Where's the Best Place to Put an Air Purifier?

For the most effective air purifier results, it's all about location, location, location.

air purifier group stacked
Photo: Marty Baldwin

If you've shopped around for the perfect air purifier, you’ve already considered the size of your home, how frequently you’ll need to replace filters, and the amount of electricity the purifier will consume. It might seem like you’ve tackled every minor detail until you finally get it home and wonder where—exactly—is the best place to position it. There are lots of options, especially in homes with an open floor plan. Follow these pro tips on placement to get the best performance out of your air purifier.

1. Select the Perfect Spot

Ava Martin, a water filtration system expert at Quality Water Lab who has a degree in environmental science, says air purifiers are relatively simple: “They take in impure air from a space, filter it and give out clean air.” When it comes to the perfect air purifier placement, she says placing one flush against a wall may block its air intake and cause the filter to work improperly. In extreme cases, it could even damage the purifier. It's important to ensure your air purifier has clearance at the top, bottom, and sides.

So what about placing an air purifier on a shelf? “Putting an air purifier on a rack is practically equivalent to setting it against a wall. Racks can hinder purifiers,” she advises.

2. Choose Multiple Smaller Units

Although both big and small air purifiers require clearance space on all sides, Martin says that smaller units are easier to place and maintain. "Common sense dictates that a bigger purifier can better clean bigger spaces. But that is not necessarily the case. It’s all about the airflow,” she says. If your space is open concept, the air can flow relatively unhindered, so one large unit can do the job effectively. “But most buildings have plenty of divisions. And if the air cannot freely travel between rooms, the bigger unit will only clean its surroundings and not the rest of the floor,” she says. Her advice is to put smaller purifiers in each room, instead of placing one big floor unit in the center of the house. 

3. Put It Near the Problem

George Negron of EnviroKlenz agrees that strategically placing air quality purifiers throughout the home is ideal for removing air particles from various pollutants, including mold, mildew, dust, pet dander, smog, and smoke. “If you’re trying to cleanse the air from mold spores, smoke, or airborne fibers from a DIY project, place the purifier near the problematic area,” he advises.

“Place a portable HEPA air purifier in the room with the most potential contaminants,” says Negron. Don’t place it in a corner or tuck it behind furniture. To optimize air flow, “target entry points, like a doorway, a busy hallway, or a window ... Try to give a few feet of space in every direction for optimum circulation, with the vents pointed toward the middle of the room.” Most air purifiers take in air from the top, so make sure that nothing covers the device while it’s on.

4. Make It Mobile

If you’re wondering how to keep your family from tripping over an air purifier in the middle of a busy hallway, consider running it at night when everyone is asleep or during the day when everyone is at work or school. Portable air purifiers can be turned off and closeted during peak times.

If your home has a few trouble spots, move the purifier to less dense areas when you’ve got a full house. “After plugging in the air purifier, wait a few hours of continuous use for the system to fully recirculate the air in your desired room. Feel free to move the air purifier throughout the home to cleanse each area’s space,” Negron suggests.

5. Add to Your Workplace

There’s also a lot of buzz about placing air purifiers near computers. These days, many desktop air purifiers can keep your workplace dust and allergen-free. Some use UV light while others use HEPA filters. Before buying one for your office, read the manufacturer’s label to better understand how far to place it from your face and computer.

For those sharing a workspace, remember that these types of devices have a built-in fan. When deciding where to position your air purifier at work, be mindful that the gentle breeze and the hum of the purifier could disturb nearby office mates.

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