Do I need an air purifier if I have central air?

That air conditioner hanging from your apartment window contains a filter, most likely a small sheet of foam connected to the interior. The central air conditioner that sends chilled air through your home’s ducts does, too, although in a cellulose or fiberglass version that slips in next to the main ducting.

Aren’t they filters? Why should you bother with an air purifier when your air conditioner already has filters? “Do I need an air purifier if I have central air?” is what many homeowners and renters wonder when they are looking for better air quality.

Note: If you need answers to common questions about air purifiers, please read our air purifier FAQs.

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Do central air conditioners purify air?

Not really. Central air conditioners as well as standalone air conditioners are not designed to purify air. Air conditioners’ main job is to provide fresh air and lower the heat in your house. They can, however, remove some types of impurities from indoor air, such as pollen and dust, using their filters.

Technically, your air conditioner is just designed to keep your home cool, which it accomplishes through a cyclical process that happens between your indoor and outdoor units:

  • Cooling your indoor air: The cooling fluid that reduces the heat in your home goes from the condenser, which is placed outside, to the evaporator, which is located inside your house.
  • Dispersing the air: The cooling fluid is then evaporated into a gas by the evaporator. While cold air is being blown into your house, warm air is being pulled out through your indoor unit.
  • Moving air outside: The warm air is returned to the outside unit, where it is cooled, and the cycle is restarted from the beginning.

Your air conditioner works hard to keep the heat out, but it won’t keep pollutants and particles out of the air without the assistance of a filter.

However, there are removable and replaceable filters in the vent system. Their job is to keep lint, dust, and grime from building on those coils. Accumulated dust will insulate them, reducing their efficiency. So, to some extent, these filters do purify your indoor air, albeit to a lesser extent.

In general, the most advanced and costly air conditioning systems on the market cannot match the air cleansing procedure performed by an air purifier.

Do I need an air purifier if I have central air?

It’s not necessary to have an air purifier if you already have central air with working filters, but it’s highly recommended. Whether you need an air purifier depends on the air quality where you live, if you or a family member suffers from asthma or allergies, and, of course, if you want to significantly improve the air you breathe every day.

Living in a cool, low-humidity environment is really nice, but that reduced humidity and cool air aren’t free of germs, pollen, pet hair, smoke, or odors. To achieve that state, an air purifier is required, even if you have central air.

Indoor air is typically more contaminated than outdoor air due to the release of smells, smoke, and chemicals from home activities and other stuff. Contaminants such as cigarette smoke, pet dander, mildew, and dust mites make the air harmful to breathe.

Although your central air conditioner has a filter, it’s primarily there to keep dust from getting into your air conditioner, not to purify the air in your home.

In addition, if any of your family members have asthma or allergies, you should be extra cautious about indoor air quality. An air purifier removes contaminants from the air. As a result, air purifiers help with allergies, eczema, colds, flu, and other illnesses.

Does an air purifier work with central air?

Yes, an air purifier works perfectly in conjunction with central air conditioning equipment, such as an HVAC system. While the central air conditioner cools the air in your home and maintains a comfortable temperature within, an air purifier will filter the air emitted by the central air, giving you better air quality to breathe.

You will require an air purifier if you:

  • You need cleaner air since your family has respiratory issues and allergies.
  • You must reduce the quantity of dust, pollen, and pet dander in your house.
  • You want to get rid of odors that come from cooking, smoking, pets, or mold and mildew.
  • For the benefit of your family’s health, you want fewer bacteria and virus particles in the air.

You will also require an air conditioner if:

  • You require heating and cooling in your house for overall comfort.
  • You work from home and require total climate control.
  • You must minimize the humidity in your house (possibly due to asthma or other respiratory problems).

Air purifiers can deal with smaller airborne particles such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), smoke, carbon monoxide, chemicals, odor molecules, bacteria, mold spores, viruses, and germs. The right mix of air purifier and air conditioning system may remove more than 99% of the contaminants that circulate in your home’s air. However, you should note that the amount of air the air purifier can clean will be determined by its overall power. Hence, choosing the right size of air purifier to work with your central air is critical.

List of the best air purifiers

Can I add an air purifier to my central air?

Adding a whole-home air purifier to your central air system can improve the quality of your home’s indoor air by significantly lowering the concentration of indoor air pollution. At the same time, it also reduces asthma and allergy symptoms. Indeed, there are various advantages to investing in a whole-home air purifier.

  • Cleaner indoor air: The biggest advantage of having an air purifier is that your family will breathe cleaner air all year. Whole-home air purifiers will filter out bacteria and viruses and minimize the quantity of dust, pet dander, and other pollutants in the air, which aids in the elimination of allergy symptoms and the alleviation of other respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
  • Elimination of odors: Because air purifiers capture a variety of airborne particles, they help control unpleasant odors caused by these particles. Air purifiers, for example, may make your house smell fresher in less time after preparing odorous dishes or smoking cigarettes. A whole-house air purifier will assist in cleaning the air in the bathroom, near the refrigerator, and even in a dirty teen’s room.
  • Less dust accumulation: If you’ve ever battled with dust collection on surfaces, gadgets, books, or other goods, you will understand how irritating it is to see the dust reappear days after cleaning. Dust collects less quickly with a whole-home air purifier because much of it is contained in the device itself. Although you’ll need to clean the filters in your HVAC system, air purifier, and supply vents on a regular basis, it’s comforting to know you can dust less frequently.
  • Central air system life extension: Adding a whole-home air purifier to your HVAC system improves its efficiency and, hence, its longevity. The reason is that the air purifier will catch impurities that might otherwise collect in the system’s filters, making the air conditioner work harder to cool the area.