Last Updated December 5, 2021
What is the Best Car Air Purifier
A car air purifier is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a simple device that filters out toxins in the air so you can breathe easy while in your car. They work in much the same way as regular room air purifiers.
Like regular room air purifiers, however, there is a wide spectrum of quality when it comes to car air purifiers. Read on to learn more about what to look for and how to pick the right car air purifier for you.
Benefits of Using a Car Air Purifier
Do you spend a lot of time in your car? The hours spent commuting and carpooling can add up quickly!
But it’s always important to breathe clean air, especially if you are prone to asthma or allergies. For many people, it’s not just enough to filter the air in their home. Filtering the air in your second home – your car – is just as important, if not more so.
Breathing clean air has many benefits. It can help prevent wheezing and chronic disease. It can also improve your driving experience by eliminating unwanted odors in a cramped and stuffy car.
Types of Pollution that Can Enter Your Car
Maybe you’re thinking, “but how can my car air become polluted in the first place?”
Unfortunately, there are many ways.
Some common pollutants include:
Smog and car fumes: Sitting in traffic? Live or work in the city? Chances are that the air quality, particularly on the highway, isn’t great. While it may seem like cars are sealed up from the outside world, there are many ways for the low-quality air to creep in.
Cigarette smoke: Whether you smoke or a frequent carpool buddy does, you know that the cigarette smell lingers. Seriously. Even if someone smoked in your car one time, even if they smoked before getting into your car, and even if you got your car used from a smoker, you know that it’s impossible to get rid of the smell. That is, unless you use an air purifier.
Wildfire smoke: Similar to the smog above, wildfire smoke can travel far and is terrible for the lungs. People hundreds of miles away can find the smoke sickening, especially when it gets trapped in the car.
Pets: Whose dog doesn’t love going for a ride? Even a few cats enjoy a road trip now and then. Unfortunately, however, pet dander can hang around even when Fido isn’t with you. Car air purifiers can ensure you and your fur baby both enjoy the trip.
Allergens: If you have an airborne allergy such as pollen, you already know that the tiny spores have a bad habit of getting into your car and causing you to start sneezing during the ride. You know how your eyes will start watering and dangerously impairing your vision. Luckily, a car air purifier can keep your hay fever at bay and keep you focused on the road.
Who Could Benefit from a Car Air Purifier
Car air purifiers, like regular home air purifiers, can help many people. In particular, this includes:
- People with allergies: Allergies are known to cause wheezing and sneezing. In the most severe cases, allergies can tighten your throat and block airways. Fortunately, avoiding this problem is easy when you have an air purifier.
- People with asthma: Smoke – whether from natural sources or cigarettes – can irritate people with asthma. Again, filtering out these toxins with an air purifier can prevent flareups.
- People with lung disease: Having lung disease can be frustrating because so many things can give you a cough or a feeling of tightness in the chest. Fortunately, air purifiers filter out most of the common culprits.
- Children: Children have smaller lungs than adults and are more susceptible to toxins in the air.
Even if you are lucky enough not to have limited lung capacity or one of the conditions above, air purifiers can still make the air smell fresh and clean. This, in turn, can make a long and stuffy car ride much more bearable.
Other groups who might benefit from an air purifier include:
- People who drive for a living
- People with long commutes
- Ride-sharing workers and taxi drivers
- Parents of busy children
- People who travel regularly in their vehicles
- People with pets
- People who live in cities
- People who have a smoker in the family
Types of Car Air Purifiers
Like regular air purifiers, car air purifiers are essentially in two categories:
1. Air purifiers that absorb odors: Charcoal air purifiers, activated carbon, and HEPA filters are the most common odor absorbing purifiers. They work by trapping the particles in the air inside the filter so you don’t have to worry about them any more. Of these, HEPA generally does the filtering out large particles while activated charcoal and carbon get rid of odors.
2. Purifiers that eliminate particles: UV filters are supposed to kill toxins on contact. Some particles eliminators like this, however, emit ozone, which can be especially problematic in an enclosed space like a vehicle.
The most common type of car air purifier will include more than one type of filter. Frequently, they have one filter to eliminate, kill, or absorb harmful particles and another to absorb odors.
Note that most car air purifiers either run on a long-term battery, require frequent charging, or work with your cigarette lighter.
Features to Look for in Car Air Purifiers
There are many things to look for in a car air purifier:
- Cost: Let’s face it, we often decide which items to get based on what’s the cheapest. With car air purifiers, however, it’s important to balance cost with…
- Quality: If you buy something that is cheaply made, it either won’t work or will break after a few uses. This means you will be out buying a new air purifier again and spending more money than you would have had you just bought a better purifier to begin with.
Make sure to buy the highest-quality air purifier you can afford. Remember, though, that expensive does not always equal high-quality. Make sure to read reviews!
- Filter Type: Do you just want to eliminate odors or do you want to eliminate toxins? Some air purifiers do both, such as ones that have both activated charcoal and HEPA filters. These work well for most people
- Power Source: Does the device run with the cigarette lighter? This means you can’t simultaneously charge your phone. Does it require frequent charging? Make sure you will remember to charge it up or replace the battery regularly.
- Noise: Getting rid of one distraction – polluted air – can sometimes introduce a new problem, namely loud noise. Try to get a quieter air purifier that won’t be a new distraction.
Other Considerations Before Buying a Car Air Purifier
Before buying a car air purifier, please make sure to read reviews.
Sure, you can go to your local big-box store and buy one of the two or three air purifiers available there.
But it’s 2021. Where do you buy most things?
Exactly. You get things on the internet. One huge convenience of that is the fact that you can easily see what others have to say about a given air purifier. There is no way to hide a lousy device!
So do your homework. Doing so will help you to make sure that you don’t get a low-quality purifier and end up shopping for a new one in just a couple weeks.
Recommended Car Air Purifier
Our recommended car air purifier is the NuvoMed car air purifier.
This particular model filters out toxins with a HEPA filter and eliminates odors with activated charcoal. It is small, so it won’t take up all of your space. The smart technology plugs into your cigarette lighter and then turns on and off with your car, so you don’t have to worry about wasting battery.
Tips and Advice
- Do you have more than one vehicle you use regularly? Get a car air purifier for both. If one of the vehicles isn’t yours (such as if you carpool) consider politely gifting it to the owner. If you have kids who regularly ride around with a babysitter or grandma, make sure you get one for their car too! Kids, after all, do have smaller lung capacities.
- Make sure to charge your purifier regularly if it runs on a rechargeable battery. If it runs on a cigarette lighter, make sure to charge your phone in advance so you don’t need to unplug one device to charge another.
- Think about where the purifier will go. Will in be in reach of your kids? Will it take up one of your precious cup holders?
- Remember that air purifiers will work best when you have the windows up. Keeping the windows down will invite pollutants into your car faster than any filter can eliminate them.
- What happens if filters aren’t changed?
This depends on the type of filter. A HEPA filter won’t work if it is not on, but an activated charcoal filter might still absorb some odors.
- Can car air filters withstand the heat in a parked car?
Like any electronic, it’s best not to leave it in a parked car in 120+ degree weather for a long time. Try to park in the shade when possible to get the longest life from an electronic air filter. When that’s not possible, try using a sun shade or at least angling the car so that the filter is out of direct sunlight. You can also move the filter under the seat if necessary.
- Can car air filters work in the winter?
Of course! While allergens lessen in the winter, car fumes, smog, cigarette smoke, and pet dander hang around. Your air purifier will continue working to keep your car air as fresh as possible during this time.
- Does car air filters work against COVID-19?
It depends. An activated charcoal or carbon filter will not do too much, but a HEPA filter can help. Does this mean you can ditch the masks? Probably not. But, a HEPA filter will filter out particles that carry COVID-19 like droplets and keep the air circulating. HEPA filter+mask is a much better combo than mask alone.
- If my car has a cabin air filter, do I still need an air purifier?
Yes. A cabin air filter cleans the air as it moves through your HVAC system. It does not clean out your car. Outside pollutants that get in your car when you have the window down at the drive-through or when you have the door open trying to figure out a new car seat for your kid won’t be cleaned with the cabin air filter. It also won’t help much with cigarette smoke and dander.
- Will a car air filter drain my car battery?
Again, this depends on the type of air filter you get. If you get a filter that charges with a cigarette lighter and leave it plugged in and on while your out, it can drain your battery. Some older cars’ cigarette lighters don’t work when the car is off, but they do work in many newer cars. Make sure to turn it off or unplug it if you are concerned.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to take care of our health. Improving our indoor air quality is one easy way to do this! Adding an air purifier to your car, especially if you spend a lot of time there, can improve your air quality and quality of life.