HEPA vs Ionic Air Purifier

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Updated February 5, 2023

Comparing a HEPA vs an ionic air purifier can be tricky since both systems have so much to offer. For the standard consumer, it can feel impossible to decide. You just want to get rid of the types of pollutants that can be hazardous to your health, after all. To do that, though, you need to invest in the best air purifier possible. The biggest difference in these two methods of air purification is how they remove the particles. HEPA purifiers use a fan to push air through a HEPA filter that captures 99.97% of contaminants, whereas ionic purifiers emit negative ions into the air to attract the contaminants. Keep reading to learn more about these purifiers and see which is the proper one for your needs.


  • HEPA air purifiers can trap pollutants far more quickly than other types of air purifiers and are more effective at doing so.
  • Ionic air purification releases a small amount of ozone which can harm your health, especially if you are an asthma sufferer.
  • Your lifestyle and budget will always be the best determiner of the product to buy, but HEPA filters are a better choice for those with chronic illness or other health complications.

Comparing HEPA and Ionic Air Purifiers

Figuring out who wins when in the HEPA vs ionic air purifier showdown isn’t necessarily easy. However, once we tally the marks, there is a clear winner. Below, you’ll find a rundown of each, its benefits, drawbacks, and which one reigns supreme. Are you interested in more filter types? Try reading about what a HEPA vs PECO filter comparison looks like.

Explaining HEPA Filters

There is a myriad of health benefits associated with a HEPA air purifier. The most significant difference between these and ionic purifiers is that HEPA filters come backed by the U.S. Department of Energy. If you’re still worried about additional allergens, we did a comparison of HEPA vs an allergen filter purifier. Check it out.

For a couple more comparisons, check out filter vs filterless air purifiers and air cleaners vs air purifiers.

How HEPA Filters Work

A HEPA air purifier works by filtering air particles through a highly effective filter. These types of air purifiers are the most common and use mechanical filtration to provide better indoor air quality.

Benefits of HEPA Filters

There are several benefits of using HEPA filters:

  • They minimize your allergy symptoms.
  • They keep asthma symptoms under control.
  • They filter smaller and larger particles more efficiently.

Insider Tip

HEPA filters are more resilient than other types, so you can vacuum them and reuse the same one repeatedly.

Drawbacks of HEPA Filters

No product is perfect, so keep the following in mind:

  • HEPA air purifiers are generally more expensive.
  • You have to replace air filters in most models.

STAT: Multiple studies show that using HEPA filters in air purifiers can result in a 50 percent or higher reduction in airborne particulate matter. (source)

Explaining Ionic Air Purifiers

Ionic purifiers, also known as air ionizers, were top-rated in the 90s. However, as the HEPA air filter rose in popularity, the demand for air ionizers lowered. That said, they are still manufactured and in use today.

How Ionic Air Purifiers Work

Ionic purifiers emit negative ions charges that discharge the microscopic particles causing odor, sickness, and more. Because they use an electrical charge, they are filterless air purifiers.

Benefits of Ionic Air Purifiers

An ionizing air purifier has several benefits:

  • Provides regular cleaning to your air by keeping it moving.
  • This technology doesn’t require a physical filter.
  • It is effective at lowering the amount of indoor air pollution.

Drawbacks of Ionic Air Purifiers

There are a few drawbacks to keep in mind with ionizer air purifiers:

  • It doesn’t filter out as many airborne pollutants as a HEPA.
  • While they aren’t ozone purifiers, they still create ozone as a byproduct.


Ionic air purifiers produce a small amount of ozone, a hazardous pollutant that poses moderate health risks.

Which One is Better for You?

The type of air purifier you choose is entirely up to you. If you’re going by today’s health standards, though, the HEPA filter should be your first choice. Its air cleaning performance is second to none. A HEPA air purifier also comes with a promise to consumers, backed by a federal agency. Ionic purifiers are fine, but they don’t offer the same health benefits.


What are air purifiers supposed to filter out of the air?

Air purifiers are supposed to trap and filter out airborne particles of all different types. Some examples include:

  • Dust Particles
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Common Allergens

Are air purifiers effective at cleaning the air?

Air cleaning efficiency is best achieved by regular maintenance, like keeping up with cleaning reusable filters. You also want to buy a model that can keep up with your lifestyle. For example, if you have pets, get one that’s made for cleaning pet dander.

Can air purifiers filter the air that comes from outside?

They can, but air purifiers have a high cleaning speed in an enclosed space. Close your windows to get the most efficient air cleaning performance.

Are ozone purifiers dangerous to use?

Ozone air purifiers, also known as ozone generators, are not recommended for use. High levels of ozone can cause several health issues. Most consumers should avoid ozone air purifiers.

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