Ion Purifier: Pionair air filter?

The Pionair ion purifier does not have a filter and doesn’t trap airborne particles such as pet dander or hair. In this sense, it is more like an air sterilizer than an air purifier. The Pionair uses negative ionization and photocatalysis to clean the air surrounding the machine. Prices range from approximately $400 to $600, and the machines are made in the U.S. by HealthQuest Technologies in Georgia. A purifier like the Pionair works best in humid environments where conventional high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters don’t work as well, such as damp rooms like basements and bathrooms. In these environments, mold spores and musty smells accumulate, and this is where the Pionair works best.


The Pionair uses a photocatalytic air purifier that uses titanium dioxide as a catalyst, and an ultraviolet light bulb to create hydroxyl oxidizers. This is a fairly new technology and can be used instead of ozone. The Pionair does not have a fan but draws air in due to a chimney-like effect created by the light bulb. Because there is no fan, the clean air delivery rate is very slow. However, the Pionair is very quiet and is not designed to do the same job as a traditional HEPA air filtration system. The ultraviolet bulb used in the Pionair will have to be replaced after about a year. While the bulbs are fairly expensive, the cost is comparable to the replacement filter costs for traditional air purifiers.

Drawbacks to the Pionair purifier include the steep price compared to the size room it can treat. Also, the Pionair does produce ozone due to a wider wavelength distribution in the ultraviolet bulb. Light with a 254-nanometer wavelength is germicidal, and light with a wavelength if 185 nm is ozone generating. However, the production of a bulb that is made specifically for 254 nm is more expensive, so Pionair elected to include the 185 nm light in its bulb. The biggest drawback is that it is not designed to rid the air of particles, and often it is particles that aggravate allergies. On the other hand, HEPA air cleaners don’t do so well in damp, moldy environments like basements.

Overall, the Pionair ion air purifier is suitable for cleaning the air in fairly small rooms where particle removal is not a high priority. It is small, easily portable, and uses very little electricity (25 watts). Because there is no fan, the unit is very quiet. Though there is no filter, the ultraviolet bulb does have to be replaced periodically. Over three to five years, users will spend a comparable amount on replacement UV bulbs as they would on replacement filters for a traditional air purifier.

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