisms and creatures like dust mites at the molecular level.

Please note that both kinds of optional filters may produce ozone, which is a lung irritant. Only use these functions in an empty house and allow for several hours to pass for the ozone to dissipate before re-entering.

Did you Know

That ozone emitters are air purifiers that intentionally produce ozone. The EPA recommends avoiding these units to place in a room with living creatures.


Air Purifier Stages of Filtration

Is More Always Better?

The straightforward answer is yes, more is always better. The higher the number of stages found in an air purifier, the more filters it uses, and the better chance the device has at retaining airborne contaminants. Not only that but some filters are designed to capture odor molecules and cigarette smoke.

In other words, the more stages an air purifier has, the better it will clean indoor air.


Air Recommended Air Purifiers

Our Pick Perfect for bedrooms, playrooms, and living rooms, the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH is one of the best-performing, most durable, and most economical purifiers we’ve tested.

Most Popular The Levoit Core 300 air purifier has some strong suits, but in our opinion it falls short of carving out a meaningful niche for itself. Its ideal use would be in a small bedroom occupied by someone who is sensitive to noise.

Also Great With high end air cleaning performance and a whisper quiet fan, the Winix 5500-2 is the perfect combination of power and finesse. It cleared airborne particulates out of our smokey testing room faster than any other model.

Best of the Best If you have a large space you want to remove irritants from, We recommend the Airmega 400S. All of Coway air purifiers do an excellent job of attacking indoor pollutants, and we highly recommend any of them. The 400S is designed to accommodate large room sizes.

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Last Update: 2022-08-16 | Affiliate links/Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Hi I’m Alex, founder of HouseholdMe.com and I’d like to say thank you for dropping by. Like most of you, the first thing I look at before buying something online is reviews or buying guides. By reading what other people say will help me gauge whether or not a product is good or not.  I am trying to help people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired.

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