Do Air Purifiers Need to be Plugged in?

Using an air purifier is an effective way to combat harmful airborne particles and toxins. However, a common question for most first-time users is how an air purifier is powered.

Do air purifiers need to be plugged in? Or can they be powered using batteries?

Air purifiers need to be plugged in unless they are battery-operated. Plug-in air purifier models come with a fixed power cable that is kept constantly connected to a power outlet during their operation. 

Battery-operated air purifiers rely on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and only need to be plugged in for recharging purposes. A common feature of rechargeable air purifiers is that they have detachable power cords.

If you are looking at purifiers online, be aware that product images may make it appear that a device is battery operated when, in fact, it is not. Make sure to read the product description carefully.

How are portable air purifiers powered?

Portable air purifiers are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries or by direct power supply. Once drained, the batteries are recharged by plugging a USB or DC power adapter into the charging port of the air purifier.

When fully charged, they can be disconnected from the power outlet and easily carried for use when traveling. Plug-in purifiers are powered by a standard AC cable which needs to remain connected for them to work.

Rechargeable air purifiers are a great option if you want to be able to purify the air no matter your location. They can be used – and charged – in the car, office, hotel room, or any other closed space. 

On the other hand, plug-in purifiers are an excellent stationary option if you need to always keep an entire apartment or certain parts of your home or office free of harmful air particles. 

How long do portable air purifiers last on battery?

Portable air purifiers can last anywhere between 8 and 12 hours when the batteries are fully charged, depending on the make and model. This is usually enough time to purify the air in most rooms.

It is important to keep in mind that the majority of air purifiers have about three different speed settings. Running an air purifier at a higher speed setting will usually drain the battery faster, but it will perform more effectively. Consider running your purifier at a high setting for an hour or so each day for the best results.

Below is the battery life data for a few of the top battery-powered purifiers:

            Purifier Model                   Battery Life       
            PureZone Mini Air Purifier                   12 Hours       
            Munchkin Portable Air Purifier                   10 Hours       
            4WD Aurora Electric Air Purifier                   8 to 10 Hours       
            Westinghouse Medical Grade Air Purifier                   8 Hours       

Can air purifiers be plugged into an extension cord?

Air purifiers can be plugged into a power extension cord, however, avoid plugging too many devices into the same extension cord as it could result in voltage overload. The average purifier runs on between 50 and 120 watts, which most extension cords can handle. 

It is a good idea to check the extension cord’s wattage capability before plugging in your air purifier to ensure you’re not overloading the cable.

There are a few important things to consider when choosing an extension cord for your appliances:

  1. Use the shortest cord possible to reduce resistance and increase efficiency. All extension cords require more energy to run appliances, and the longer the cord, the more energy it requires. Not to mention, longer cords are much easier to tangle and trip over.
  2. Choose an extension cord compatible with three-prong plugs. This will better ground the electricity and prevent anyone from getting shocked.
  3. Try to not overload extension cords with multiple appliances to reduce the likelihood of overheating.

Can you plug an air purifier into a surge protector?

electric plug

You can plug an air purifier into a surge protector as a safety measure. Most surge protectors have no problem handling the wattage your air purifier requires. Not only can you use a surge protector with your air purifier, but it is advisable to do so.

Power surges can happen at random, but mostly they occur during storms. If one occurs and you are not using a surge protector, it can fry all the devices that are directly plugged into the wall or extender.

In worse scenarios, a power surge can cause house fires and result in irreparable damage. That’s why it is advisable to use a surge protector designed to divert energy to keep your appliances and home safe.

Do air purifiers consume a lot of power?

In general, air purifiers do not consume a lot of power. Most air purifiers found in the market today consume about 0.3 to 1 Amps (40 to 120 Watts), which when compared to other home appliances such as microwaves and refrigerators is a relatively low amount of energy. 

On average, running an air purifier costs about $0.05 to $0.35 per day, which totals between $18 and $127 a year. 

This is not a high price to pay to ensure you and your family are breathing in clean air. Keep in mind, however, that the amount of time you run your purifier will directly impact the overall cost. 

Here is a more in-depth article on how to calculate the cost of running air purifiers.

The table below shows how much energy other home appliances use on average for comparison:

Home ApplianceAverage Energy Consumption in Amps (A) and Watts (W)       
Washing Machine 25 A (3,000 W)       
Television       1.5 A (180 W)       
Refrigerator       1.6 A (195 W)       
Vacuum Cleaner11.6 A (1400 W)       
Computer or Laptop4.1 A (500 W)       
Portable Air Purifier0.3 to 1 A (40 to 120 W)       

Should an air purifier be left on all the time?

To keep the air clean, an air purifier should be left on all the time if possible since it doesn’t consume a lot of electricity. Also, being a low-power device means there is minimal chance of it becoming a fire hazard.

With regards to keeping the air in your home clean, an air purifier should be left plugged in, because as soon as the machine is turned off, toxins and particles start to build back up in the air and spread through your home.

If you decide to turn off your air purifier, it is a good idea to run it at its highest setting for a couple of hours once you turn it back on. And then after the device has had a chance to filter out unwanted particles, you can switch it back to a lower setting to save power.

Large rooms can take 2 to 3 hours to fully purify, while smaller rooms only take about 30 minutes. Keep in mind that some purifiers are louder than others. So, if you plan to leave it on all day and night, consider choosing one that’s quieter.

Also, keep in mind that any electrical appliance that is going to be left on all the time is at risk of overheating. Therefore, precautions such as switching it to a lower setting when no one is home or using a surge protector should be taken to keep you and your household safe.

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Conclusion: Do air purifiers need to be plugged in?

Unless they have a built-in battery, air purifiers need to be kept plugged in during usage. Usually, a USB, DC, or AC cable is used to keep an air purifier connected to a power outlet. 

On average, battery-powered devices will give you 8 to 12 hours of run time, while plug-in air purifiers can operate non-stop.

Extension cords work great with air purifiers but you should consider switching to a surge protector in order to protect the purifier from random power surges that could occur at any time. 

Air purifiers are wonderful products to have running in the background all day and provide you and your family with safe breathing air.

Eustace is a technology enthusiast and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts, solve problems, and make informed decisions.