Breathe a sigh of relief… Imagine coming home to a room that feels light, fresh, and clean. You breathe deeply without a hint of dust or the anticipation of a sneeze. Your family sleeps well, and your kids no longer have those chronic stuffy noses! A quality air purifier is an excellent solution to help improve the overall quality of air in any space.
But, for most of us, this may not be the reality. As much as we care for our home, the condition of the air may not match the hard work we put-in to keep it tidy and neat. Some days you wish you could just take a sponge to every air molecule and scrub the air clean! Luckily there is a better way with an air purifier.
You have probably heard of air purifiers, but wonder if they live up to the hype. Or are they just another household appliance that will sit collecting dust next to that state of the art ice cream maker you “needed”?
We have curated this list to help you understand how an air purifier works, how it can be helpful to you and your family, and what to look for when it comes to features.
Do Air Purifiers Actually Work?
Did you know that pollutants don’t necessarily need to come from outdoors? According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), home furnishings, everyday products we use, and even our kitchen cabinets may be the source of invisible, harmful particles. Add to the list second hand smoke, grease from cooking, and residue from cleaning products to see the complex nature of the problem we are facing in our homes and offices.
An air purifier will help filter the air and trap most of the pollutants. While it cannot replace your vacuum cleaner (you still need to do the basics of dusting and cleaning the floors), it can help to reduce allergens, dust mites, smoke, and other airborne particles throughout the air of your indoor spaces.
It is easy to mix up an air purifier with a humidifier or a dehumidifier. Although some brands combine functionality, humidifiers release moisture to the air so you can get a good night’s sleep helping with discomforts of nighttime congestion. Dehumidifiers on the other hand help remove excess moisture from the air to prevent mold and mildew.
Who are Air Purifiers For?
Air purifiers can be helpful to anyone. Even if you do not have noticeable symptoms, poor air quality can have negative long-term effects on your health. (Both Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic have written extensively on this topic)
Typically, air purifiers are most helpful to people who have allergies and:
- are sensitive to dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants
- are sensitive to pet dander
- would benefit from fewer germs and bacteria in the air
- if you work in a room without windows and/or fresh air circulation
- If you smoke and want to clear the air
An air purifier can be especially helpful to parents who are concerned about the well-being of their children. So many young people have trouble getting a good night’s rest. Not many people realize this can be connected in some part to air quality. Kids (and adults alike) are kept up by unnecessary allergy symptoms which leave them frustrated and tired.
On a personal note, my wife uses multiple air purifiers in her doctors’ office in New York City where fresh air is elusive. If you are concerned about not being able to open windows, or air circulation is not great in your office, you may want to consider getting one.
Who Will NOT Benefit From an Air Purifier?
While air purifiers are great for most homes and even office spaces, they will only be effective if used properly. Air purifiers are not for people who like to keep the windows open. This is because air purifiers require a sealed room to function best. Besides, open windows promote effective air circulation themselves.
Air purifiers will not rid of unwanted smells. As an example, they can help remove smoke of the cigarettes, but odor will linger. This is actually the reason why car rental companies and hotels prefer non-smoking customers. The odor can be near impossible to get rid of.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to eliminate or prevent mold with an air purifier. You may want to work with a professional to find the root cause of mold and clean it. Otherwise, your air purifier will be on an endless mission of filtering mold spores…
Types of Air Purifiers
There are a few different types of air purifiers to choose from. Understanding the benefits of each will help you narrow down your choices. You will want to consider price, the space where you will use the air purifier, and your specific health needs.
HEPA Filters Are the Most Popular Type
HEPA filters (High Efficiency Particulate Air) are the most popular type of air filter. Chances are you have heard of them. These filtration systems essentially use a dense, engineered paper. The paper traps particulate contaminants in the air to improve air quality.
When shopping for a HEPA filter, it is essential to read the fine print. “True” HEPA filters are certified to remove 99.7% of all microscopic particles. However, not all HEPA filters are “true” certified so it is important to look carefully.
PROS: HEPA filters are known to be highly efficient. They are easy to find and are help people with respiratory problems including asthma.
CONS: HEPA filters need to be replaced regularly. If you know you are going to forget to keep up with changing the filter, this may not be the option for you. You will also need to factor in the cost. HEPA filters can be pricey. Plus, these filters tend to be noisier than the other options on the market.
Ionic Air Filters Require Maintenance
Ionic filters work without a paper filter. They clean the air by emitting a burst of charged ions. These ions “grab” onto airborne contaminants and pull them out of the air. Science is pretty amazing. Most ionic air filters will include an electrostatic collection plate. This can make it easy to remove particles from the entire room, not just from the air.
PROS: Unlike the HEPA filter, Ionic air filters are simple and maintenance free. You will not need to worry about changing anything out or picking up extra filters at the store. Set it and forget it! Plus, they are known to be very quiet which is important especially in a bedroom or office.
CONS: Some ionic filters pull pollutants to the floor, but do not actually remove them from the room. Models with collection plates require frequent cleaning. So, while you will not have to change filters, you will still need to remember to clean the collection plates to completely remove the contaminants from the space. If you are considering an ionic air purifier, be sure to inquire about how the collection plate works.
Carbon Air Filters Only Focus on Odor Removal
Carbon Air Filters utilize activated carbon. The carbon works to trap fumes, gases, and odors in your space. While they can help refresh a room, Carbon Air Filters DO NOT remove dust particles or other harmful particulate pollution. This is the main difference between carbon air filters and ionic or HEPA purifiers. Carbon air filters can remove odors from things like pets, cooking, smoke, paints, and cleaning supplies.
PROS: Carbon air filters are quite affordable. They do not require a whole lot of maintenance so they are easy to use and can fit into your daily rounds. They can keep a room smelling fresh and clean.
CONS: The downside is that carbon air filters only handle fumes and odors. They are not designed to get rid of heavy particles like dust and construction debris.
Ultraviolet (UV) Air Filter Technology Is Improving
Ultraviolet Air filters (UV) are another option to consider. Instead of trapping pollutants inside of a filter, these filters emit ultraviolet light particles that are capable of attaching to airborne pollutants directly. No need to worry about the UV light! UV light is only released inside the filter unit and does not get released into the surrounding room. It is totally safe for humans and animals alike!
We predict that the next generation air filters will likely combine the UV technology with HEPA and Carbon filtration.
PROS: The perk of these filters is you will never be bothered with replacing the filters. Since they do not require paper filters, you can easily reduce your environmental impact. UV filters create a more sterile environment by reducing the number of germs in the air.
CONS: The UV light on its own is only good for killing viruses, bacteria, and germs. But the good news is UV air purifiers usually come with a built-in HEPA or Ionic cleaner, so you can get the best of both worlds!
Important Features to Look Out for When Buying an Air Purifier
Now that you are familiar with the different types of purifiers and filters and how they can support your needs, you can begin to narrow your search. You will want to consider factors such as the size of the purifier, maintenance needs, storage ease, overall design, reliability, and energy efficiency. Let’s break it all down.
What is CADR? Size and Dimensions
First, consider the space you would like to purify. If you are looking for an at-home option, most air purifiers will do the trick. The majority of air purifiers are designed to be used at home. They are the perfect size to fit on a desk or in the corner of your space without being intrusive.
Just make sure that the air flow in and out of the air purifier is not obstructed.
If you are wanting to purify the air of a larger space such as an office, you might search for a larger model. While larger air purifiers can remove more contaminants, they are usually too obtrusive for at-home use. However, they can be perfect for a large office with space to spare.
This is where the clean air deliver rate (CADR) comes in handy for the industry. Try to select a high CADR rate for a given room size. Here is what the EPA suggests for an average 8-ft ceiling room:
|Room Size||Min CADR|
|100 sq.ft.||65 cfm|
|200 sq.ft.||130 cfm|
|300 sq.ft.||195 cfm|
|400 sq.ft.||260 cfm|
|500 sq.ft.||325 cfm|
|600 sq.ft.||390 cfm|
If you have higher ceilings simply choose an air purifier with a higher CADR rate.
Regular Maintenance (& Maintenance Costs)
It is important to consider not only the upfront cost of any new appliance, but also the long term maintenance cost and needs of the tool. Depending on the type of air purifier you choose, your maintenance needs will vary. You will want to consider your budget and your time.
Air purifiers with physical filters, like a HEPA filter, need to be changed out more often. As a result the cost can start to add up over time.
While ionic air purifiers with built-in collection plates do not require you to buy filters on a regular basis, they do require a more complicated cleaning process so you will want to be realistic about your schedule and what you can keep up with.
Are They Loud?
Noise is another factor to consider. Some of us are more sensitive to low-level noise than others. Typically the noise of an air purifier at 24 – 54 dB, does not bother most people. However, you might notice the sound more at night when the ambient noise level is different.
Most people can sleep while the air purifier is working. Many even like to have the gentle noise. However, you will want to consider noise level if you are a light sleeper and plan to have the air purifier in your bedroom.
In general, air purifiers are much quieter than top of the line quietest dishwashers.
HEPA filters and carbon filters use a fan mechanism to drive air through the unit, so they tend to make more noise. The operating speed of the fan will also affect the volume.
Ionic air purifiers are great for people looking for quieter machines. If you buy an air purifier that is too big for the room it is intended for, it will likely be too loud. So, size is important to consider not only for space reasons but also for noise.
Will My Energy Bill Go Up Significantly?
Air purifiers need to be running continuously to be effective. If you turn it on and off, it will not do its job properly and you will not get the air quality results you are looking for.
Since it needs to run all the time, you need to pay attention to the energy efficiency of the unit before you buy it. If you do not, you might end up with an air purifier that cleans out your air and your wallet. You will find that most air purifiers adjust their level of operation based on the pollution level in the air to limit energy use.
Home air purifiers can range from 5 watts to 200 watts of power. We consider between 50 watts and 100 watts to be in the acceptable spectrum. Energy Star appliance ratings will typically fit in this profile.
There are a lot of new air purifier companies on the market, and not all of them are turning out high-quality machines.
However, some newer companies like Bluair and Partu are doing a good job.
When in doubt, trusted brands like Honeywell, Dyson, and Conway tend to have a track record for the best warranties and customer service support teams. In addition, choosing a product from a reputable brand can offer convenience. It will be much easier to find original manufacturer filters and parts.
There is a wave of new companies from overseas or Kickstarter. It is not usually the best idea to be one of the first people to buy an air quality product from these companies. Be sure to look for longevity in the market.
Type of Pollutant or Particulate
You already know that all air purifiers are different by design. But, they are also different because they often target different pollutants or particulates. Some are specifically designed to remove dust and debris from the air. Others are intended to reduce microscopic biological contaminants like germs and bacteria.
You will want to choose your home air purifier based on what type of pollutant you are trying to remove.
7 Best Air Purifiers
You are now well-versed in air purifiers. You know what they are, how they can help, how they differ, and the features to pay attention to. Since you have a better idea of what your needs are and the type of product that will fit your lifestyle best, we have collected a list of our top air purifier picks. We have based these picks off of the most important factors: size, maintenance, noise, energy efficiency, and manufacturer, and type of purifier.
While researching this article we checked out online comments from popular sites such as Amazon and Youtube to get insight from people who have actually bought and used the product. For each air purifier you will get our insight and you will also hear directly from the people who use these air purifiers on a regular basis.
1) Best Overall: Coway AP1512HH HEPA Air Purifier
The Coway AP1512HH HEPA Air Purifier is first on our list! It has brand reputation and effectiveness to boot! They are an established company from Korea (like Samsung and LG). They have been around since 1989 and have a great history in the U.S.
This model includes a multi-stage filtration system with a pre-filter process, deodorization to keep your home smelling fresh, and a “true” HEPA filter that reduces up to 99.97% of particles in the air.
Not only is it good at what it does, but it has lots of user friendly features. What we like most about this purifier is the ease of use. If you are worried about forgetting to change the HEPA filter, never fear. This Coway purifier has got you covered! This model includes a filter replacement indicator that checks both the pre-filter and the “true” HEPA filter to ensure you always know when to change your filter. This will keep your appliance working optimally all day, every day.
On top of being super convenient, it is also energy-efficient. It has a 77 W power consumption and quiet noise operation. So both your energy bill and your ears will be happy.
Lastly, it tells you how well it is working! The Coway AP1512HH actually tells you how clear or dirty the air in your space is at any given moment. So you can feel confident in your air quality and the performance of your air purifier.
But don’t just take it from us, here is what users are saying:
● Most users report that the filters are quite affordable to replace and do not have to be changed out very often!
● Users are impressed by how well it detects and targets odors. No longer worry about coming home to a house smelling like what you cooked on the stove last!
● No significant increases in energy bills!
● “Sneeze” free mornings: wouldn’t that be nice?
2) Best Technology & Style: Molekule MH1BBB1
We think the Molekule MH1BBB represents the future of air purifier technology. Similar to Dyson this brand has a strong reputation for quality service, forward thinking and excellent products.
Not only does this HEPA purifier and carbon filter sense, detect and capture pollutants and allergens, but it also acts as an oscillating tower fan. After improving the air quality, it effectively projects purified air throughout the entire space.
It automatically reports air quality on an LCD display. It gives really specific data on what it traps such as volatile organic compounds, allergens and nitrogen dioxide. Not only will you know how clean your air is after it does its job, but you will also know what exactly was removed. We find that to be super gratifying!
This model has some super high-tech features! It actually connects to WiFi so that you can track its performance in real time even when you are out of the house. You can use this to set and change schedules that fit your day with a handy app that you can access on any smart device! Plus you can connect it to your Alexa device which means you can voice control your air purifier. Pretty neat!
What their “fans” have to say:
● This super sensitive air purifier convinced one user to ditch his candles after it reported he should get out of the room. This brand of candles were ruining his air quality and without the Dyson TP04 he never would have known.
● The filters last more than a year.
● You won’t see dust accumulating on your floors ever again.
● The best part is how quiet it is.
3) Most Reliable: Honeywell Home HPA300
The Honeywell Home HPA300 is a perfect option if you are looking for an extra large air purifier. It is meant for large spaces (465 square feet) and can powerfully purify the air. It has 3 cleaning levels and a Turbo Clean feature to not only capture things like pet dander, dust, smoke and pollen but also the certified HEPA filter reduces 99.9% of certain airborne viruses, bacteria, and mold spores.
What we like most about this model is that it also circulates the air in your space. This can be especially helpful in large rooms where more air flow is needed. It also ensures that the air is consistently purified, not just the area closest to the appliance.
Plus, it is backed by the medical experts. Allergists have named this the number 1 air purifier, and highly recommend it as an effective way to reduce airborne particles that can agitate allergy symptoms.
What do the people have to say?
● Less dust in the air and on furniture just makes any home feel lighter!
● When it is on the high setting it can be a little loud, but more like a white noise which can be surprisingly soothing.
● Users enjoy having different settings for different purposes such as “germ”, “allergen” and “turbo”.
● They can “feel” the difference when it comes to seasonal allergies.
4) Best Value: Partu BS-03 Air Purifier
The Partu BS-03 Air Purifier features a 3-stage filtration system. The pre-filter traps large particles, the “true” HEPA filter captures fine particles like pollen or mold, and the carbon filter helps to trap and neutralize odors.
This is a two-in-one appliance! Not only does it purify the air, but it also serves as a fragrance diffuser! Add your favorite essential oil for a luxurious experience you would not expect from an air purifier. Take a deep breath and enjoy the aroma of lavender or citrus without worrying if you are also taking in dust, pollen, and smoke!
We also love their safety features. This product was designed with curious kids and pets in mind! Pressing the lock button for 3 seconds will disable the touch mode.
This model is super sleek and is small enough to fit on a desk or table. It’s perfect for any room in your home and will fit well in small spaces.
What do users think?
● Low mode is basically silent: you could use it in a baby’s room!
● “I haven’t needed my inhaler since I got it”
● The reusable filter is so convenient and eco-friendly. Being sustainable never felt so good!
5) Best Hybrid Technology: Blueair Blue Pure 411
The Blueair Blue Pure 411 had us as “eco-friendly”. This product was designed with sustainability in mind. Not only is it Energy Star rated for best in class energy efficiency, but it also has a washable fabric pre-filter! You can even choose from different color pre-filters as they slide over the exterior of the device. Blue and dark grey are included, but you can purchase other colors to fit your decor. Stylish and environmentally conscious? Impressive!
The Blueair Pure 411 is designed for small spaces. Its sleek design is great for a bedroom, nursery, or home office space.
The activated carbon filter effectively removes odors. While it does have an effective, recyclable air purifier, you will want to note that this model does not include a “true” HEPA filter.
● Definitely minimizes dust and leaves the air smelling fresher.
● Truly silent on level 1.
● “My only gripe is that I can’t turn the light off at night” reports one user.
● Pre-filter is so easy to take off and wash regularly!
6) Best HEPA Filter: Medify Air MA-14-W2
The Meidify Air MA-14-W2 boasts a powerful H13 filter that is more powerful than a “true” HEPA filter. This filter removes up to 99.9% of particles including, but not limited to, asbestos, lead dust, virus carriers, pet dander, and mold.
This lightweight but powerful model has some really convenient features such as sleep mode and a night light which makes it ideal for living spaces and bedrooms. It also has a 3 speed fan to help circulate the air through any space. A handy filter replacement indicator helps you make sure you never forget to swap it out and keep your appliance working at its peak performance.
What people are saying:
● Got rid of not-so-good odors fast!
● It is the perfect size and doesn’t take up too much room.
● Best sleep ever! No more stuffy nose or headaches.
7) Best Pro Performance: IQAir HealthPro Plus Home HEPA
The IQAir HealthPro Plus Home HEPA Air Purifier is a professional-grade appliance. This model means business! It is the number 1 rated air purifier because its HyperHEPA filters trap ultrafine particles beyond what a standard HEPA filter can do.
It can purify large spaces (over 1,000 square feet). It is a big model, so it would be best in a space that has lots of storage or an open area such as a sizable office space. With a system like this, you likely will not need more than one to purify all the air in your home or office.
Some of the best features include programmable operating options, and the ability to track the lifespan of your filter so you know how long it is working and when you need to change it out for best results.
The company backs this product with a strong warranty, so you can feel confident in your investment now and in the future.
Users most enjoy:
● The wheels! It is easy to move around. Having this portable option is a game changer.
● “I have not breathed this freely in years”, reports one user.
● Others report it is a fire-season must-have in Northern California as it reduces smoke considerably.
● While it is expensive, users report it is worth “every penny.”
I think you will benefit from an air purifier so that you do not need to suffer with poor air quality or stale odors any more! Air purifiers are an effective solution that will not only leave your space feeling fresh and clean, but will also improve the health of you and the people around you!
There are a variety of options to fit specific spaces, your unique needs and your budget. Now that you are a knowledgeable consumer, you can shop confidently for an air purifier that is effective, sleek, convenient and energy efficient so you can breathe easy.
Q: Are air purifiers a waste of money?
Not if you are looking to improve your Indoor Air Quality. You can consider it an investment in your health.
Q: Do I need one in every room?
Air Purifiers are designed and sized to clean the air in an individual room. Using multiple units in a household can be effective, but it might be more effective to buy a larger unit.
Q: Where should I place the air purifier?
You should place the air purifier close to the source of potential contaminants, whether it is odors, fumes, or pet dander. Be sure to avoid tight spaces and corners. You may want to place your purifier near room entryways. Keep your purifier away from TVs, microwaves, and stereos in order to avoid wavelength interference. Make sure the windows in your space are closed. Opening a window definitely will not help with indoor air quality (IAQ).
Q: Why are good air purifiers so expensive?
The best air purifiers utilize high density particulate filters. It is possible to get these for cheap, but cheaper filters have a lower capacity and will remove less pollutants from the air. In most cases, you get what you pay for.
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on September 28, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.