How to choose an ionizer

by Andy on July 6, 2007

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an ionizer.  First start by deciding which style of ionizer will work best for you.  This includes overhead ionizers, desktop ionizers, and gun type ionizers.  Then decide on whether or not you would like DC or AC ionization.  Each of these choices will narrow your selection from the many available types of ionizers.

Each style of ionizer has its advantages and disadvantages.  Overhead ionizers, like the Aerostat Guardian Overhead Ionizer (4004063), are generally the most expensive;  however, they save desk space by being hung from above and provide continual ionization over an are3M 960 Mini Ionized Air Blowera.  Desktop ionizers, like the 3M 960 Mini Benchtop Ionizer (to the right), are generally the least expensive and still provide continual  ionization over an area; however  they take away from the desktop space by sitting on the work surface.  The third style is the gun type ionizers, like the Simco Top Gun (4005105) below. These are used mainly for pinpoint control of the ionized air flow, and are not used when trying to cover an entire area with ionized air.  They work really well as a “blow-off” gun to get rid of dust or other contaminants without using normal shop air which can introduce a charge.  The negatives are that they normally require the use of an air compressor which is noisy and fairly expensive. It also doesn’t cover the entire work surface, and without the additional “hands free kits,” you would need to hold it in order to use it.

Hand Held Air Ionizer The difference between DC and AC ionization is the way the emitter points function.  In AC, like the Simco Aerostat models, the same emitter point alternates between releasing positive and negative ions.  This means they inherently have a voltage balance.  This is because if an emitter gets dirty and isn’t functioning, the other emitters are still alternating between positive and negative ions.  This also means that the ions are closer together which makes it more likely for them to recombine. This means normally higher fan speeds are needed to reduce the time between the fan and the surface that needs to be ionized.  DC ionizers, like the 3M TM960, have separate emitters for positive and negative ions.  This means that it’s a little more difficult to ensure a low voltage balance and if one emitter stops working, it throws the unit out of balance.  These types of units require a lot more consistent maintenance/monitoring to ensure a good voltage balance.  The benefits are that the emitters are separate so there is less of a chance of recombination of the ions.  This allows the DC units to operate at a lower fan speed which is very beneficial when your components are small or you are in a clean room.

Check out our selection of ionizers at All-Spec’s website.

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