Thinking of buying an air purifier? Here’s what you need to know


Image: Freepik

Malaysia is no stranger to air pollution, given our annual encounters with the haze. While it was surprising that the air quality has improved over the course of the MCO (Movement Control Order) in the last two years, it’s a fair assumption to expect that the haze season will make a comeback, now that everything is normalising.

In fact, what has also occurred over the last two years is a significant increase in air purifier purchases as more people are required to work from home and now have a greater awareness of chronic health concerns that occur due to poor air quality. 

According to Our World in Data, air pollution contributes to 11.65% of deaths worldwide. Last year, Malaysia’s air quality was evaluated at PM2.5 which is 3.9 times higher than the World Health Organization’s annual air quality guideline value. 

What’s more is that a 2017 graph from Our World in Data (which you’ll see below) shows that the death rate caused by PM2.5 concentrations in Malaysia is significant among its Asian neighbours, who have a higher record of air pollution at the same time.

Death rate from particular matter air pollution vs PM2.5
Image: Our World in Data

The elements of air pollution that can bring detrimental effects on our health include particulate pollution, bacteria and viruses. It’s not all grim news though as more air technology companies like White Umbrella are pushing the envelope to provide better protection against these pollutants and create better air cleaning products. 

In this article, we cut through the fuss and frills to tell you exactly how to pick the right air purifier. 

What an air purifier with HEPA filters can and can’t do

Image: Deposit Photos

You might be reading this article and considering buying an air purifier because you have a specific air-related concern to address. The first thing you need to know about air purifiers is that some of the most popular ones use HEPA filters. 

HEPA filters are able to capture at least 99.97% of very small 0.3 microns in size particles. To put it into perspective, the human eye is able to detect particles up to 10 microns. Bacteria can be as small as 0.3 microns, which is why HEPA filters are the standard grade used by pharma companies.

HEPA filters, specifically the HEPA-14 Medical Grade Filter, have also become even more commercial these days due to their use by medical facilities in filtering the COVID-19 virus.

But be careful to not fall victim to well-thought marketing terms such as HEPA-type or anything similar, as these are labelled as such due to their inability to perform as well as the True HEPA or HEPA-certified filters. The easiest way to tell the difference between a “fake” HEPA and True HEPA is to scrutinise the efficiency rate, which must be above 99.97%.

While HEPA filters are great, they can’t solve every air pollutant problem out there. The technology can easily filter plant spores, fine dust, allergens, pet dander and mould spores. With a carbon filter, HEPA filters can also filter smoke and VOCs.

However, HEPA filters are not meant to clear volatile organic compounds and chemicals that are evaporated into the air. This is because the molecules are too small to be captured. This would be a concern if you live in an industrial area where there is a large gas emission or chemical smog. Another thing to note about what HEPA filters don’t do is capturing odours.

So, your air might be clean but a HEPA filter is not going to get rid of the stench of cigarettes, paint fumes and any other strong odours. It is also important to note that air purifiers in general are not a substitute for house cleaning such as mopping, sweeping or vacuuming.

Image: All The Stuff

What about HEPA filter vs White Umbrella’s cold plasma technology?

HEPA filters have been around for a while now but what’s clear is that White Umbrella’s cold plasma technology is certainly an upgrade. Here’s why: 

  • HEPA filters trap contaminants while cold plasma breaks them down into harmless molecules.
  • HEPA filters need to be accompanied by a carbon filter to be able to remove odours. That means two separate costs and maintenance timelines, whereas the cold plasma technology (which does both jobs at once) requires significantly fewer replacements.

What features are necessary for an air purifier?

Now that you have probably Googled HEPA filter air purifiers, you might be overwhelmed with options. We are here to cut through the marketing and gimmicks to help you find out what you actually need from your air purifier. A good air purifier should have the following: 


Most models today market themselves as being quieter but at the expense of excluding fans, which are the most efficient way to pull air through the purifier. 

Service indicator light

While most air purifier brands boast apps that will allow you to be in the know of your device’s air quality and servicing needs, it is not always reliable. For this, it’s best to go for a simple air purifier that does the job you need it to do and just have a service indicator light on the device itself so you can easily see when your filter is dirty. 

Fun fact: Carbon filters should be replaced every 3-6 months while HEPA filters should be replaced at least once every 2-3 years. 

CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate)

This is not a feature on the air purifier per se but it is a measure of how quickly the purifier can clean smoke, dust and pollen from the air. This measurement is evaluated based on the size of the room and the efficiency rate in cleaning the air. In short, the higher the rating, the better. 

For reference, here are the typical sizes for each type of particle measured along with the CADR rating scales: 

  • Smoke CADR Scale: 0-400 (Particles between 0.9 and 1.0μm) 
  • Dust CADR Scale: 0-450 (Particles between 0.5 and 3μm) 
  • Pollen CADR Scale: 0-450 (Particles between 5 and 11μm)

The rule of thumb for an ideal CADR rate for a master bedroom is between 350-400 CADR. A CADR rate for a smaller room can be between 200-250. 


A good air purifier will not contribute to ozone thinning and is energy efficient. In short, it should be kind to your pocket and the environment. 

Features you might not actually need for your air purifier

Smart App connectivity 

While it can feel futuristic to be able to control your air purifier in the palm of your hands, it should not be the priority when you decide on an air purifier. The diagnostics wouldn’t be able to add any value, and the price point for the additional feature is simply unjustified. 

Remote control unit

This is another extra feature that might offer a little more convenience but is not necessarily worth the extra expense. 

What air purifiers should you get?

Now that we’ve gone through the basics of what makes a good air purifier, it’s time to look at some options. These are, of course, merely our suggestions but they should give you a rough idea of what to look out for when deciding on an air purifier.

For the kids’ room

When it comes to your kids, you might be looking for something that filters all the allergens and bacteria and doesn’t have any harmful byproducts. Plus, you wouldn’t want something that is noisy enough to wake up the kids during their afternoon nap. If you said yes to all of those requirements, then the best fit for you is the Flesta Purify 501T2

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Designed with you and your kids in mind, this easily moveable air purifier can be where your kids are without you having to break a sweat. Its slim and portable design barely takes up space and the device itself offers easy maintenance to cater to your hectic lifestyle. 

This air purifier can effectively clean and cool the air for spaces up to 100 m². What’s even cooler is that the cold plasma technology can even effectively remove odours. 

For your go-getting lifestyle

As recently announced by billionaire tech mogul, Elon Musk, gone are the days of working from home. If you need your fix of fresh air between meetings, gym and being stuck in traffic, then look no further than the FLESTA Air Sterilizer CP-300T1. It comes in a conveniently portable design that is best used in areas that are 15m². 

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Other than being environmentally friendly, this mini air purifier packs a punch in removing harmful air pollutants. 

The key takeaway

If you had to keep one thing in mind when choosing an air purifier, it’s understanding what you need it for. If it’s for general air cleanliness, then you can opt for any brand that has a True HEPA filter or cold plasma. 

Consider your maintenance cost and the rooms where you would like to place the air purifiers. An ideal place for an air purifier to work best is in a closed and well-ventilated room. 

We’ve given you a lot to think about, so if you’d like some help deciding on the right air purifier, head to the White Umbrella site today for more information, or contact the team to schedule a consultation.