How Does an Air Ionizer Work? Workings, Pros, and Cons

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An air ionizer is a device that freshens the air in your house by producing negative ions which attract dust particles that then become heavy and settle on surfaces. These surfaces are later cleaned up. There are some air ionizers that have a collecting plate, which is easy to clean. 

Ionizers, also called negative ion generators or ionisers, work by creating static charges around airborne contaminants in a room. The airborne particles becomes charged with static then stick to the surfaces around them to be wiped off. Airborne particles include pet dander, allergens and others.

How Does an Air Ionizer Work

What Does an Air Ionizer Do? 

Air ionizers purify the air by negatively charging molecules, which collect positively charged particles like dust, odors, and others from the air. The particles build up, become heavy and settle on surfaces which are then cleaned up. 

How Does an Air Ionizer Work?

An air ionizer works by producing negative ions and relseasing them into the air. These ions charge airborne particles which leads to these particles either clumping together or simply becomign heavy with the charged ions.

Once heavy enough, the particles fall down or get attached to surfaces (owing to their static charge). They can be wiped off these surfaces after that.

Types of air ionizers

There are three types of air ionizers as follows:

Ionizer on fans

This type of ionizer produces negatively charged ions and has a fan to improve the circualtion of the house. The fan in this setup uses rotating fans for the best type of circulation. Given how they work, ionizers with fans can be more effective in cleaning the air than those without fans.

Bipolar ionizer

The bipolar ionizer is a type of rare ionizer that produces both negative and positive ions to capture dirt particles from the air. It’s often used with HVAC systems and is one of the most efficient types of air ionizers. Given how it works, it captures both nebatively and positively charged particles from the air.

Air purifier with ionizer

Some air purifiers have ionizers in them to further increase the level of air purification in the home. These types of air purifiers will filter the air of any impurities followed by the ionizer also making the remaining particles too heavy to remain in the air. They thus settle on surfaces for cleaner air.

Electrostatic discharge ionizer

Electrostatic discharge ionizers work by neutralizing electrostatic charges on insulators and non-grounded (isolated) conductors in reducing the magnitude of electrostatic discharges. This works best in ESD protected areas.

The air ionizers with a collecting plate are more effective than the ones without. The collecting plate ensures that dirt is collected in a central area, unlike those without one as dirt ends up landing on any surface. 

How Does an Air Ionizer Differ from An Air Conditioner? 

The main difference between air ionizers and purifiers is the way they perform their function. Air purifiers mainly use HEPA filters while ionizers use electrostatic energy. 

Other differences between air ionizers and air conditioenrs include the following:

  • Air ionizers consume more energy as opposed to other types of air purifiers. Classic air purifiers use a normal range of energy. 
  • Air purifiers normally are effective over smaller areas as opposed to air ionizers which cover relatively large areas. 
  • Classic air purifiers produce a medium amount of noise as opposed to ionic air purifiers, which produce a lot of noise. 
  • In terms of costs, air purifiers are more expensive to purchase as opposed to air ionizers which are more affordable. 
  • Similarly, air ionizers’ maintenance costs are relatively lower as compared to air purifiers which need a lot of maintenance like the frequent change of filters.  
  • It is not necessary to change the filter of an air ionizer in the case of one having such but it is mandatory to have the filter of an air purifier changed on an annual basis. 
  • In terms of size or make, air ionizers are relatively small and designed to be hidden in certain areas. On the contrary, air purifiers are relatively large and the size is also dependent on the area of coverage
  • The performance of ionic air purifiers is high and very effective as opposed to other forms of air purifiers. 

With these differences, the best result is combination of an air purifier and an air conditioner. Between the two of them, an air condtioner is better since an air ionizer on its own isn’t effective in purifying the air in a room. This is because it only scatters the dirt in the air which may be stirred back into the air. An air conditioner will effectivley fliter out the air impurities for cleaner air.

Pros and Cons of an Ionic Air Purifier 

Just like any other device, air ionizers have their benefits and effects too, we will first consider the benefits. 


  • They effectively get rid of bad odors in your house, are in fact one of the best air filters. 
  • They also remove microorganisms such as mold spores, viruses and germs from your house, which is not the case with other forms of air purifiers. 
  • They have been associated with creating a good mood and reducing fatigue. 
  • Negatively charged ions also relief you from seasonal or chronic depression. 
  • They use small amounts of energy. 
  • They run without much noise. 
  • Reduces allergic reactions in people. 
  • Free cost of maintenance for those without filters. 
  • Cheap to maintain especially the ones without a collecting plate or filter. 
  • They have a long life span as opposed to other forms of air purifiers. 
  • They are more portable. 
  • Improve skin texture. 


  • They emit some amount of ozone which is harmful to your skin and can also cause respiratory disorders. 
  • They have a high power consumption rate. 
  • There is a lot cleaning involved especially with air ionizers that do not have a plate for collecting dust. Dust shall be everywhere, necessitating a lot of cleaning. 
  • Presence of dust particles on the surfaces add to allergic reactions in people. 
  • Are less effective to smoke and odor particles. 

In conclusion, air ionizers have been proved to be cost-effective and more efficient in purifying the air. It is, however, important to note that before settling on one, consider the side effects and the required usage. Settle on what works for you with little costs and health effects. 

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