Portable Air Purifier vs. Traditional Air Filtration | Air Health

Posted by Air Health on Feb 22, 2022

Are Portable Air Purifiers Better Than Traditional Air Filtration?

When shopping for a home air purification system, there are three basic options: 

    1. A traditional filter - These are historically the solution most people have used for years and depending on the filter can reduce a little or a large amount of allergens in the air.
    2. whole-home air purifier takes air purification to a new level with UV technology.
    3. A portable air purifier offers purification and the convenience of portability. While whole-home filters have long been the traditional method of air filtration, portable purifiers have gained steam among homeowners who want to reduce the effects of dust, smoke, mold, pollen and other contaminants.

But are portable air purifiers effective — and are they really the better choice? Let’s look at the basics of each home air purifier and see which stands out.

Whole-Home Air Purifiers

The term “whole-house air purifier” generally refers to any system integrated with the home’s heating, ventilation HEPA filter for furnaceand air conditioning (HVAC) system. They can be divided into three main types, all of which refers to air traveling through a system that cleans allergens, gases and other particles.

    1. Filter-based units installed in furnaces and other air intake points.
    2. Standalone systems installed in a closet or attic with additional air exhaust vents.
    3. Duct-based units installed before or after the central air handler.

On the surface, these sound like a great idea — why wouldn’t you want to purify the air in every single room at once? However, there are many factors to consider when looking at a whole-home air filtration system.


    • Systems hide out of sight without taking up living space.
    • All air is purified with no boundaries.
    • Little or no ambient noise from most systems.
    • Less maintenance is required.
    • No need for multiple units.


    • Require your HVAC system to be constantly running to gain continual benefit.
    • Generally not as good at filtering smaller particles.
    • Performance largely depends on the home’s ductwork —dirty or worn-out ducts will hurt the filtration.
    • May require an HVAC tech to install them accept for the Air Health in duct air purifiers.

Portable Air Filtration Units

As the name suggests, a portable air purifier can be moved from room to room. Most have either a HEPA filter or air ionization system to snag contaminants. They either plug into a wall outlet or operate on battery power. Modern units back a surprising amount of air-cleaning power, which is just one of the benefits of a portable purification system.

Portable Air FilterPros

    • Can be placed in specific areas as needed.
    • Don’t require a central HVAC system or any ductwork.
    • More effective overall, especially on smaller particles.
    • Lower initial cost and energy consumption.
    • Most units can be installed by the homeowner.


    • Only filter a specific volume of air and area size. This means installing multiple units to filter an entire home or a large room.
    • Air you’ve just cleaned can be re-contaminated by particles from other rooms.
    • Can produce more noise than whole-home systems.
    • Some ionizers give off trace amounts of ozone byproduct, which is a lung irritant. It is a good idea to look for a portable air purifier that is CARB certified to ozone free.

So What Air Purification System Should I Get?

The main reason to get a whole-home system is if residents have concerns about air quality, asthma, allergies or other respiratory conditions and want to access the whole home instead of just certain areas. They’re also useful for families who have pets with access to the entire home.

If you have an apartment or smaller home, or there are just a couple of rooms where you want to clean the air, a portable air purifier is the way to go. They are the most efficient and cost-effective solution for improving indoor air quality in specific zones. Air Health can help you find the best portable air purifier to combat everything from dust to bacteria.

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