Air purifiers are one of the most effective tools we can own to keep our families safe from harmful, invisible pathogens. For an added boost in germ-fighting abilities, you’ll want your air purifier to come equipped with UV lights that destroy viruses and germs at a cellular level.
In today’s guide, we’re going to show you six of the best UV light air purifiers and the importance of owning one of these devices.
UV Light Air Purifiers Compared
Best Air Purifiers with UV Light
1. Envion Therapure TPP630 (Best Filtration)
- Tower Design
- HEPA-type filter
- Smart air quality sensor
To start things off, we’d like to introduce you to the Envion Therapure TPP630, a tower-style air purifier with a built-in UV-C beam and ionizer to help eliminate odor molecules and harmful pathogens from flying freely in your home. The main benefit of the tower design is improved air circulation from the floor up so more air is moved around whenever the device is on (three air changes every 60 minutes).
The TPP630 has a maximum reach of 395 square feet, but we found it works optimally in rooms smaller than 200 square feet. Its CADR of 137, 129, and 145 CFM for dust, smoke, and pollen respectively shows that this air purifier is not the most powerful, but in limited spaces, it’s a remarkable product.
One of the more amazing things about the TPP630 is its five-stage filtration system, starting with a standard pre-filter. It also features a HEPA-type filter that traps up to 97% of particles of 0.3 microns or larger which is not at the same level as True HEPA but still more than adequate for most airborne pollutants.
The main features are its ionizer and UV-C beam that works together with a photocatalyst filter that traps microorganisms and zaps them to death. The programmable 24-hour timer will ensure that the UV-C function turns off automatically to save you from ozone exposure.
- 5-stage filtration
- Accurate sensor
- Energy Star certified
- Low CADR ratings
2. Germ Guardian AC5350 (Best For Small Rooms)
- 3-stage filtration including a True HEPA Filter
- 8-hour programmable timer
- Digital LED display
The Germ Guardian AC5350 isn’t as feature-packed as some high-end air purifiers because it isn’t one. However, it is commonly regarded as the king of all entry-level air purifiers.
The AC5350 is a small-scale air purifier with an affordable price to match its limited cleaning capacities. With a maximum reach of 167 square feet, it’s not equipped to handle spacious areas, but for use in bedrooms or dorm rooms, this tiny yet tall tower air purifier works like a beast. The AC5350’s ACH is four times, or in other words, it filters the air in a 167-square-foot room once every 15 minutes.
The CADR ratings, however, are a bit on the low side. Scoring under 130 CFM in all three categories, you can see why the AC5350 isn’t reliable in large kitchens and garages, but this has a lot to do with its filter setup.
Apart from the pre-filter with a layer of activated carbon for removing large particles and odors, this Germ Guardian device comes equipped with a True HEPA Filter that removes up to 99.97% of particles measuring 0.3 microns and larger. The third stage is a UV-C light that should only be used together with the programmable timer of up to eight hours.
- Great performance
- Easy to use
- Long 5-year warranty
- No smart sensor
3. Oransi Finn (Best For Large Rooms)
- LCD display
- 3 fan speeds
- Filter and UV lamp indicators
The Oransi Finn is the third and final tower-style air purifier on our list. Unlike the previous models, this one has a super-far reach—up to 400 square feet—that makes it a worthy device to have for large spaces as well as frequently occupied rooms. Its tiny footprint also allows it to fit snugly in between furniture or in corners without sacrificing inward airflow.
The Finn’s filtration system consists of three stages, starting with a washable pre-filter that traps larger debris. Inside of the unit is a v-HEPA filter with an effectiveness rating of 99% at capturing airborne contaminants of 0.3 microns or larger in size. The final step is an optional UV-C lamp that, sadly, emits ozone, though it is certified by the CARB as being safe for indoor use.
The control panel is comprised of several buttons and a handy LCD display that shows you everything you need to know about your air purifier. There are two light indicators, one for the v-HEPA filter and another for the UV-C lamp, so you’re always on top of what’s going on inside of the Finn.
- 400-square-foot coverage
- UV-C lamp produces ozone
4. Pure Enrichment PureZone (Best Compact Design)
- High-speed fan
- 4-stage filtration system
- Tiny footprint and profile
Moving onto an air purifier of a more traditional appearance, the Pure Enrichment PureZone is a stylish UV air purifier with a shiny white finish that would make the perfect fit in any home regardless of the interior color scheme. But let’s take a look at what’s inside of the device.
Our first impression was that the PureZone was a super-weak air purifier. Scoring less than 100 CFM in each CADR category, we had our doubts that it could perform optimally in 100-square-foot rooms, let alone its 200-square-foot max coverage. However, we’re glad to inform you that that isn’t the case.
The PureZone is able to change the air in 200-square-foot rooms twice every hour. Granted, this isn’t the fastest-working air purifier, but it definitely gets the job done. Combine its high-speed air-change rate with the True HEPA Filter, you can expect your bedroom to go from saturated in pollution to breathable in under three hours.
What’s even more fantastic is that its True HEPA Filter works together with a pre-filter and separate activated carbon filter for larger particles and odor molecules. The UV-C lamp in the very end ensures no germs make it out of the vent without being severely injured in the process.
- Stylish housing
- True HEPA Filter
- Low CADR
5. TrueSens Air Purifier
- 4-stage filtration
- Detachable sensor pod
- Intuitive control panel
The TrueSens Air Purifier Z-3000 is arguably one of the fanciest-looking entry-level air purifiers you’ll ever lay eyes on. Its cylindrical design doesn’t just add to its overall appeal but it’s able to suction in air from all directions to ensure even cleaning across 750 square feet of open space. Just try and place the TrueSens as close to the middle of the room as possible.
Inside of its tube-shaped housing is three filters. The first line of defense is a standard pre-filter that traps the larger particles from clogging the following stage, a True HEPA Filter. The purifying process ends at either a carbon filter for odor removal or a nearly ozone-free UV-C lamp.
The auto-cleaning mode supported by an air quality sensor makes using this UV air purifier as easy as can be. But what makes the TrueSens even more amazing is that the sensor, known as a SensorPod, can be detached from the unit and located closer to the source of indoor pollution (e.g. a window or door). The motor and fan will begin its cleaning cycle as soon as the SensorPod detects high concentrations of airborne contaminants regardless of its location relative to the TrueSens.
- Stylish design
- Awesome purifying abilities
- High CADR
- 5-stage filtration
- Air quality sensor
- Compact design
The final product on our top six best UV air purifiers is none other than the SilverOnyx. Don’t mistake its tiny motor, fan, and build for weakness—at its highest fan speed, this super-compact air purifier can reach all four corners of 500-square-foot rooms with ease. Best of all, the SilverOnyx can sit comfortably atop side tables and other above-ground surfaces without teetering.
Like the TrueSens, the SilverOnyx is a cylindrical UV air purifier that takes air in from all directions before sending it out upward for even distribution in spacious areas. This unit offers five different fan speeds for energy-efficient airborne particle removal, though if you switch auto-mode on, the device will switch gears on its own.
One of the biggest disappointments about this device, if you want to call it that, is its obnoxious fan noises on its fifth and highest setting. Thankfully, the sensors very rarely kickstart the motor into high gear, and you can always switch to a lower speed at nighttime for disturbance-free sleep.
Not only does this cute air purifier have a low-ozone UV-C lamp built inside of it, but there’s also a handy ionizer that causes airborne particles to stick onto the filters. This, like the UV lamp, produces tiny amounts of ozone, so be sure to run them only in empty rooms and never while you’re asleep.
- True HEPA Filter
- Does not take much table/desk space
- 500-square-foot capacity
- Loud fan noises
What Is UV?
You’ve probably heard of ultraviolet (UV) lights before and how they can be hazardous to our skin. However, we can harness the destructive nature of UV radiation and aim it at the sworn enemy of all mankind. Here, we’re talking about illness-causing microorganisms.
UV lights are split into three different classifications based on their wavelengths; from longest to shortest, UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C respectively. The shorter the wavelength, the more hazardous the UV radiation, but also the less likely it can penetrate human skin. Essentially, we’re safe from UV-C radiation in low doses, but bacteria and viruses aren’t so lucky.
UV-C irradiation devices have been used in commercial buildings for a couple of decades already, and only recently have they been introduced as consumer-grade products as lamps, boxes, wands, and now built into air purifiers.
UV-C is generally accepted as “safe for humans,” although excessive exposure to the invisible beam can lead to damage to the eyes and skin. It’s important that we as users take extra precautions when using UV-C appliances to disinfect our homes and belongings, but thankfully, manufacturers are making it easy to avoid overexposure with minimal effort.
How Does a UV Air Purifier Work?
In many home purification systems, we find UV-C to be the main “agent” responsible for its disinfecting properties. Many modern air purifiers are also built with UV-C lamps to kill viruses and bacteria that happen to get sucked into the appliance. How does this work?
It’s pretty basic if we’re being honest. Air purifiers move tremendous amounts of air in a room by suctioning it in and passing it through a fine-mesh filter to remove airborne contaminants. Air purifiers with UV-C lamps typically have a kill chamber inside of the unit where passing pathogens are exposed to the germicidal beams that leave either destroy their ability to reproduce or wipe them off the face of the Earth.
However, the effectiveness of a UV air purifier depends on how long it exposes harmful microorganisms to the DNA-destroying invisible beams. Many of the more high-end UV air purifiers have an ingenious feature that slows the movement of airflow down inside of the device, while others use lights that shine bright at one of the onboard filters to kill the trapped pathogens.
Regardless of which system the UV air purifier uses, you can be sure of two things. First, any and all passing single-cell microorganisms that are unfortunate enough to get suctioned into the device will be eradicated in one or two air-change cycles, and second, their built-in UV-C lamps shine inward, not out, to leave your delicate human skin as supple as ever.
Is Using A UV Air Purifier Safe?
The answer to this question is a “yes, but…” so please bear with us as we explain.
Yes, UV air purifiers are safe in the sense that they work just like any other air purifier. Their main purpose is to filter the air by passing huge quantities of it through a fine filter to trap the tiniest particles, living or otherwise, and prevent them from getting into our lungs.
Also, as we mentioned in the previous section, the UV-C lamps are focused on either a kill chamber or an onboard filter. There’s very little risk of UV irradiation outside of the device unless it has become damaged in some way. If that’s the case, make sure to get your air purifier checked by a certified specialist to see whether they can restore its safety and effectiveness.
But here’s the kicker. UV air purifiers can produce ozone, a lung irritant, and a potential carcinogen when exposed to large doses in short periods of time. It seems counterproductive that UV-C lights clear the air while simultaneously putting us at risk of a life-changing condition, doesn’t it?
But here’s the kicker to the previous kicker. Name brand air purifiers—at least the ones mentioned on our top-6 list—emit very little to no ozone at all, and those that do produce them in such tiny quantities that overexposure is nearly impossible.
Still, even if they release less than the 0.1-ppm exposure limit set by the NIOSH, you should only switch on the UV-C feature in empty rooms, or better yet in an empty house or apartment. Take a look at the paperwork to see what the manufacturer has to say about their device’s ozone production levels.
UV Air Purifier – Pros & Cons
Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of UV air purifiers.
UV air purifiers kill bacteria and viruses, period. What else do we need to add? Non-UV air purifiers trap them in their filters, but there’s a chance that they become dislodged and exit through the vent. With UV lamps built into the air purifier, this risk is virtually nonexistent.
Low to No Ozone Emission
The amount of ozone that a UV air purifier generates varies from model to model, but the latest ones, or at least the ones on our list, either produce absolutely no ozone or extremely tiny quantities of the stuff.
UV Light Optional
The UV light in an air purifier is completely optional. You can turn it on and off whenever you like. If there isn’t a bacterial or viral attack going on within the four walls of your home, there’s no need to run the UV light, but it’s always there whenever you need it.
We said it before and we’ll say it again: ozone is a potential carcinogen. Don’t be fooled by how little ozone an air purifier generates; when running for hours and hours on end and without ventilation, you are possibly creating a hazardous environment in your home. Play it safe and run the UV-C function in tandem with the timer.
Cost of UV Bulb Replacements
The UV-C bulbs inside of the air purifier have a limited lifespan—anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 hours on average. If you use the UV-C function regularly, make sure you have some spare bulbs on hand. Luckily, they’re easily found online and in specialty electronics stores.
Do You Need A UV Air Purifier?
Is it absolutely necessary that you have a UV air purifier at home? In some cases, you might. For instance, if there’s you’re currently experiencing a virus attack unseen by past generations, then yes, a virus-killing UV air purifier can be an invaluable tool.
Outside of being locked down due to uncontrolled viral or bacterial attacks, a UV air purifier can still serve a purpose. If you live with a smoker or if someone in your household has the sniffles, an air purifier with built-in UV-C lamps could very well make the difference between contained and household-wide illness.
In every other case, an air purifier would still be a smart purchase decision, and it won’t hurt to have a backup ionizer and/or germicidal UV-C lights built into the device.
How to Choose A UV Light Air Purifier
CADR and ACH
CADR measures how effective the air purifier is at getting rid of dust, pollen, and smoke from a room, whereas ACH is used to determine how many times the device can filter the air in a room per hour. Generally speaking, higher CADR and ACH ratings are ideal, though there are plenty of UV air purifiers with low-ish CADRs that still work beautifully in the right setting (check out our top 6 best UV air purifier list above).
HEPA-type, HEPA-grade, True HEPA, etc., etc. Although True HEPA Filters are the best type of filter you can get, any filter that performs at a near effectiveness level is just fine. Plus, non-True HEPA Filters tend to not clog as easily so you won’t need to replace them as often.
A built-in ionizer delivers a negative charge to the air surrounding the air purifier which causes the shocked contaminants to adhere better to the filters. But like UV-C lamps, ionizers produce ozone, albeit in tiny quantities. Just something to keep in mind…
It’s important for an air purifier to go through a series of rigorous tests to determine whether it’s safe to use at home. This is especially true for UV air purifiers since UV-C lamps produce ozone. The most trustworthy certifications you should keep an eye out for are ETL, CE, GS, and CARB.
1. When should I use the UV light on an air purifier?
The UV function in your air purifier can be used any time you like as an extra measure to harmful microorganisms. However, we advise you to switch the UV lamp on when nobody is in the room or—better yet—at home. Plus, you should turn it on along with the timer so the device shuts off after a certain amount of time.
2. Are UV-C light air purifiers safe?
We said it before and we’ll say it again: yes, UV-C air purifiers are safe, but you should only use the UV-C lamp when absolutely necessary to eliminate airborne pathogens and prevent mold growth. If your home is not under siege by a deadly virus, you can leave the UV-C lamp turned off.
3. Is it OK to leave an air purifier on all night?
Yes, it is, as long as neither the ionizer nor the UV-C lamp is active. You might want to switch the unit to its lowest fan speed to reduce its noise output level by several decibels.
4. Are air purifiers bad for you?
Absolutely not, provided that you take good care of the device. The filters need regularly changing and/or cleaning since moisture inside of the machine can be the perfect breeding ground for germs and mold. Pay close attention to the filter indicator (if available) which should give you a good idea of when to swap the old filter for a fresh one.
And that’s the end of our guide on what a UV air purifier is and how to find the perfect model for your home. If you don’t feel like going through our wall of text, feel free to check out our top 6 list of the best UV air purifiers available on the market. Happy shopping!
There really is a science to them isn’t there, I would have a hard time knowing where to start.
But I know one thing for sure with covid-19 running rampant these products will be walking off the shelves of people in the know.
Probably so. The germicidal effect of UV light is proven. It’s just that it needs a longer exposure to kill microorganisms.