Air Exchanger Vs Air Purifier | Does an Air Exchanger Clean the Air?

Air exchanger vs air purifier

Breathing in fresh and healthy air can be a luxury in certain circumstances. From lack of proper ventilation due to sealed-up designs, pet hair, litter and dander, dust and mildew, mold spores and bacteria and even gases and VOCs, there are a lot of pollutants that can contaminate indoor air and make life difficult for you and your loved ones.

It is not just enough to open up your windows and doors for ventilation because a lot of unwanted particles, gases and even moisture can come in; this is why many homeowners opt for air exchangers to get controlled ventilation.

On the other hand, is air purification with many appliances introduced to help clean the air with the use of filters and charged ions.

Between air purifiers and air exchangers, there are many similarities and differences and those are what this post will attempt to reveal.

For instance, how much cleaning can an air exchanger do? Will air purifiers remove humidity or heat? Do you need to run both appliances or one can do the job of the other? Let’s move on to get answers.

Does An Air Exchanger Clean the Air?

Generally speaking, we’ll say Yes. Air exchangers actually clean the air in many ways. It gives your home the ventilation and breathability it needs. Let’s explain further.

Air exchangers are appliances that exhaust stale indoor air out and pull in seemingly fresher outdoor air into the home.

Stale indoor air is likely to be humid, polluted with gases and smoke from the kitchen, with pet hair and dander floating around or resting on surfaces. The result is often allergies and respiratory reactions.

An air exchanger is equipped with a filtering mechanism that helps to ensure the air coming in is rid of large particles.

These filters are mostly HEPA filters but may not have the same purifying abilities as air purifier filters. While larger particles may be prevented from coming into your home, microscopic particles may still find their way in.

So, an air exchanger will take out polluted air, but may also let in some degree of pollution, especially if outdoor air is extremely contaminated.

The air exchanger technology is built on the premise that outdoor air is likely to be fresher and cleaner than indoor air of an unventilated home with lots of kitchen activity, pets and so on.

Also, by continuously exchanging the air in your home, it is likely to be cleaner overtime.

Air Exchanger Vs Air Purifier

Don’t ever get it confused; an air exchanger is different from an air purifier. They are two different appliances designed for two slightly similar, but different purposes.

Let’s explore some key areas of similarities and differences between air exchangers and air purifiers.

Similarities Between Air Exchangers and Air Purifiers

  • Both devices have motor-powered fans for air distribution.
  • They are mostly indoor devices, with some outdoor models.
  • They both have filters for air purification.

Differences Between Air Exchangers and Air Purifiers


The job of an air exchanger is to replace stale, unhealthy indoor air with fresher outdoor air by continuous air circulation in opposite directions.

On the other hand, the air purifier simply cleans up the indoor air by filtering out air particles and pollutants and releasing pollutant-free air back into the room.

Mode of Operation

Air Purifier works on indoor air and does not pull in outdoor air; it just repeatedly recycles the air in your home. Meanwhile, air exchanger works on both indoor and outdoor air continuously for as long as it is turned on.


Technical installation is often required for air exchanger as it has to be mounted on a wall. An air purifier, in most cases, does not require any form of installation. It is either table top or can be placed on the floor, depending on the size.

Heat and Moisture Exchange

Air Exchangers, whether Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) or Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs), have the capacity to transfer indoor heat and/or moisture from outgoing air to incoming air, while air purifiers do not do that.


Air Purifiers do not dehumidify except for certain combos, but air exchangers can reduce humidity by taking out humid indoor air and bringing in drier outdoor air, especially in the winter.

Do You Need an Air Purifier If You Have an Air Exchanger?

The answer is Yes. You can have an air exchanger and an air purifier. However, running them at the same time may not be a good idea. An air exchanger is continuously replacing indoor air with outdoor air.

This can make the process of cleaning quite burdensome for your air purifier because it has to continue to clean new incoming air.

But these two devices can complement each other if used wisely. You can run your air exchanger first for a couple of hours to help reduce humidity and bring in fresher, cleaner air.

Subsequently, turn off your air exchanger and turn on your purifier to remove smaller particles and other contaminants that escaped the exchanger. This makes your air purifier a supplementary appliance for your ERV or HRV.

When do you need only air exchanger?

Having an air exchanger alone can suffice if outdoor air is relatively clean. In summer when air quality is relatively better, an air exchanger can help to reduce pollution and excess humidity that could build up indoors. This controlled ventilation can significantly help you breathe better.

When do you need only air purifier?

You may not need an air exchanger if you have sufficient ventilation in your home. Here, an air purifier can do the job of cleaning indoor air without bothering about humidity or stale air because there is adequate natural air exchange.

When do you need both?

Air exchangers and air purifiers can both become a necessity when your home lacks proper ventilation and human activities have led to severe air pollution.

Smoke from your kitchen, spores and bacteria caused by excess humidity and other harmful gases are not able to leave your home without proper ventilation.

Also, you’ll need more than just an air exchanger to get rid of the pollutants that have taken over your home. This is why you need both an air purifier and an air exchanger.

Some air purifiers are equipped with Activated Carbon Filters and can remove stubborn harmful odors and VOCs from the air. Some also deploy negative ions and can serve as important air cleaning appliances. For best results in extreme cases, it’s best to use both.

Final Words:

When it comes to air purifiers vs air exchangers, it is not just about picking randomly; it is knowing what your peculiar air problem is and deploying the best option(s) to resolve it.

The search for good health and comfort requires a conscious effort to positively influence even the air you breathe. Failure to pay attention can cause skin irritation, aggravate asthma and even cause respiratory diseases.

This is why many people are out to find the best appliance that can ensure clean, healthy indoor air. So, whether it’s a purifier, an exchanger or both, just be sure your appliance is top quality.

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