What Is The Difference Between a Portable & Whole Home Air Filtration System?

image of homeowner deciding which one depicting portable air filters vs whole home air filtration systems

Most people think of black smoke and thick smog when they picture air pollution. However, these clear indicators aren’t the only signs of poor air quality. Pollution may not always be as obvious. For instance, most indoor air pollutants are small and unnoticeable but are found all around us. Therefore, homeowners need to be proactive about their home’s indoor air quality, having a viable solution to keep their air healthy and clean. For example, viable options generally include either a portable vs whole home air filtration, each with its pros and cons. This article shares some useful information on these two types of air filtration systems.

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The Difference Between a Portable & Whole Home Air Filtration System

The pandemic we’ve been dealing with for the past few years has shown us how important clean air is. We are more conscious of these invisible dangers. It is better to start now than not at all. Prevent future issues when you install an air filter in your home. Below is a discussion of the two most popular product types, how they operate, clean air benefits, and vital insight from this information.

The Benefits of Clean Air In Your Home

Some of the benefits you receive when you have healthy and clean air in your home are as follows:

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Lower Risk of Disease

Pathogens can enter our bodies via the air we breathe. Bacteria and viruses are highly hazardous, so you should avoid them at all costs. Advanced air filters can stop microscopic particles from getting distributed throughout your home. This way, you won’t need to worry about vulnerable family members, like young children and the elderly. It helps keep your family safe while avoiding expensive hospital bills.

Keep Allergies at Bay

image of a homeowner suffering from allergies due to poor indoor air quality

Airborne particles may trigger allergies in individuals with heightened sensitivities. Common allergens include pollen, dander, mold spores, and dust mites. These can latch onto your clothes and shoes, so they get inside your home. They can also get in through cracks and gaps. Allergic reactions are nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and watery eyes. An air filter can help you feel better so you can do more work around your home.

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Related Article: Discover How Having A Whole-Home Dehumidifier Can Benefit Everyone

Reduce Surface Dust

Not all the dust floating in your home is inhaled. Some particles eventually land on surfaces like hard floors, countertops, tables, and desks. These are unwelcome and unsightly. The dust build-up can mean you need to clean them frequently. If this accumulation is disturbed, they float back into the air and cause irritations. Filtration systems help in air purification, so less dust circulates inside your home. The dust build-up on surfaces won’t be as bad as before, so you don’t need to keep cleaning the interiors.

Eliminate Foul Odors

woman plugging nose due to smelly odors at home

No person wants to live in a stinky home. You can’t just close your nose because you need to breathe oxygen to live. If you constantly smell foul odors around your home, you must find and resolve the source head-on. Use non-toxic solutions in dirty spaces and get rid of bacteria. You can also depend on your air filtration system to capture the foul-smelling particles in the air, so your home smells fresh again.

What Are Portable Air Filtration Systems?

A portable air filter is a small, light device that can be moved from one room to the next. This is a good solution if you want a machine that can follow you wherever you are. However, it has a limited filtration capacity, so manage your expectations with this in mind. It is only effective on a certain number of square feet. The best systems are equipped with HEPA filters that trap up to 99.97% airborne particles bigger than 0.3 microns. To give you a perspective, human hair is 50 microns in diameter. This impressive feature tells you how efficient these filtration systems are.

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Cons Of Portable Room Purifiers

Some of the disadvantages portable room purifiers have are:

  • Limited Coverage: Consider your purchase plans carefully. Portable purifiers may cost less, but they are also less capable than whole-home filtration systems. It is more sensible to get whole-house systems if you want to protect all occupants in the home.
  • Multiple Units Needed: You can use multiple portable units around your home. However, the purchase cost will add up quickly with this strategy. The total may even match or exceed the price of a whole-home filter, so you won’t save a lot of money.
  • Potential Ozone Emissions: Portable room purifiers may generate gasses harmful to the ozone layer. This depends on the filtration method of the unit. Ensure that you check this so you don’t become an unknowing contributor to this environmental issue.
  • No Odor Absorption: Whole-home filters have odor-absorbing capabilities. This way, the foul smells never reach you as the odor-causing particles are absorbed within the ducts. Portable units do not have this ability. The foul odor will reach your room before the small filter can have a chance to reduce the particles.

What Are Whole-Home Air Filtration Systems?

image of a homeowner breathing deeply due to healthy indoor air quality

On the other hand, whole-home filters are made to cover the entire house, as the name implies. They are bigger than portable systems, so they are fixed in their position. A central unit combs through the air from the return ducts. This typically operates hand-in-hand with the current HVAC system, catching the pollutants that go through the regular filters. Whole-house filters can have as much as ten times the surface of standard HVAC filters, so you have better protection. Aside from the physical barrier, an ultraviolet light installation on your system can help kill pathogens on contact. This provides a better solution than their portable counterpart as it is more effective in catching pollutants.

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How Do Whole-House Air Purifiers Work?

Whole-house air purifiers have three different designs. One is a filter-based unit placed at the air intake points. The second kind is installed along the duct, before or after the air handler of a central HVAC system. The last design is a standalone system that can operate on its own. They are typically placed in attics with the intake and exhaust paths around the house. These are complex systems, so professional assistance is needed for installation to ensure they perform well and are highly efficient.



It cannot be denied that having clean air is essential. It has an impact on our well-being and health. Install a dependable filtration system to protect your family from allergies and disease. Whole-home air filters are more effective than portable ones, but make sure that you have a professional install them for optimum performance.

Related Article: FAQ About IAQ: Answers To Your Indoor Air Quality Questions

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