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Knowledge Center
particle counter

Know Your Home's Air Quality with a Laser Particle Counter

Laser particle counters help you monitor your indoor air quality and know when to take action to reduce allergens and ensure your air stays healthy. These handheld devices use scattered light technology to detect small and large particles in your air including common allergy triggers like pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold. Ultimately, particle counters help you identify air quality problems and stand ready to restore healthy air. Read on to find out more about laser particle counters and how to shop for one for your home.

How Laser Particle Counters Work

A laser particle counter uses a laser to detect and count small and large particles floating in your room's air. The counter's readings give you a general idea of the total amount of particles -- or symptom triggers -- in your space. You can place a laser particle counter on a table in a central location to continuously monitor your air. Or tote it around with you to test different areas in your home. Most particle counters for home use will measure large particles greater than 5 microns and small particles from just under 1 micron to 5 microns.

Although it can't tell you what kinds of particles are being measured, you'll get an idea of the types based on the sizes. The chart below shows the average micron sizes of different types of allergens and airborne pollutants.   

  • Pollen - 7 to 100 microns
  • Pet Dander - 2.5 - 10 microns
  • Mold Spore - 10 - 30 microns
  • Dust - 0.1 to 100 microns
  • Dust Mite - 250 - 300 microns
  • Smoke Particles - 0.01 - 1 micron
  • Airborne Bacteria - 1 to 10 microns
  • Pet Hair - 50 to 150 microns

You can also use an allergen test kit to find out exactly what types of allergens are lingering in your air.

Use Particle Counts to Take Action

The particle count readings from a laser particle counter help you take action to reduce allergens and other symptom triggers in your environment so you can breathe healthier. Here are some things you might do after reviewing the results.

  • Change Your Air Purifier Filter - If particle concentrations are high around an air purifier you use regularly, it might be time to change the filter. Test the air coming out of the air outlet to be sure. This strategy can also help you avoid replacing an expensive air purifier filter sooner than you need to.

  • Run Your Air Purifier on a Higher Speed - If you know it's not time to change your air purifier's filter and  you still have a high particle count, you can try running your air purifier on a higher speed to clear pollutants out quickly.

  • Change Your Vacuum Filter - Similar to an air purifier filter, your vacuum's exhaust filter needs regular replacement to prevent vacuumed up allergens from being released into your air. This is especially true if you have a HEPA vacuum. Test the exhaust of your vacuum to be sure. If particle counts are high, it's time to replace the filter.

  • Change Your HVAC Filter - If you're regularly seeing high particle concentrations, particularly around your air vents, it might be time to change your HVAC filter or upgrade to a more efficient option.

  • Open Your Windows and Ventilate - Sometimes all your home needs is a little natural ventilation if you're consistently seeing high particle counts. Keeping windows and doors shut tight during the winter recirculates allergens and keeps them indoors. Open windows and doors when it's warmer to naturally push them out. Use caution with this method during allergy season, however, since you could introduce new allergens into your home.

What to Look for in a Laser Particle Counter

When you choose a particle counter for your home, first make sure to choose a residential model. While commercial particle counters are highly accurate, sensitive, and reliable, they're often pricey and may be overkill for home use.  Instead, choose a residential particle counter that provides fast readings and easy instructions for analyzing particle counts. Laser particle counters designed for home use have a handful of features that make taking particle counts and analyzing them easier. Look for:

  • Particle Size Sensitivity - Most residential laser particle counters can detect particles from just under 1 micron and larger. But if you have severe allergies, you might need one with increased sensitivity to smaller particles. The Dylos DC1100 Pro, for example, counts particles down to 0.5 microns.

  • Fast Sampling - You don't need to wait all day for a particle count. Look for a particle counter that provides fast sampling, from just a few minutes to a matter of seconds. This will help you get results and be able to take action sooner.

  • Multiple Sampling Modes - Multiple sampling modes give you more options when it comes to analyzing your home's particle count. For example, a continuous sampling mode samples your air non-stop while an intermittent sampling mode samples your air once per hour.

  • History Storage - Some particle counters can store past readings for reference. This is helpful for getting an average particle count over the past day, month, or week. Histories also make it easy to compare counts overtime and see the improvement in your air quality.

  • Compact and Lightweight - You might want to carry a particle counter throughout the house for testing on the go. Lightweight and compact counters make this process easier.

Still Have Questions?

For more information on laser particle counters and other solutions that can improve your air quality, browse our products and visit our Knowledge Center. Not sure what's best for you? We can take the guesswork out of decision-making. Contact one of our air treatment specialists at 1-800-934-9194. We want to help make your indoor environment healthy and comfortable.

Other Resources

Dylos Laser Particle Counters
Testing Your Air for Allergens and Pollutants
Air Quality Testing Kits

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