Air purifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners all help you control the quality of the air in an indoor environment. But each affects the air in different ways, and for different purposes.
So in this post we’ll examine the difference between air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners, before explaining which sort of environment each is suited for.
What is an Air Purifier?
Air purifiers clean the air by removing potentially harmful particles with the use of filters. The most advanced air purifiers use high-efficiency particulate air filters – or HEPA filters – to remove up to 99.97% of particles from the air down to 0.1 micron.
An advanced air purifier can help rid rooms of:
- Pet dander
- Particulates and other hazardous air pollutants
- Bad odours
As such, air purifiers can help reduce the risks of air pollution in public buildings situated near busy roads. They can also help people manage allergies and other health conditions.
Air purifiers come in a range of sizes, and different sizes are suitable for different settings. You can get compact air purifiers for the home, and larger and more powerful air purifiers for commercial and industrial settings.
Advanced air purifiers can even trap and kill viruses and bacteria. So air purifiers also act as an essential part of the air filtration system for infection control in healthcare settings.
What is a Dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air. They do this in one of two ways: Compressor dehumidifiers draw air through a filter over cold coils, causing moisture in the air to condense and drip into a water tank. Desiccant dehumidifiers, meanwhile, use an absorbent material to extract moisture from the air. When this material is heated, the moisture drips into a water tank.
The type of dehumidifier you use will depend on the temperature of the environment. Compressor dehumidifiers are best suited for heated indoor spaces, whereas desiccant dehumidifiers work better in lower temperatures, in rooms such as garages or basements.
Beyond this consideration, you can use a dehumidifier in any space that requires some moisture control. They’re good for preventing mould in poorly ventilated buildings, for example. They can also be used to set the ideal humidity levels for storing certain goods. Dehumidifiers are also regularly used in operating theatres, where excessive humidity can lead to risks with the anaesthetic.
What is an Air Conditioner?
Finally, air conditioners are used to control the temperature in a room. Some refer to air conditioners as “coolers”, and they are predominantly used to cool the air in a room. They use a combination of compressors, coils, and refrigerant chemicals to draw the warm air from a room, replacing it with cooler air.
Sometimes the term “air conditioning” is used to refer to a buildings entire central environmental control system. So technically, an air conditioner can warm a room, as well as cool it. To warm a room, rather than passing air over cooling elements, an air conditioner will instead pass it over heating elements.
Also, air conditioning systems usually include a series of filters to remove certain particles from the air. So air conditioners do purify the air to some extent, but that’s not their main function. These filters will not be fine enough to catch the sort of particles that a HEPA filter can catch.
Air conditioners are used whenever temperature control is required. They’re a standard feature in many homes in warmer parts of the world. They’re also used to make working environments more comfortable through maintaining a safe and agreeable temperature.
Air Filtration Systems for Healthcare Settings
Air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners often work together to create the optimum environmental conditions for controlled settings.
In an operating theatre, for example, an advanced air filtration system will ensure that the air in the room is:
- Effectively filtered and evenly re-circulated to minimise the risk of pathogens
- The optimum temperature for both the patient and the theatre staff, so that the staff can work comfortably for longer periods, while the patient is neither at risk of hypothermia nor heat shock.
- The optimum humidity, again for staff comfort, and to prevent any risks with anaesthetic or other materials.
You can read our full guide to getting the right temperature and humidity levels in operating theatres here.
Whether you run a hospital, an office, or a school, we can help you meet all relevant air quality standards while keeping your staff and service users as safe and as comfortable as possible.
Get in touch to talk to our friendly team of expert infection control consultants and we’ll help you find a solution that works for you.