Check Out This Awesome DIY Low-Tech Air Purifier – Save Hundreds Of Dollars

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Check Out This Awesome DIY Low-Tech Air Purifier - Saves Hundreds Of Dollars image © off-grid.info

Check out this awesome “low tech” air purifier that is SUPER easy to make, ultra portable and will save you a ton of money… as well as possibly doing a better job of removing particles from the air than its super-expensive cousins.



I have extreme sensitivity to dust – so last year I purchased one of the “brand” HEPA air purifiers. These are expensive… the one I bought was around $600! But very much needed and if you have ever had choking attacks brought on by dirty air, you will know what I mean. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filters do the job and do it very well.

Now I don’t want to discredit the manufacturers of these well-made devices and it’s well established that they work – however my curiosity got the better of me and I took a look inside.



I guess I was expecting some kind of “secret sauce” tech that made it so expensive. But no. It’s just a fan and a filter – in a pretty metal case with blue lights on it and a 4-way fan speed selector. That’s it.

Now if you need your air purifier to look like a modern home appliance, or in a critical application where it needs to be rated and tested, then buy the real thing. However if you need it for a workshop, art studio, home remodel, Burning Man RV, or simply don’t mind too much about appearances so long as it gets the job done (i.e. like most people) then you’ll love this DIY low-tech version that cost me only about $35 for the parts, plus a few bucks for a roll of tape that you may already have.

You will need:



1 of – 20×20 box fan. Around $20 at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart etc. Here’s one on Amazon.

1 of – 20×20 HEPA filter. Around $15 from Home Depot or cheaper on Amazon… I just found a pack of 6 MERV 11 rated filters on Amazon (currently $46.50, $7.75 each!) here. Also this is way cheaper than filter replacements for the brand air purifiers.

1 of – roll of “Gaffer Tape” (Amazon link). You could use duck tape but I wouldn’t, personally. The gaffer type (cloth backed) is far superior; strips can be torn by hand and it leaves much less residue when removed.

Putting it together:

Important note – the filter attaches to the back of the fan. Be sure that the air flow direction arrow is pointing toward the fan and the fan is pulling on the filter, rather than pushing on it. The fan should be sucking air through the filter.

Simple tape around the edge, sticking the two items together and creating a seal so that air doesn’t escape. Another money-saving tip: You can tear gaffer tape lengthways in order to get twice as much taping for your money!

That’s it! You’re done. 🙂

I found that my low-tech purifier (subjectively) cleans the air better and faster than the expensive one. It stands to reason – the fan is bigger and more powerful, so it moves more air. It’s also super portable and you can just pick it up and put it in the room you are in. Superb if you are doing any sort of remodeling! Depending on the grade of filter square you buy (the best ones are a little more expensive), you can remove dust, lint, pollen, mold and even smoke from the air. Keep an eye on your filter square and when it gets filthy, simply replace the filter.

How To Remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from air:

Note that the above is a HEPA-only setup and will not remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as formaldehyde or other solvent fumes. For those you will need a gas phase purifier, typically activated charcoal. A simple “upgrade” option here is to get a 20×20 box fan filter that is carbon impregnated such as this one on Amazon. Otherwise you would need to look into a separate carbon filter stage.

Another nice “no tech” option for VOC removal is house plants and NASA published a list of plants they found successful for VOC removal in scientific tests.

Getting Fancy With It: Fan Speed Control

One thing to note about box fans, they are somewhat loud. A name-brand $500 air purifier typically has a “super quiet” setting so that it can provide round-the-clock air purification in spaces such as a bedroom that requires low noise. Turns out that you can get a fan speed controller to “dial down” the speed of your fan and thus make it quieter. I just ordered this one on Amazon for $15. I will update this once it has been tested. That brings my total costs for this project to around $60 – which is still $540 LESS than the fancy purifier – and now mine has activated carbon VOC removal and infinite speed control, which the expensive one didn’t…

Safety notes:

As with most life hack type projects, this one should be done with adult supervision. Be careful not to get anything inside the fan box where it could get caught in the blades and of course, don’t work on this while the fan is plugged in or switched on! Never remove the fan cover. For this project you don’t need to dismantle the fan in any way.

Note also that if you are doing work involving VOCs, such as painting with solvent based paints, you should still follow safety procedures such as the correct mask and ventilation and not rely on a VOC filter alone.


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