Air Scrubber Vs Air Purifier: The Great Debate

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You’re interested in cleaning up the air in your home, and that’s great! Especially because according to the U.S. EPA, pollutant levels for certain air pollutants could be 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. You’ve heard of both air purifiers and air scrubbers, you’re just not sure which one to get. So, which one do you choose in the battle of air scrubber vs air purifier?

When it comes to choosing between an air purifier vs an air scrubber this is ultimately a choice that depends on what you want. Do you want something that works with your HVAC system, but only provides one technology to do so and has a higher up-front cost? Then you may want an air scrubber. Do you want something that has lots of options, but might drive up your electric bill? Then you may want an air purifier.

This is a difficult decision no matter what you choose. Let us help you through the great air scrubber vs air purifier debate.

Air Purifiers

Air purifier drawing in some air.


In case you’re not familiar with air purifiers, these are appliances that do exactly what their name implies. They purify the air, by sucking in the air around them, filtering it, then pushing the cleaner air back out. Another way to think of it is that an air purifier is a fan with filters to clean the air as it’s sucked through the air purifier’s systems.


  • Sizes – Air purifiers come in a wide range of sizes, which makes them ideal for whatever your needs are. If, for example, you only need to purify the air in one room of your home or office, there are plenty of different air purifier models that can help you with that. Or, if you’re looking to purify the air of a larger area, there are air purifiers for that too.
  • Filtration Systems – Air purifiers come with a variety of purifying technology. You have HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, UV technology, and more. If you’re looking for options, air purifiers have it.
  • Portability – Air purifiers are as portable as they come. Most air purifiers, regardless of their size, can be transported from room to room, if you need, but there are also air purifiers that are small enough to be taken on trips!
  • Pollutants Removed – Air purifiers, depending on what filters and technologies they have, can remove a wide variety of pollutants from the air. These include things like dust, pollen, dander, and, if the air purifier has an activated carbon filter, some gases too.
  • Variety In Cost – No matter your budget, you should be able to find an air purifier for you.
  • Improved Health – Reducing those pollutants can improve your health. This is especially true if you have conditions such as asthma.


  • Filter Replacement – Air purifiers can have permanent or replaceable filders. For the replaceable, depending on the type of air purifier you get, the cost of replacing filters can add up.
  • Electric Bill – This also depends on the type of air purifier or purifiers you get, but they can add costs (sometimes significantly) to your electric bill.
  • Filtration System Side Effects – Some air purifier filtration systems, such as UV, electrostatic precipitators, ionic, and ozone generators, have the potential to cause ozone. Ozone can be harmful to our health, sometimes significantly, so be aware of what kind of air purifier you’re getting.
  • Lack Of Surface Pollutant Removal – Air purifiers can remove a wide variety of pollutants in the air, but once they settle on something, it’s unlikely they’ll be as effective, if at all.

When To Get An Air Purifier

The answer to this depends on what you’re getting an air purifier for. Air purifiers do have a lot of benefits, from their portability (ability to move around), variety to their effectiveness. These, however, may come with a cost. If you’re just looking to purify one or a couple of rooms, then an air purifier is a good choice. If you’re looking for a whole-house option, you can still get an air purifier, just know that it will come with a cost attached.

It’s also a good idea to get an air purifier if you’re trying to clean the air as much as possible. While an air scrubber can help, it only has UV technology, whereas some air purifiers can have multiple filters and technologies to run the air through.

Air Scrubbers

Closeup of UV lights.


Air scrubber can be a confusing term. This is because there are multiple types of air scrubbers. There’s the traditional air scrubber, which is used commercially (using either dry or wet scrubbing). There’s the residential air scrubber too, which is a device that is attached to HVAC systems.

Without getting too technical, a residential air scrubber uses two processes. One process is ultraviolet light, similar to an ultraviolet air purifier. This process is called Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation or UVGI and it attacks viruses and bacteria. With enough exposure to the UV light, they break down. The second process uses oxygen and water molecules as they enter into the air ducts of your home. As they pass through the air scrubber they become what’s known as oxidizers. These oxidizers attack pollutants in the air and on surfaces, destroying them.


  • Whole-House Benefits – This can apply to any space where you install an air scrubber, but since they’re attached to the HVAC system, they’re providing air purifying benefits to your entire air system, not just one specific room, as many air purifiers do.
  • Lack Of Filter Cost – Air scrubbers don’t use filters, so there won’t be any extra costs from replacing filters
  • Electric Bill – Yes, an air scrubber will increase your electric bill cost, but not as much as an air purifier.
  • Removal Of Surface Pollutants – An air scrubber, unlike an air purifier, has the potential to destroy pollutants that have settled onto surfaces, including COVID-19!


  • Lack Of Variety – With a residential air scrubber, you’re getting what you get. It’s going to use UV technology and that’s it. This can cause ozone. Speak with the contractor about this beforehand to make sure the brand they’re using is safe for use.
  • Cost – There can be a high, up-front cost for an air scrubber.

When To Get An Air Scrubber

If you want a device that’s out of the way and can attack pollutants in the air and on surfaces, then you may want to consider an air scrubber. You’ll also want to get an air scrubber if you want something to with your whole house.

In Summary: Air Scrubber Vs Air Purifier

Both air scrubbers and air purifiers have their pros and cons. These range from their variability to their additional costs, such as filter replacement or electricity. So, when it comes to the debate of air scrubber vs air purifier, it’s not so much which one is better, but which one better suits your needs.

In the end, no matter which option you go with, the important thing is to find something that helps improve your health and the health of those you care about. Both can provide this, just in different ways.

So, what do you think? Have you had an air scrubber or air purifier before? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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Hello, this is Randy Jones. I am the owner of this website “Home Air Wiki” which will inform you about all the latest home gadget tools like Air Purifiers, it’s related accessories, use, and maintenance information.

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