Over the past few decades, the development of new home air purification systems has skyrocketed around the globe.

This rapid period of innovation has led to different types of air purifiers coming in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

You can see this for yourself in our top 10 air purifier reviews and ratings.

However, one thing still remains at the forefront of these products–to help you improve the air quality inside your home.

While a variety of products are classified as “air purifiers,” you’ll find that each one uses a combination of technologies to help clean and purify the air.

Knowing how these technologies work is critical if your goal is to find the best home air purification system.

Below is a list of the most common air purifier types and technology on the market.

The Top Home Air Purification Systems Available

HEPA Filtration

HEPA Air Filter
Image by Bruce Blause | CC BY-SA 4.0

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is a popular way to filter out particulates from the air.

This technology can trap around 99.97% of particles that are larger than 0.3 microns, including dust, pollen, viruses, mold and bacteria.

The major advantage of HEPA air purifiers is that they do not cause byproducts or hurt the ozone.

What are HEPA filters made out of? They are constructed from fine fiber-like materials that are folded repeatedly on themselves to create a number of barriers that require air to be pushed through.

As the air gets pushed through, the HEPA filters stop and trap all of the unhealthy airborne contaminants. Only fresh air comes out the other side.

While HEPA filters are the most effective at trapping particles, the filters occasionally have to be replaced.

Be aware that air purifier types with HEPA filters do a poor job at removing smells, chemicals and gasses.

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Negative Ionization

Ionization in ActionNegative ionization is another one of the most common types of air purifiers and uses the process of ion emission to clean the air.

These air cleaners work off of the fact that particulates in the air contain ions that are either positively or negatively charged. 

These devices can magnetically attract airborne particles and remove them from the air. Common things removed include pollen and dust.

With negative ionization, the particulates in the air will get heavier and attach themselves to surfaces throughout the house. 

Negative ion air purifiers are generally less effective than other types of products on the market. 

They do a great job at masking polluted air but will rarely do as good of a job removing contaminants from the air like a HEPA filter.

The main issue is that not all of the fallen particles will remain stuck to the surfaces in a room and always have the chance of becoming unattached and reentering the room’s atmosphere.

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Activated Carbon Filtration

Activated Carbon FilterActivated Carbon technology is another type of air filter.  It uses carbon (also known as charcoal) that is extremely porous to absorb particulates from the air.

With high chemical bonding and absorption rates, Activated Carbon is very good at trapping the things that HEPA is poor at removing. 

In particular, they are good at neutralizing gases, tobacco smoke, odors and chemical emissions.

Recontamination is not an issue with these types of filters because they manage to completely trap everything that gets stuck.

Those who will most benefit from air purifier types with Activated Carbon filters are people with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.) 

Activated Carbon filters absorb formaldehyde, perfumes, chemicals and other things that affect those with MCS.

Children, the elderly, babies and asthma sufferers can also benefit from Activated Carbon filters. 

Be aware that these types of filters are not good at removing airborne allergens, viruses, mold or bacteria.

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Ultra Violet (UV) Lighting

UV LightUV technology is a popular choice and it is often used along with other types of air purification systems.

While UV does not use a physical filter to suck in and trap harmful particles from the air, it does use a special technology that’s excellent at eliminating germs, viruses and bacteria.

UV technology works through the use of a lamp installed on an air purifier. As microorganisms pass by the UV lamp the DNA structure is broken apart. 

The resulting cellular damage kills off microorganisms.

UV air purifiers also aid in improving the quality of air by converting molecules of oxygen and water into hydroxyl and ozone that kills airborne pollutants.

If you use a UV air purifier, then consider first a particle filter and add the UV air purifier to it. 

Together, you can get a much better air purifier experience than using either individually.

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Ozone Generation

Ozone Air PurifierLast but not least, Ozone air purifiers work by producing ozone to clean contaminated air.

While many people believe these types of air purifiers are safe for indoor air quality control, they have a number of problems associated with their use.

For example, professionals have refuted the claims that ozone air purifier’s work at all, suggesting instead that they have caused things like asthma symptoms and higher levels of scarring in the lungs.

Ozone filters sometimes require months to years to remove air particles and will not perform a decent job removing air pollution unless the levels are far above what is considered healthy.