Room Air Purifier vs. Whole House Air Purifier: Which Should Your Home Have?

October 18, 2013

You want your home to be a safe haven for asthma and allergy sufferers, so you’re considering an air purifier (also called an air cleaner).

As you might know, there are two main air purifier classifications:

We’ll compare them on factors important to you so you can buy the one that’s right for your family’s needs.

Area of home’s air cleaned

Room air purifiers, as they imply, can only clean one room.

Whole-house air purifiers are installed in your air ducts, cleaning whatever air is pulled through the return duct. So it cleans the air of your entire home.

While you can buy multiple room purifiers in order to clean multiple rooms, a 1-to-1 comparison lets the whole-house model come out on top.

Winner: Whole-house air purifiers

Ease of installation

Room air purifiers win here hands down. Just plug it in and it’s ready to go.

Whole house air purifiers require a professional's touch to install it into your duct system, adding to the upfront cost. 

Winner: Room air purifiers

A single room air purifier costs less than a whole house air cleaner.

But if you want cleaner air for your entire home, trying to buy enough room air purifiers to match a whole house would probably cost you more. So ask yourself: Do you just want cleaner air for a single bedroom? Then a room air purifier is the most cost-efficient option.  But if you have multiple allergy sufferers or just want the air of whole home to be cleaner, then go for the whole-house air purifier.

Ask our experts about the price of our whole-house air purifiers so you can do some price shopping.

Winner: Depends on the family’s needs. But more people can afford a room air purifier.


Whole house air purifiers are almost maintenance-free, typically requiring only semi-annual care.

Room air purifiers have standard filters that need cleaning every 1-3 months, depending on your usage and region.

Winner: Whole-house air purifiers

Noise level

According to tests by Consumer Union, “the largest portable air cleaners were the noisiest on their most effective high speed settings.”

Whole-house air purifiers live in your air ducts and don’t make a sound since there’s no noisy fan unit.

Winner: Whole-house air purifiers

Space requirements
Room air purifiers are typically small. But the more expensive ones that clean large rooms take up more space. Also, having multiple room air purifiers can easily start to take up more space than you’re expecting.  

Like we said before, a whole-house unit lives in your ducts—staying out of your way.

Winner: Whole house air purifiers

And the winner is...
Surprise! There is no clear winner.

Even though the whole-home air purifier wins more categories, some factors are more important to certain people. If price is a big barrier, and you only need one room’s air cleaned, then a room air purifier may be your best bet.

But if you have the money and have multiple allergy sufferers in your home, a whole-house unit is the way to go.

Need more information?

Room versus whole-home is just one factor you need to consider. You also need to consider the filtration type of the air purifier.

The EPA offers info about air purifier filtration types in this guide: Residential Air Cleaners (Second Edition): A Summary of Available Information.

And, of course, you can contact us if you have any questions.

Advanced Air has been serving Fort Myers and Naples, Florida, and the surrounding areas for over 20 years.