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Why most air purifiers are too expensive

In this article, you will learn why almost all air purifiers are overpriced and that clean air doesn’t have to cost much when you do it right. 

Comparing prices of air purifiers can be a dizzying experience: Machines costing between THB 10,000 and THB 50,000 are the status quo for prices, often equating to the better part of a month’s salary. For the majority of people living in Bangkok, air purifiers remain an expensive or even unaffordable investment. But why are air purifiers so pricey? 

It’s been a niche market for a long time

Well-known manufacturers from Europe have been producing air purifiers for several decades. Demand from the general public has traditionally been low, however, a small consumer group consisting of allergy sufferers, and those abnormally sensitive to chemicals – so-called MCS patients – need air purifiers to control their symptoms. Although these types of customers are very specific, they are willing to pay to stay in control of their health. It’s a niche. Because there is typically little competition in these niche markets, this usually warrants high-profit margins for companies who service them. 

Since air quality is trending worse and worse lately, especially in Asia, we are seeing an uptick in the competition. As such, prices dropped radically in recent years and air purifiers for 40 sqm don’t necessarily cost 50,000 THB anymore. But even THB 8,000 to 25,000 price points stretch anyone’s budget. Here’s why prices have remained unreasonably high.

A fan and a filter, that’s all we need to breathe clean air

Air purifiers are simple machines. Regardless of whether they cost THB 5,000 or 50,000,  they all consist of little more than a fan (that sucks in the air) and a true HEPA filter (which the untreated air passes through, and comes out clean). It’s that simple: A fan and a HEPA filter are all we need to remove dangerous particulates in our air. And that’s all we should pay for. 

Air purifiers consist of little more than a fan and a filter

Common fans cost not more than a few hundred Baht. HEPA filters aren’t excessively expensive either. Although many air purifier companies make dubious claims about their HEPA filters, HEPA filters were invented 70 years ago. And no company in the world has a patent on them. 

Unfortunately, most people don’t know the simple science behind air purifiers, hence they easily get overcharged for something that doesn’t deserve the high price tag. Clever marketing has also impacted consumer perceptions quite a bit. 

Marketing makes air purifiers expensive

Because big air purifier companies usually don’t make huge profits with simple technologies, they rely on flashy marketing and unnecessary gimmicks to trick people into spending way too much on showy machines. Pointless add-ons such as LED lights, touch displays, or even ionizers which, according to scientific findings, have little to no effect, may look modern and impressive but are first and foremost gizmos. 

We mustn’t forget one thing: gimmicks and marketing make us spend more but do not deliver more clean air.

For clean air, we need only a strong fan and a good filter. And both components aren’t pricey. If you think of purchasing one soon, read here what you should consider when buying an air purifier. 

Air purifiers are that simple, you can even build your own

Now that we know that air purifiers are simple machines, the tinkerer in you may convince you to build your own. Rest assured it’s easy and cost-effective. In short: Just buy a fan with a flat front and attach a HEPA filter to it with a strap. That’s it. Those of you who are looking for a step by step guide can read in this article how to construct your own air purifier. 

DIY purifiers work and save a lot of money

Our supplier Smart Air started its social enterprise with self-built air purifiers and regular workshops on how to build them. The response was impressive. Not only because more and more people built their own air purifiers, but also because DIY air purifiers are no less effective than expensive air purifiers from well-known brands.

The graphic below shows that Smart Air’s DIY air purifier removes as many particulates as those from big air purifier companies for just a fraction of the price.  The bottom line is: clean air and air purifiers don’t have to cost much. All you need is a fan and a filter.