Air quality should be a top priority for hotels and facility managers alike, with good indoor air potentially making the difference between an enjoyable stay or disappointment among guests. Poor air quality can be caused by a variety of factors such as bio-allergens like dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander; pollutant gases from building materials like paint; external allergens brought in from outdoors like pollen grains; smoke from cigarettes or even cooking fumes.
The latter factor is an especially important consideration from the perspective of a hotel guest. Lingering odors from previous room guests, particularly cigarette smoke, can make an otherwise excellent hotel stay unpleasant.
Fortunately, there are solutions available to tackle the problem efficiently in the form of air cleaners and air purifiers. In this article, Camfil air quality experts provide a comprehensive guide to air cleaners in hotels, covering essential information and considerations you should have when selecting the right product for your specific needs.
How Do Air Cleaners Work?
An air cleaner is an important option to consider in any strategy for improving hotel air quality. Air cleaners are portable air filtration devices that are designed to remove air pollution from a single room rather than an entire building (which would be the job of air filters within a building’s HVAC system).
Air cleaners help reduce airborne pollutants and allergens and circulate air around a space to improve ventilation, using a variety of technologies to do so. The main technologies used in air cleaners on the market in 2023 include:
- MERV-rated filters trap varying sizes of particulate matter (PM) within layers of filter media.
- HEPA filters are another type of mechanical filter that can filter out a minimum of 99.995% of particles at the most penetrating particle size (MPPS)
- Activated carbon filters use the chemical process of adsorption to catch gaseous pollutants such as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), carbon monoxide, and ozone. Activated carbon filters are also the most effective air filtration solution against unpleasant odors, including cigarette smoke, according to industry best practices.
- Electrostatic precipitators use a chemical catalyst to convert pollutants into benign substances such as carbon dioxide and water vapor.
- UV-C lights are often used as an aspect of an air filtration system to disinfect the air by killing harmful pathogens; UV-C lights cannot remove particulate matter or gaseous pollutants from the air, so they should not be used alone.
An effective, high-quality air cleaner should use a combination of two or more types of these filtration technologies to achieve the highest air quality possible.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Air Cleaners for Hotels
With the vast range of air cleaning products on the market it is important to consider the following factors in choosing the right product for your hotel:
- Room size. The size of the room or suite will affect the air cleaner that is chosen or how many air cleaners are required in the space to achieve the desired air quality. Knowing the volume of each room is important because different air cleaners have different capacities for what air volume they are able to move in any given period.
- Filtration efficiency. The efficiency of the air cleaner chosen is important and is dependent on the types and quality of air filters it uses. Air cleaners that use both actual HEPA filters to target particulate matter and activated carbon filters to target molecular pollutants are usually the best choice for commercial applications such as hotel rooms. Be careful of devices that claim to be ‘true’ HEPA or HEPA-type filters; many cheap products falsely use this label. A real HEPA filter is individually factory tested to prove efficiency and will come with paperwork to demonstrate the results of those tests.
- Noise level. This is an especially important consideration in hotel rooms as an overly noisy air cleaner can disrupt sleep and leave guests feeling frustrated and unsatisfied. While some people enjoy the presence of white noise while they sleep, it is best to opt for the quietest air cleaners possible to account for those who prefer silence.
- Maintenance requirements. Many portable air cleaners are self-contained units that require little to no maintenance and last for many years. Some may need the filter replaced, but these can usually be done by maintenance or housekeeping staff with minimal effort.
- Cost. Cost is always a factor when considering any type of purchase, especially those related to hospitality services such as air cleaning in hotel rooms. Fortunately, with modern air cleaners that are designed to be efficient and low-maintenance, the up-front cost is usually worth the improved guest experience and cost savings in the long run.
Ultimately it is important to choose an air cleaner that best meets the building’s needs while keeping both safety and cost in mind.
The Benefits of Using Air Cleaners in Hotels
Air cleaners are a significant purchase that requires a great deal of research and a notable upfront financial investment. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using air cleaners in hotels to consider when making the decision:
- Improved air quality is the most obvious and arguably the most important benefit of air cleaners in hotels. High levels of air pollutants can accumulate quickly in small spaces like hotel rooms, leading to an unpleasant, potentially dangerous atmosphere for guests. By using air cleaners and purifiers, hotels can greatly reduce the levels of pollutants in their rooms and create a more pleasant environment for their guests. Additionally, air purifiers with HEPA filters are very effective at reducing dust, pollen, and pet dander particles, which can be especially beneficial for those suffering from allergies or asthma.
- Removal of unpleasant odors from the air, which includes smoke and other unpleasant smells from cooking or previous guests. Despite rules against smoking in non-smoking rooms in most hotels and the consequent fines that come with breaking them, it is not uncommon for guests to smoke cigarettes in their rooms or on the adjoining balcony. For the next guest, the unpleasant odor of stale cigarette smoke can be disappointing and off putting, and potentially damage the hotel’s reputation and the guest’s attitude towards future stays.
- Reduced risk of airborne disease transmission. Hotel rooms come with a great deal of privacy, but in most buildings, guests are sharing the same HVAC system as their neighbors. If air filtration in the building’s HVAC system is inadequate to protect guests against airborne diseases such as RSV, COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold, hotel guests are at risk of contracting one of these diseases from someone they may never even interact with face to face. The right air cleaner, however, can help mitigate this risk by providing adequate circulation and properly filtering infected respiratory particles out of the air.
- Protection against odor damage. Even if air cleaners are used primarily to reduce the discomfort caused by odors and pollution, they can also help protect hotel furniture, carpets, and drapes from further damage caused by these contaminants. This is especially important in older hotels that may have a greater number of irreplaceable, unique items to protect from odors resulting from smoking or cooking. Furthermore, air cleaners protect guests’ possessions from odor damage in the same way.
- Ease of installation. Because premium air cleaners operate independently of a building’s HVAC system and plug into standard electrical outlets, installation does not require the assistance of a professional.
- Enhanced guest comfort and satisfaction, including better sleep. Air cleaners help to improve overall air quality, reduce odors, and remove dust and other particles that can cause allergies or otherwise make guests uncomfortable. There is also a rich connection in the scientific literature between better air quality and better mood, productivity, and sleep quality. The result is better sleep and improved comfort for the guest – something that can make an enormous difference in a hotel stay.
- Higher revenue. Providing luxuries such as air cleaners in some or all rooms and suites provides a reasonable opportunity to upcharge the price for a nightly stay in one of these spaces, leading to overall increased revenue once the initial cost of the air cleaner has been covered.
- Improved reputation. The above factors all impact the guest experience at a hotel in ways that improve reputation and increase the likelihood that guests will return to your hotel or provide a recommendation to friends, family, and coworkers. The positive impact that using state-of-the-art technology such as a premium air cleaner has on the brand reputation of a hotel is also an important reputation.
Best Practices for Using Air Cleaners in Hotels
- Developing a Comprehensive Indoor Air Quality Management Plan. Hotels should develop a comprehensive indoor air quality management plan to ensure the safety and comfort of guests. This plan should include regular maintenance to keep air cleaners in optimal working condition, as well as proper placement of units throughout the hotel. The plan should also address best practices for operating, cleaning, and replacing filters on a routine basis. In addition, the plan should include an emergency response protocol in case of any problems with air cleaners. The plan should also accommodate local air quality regulations as well as any applicable recommendations from relevant professional organizations, such as ASHRAE.
- Training Staff on Air Cleaner Use and Maintenance. Proper training and education of hotel staff are essential for the effective use and maintenance of air cleaners. Hotel staff should understand how the units work, their benefits, when and how they need to be cleaned, and how often filters should be replaced. Furthermore, any new arrivals or changes in technology should also be discussed with staff so that they are familiar with the latest advances in air cleaning.
- Educating Guests on the Benefits of Air Cleaners. It is also important to educate guests on the benefits of air cleaners. Hotels should include information about the units in guest materials, such as pamphlets, brochures, and webpages, and make sure that staff are trained to answer any questions guests may have. This will help guests understand why they should use air cleaners while staying at a hotel, and ensure that they take advantage of the health benefits these units can provide.
- Regular Testing and Monitoring of Air Quality in Hotel Rooms. In addition to having an indoor air quality management plan in place, it is important for hotels to monitor air quality on a regular basis. This will help ensure that any problems with air cleaners are identified early and addressed promptly. Hotel staff should also be trained on how to use air quality testing equipment, so they can detect and address any potential issues.
Potential Drawbacks of Using Air Cleaners in Hotels
The use of air cleaners and purifiers in hotels can certainly help to improve the air quality and decrease guest’s exposure to allergens and irritants, however, it is important to consider potential drawbacks when selecting an air cleaner or air purifier.
- Noise disruption to guests is one of the main drawbacks that must be taken into account when deciding on an air purifier or cleaner. It is essential to select a model of air cleaner that is designed to produce minimum white noise when operating at maximum efficiency.
- Ozone emissions from certain kinds of air cleaners are a possibility. Ozone is a strong oxidant that can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat; these negative effects are especially pronounced in compact spaces such as hotel rooms where larger concentrations of the pollutant can build up rapidly. It is therefore important to opt for air cleaner models that use air filtration technologies such as HEPA filtration that do not produce dangerous pollutants.
- Initial cost associated with installing and maintaining an air purifier or cleaner is another potential drawback that building managers must take into consideration. While it might come with a higher price tag than other hotel amenities, in the long run, it is likely to provide a positive ROI for your business.
- Ongoing maintenance requirements that are associated with using premium air filtration equipment such as an air cleaner to maintain optimal function should be taken into account. Keeping up with regular maintenance will help to ensure that your guests enjoy clean and safe air in their rooms. However, it is important to consider that a well-maintained premium air cleaner will protect the hotel building’s HVAC system, which will reduce labor costs associated with HVAC maintenance.
Future Trends in Air Cleaners for Hotels
The importance of air quality at hotels has become increasingly evident in recent years, and as guests expect cleaner air, hotels are looking for innovative solutions. Air cleaners that employ emerging technologies may be the solution, using advanced filtration systems that selectively cleanse the air to reduce contaminants, allergens, and odors. Automation and artificial intelligence have further aided the development of more efficient air cleaners; automation has allowed the machines to autonomously adjust the filtering capacity according to the unpredictable changes of hotel room occupancy while artificial intelligence technology has allowed them to refine and improve their own performance. Furthermore, such devices can increase overall energy efficiency in hotels by working together with other building systems, such as HVAC or solar shades. As hotels strive for cleaner air and improved customer satisfaction, new trends in air cleaners utilizing these cutting-edge technologies will likely continue to develop.
Find the Right Air Cleaner for Your Hotel
Overall, air cleaners are essential in improving indoor air quality in hotels. With their ability to filter out dust, smoke, and other airborne particles, they make the hotel atmosphere pleasant and comfortable for guests. Air cleaners also help to eliminate odors that can be caused by cigarette smoke and allergy symptoms caused by pet dander and pollen. Hotel owners should understand how these units work as well as how to identify air cleaners that work effectively. Strategically installing and maintaining air cleaners can make all the difference in providing guests with a more satisfactory experience and better sleep during their stay at a hotel. In effect, air cleaners play a key role in creating healthier living and breathing environments for everyone – something any hotel should strive for.
About Camfil Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 31 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 35+ countries, and about 5,200 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil USA can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at www.camfil.us/
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