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What's the difference between an air scrubber and a negative air machine?


May 11, 2021

Air scrubber and negative air machine are two terms commonly used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two, as they are designed for different applications.

Air Scrubber

An air scrubber or air purifier is a portable filter designed to remove particles or other harmful elements from the air. The focus of an air scrubber is to improve the air quality of a space. Commonly, they remove particles like:

  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Chemical fumes

An air scrubber is positioned anywhere inside the space where it is improving the air quality and has no ducts attaching it to the window or HVAC system. Air is pulled into the machine, run through filters, and then recirculated into the room. It is possible to use air scrubbers as negative air machines, but this requires adding ducting, sealed housing, specific HVAC airflow adjustments, and a blower motor. 

Negative Air Machine

A negative air machine or negative pressure machine is designed to offer safe and reliable portable negative pressurization. While an air scrubber can be used in almost any applications, negative air machines are typically used in:

  • Nursing homes and Long-Term Care Facilities
  • Patient Examination Rooms in Medical Buildings
  • Hospital Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms
  • Dentist offices
  • Other healthcare spaces

A negative pressure machine removes contaminated air from a contaminated area. The air is then filtered and exhausted outside the space through ducts leading out the window or into the HVAC system. Pulling air into the machine and exhausting it outside the room creates negative pressure to limit the potential spread of harmful particles to anyone outside of the negatively pressurized space.

AIIR Watch no cord

Clean Your Air with Setra AIIR Watch

The Setra AIIR Watch can help with both air scrubbing and negative pressure creation. The AIIR Watch sterilization process combines HEPA filtration and UV light and is >99.99% effective against bacteria and viruses, as verified via a national recognized testing laboratory (NRTL). The air from the unit can be recirculated in the scrubbing applications or sent out the provided exhaust equipment for negative pressure creation.

Topics: Critical Environments