Last updated on January 17th, 2023

I see that many people today still do not understand the differences between air purifiers and air sterilizers (also known as sanitizers), and a question “Air Sterilizer vs Air Purifier” pop-ups quite often. So now I decided to explain the differences between the two kinds and point out similarities sanitizers and purifiers have.

Air Sterilizer vs Air Purifier: Differences

Air Sterilizers Air Purifiers
Means of filtration UV Lamp or Ionizer Mechanical Filter
Air sanitizers use Ultraviolet-C light or negative ions to sanitize air indoor by deactivating viruses and bacteria. Air purifiers use filters to filter out airborne particles. Majority of modern air purifiers use HEPA filter plus Activated Carbon filter for odor removal. Additionally, air purifiers can employ pre-filters or their own patented technologies for advanced particulate matter filtration (Airdog as an example).
Main targets Viruses, Bacteria, Spores Dust, pollen, odors
Air sanitizers are mostly used to prevent viruses and bacteria to spread in a space whereas air purifiers deal with more “physical” dangers like dust, pollen, hair and different kind of odors (smoke, diapers, pets etc.).
Main Usage Medical Facilities Home
Air sanitizers mostly used in hospitals, stores, gyms and commercial areas which are prone to gathering large parts of people, to prevent viruses spreading and improve their air quality overall. Air purifiers are usually designed for home use.
Noise Non-existent ≥ 20 decibel
Air sanitizers do not produce noise, whereas air purifiers can be be very noisy. This is due to them having fan inside a body that circulates air in a space.
Maintenance Low High
Sanitizers do not require extensive maintenance and air purifiers do: the filters has to be cleaner and/or replaced on a regular basis otherwise their ability to capture pollutants drastically decreases.
Ozone Emission Low Non-existent
Air sanitizers emit a bit of ozone as a byproduct. When getting one, check how many parts per billion (PPM) of ozone a device emits. It should pass CARB requirements, otherwise it may be dangerous if exposed to it 24/7. Air purifiers do not emit ozone, unless they have built-in sanitizer, but it can be deactivated at any moment.

Air Sterilizer vs Air Purifier: Similarities

Air sterilizers have same similarities to air purifiers. Let’s take a look at them:

They both require replacements: in a case with air sterilizers it comes down to replacing UV-C bulbs every 10 to 24 months, depending on a usage and their initial lifespan. On the other hand, air purifiers require their HEPA, Carbon or pre-filters changed every 3 to 6 months on average. The difference here is operating costs for replacements: in general, air sterilizers in a long run require less money spent on them compared to air purifiers.

Both type of devices do not require extensive power usage. Most of air purifiers will increase your electricity bills by $50, unless you live in an extra-large room that requires a very powerful air cleaning. Air sanitizers require even less energy to run.

Price of air sterilizers and purifiers varies greatly: both start at $50 per piece (everything less is usually broken) and goes up to hundreds or thousands. Obviously, the cheaper device is, the less space it can effectively cover.

Can an Air Purifier Act as an Air Sterilizer?

Definitely, an air purifier can be used as an air sanitizer and perform all types of air cleaning that include:

  • filter out particles
  • reduce or completely remove smells
  • deactivate viruses, germs and bacteria

To to that an air purifier should must have either an UV-C light or ionizer installed. UVC radiation is a well-known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces that has been used for decades now [source]. In a combination with mechanical filtration provided by medical-grade HEPA filter it can remove virtually all known bacteria from air. Tracs air purifiers are the best example of all-in-one solution for air cleaning and sanitizing.

Hopefully, now you understand what’s what and the question “Air Sanitizer vs Air Purifier” is closed. If something is unclear, welcome to the comments!

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