Best Air Ionizers

Updated October 2020
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Buying guide for best air ionizers

You might think of pollution as being an outdoor problem, but certain environmental contaminants are found in five-times higher concentrations indoors compared to outdoors. An air ionizer is a type of air purifier that uses negatively charged particles to attract allergens and toxins in the air and ultimately remove them from your home. Air ionizers are quiet and often compact, so they're an unobtrusive choice for your air purifying needs.

Before you buy, you'll need to get your head around air ionizers. Do you want a straight-up air ionizer, or would you be better served by an air ionizer that also utilizes other forms of air purification? What coverage area do you require? And do you require other features, such as timers or ozone generators? This guide to air ionizers will help you answer all these questions and more. We've also identified our favorite air ionizers for your perusal.

The vast majority of air ionizers use an extremely small amount of energy, so you can run them regularly without worrying about hiking up your utility bills too much.

Key considerations

Coverage area

Air ionizers won't ionize the air in the entirety of your home. Rather, they have a maximum coverage area, measured in square feet. This is usually somewhere between 50 and 500 square feet. Bear in mind with larger coverage areas that the coverage will only extend into the next room if the door is left open, but the effects will be slightly less than in the room in which the ionizer is located. If you're not sure of the size in square feet of the room you want covered, multiply its length in feet by its width in feet to find the square footage.

Other types of purification

A large percentage of air ionizers don't use ionization alone to purify the air in your home. Rather, the units combine a number of air-purification types to give better all-round results. For example, basic ionizers can't eliminate bacteria and mold spores, but UV light can, so you'll find some air ionizers with built-in UV lights. Other common forms of air purification found in conjunction with ionization include carbon filtration and HEPA filtration.

Noise level

A simple air ionizer should be extremely quiet, but those that also include filters usually have some kind of fan that creates noise. The more powerful the air purifier, the larger than fan, and the louder it will be. If having a quiet air ionizer is important to you, stick to one without additional filtration devices, or check the noise level before buying.

Size

It's a good idea to find out the dimensions of any air ionizer you're considering before you buy. Compact models may only be four or five inches high, whereas extra-large models can measure 30 inches high or more. As a rule, smaller models have a significantly smaller coverage area than larger models, but they take up less room and aren't as obvious a feature of the room in which you place them.

Features

Ozone generation

You've probably heard of ozone in terms of the ozone layer, but ozone is actually a molecule known as trioxygen, or O3. It might be a beneficial substance up in the outer reaches of the atmosphere, but down at ground level, it's a harmful pollutant. It is, however, extremely good at getting rid of odors, which is why some air ionizers also generate ozone. If you are going to use the ozone function, make sure you're out of the house when you do so. We'd really only recommend it for stubborn and unpleasant smells, such as decomposing rats under the floorboards or something similar.

Timer

Some air ionizers have a timer function, so you can delay the start of the unit or have it switch off automatically after a set amount of time.

Smart technology

You can find a handful of high-end air ionizers that utilize smart technology. For instance, they may hook up to apps that allow you to control them remotely, or they might be compatible with smart home hubs. 

Air ionizer prices

Inexpensive: You can find basic compact air ionizers for as little as $20 to $40. These are generally only designed to purify the air in small spaces and may not be hugely effective.

Mid-range: In this range, air ionizers cost between $40 and $100. These may or may not offer additional methods of air purification and are suited to mid-sized spaces.

Expensive: High-end air ionizers cost from $100 to $300. These usually feature a wide range of other purification methods (such as HEPA filtration and UV light) and may have large coverage areas.

Tips

  • Think about where you'll position your air ionizer. Many models emit ions evenly from all sides of the unit, so if you place them too near a wall, some of the output will be wasted.
  • Decide whether or not you want a filter in your air ionizer. HEPA filters are great at trapping small particles, so they're a wise idea for allergy sufferers. Carbon filters can help remove odors, which air ionizers alone won't do.
  • Consider buying a compact model for use on the go. If you find an air ionizer helps you, you might want to buy an additional compact or plug-in model to use when traveling or even to set up at your desk at work.
  • Check what kind of control your chosen air ionizer has. Some controls are more intuitive than others. If you want something simple, basic dial controls are often the easiest to use.
When using an air ionizer, it's important to dust and sweep or vacuum regularly to clean the bonded allergen particles that the unit has removed from the air, as they fall onto nearby surfaces.

FAQ

Q. How do air ionizers work?
A.
Air ionizers work by emitting negatively charged ions, or more accurately, using voltage to turn nearby air molecules into negatively charged ions. These ions bond with various allergens in the air, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust. These bonded particles increase in weight and either fall to the floor (or other surfaces) or are attracted to the electrostatically charged plate contained within some air ionizers.

Q. What problems can air ionizers help with?
A.
Although they can be used for general air purifying purposes, you may choose to buy an air ionizer to help resolve a certain issue you've been experiencing. Air ionizers can help lessen the symptoms of certain allergies, such as hay fever and dust allergies. They can also remove smoke particles from the air, so they're useful if you've moved into a home where the previous residents smoked or you want to lessen the impact of smoking in your own home.

Air ionizers can also help remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, which are found in paints, varnishes, carpets and vinyl flooring, upholstery foam, cosmetics, and cleaning products. VOCs are also produced by cooking and burning wood.

Q. Do air ionizers cost much to run?
A.
Air ionizers don't add much onto your power bills, but if you choose a model that also uses some kind of filter, you'll need to factor in the cost of replacing the filters every six months to a year. 

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