Can You Use an Air Purifier with an Air Conditioner?
Part of an air conditioner’s role is to clean the air but does it work as well as an air purifier? And do they work well together?
The primary job of a split system air conditioner is to heat and cool the air, but in doing so it does reduce humidity and provide clean air to breathe. An air purifier’s purpose is to provide cleaner air, so the question remains – do air conditioners and air purifiers work well together?
If you’re considering installing a built-in air conditioner – whether it’s a wall unit, multi-head split system or ducted – be sure to consult an air conditioning specialist to get the best results. Let’s take a closer look at the purpose of air conditioners and air purifiers.
What Does an Air Purifier Do?
An air purifier does not cool the air at all. The air it pushes out is the same temperature as when it went in.
The main function of an air purifier is to remove airborne particles and contaminants from the air. This includes pollen, bacteria, mould spores, smoke, pet dander, various odours and more.
These are the allergens that cause respiratory issues, such as asthma, and various illnesses and allergies.
There are two major types of air purifiers – HEPA filter and ioniser.
- HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter – This type circulates indoor air through a filtration system that traps airborne pollutants inside the filter.
- Ioniser – These filters emit negatively charged ions into the air, which latch onto contaminants and cause them to fall to the ground or stick to surfaces, where they can be cleaned or vacuumed away later.
- Activated carbon filter – Some air purifiers will feature this type of filter as well, which is designed to remove odours from smoke, cooking, mould and pets.
Air purifiers do not reduce humidity in the home. Their role is to filter the air and clean it so that it’s healthier to breathe.
You can choose a portable air purifier, which will clean the air one room at a time, or a whole home air purification system that attaches to your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system.
What is an Air Conditioner’s Role?
The traditional role of air conditioners has been to cool down the indoor environment. They work by drawing a room’s warmer air in and exhausting it outside. The AC then pumps recycled colder air back into the room.
This process helps to regulate the temperature as well as reduce humidity levels inside your home. All air conditioners have the capability to purify the air, but this isn’t their main purpose.
Air conditioner dust filters do help to some degree, but they aren’t designed to remove smoke or other pollutants from the air. Some AC models do have air purification filters, which we will look at now in further detail.
What Are the Best Filters?
If standard air conditioner dust filters aren’t adequate for air purification, are there any filters that can compete with an air purifier?
Many major brand air conditioners do offer some form of ionisation-based air filters. These filters remove some smoke, but only to a small extent. They primarily remove fine dust, mould spores, odours, allergens and germs.
Some modern air conditioners also offer catechin-based filters. Catechin filters – made from a plant extract with antifungal and antibacterial properties – are designed to trap and eliminate bacteria, mould spores and other fine particles.
But, according to Choice, HEPA filters remain the best option for people with health issues, as they filter out smoke, mould spores, pollen and viruses.
These filters are used in most air purifiers and many vacuum cleaners, but not in air conditioners. That’s because HEPA filters only function well at low airflow levels, because of the density of the filter. Therefore, they can’t be fitted to split-system or ducted air conditioning systems, which deliver greater volumes of airflow than air purifiers.
AC and Air Purifiers – Do They Work Together?
The simple answer is: Yes. Unless the technology changes – which is always likely – air conditioners and air purifiers have quite different functions which complement each other.
The most important considerations are the needs of you and your family. You will need an air purifier if:
- You want cleaner air because of respiratory problems and allergies in the household.
- You need to lower the amount of dust, pollen and pet dander in the home.
- You want to reduce indoor odours from cooking, smoke, pets or mould and mildew.
- You want fewer bacteria and virus particles in the air for the sake of your family’s health.
But you will also need an air conditioner if:
- You want heating and cooling at home for general comfort.
- You work at home and need complete climate control.
- You need to reduce humidity in your home (possibly due to asthma or other respiratory problems).
These two appliances can function in the same room without a problem. Until technology progresses enough to cover all bases in one unit, combining both an air conditioner and an air purifier is probably your best option.
Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.