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Air Cleaner Cost

How Much Does an Air Cleaner Cost?

low costLow: Basic Air Filter Systems Can Run $200-$550average costMedium: Whole House Air Cleaners Can Run $1,000-$5,000
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Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks, according to the EPA[1] . Air cleaners are intended to remove pollutants -- such as dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco smoke or unwanted odors -- from indoor air to ease asthma or allergy symptoms, or to reduce snoring. Also called whole house or in-duct air purifiers, a central air cleaner must be attached to a ducted forced-air heating or cooling system.

Typical costs:

  • Some basic air filter systems which using mechanical filters (high efficiency particulate air filters or HEPA) to trap dust, pollen or smoke run $200-$550 or more, depending on the unit's size and efficiency. More expensive models may also include electronic air cleaning. Often this type of filter system is installed where you would usually put a disposable furnace filter.
  • More complex central or whole-house air cleaners (which usually combine several different types of air cleaning processes) can run $1,000-$5,000 or more, with professional installation included (installation is generally not considered a reasonable do-it-yourself project). Total price will depend on the unit's capacity and efficiency. Features to look for include noise levels, fan speeds, a pre-filter to catch larger particulates, and ease of maintenance and filter cleaning/replacement.
Related articles: Room Air Cleaner, Whole House Humidifier, Central Air Conditioner, Central Heating

What should be included:
  • An air cleaner may use: mechanical filters (usually HEPA) to capture unwanted particles in the air; an electrical field to attract and trap particles; gas-phase (activated carbon) air filters to remove gases and odors; ultraviolet light to destroy pollutants in the air; or a mix of these air cleaning processes. Some air cleaners/purifiers are ozone generators, which use ultraviolet light and/or electrical discharge; but both the EPA[2] and Consumer Reports[3] warn against ozone generators, because of the amount of ozone produced (ozone can be an unhealthy irritant).
  • The size and shape of air cleaners varies by type and brand. It's important to check that there's sufficient room available to add a central air cleaning unit to your forced-air heating or cooling system. In many cases, installation involves placing a unit about 6-8 inches wide between your home's return air duct and the intake for the forced-air system so that the air will pass through the air cleaner unit. This involves cutting and reforming the ductwork, then attaching the unit. This is not generally considered a do-it-yourself project.
  • The EPA provides a glossary[4] of indoor air quality (IAQ) terms.
Additional costs:
  • Child-tamper-resistant outlets cost about $4-$6 each, compared to $1-$3 for standard hardware, according to State Farm Insurance[5] .
  • The filters in most air cleaners should be replaced frequently (based on the manufacturer's recommendations), and can cost anywhere from $20-$200 or more. Be sure to ask how often and the cost for replacing filter(s) before purchasing a specific model.
Shopping for an air cleaner:
  • The effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how well it captures pollutants from indoor air (a percentage efficiency rate) and how much air it draws through the cleaning or filtering element (cubic feet per minute). The American Lung Association of Washington lists factors to consider[6] in deciding whether to use an air cleaner.
  • Most hardware stores, home improvement centers and heating/cooling dealers sell central air cleaners. Major manufacturers include Aprilaire[7] , Honeywell[8] and Skuttle[9] .
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