Graphic of air purifier vs air conditionerMost everyone has some type of air conditioner in their home, whether it be a whole house system or a portable or window-mounted air conditioning unit.

A large number of people also have an air purifier.

But, do you know how air purifiers and air coolers really compare? For example, can they both cool the air and clean it at the same time? Or is that just a myth?

In this post, we’re going to explore the air purifier vs air conditioner question so you can get a clear understanding of how each device works. You’ll also come away knowing which product is best suited for your needs.

Simply put, an air conditioner draws the hot air out of your room and pumps cold air back in to cool it down. These machines are able to control your indoor temperature, humidity, and to an extent, the air quality.

An air purifier cycles your home’s air through a series of filters or neutralizes them through a process called ionization. These systems remove particles and contaminants that are known for lowering the quality of your indoor air. These devices don’t control the temperature or humidity.

Air Purifier vs Air Conditioner Comparison Chart

Here’s a quick overview and side-by-side comparison between air purifiers and air conditioners. If you’re looking for something more in-depth, read on.

CriteriaAir PurifierAir Conditioner
ApplicationCleans indoor air by removing airborne contaminants, allergens, germs, smoke, and odorsCools indoor temperature
and helps reduce humidity
BenefitsImproves overall air quality and leads to better health for everyone. However, they’re especially useful for asthmatics and allergy sufferers.Creates a comfortable indoor environment and has a low level of air purification. Good for people with respiratory issues that can’t handle high humidity levels.
Removes or ReducesDust, Allergens, Smoke, Mold Spores, Bacteria, Pet Dander, and some VirusesTemperature, and Humidity

Basic Functions of Air Purifiers and Air Conditioners

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between air purifiers vs air conditioning is by understanding their basic functions. We’ll go over what these are next.

Air Purifier

An air purifier’s main function is to remove airborne particles and contaminants that cause respiratory issues and illnesses. This includes common things like pollen, dust, pet dander, bacteria, mold spores, smoke, viruses, and all kinds of odors.

Air purifiers come in two major types: HEPA filter and Ionizer.

An air purifier with a HEPA filter cycles indoor air through a filtration system that traps and collects airborne pollutants inside the filter. An ionizer emits ions out into the air that latch onto contaminants and caused them to fall to the ground.

Some air purifiers also include an Activated Carbon filter, which is designed to remove unpleasant odors from smoke, cooking, mold, and pets.

Air purifiers don’t remove humidity from the air. They simply filter your existing air so that it’s cleaner and healthier for you to breathe.

Air Conditioner

Air conditioners are used to cool down indoor environments. These devices work by drawing a room’s warmer air in and exhausting it outside. It then pumps colder air back into the space.

The air conditioning process helps to regulate the temperature as well as the humidity levels inside your home.

Air coolers come in three main types: whole house central AC systems, portable units, and window-mounted setups.

All air conditioners come equipped with a slight capability to purify the air, but this isn’t their main function. Portable air conditioners and window AC units have front grilles with a filter that draw warm air in from a room. A central AC system filter is often located in a ceiling of your home.

This AC filter traps larger airborne particles so they don’t end up inside the air cooler and damage the unit. However, these filters are not dense enough to catch the microscopic particles that an air purifier can catch such as bacteria, finer dust, and allergens.

Which is a Better Choice: An Air Purifier or Air Conditioner?

An air purifier may be the better option for you if:

  • You need cleaner air because you have a respiratory condition like asthma, COPD, or allergies.
  • You want to lower the amount of dust, pollen, or pet dander inside your home.
  • You want to get rid of indoor odors from cooking, smoke, pets, mold, or mildew.
  • You want a healthier environment for your family that has fewer bacteria and virus particles floating around.

An air conditioner might be the better choice if:

  • You want to have better control over your indoor temperature.
  • You want to reduce the humidity levels inside your home.
  • You have a respiratory condition like asthma or COPD that flares up when your exposed to high humidity levels.

Common Questions Regarding Air Purifier vs Air Conditioning

Can I use air purifier with air conditioner?
Yes. You can use an air purifier and an air conditioner at the same time, and even in the same room without an issue. The air purifier will clean the air around you while the air conditioner will cool it down.

Do air purifiers cool the air?
No. An air purifier simply cycles your home’s air through a filtration system in order to clean it. It pushes out the same temperature of air as it pulls in. However, a slight breeze may be felt from a HEPA air purifier as it pushes clean air back into the room (similar to a rotary fan).

Do air conditioners purify the air?
To a small extent, yes. However, purifying the air is not the main purpose of an air conditioner. The filters on these machines won’t catch the smaller particles that pollute the air around you like an air purifier will.

Do air conditioners bring in air from the outside?
No. An air conditioner recycles the existing air inside a room. Some air conditioners like window mounted AC units exhaust hot air outside during the process of cooling it but the outdoor air is never blown back into a room.

You should now have a good grasp on the air purifier vs air conditioner topic. We hope that this guide has given you everything you need to make the right decision on which product to choose for your home, if not both.