Humidifier- Plainly put it humidifies your air, making it more dense. This restricts the movement of dust and allergen particulates in the air, helps with dry itchy skin, helps alleviate snoring, bloody noses, controls static electricity, protects your floors, trim, furniture, and electronics. Also by making your air "heavier" it makes the air in your home feel more comfortable, and warmer at a lower thermostat setting.
Air Cleaner- Plainly this is the filter in your furnace. This essentially catches and collects particulate out of your air before distributing it to the rest of the home. Different air cleaners operate at different levels of particulate catching ability. They call this the MERV factor; essentially how good of a filter it is. The light airy stringy 1" filter that a lot of people use because it allows the most air flow (and its the cheapest) would be MERV 1-2. The filters they use in Hospitals are generally MERV 17-20. For residential application we generally recommend Merv 8 to 16 depending on allergy levels, and desired effect, in most cases unless specially requested i would say a MERV 12 filter would get the best bang for the buck. The filter case would replace whats there, the filters would be 4" thick and generally last 3 to 6 months per filter.
Air Purifier- Simply this puts stuff into the air, and treats the air as it passes through your duct system, and throughout your home. The product that I've found most effective is called a REME, made by RGF industries, you can look it up online if you would like the website is www.rgfairpurification.com. It puts ionized hydrogen peroxil into your air(like hydrogen peroxide, but not the same) these ionized particles cause the particles in your air to clump together, making the filter able to catch them, also this produces a zinc solution in your air that sanitizes, kills germs, mold, cold and flu viruses, allergens, and VOC's. During studies it proved to kill 99% of germs within 3 feet after someone sneezes... very effective, cleans all the surfaces in the home, and gets rid of all of the smells, germs, viruses, and reduces particulates below 0.1 microns. (the bulbs last approximately 2-3 years).
INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ)
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I'm sure in some way or another you have heard the term, but generally speaking, the average person doesn't know what that means. I have a tendency to ramble, so i will try to keep this short and to the point. There are 3 different kinds of air pollutants:
Large Particulate matter- I'm sure you are aware of this stuff you have to wipe it off of your T.V. or coffee tables every couple days; essentially Dust, airborne debris, and larger particulates. Some of this stuff ends up on your coffee table, or any surface, and some goes into your ductwork, and gets caught by your air filter. Large particulate size goes as small as 1 micron (the pointy tip of a pin is approximately 10 microns).
Microscopic particulate matter- this is the particulates in the air that you generally can't see (though you get glimpses of it if the sun hits you room in just the right way. These are the particulates that carry cold and flu viruses, allergens, and bacteria (ie. mold spores, fungus) the hazardous types generally get as small as 0.3 microns.
Airborne chemical pollutants- These you can't see, you generally can't smell, but if you walk in, you are still breathing them in. A variety of these you can tell they are in the air, they are called VOC's, and these are the things you can smell, dirty garbage can, musty dog smell, "that new car smell" and bacon frying... some good smells, and some bad smells, but all in all, if your air were clean, you wouldn't be able to smell them. They are in some cases toxic chemicals that we breathe in every day. (way smaller than 0.1 microns).