Difference Between an Air Cleaner and an Air Purifier

Difference Between an Air Cleaner and an Air Purifier

You’d be amazed at the number of airborne pollutants that linger in your Santa Cruz home’s indoor air on a daily basis. Whether it’s dust, pet dander, pollen or mold spores, these unwanted allergens can easily play havoc on your sinuses and trigger common allergy and asthma symptoms.

The air filter found in your HVAC system removes its fair share of airborne pollutants, but a dedicated air cleaner offers the additional muscle needed to clear up poor indoor air quality issues. When it comes to finding a new air cleaner or air purifier, however, the terminology surrounding these two devices can seem a bit confusing.

Different Names, Same Purpose

In most respects, air cleaners and air purifiers are two sides of the same coin. Both work to improve indoor air quality by removing harmful pollutants from the air. The true difference lies in how air cleaners and air purifiers deal with these pollutants. These devices use a wide variety of methods to make your indoor air cleaner and healthier:

  • Activated Carbon Filtration- Used in conjunction with other filtration methods, activated carbon can remove odors, gases and vapors from indoor air.
  • Ozone Generation- Some air purifiers use ozone to neutralize odors and remove certain airborne pollutants. However, ozone also causes lung irritation.
  • Electrostatic Precipitators and Charged Filtration Media- Both use an electrostatic charge to trap airborne particles and other impurities.
  • UV Technology- Some air purifiers use ultraviolet (UV) light to disrupt airborne viruses and bacteria on a molecular level, preventing them from multiplying.
  • Pre-Filtration- Some air cleaners have pre-filters that intercept larger particles before they can reach the main filter, making that filter more effective at trapping smaller particles. These pre-filters can be removed and cleaned, in most cases.

Still have questions about finding the perfect air cleaner for your Santa Cruz or South Bay Peninsula home? Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at (408) 868-5500.


Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).