ACH or Air Changes Per Hour is a metric that tells us how many times an HVAC device can fill up the full volume of a room with air. This is especially useful when comparing different air purifiers or air conditioners.
Example: Let’s take an air purifier with 250 CFM airflow. We put it in a 200 sq ft room with the standard-height ceiling (8 ft). How many air changes per hour does the unit make?
Calculation: 250 CFM is 250 cubic feet per minute. In one hour (60 minutes), we get 60*250 = 15.000 cubic feet per hour. The whole volume of the room is 200 sq ft * 8 ft = 1.600 cubic feet. Such an air purifier is capable of changes the whole volumetric air in room 15.000/1.600 = 9.375 times.
Answer: ACH = 9.375
Here is a neat air change per hour calculator you can freely use. Just put in the area, ceiling height and CFM of an HVAC device in question and you can calculate ACH:
Formula (Calculate ACH Yourself)
The formula of how to calculate air changes per hour from CFM is simple enough. Pretty everybody can calculate it using a digital calculator. All you need to know is the room area, height, and CFM.
This is the formula for ACH (air changes per hour):
ACH = CFM x 60 / (Area x Height)
where ‘Area’ is the area of the space where you intend to have an HVAC device and ‘Height’ is the height of the ceiling.
The formula is basically ‘how many cubic feet of air can an HVAC unit provide every hour’ divided by the volume of the room.
We always get CFM but that is the volume of air per minute. In order to calculate air changes per hour, we have to translate that into hours. Hence the multiplication with 60 in the equation above.
The volume of a room is simply calculated by length*width*height. Obviously, the multiplying length of the room with its width will give us the surface area (‘Area’). To get the volume, we have to multiply the area by height.
How Many ACH Different Air Purifier Brands Use
The calculation of the recommended coverage area in the air purifier specification is based on CADR rating, maximum airflow, and ACH.
Essentially, to calculate the recommended coverage area, different air purifier companies use 1-5 air changes per hour. The ones use 5 ACH are very thorough when removing air pollutants is that recommended room size; the ones using 2 ACH less so.
Here is a list of how many ACH different air purifier brands usually use to calculate the recommended coverage area:
- Alen BreatheSmart uses 2 ACH. Example: Alen BreatheSmart FLEX air purifier has a 700 sq ft recommended coverage area, it’s maximum airflow is 187 CFM (2 ACH).
- Coway air purifiers’ coverage area is based on either 2 ACH or 5 ACH. Example: Big Airmega 400 has a coverage area of 1,560 sq ft with a 350 CADR rating (2 ACH). The high-performance Coway AP-1512HH has a 361 sq ft coverage area with a 246 CADR rating (5 ACH).
- Molekule has a recommended coverage area but provides no ACH, CADR, or maximum airflow data. Molekule Air, for example, has a 600 sq ft coverage area but it’s impossible to deduce how many air changes per hour does it make.
- Honeywell uses 5 ACH. Example: Honeywell HPA300 has 465 sq ft coverage area with 300 CADR rating (5 ACH).
- Levoit air purifiers are interesting; they use 3.33 ACH with their best model. Example: Levoit LV-H135 has a 463 sq ft coverage area and 360 CADR rating. Air is changed every 18 minutes, thus the Levoit unit makes 3.33 air changes per hour.
- Okaysou uses 3 air changes per hour. Example: Their most popular Okaysou AirMax8L air purifier has a 500 sq ft coverage area, with a 210 CADR rating (3 ACH).
- Dyson is very shy about revealing the room sizes. That’s why it’s not possible to calculate the ACH for any Dyson air purifier.
Of all the HVAC devices, air purifiers are unique as far as ACH is considered because their job is the most closely rated to the ACH specification. In essence, ACH is the second-best determining factor that indicates how well air purifiers clean the air.
There is another better determining specification valid for air purifiers; the CADR rating. The CADR rating is proportional to both ACH as well as various filters air purifier might employ. Because of this, ACH calculation and the consequent CADR calculation are most appropriate for air purifiers.
If you have any questions regarding the calculation of air changes per hour, you are welcome to ask us in the comments below.