BEST AIR PURIFIERS | NOVEMBER 2017
Household air purifiers can greatly improve the quality of the air you breathe as well as your overall health and are a must-have if you suffer from allergies. A good model can also enhance your sleep quality and reduce or eliminate stubborn household odors from pets or smoking. We’ve thoroughly researched dozens of air purifiers from top manufacturers and pored over hundreds of reviews from experts and users alike to help you select the best unit for your needs, whether it be a compact unit for your bedroom or a high-end purifier to help relieve serious allergies and asthma symptoms. Read more about our methodology.
If you want the best air purifier available today that doesn’t cost a small fortune, look no further than the Coway AP-1512HH. Its true HEPA filter, excellent CADR ratings, and attractive price make this our recommended purifier for most buyers.Read full review.
The Holmes HAP242-NUC is a capable and cheap tabletop air purifier that is perfect for any bedroom or office. It’s also hands-down the best unit you are going to find for under $40, especially considering you can purchase true HEPA filters for it.Read full review.
Air Purifiers BUYING GUIDE
HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air” or “high-efficiency particulate arrestance,” a standard defined by the U.S. Department of Energy which relates to a filter’s ability to contain airborne particles. True HEPA filters can trap 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns in size (for reference, a human hair is usually between 30 and 100 microns thick). All of our top picks, aside from the compact desktop air purifier, utilize true HEPA filters. This is an important feature for users who want to get the best performance out of their purifiers and is vital for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. Note that many cheaper units may use vague descriptors like “HEPA-like” or “HEPA-type” – effectively meaningless marketing terms for filters that do not actually provide true HEPA capability.
CADR, or “clean air delivery rate,” is a metric defined by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers and sets the standard for measuring a purifier’s effectiveness at removing contaminants from the air. A CADR rating is a number that reflects how many cubic feet of air a particular unit can clean in a minute. Air purifiers are given separate CADR ratings for smoke, dust, and pollen, the main pollutants that dirty up the air in your home. Good household air purifiers typically have CADR ratings of between 200 to 300, with anything over 300 considered excellent. Naturally, compact tabletop purifiers will have lower ratings as they are simply not capable of moving as much air per minute due to their size. Also bear in mind that not all manufacturers share CADR ratings.
Along with a HEPA filter, the best air purifiers will use additional filtration stages that target specific contaminants and improve overall effectiveness. Charcoal and carbon pre-filters are common and serve to trap large particles such as hair and visible dust before they get to the HEPA filter, prolonging the life of the HEPA system. Carbon and charcoal filters may also trap odors and gasses that the HEPA filter cannot. Other air purifiers, particularly those aimed at users with allergies or animals, use specialized filters designed to trap things such as pet dander. Another common filtration feature, although one not without some controversy, are ionizers. These release ions to neutralize airborne contaminants that escape the filters but generate trace amounts of dangerous ozone in the process and are therefore no longer recommended for regular use. Thankfully, most modern air purifiers that feature ionizers allow you to turn them off.
Area Coverage and Filtration Rate
One of the first things you need to determine when shopping for an air purifier is the size of the area you wish to use it in, and it’s usually a good idea to get one that is slightly larger than you think you’ll need. Also consider how many air changes a unit is capable of – that is, how many times per hour the purifier will clean the entire volume of air in a given space. Four air changes per hour is generally recommended and is a requirement for users with allergies. One rough but handy metric to determine what room size an air purifier is good for is to multiply the unit’s average CADR rating by 1.5 – for example, a model with a mean CADR score of 200 would be well-suited for a space of around 300 square feet.
Air purifiers run a wide gamut when it comes to price, with compact units starting at $40 to $50 and high-end models coming in at $800 and up. Expect to pay around $50 for a good portable air purifier, but note that at this price you are not going to get a unit with high CADR ratings or conveniences like auto mode and air quality sensors. Standard household purifiers occupy the widest price range, starting at around $120-150 for quality HEPA-capable models with good clean air delivery rates, and going up to $500-600 for the newest high-end units. You generally get what you pay for in the way of extra bells and whistles like smart sensors, but many of the most effective air purifiers you can buy come in at around $130-200. Beyond that range, you are paying for things like specialized filters and aesthetic design features. The top of the line hospital-grade purifiers run for $800 to $1,000, but these are overkill for most people and are only recommended for buyers with the most serious cases of allergies and asthma who have not had success with other filters.
FULL product reviews
We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.
The Coway AP-1512HH Mighty air purifier does it all at a highly attractive price, out-competing units that cost twice as much when it comes to filtering performance. Its true HEPA filter traps the vast majority of airborne contaminants in your house, and its solid CADR ratings and wide area coverage make it suitable for all but the largest homes. Additional conveniences like air quality sensors, quiet operation, and affordable replacement filters put this excellent air purifier over the top.
Why We Recommend It
- True HEPA filtration and excellent CADR ratings. The Coway’s efficient and effective 4-stage filtration system features a pre-filter, carbon filter, true HEPA filter, and optional ionizer. The unit also boasts very good CADR ratings of 233 for smoke, 246 for dust, and 240 for pollen that put it above most other household units.
- Air quality and filter change indicators. The Mighty air purifier features modern conveniences like built-in indicators that let you know when it’s time to change the filters, and sensors that detect air quality and automatically increase or decrease power to keep your air clean and conserve power.
- Compact and lightweight. The Coway is quite compact compared to air purifiers with similar (and even lower) specs. The AP-1512HH weighs less than 15 pounds and measures 16 x 18 x 9 inches, making it easy to move around and keep it out of the way.
- Impressive area coverage. Despite its relatively small size, the Mighty air purifier covers a wide area and is capable of changing the air four times per hour in spaces up to 360 square feet in size. If used in smaller areas, it can operate even more efficiently.
- Highly affordable. The Coway AP-1512HH is priced competitively and punches well above its weight, performing better in tests than many units that are twice the cost. Its affordable replacement filters also greatly reduce long-term operation costs.
- Not as sturdy as some units. The plastic housing of the Mighty air purifier – despite its name – is quite flimsy. This is especially noticeable when disassembling the unit to replace filters. Although not as robust as other models, this will likely not be a major problem for most users.
- Not the best at clearing odors. The Coway’s carbon filter is thin compared to that found on many other air purifiers, which mitigates its ability to clean the air of odors. If household smells are a serious concern, you may be better-served with a purifier that features a better charcoal or carbon odor control system.
The Holmes HAP242-NUC desktop air purifier is a great unit for the budget-conscious. The standard filter removes 99% of airborne particles down to 2 microns, and you can purchase true HEPA filters for it if needed. Its compact form is portable and easily sits horizontally or vertically on any shelf, desk, or table. The HAP242-NUC also features conveniences like a filter change indicator, microbial-resistant housing, and optional ionizer, extras typically not found on cheap or compact purifiers.
Why We Recommend It
- Inexpensive. Perhaps the most attractive feature of the Holmes desktop air purifier is its low price. This unit is one of the least expensive on the market and cheap replacement filters – at about $10-13 a piece – keep long-term costs down as well.
- Can use true HEPA filters. Although the HAP242-NUC comes out of the box with a “HEPA-type” filter that traps 99% of particles at 2 microns, you can purchase true HEPA replacement filters for use with this model for around $13. This is a huge step up from many other cheap or compact air purifiers which do not offer any true HEPA filtration.
- Compact and lightweight. If you need a quality air purifier that can fit on a table or shelf then this is it. At 11.4 x 14.8 x 7.2 inches, the Holmes desktop purifier can go wherever you need it and can sit vertically or horizontally for optimal placement.
- Microban-protected housing. The unit’s housing features a Microban treatment which protects it against microbials such as bacteria or mold that can grow inside a dirty air purifier and end up getting re-circulated throughout your home.
- Sufficient for small to medium rooms. The HAP242-NUC can effectively clean the air in rooms of up to 110 square feet, or 10 x 11 feet, in size. This makes it perfect for small to medium-sized rooms such as most bedrooms, offices, and nurseries.
- Ionizer generates ozone. Unfortunately, the ionizer on the Holmes HAP242-NUC does produce trace amounts of ozone. Thankfully, however, this feature is entirely optional and easily disabled.
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Best Air Purifier for Allergies
People who suffer from allergies benefit the most from an air purifier, but not all models are suited for this. The best purifiers for clearing allergens from the air feature true HEPA filters which trap 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, so that dust, pollen, and dander aren’t slipping through and getting re-circulated. The top picks for allergy-sufferers also boast impressive CADR ratings of 200 or above and cover a wide area. Not only will these purifiers keep multiple rooms fresh, but they will change the air more often in smaller spaces as well.
Users who suffer from allergies will need a more powerful HEPA-capable air purifier, but you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg for one. The Honeywell 50250-S delivers excellent performance with its true HEPA filter, high CADR ratings, and large area coverage, and does it all at a price that is almost too good to be true. Its washable carbon pre-filter and long-lasting HEPA filter save you even more money in the long run.
Why We Recommend It
- Long-lasting true HEPA filter. The Honeywell 50250-S utilizes a true HEPA filter, but what sets this one apart is its impressively long lifespan: The filter itself can be vacuumed and re-used continuously for 3 to 5 years before needing to be replaced.
- Washable carbon-activated pre-filter. The thick carbon-activated pre-filter combats odors and traps large particles before they get to the HEPA filter. The pre-filter can also be washed and re-used multiple times before replacement, although only for several months rather than several years.
- High CADR ratings across the board. The Honeywell 50250-S has CADR ratings of 250 across the board for smoke, pollen, and dust. This is well above the average for most air purifiers and easily out-performs others in this price range.
- Large area coverage. With its excellent clean air delivery rate, this unit is well-suited for moving lots of purified air within a large radius. Its coverage of up to 390 square feet places it among the top performers when it comes to scrubbing the air in a wide space.
- Fantastic value. At less than $130, the Honeywell 50250-S is a tough act to follow in this price range for a true HEPA filter with high CADR ratings and wide area coverage. Its washable filters sweeten the deal even further by slashing long-term costs.
- Noisy compared to other units. Perhaps the only major drawback to this air purifier is its noise levels, which are especially noticeable when compared side-by-side with other models. The Honeywell 50250-S runs at around 50dB on its lowest setting, whereas others generally run at 30dB or less.
- Blue LED light can be a distraction at night. The purifier’s control panel features built-in blue LED ring which many users found to be annoying and distracting at night. These lights cannot be switched off, so you may consider finding a way to cover them up.
The IQAir HealthPro Plus is a top of the line Swiss-made air purifier for serious allergy and asthma sufferers. Its hospital-grade HyperHEPA filter can trap particles as small as 0.003 microns, performing well above normal HEPA standards. As one of the most powerful purifiers available to buyers today, the HealthPro Plus is the clear choice for those who need the best home air purification they can get and are willing to pay for it.
Why We Recommend It
- Unrivaled filtration capability. IQAir’s proprietary HyperHEPA filter is unmatched by standard HEPA units, trapping 99.9% of airborne particles as small as 0.003 microns. The tiniest particles that can escape other true HEPA purifiers will not do so with the HealthPro Plus.
- Efficient and effective filters. Despite its size and power, the HealthPro Plus features a simple and intuitive filtration process that uses three large filters rather than a higher number of thin ones. Along with the HyperHEPA filter, the large PreMax pre-filter captures large contaminants while the V5-Cell carbon filter captures gases and odors.
- Wide area coverage. This purifier is capable of scrubbing the air in a very large space of just over 560 square feet while still maintaining four air changes per hour – vital for providing a constant flow of clean air to those who suffer from serious allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems.
- Convenient modern features. Included with the air purifier is a handy remote control which lets you adjust settings from the comfort of your bed or chair. The IQAir also offers modern conveniences like programmable timers, filter life monitors, six different fan speeds, and extra-quiet operation.
- Excellent construction and 10-year warranty. The HealthPro Plus is manufactured in Switzerland and this clearly shows in its robust build quality and 3mm thick housing. The purifier is also backed by a generous 10-year warranty, the longest coverage of any of our top picks.
- Large and heavy. This unit weighs in at 35 pounds and is quite bulky and heavy compared to other purifiers. While not necessarily a drawback, the size is something to be aware of, although it does feature a wheeled based for moving it around.
- Considerably expensive. The hospital-grade air purifier is notably expensive and sure to give the average shopper sticker shock. Replacement filters are costly as well. The price tag and long-term use cost puts the HealthPro Plus well out of the acceptable price range for most buyers.
- Lacks any CADR ratings. Curiously, the HealthPro Plus is not CADR-rated. The effectiveness of the HyperHEPA filter is without question, but the absence of CADR ratings may turn off buyers who want more detailed specs – especially when paying this much money.
Best Air Purifier for Pets
The best air purifiers for pet owners are very similar to those built for relieving allergy symptoms, featuring true HEPA filtration and impressive CADR ratings, but these units can also tackle pet hair, dander, and odors that can build up quickly in homes with animals. To accomplish this, these air purifiers use an additional specialized filter in conjunction with the standard pre-filter, carbon filter, and HEPA filter. Along with capturing airborne pet hair and dander, this multi-stage filtration reduces other airborne particles and allergens just like standard HEPA purifiers.
Along with being an all-around excellent air purifier, the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet features unique PlasmaWave technology that virtually eliminates pet-related odors, gases, and airborne microbes while generating almost no ozone whatsoever. Its true HEPA filter traps dander and other airborne pollutants, and a large pre-filter traps hair and other large particulates that build up quickly in homes with animals. Its specialized Advanced Odor Control carbon filter cuts down on “pet stink” as well.
Why We Recommend It
- Effective filtration and odor control. True HEPA filtration means the Winix WAC9500 is great for reducing allergens like dust, smoke, and pollen along with pet dander, while the granular carbon filter reduces pet smells and other household odors by over 90%.
- Smart sensor with sleep and auto modes. A built-in smart sensor monitors air quality and automatically activates the purifier or adjust its settings when it notices a change. This active sensor also detects light levels and will keep the WAC9500 running quietly at night while you are sleeping.
- Washable anti-microbial filters. Both the pre-filter and Advanced Odor Control carbon filter are washable, extending their lifespan and cutting down on long-term filter replacement costs. The internal CleanCel anti-microbial treatment also fends off bacteria and mold.
- User-friendly interface. The build-in LED display provides an easy at-a-glance readout of current particle and odor levels, showing you what the smart sensor is “seeing” in real time. The WAC9500 also comes with a handy remote control and alerts you when it’s time to change the filter.
- PlasmaWave technology. Winix’s proprietary PlasmaWave technology neutralizes airborne contaminants such as gases and microbes that are too small for even the HEPA filter to catch. Unlike traditional ionizers, the PlasmaWave generates virtually no ozone.
- Middling clean air delivery rate. This filter has CADR ratings of 194 for pollen, 182 for dust, and 183 for smoke, just below the recommended 200 for a purifier of this size. The WAC9500 is nonetheless a highly effective filter, just bear in mind that it is best suited for spaces of 283 square feet or smaller.
- PlasmaWave does generate trace ozone. While the PlasmaWave feature nearly eliminates ozone, it does not do so completely. However, at only 0.05ppm as rated by the EPA, the output is negligible and the feature can be turned off if it concerns you.
Rabbit Air’s deluxe MinusA2 air purifier is as effective as it is attractive. Six-stage BioGS HEPA filtration thoroughly cleans a space of up to 350 feet while completely changing the air four times per hour. The slim modern-looking unit can stand on the floor or mount on a wall, seamlessly blending with almost any décor, and the MinusA2 works with a variety of specialized filters designed to tackle germs, odors, toxins, and pet-related allergens.
Why We Recommend It
- Excellent six-stage filtration. The MinusA2’s six-stage filtration includes a BioGS true HEPA filter, an odor-reducing charcoal filter, and a specialized filter that lets you customize the unit to meet your needs. Animal lovers should use the pet allergy filter which increases the Rabbit Air’s effectiveness at dealing with hair and dander.
- Whisper-quiet operation. This model is one of the quietest on the market today, running virtually silent on its lower setting and clocking in at only 45dB on its highest.
- Provides wide coverage. The Rabbit Air can completely clean the air four times per hour in a wide 350 square feet area. If placed in a larger area of up to 700 square feet, the unit can still fully change over the air two times in an hour, although this is not recommended for users with allergies.
- Attractive modern aesthetic. The MinusA2 has a sleek modern design which complements your décor rather than becoming an eyesore. The seven inch-thick purifier can be safely mounted on a wall, and its front panel can be customized with artwork. Built-in LED mood lighting produces a relaxing color display as well.
- Modern smart features. This unit has all the features and conveniences you’d want in a modern air purifier: Auto-mode with a smart sensor that monitors ambient air quality, a filter status indicator, and a compact remote control.
Quite expensive. The Rabbit Air MinusA2 is not cheap, costing twice or three times as much as comparable purifiers. Its decent but fairly average CADR ratings of 193 for smoke, 200 for dust, 208 for pollen mean that you are essentially paying more for its design, modern features, and specialized filters than for its overall filtering performance.
Best Air Purifier for Large Spaces
If you want to clean the air in a wide area, such as the entire floor of a house or a large workshop, then you need to look for an air purifier that offers considerably more coverage than your average unit. Most purifiers cover an area between 200 and 350 square feet, but for a large space you’ll want one that can clean 400 square feet or more. Air purifiers built for large spaces feature higher clean air delivery rates that allow them to quickly turn over larger volumes of air than most standard household models are capable of.
The Honeywell HPA300 should be the first pick for anyone who needs true HEPA filtration in a big area. This air purifier boasts the highest clean air delivery rate of all of our picks and turns the air over five times in a zone as large as 465 square feet. Although fairly basic in terms of features, its excellent filtration capabilities make the HPA300 one of the best models available at this price.
Why We Recommend It
- Excellent clean air delivery rate. With CADR ratings of 320 for dust and 300 for smoke and pollen, the Honeywell HPA300 is a top performer without question. It can also deliver five air changes per hour in a given space instead of the four that most other units are capable of.
- Covers up to 465 square feet. While it won’t purify an entire multi-story home (no standard household unit really can), the HPA300’s range of up to 465 cubic feet all but eliminates the need to buy multiple purifiers for different rooms the same floor. If used in a smaller area, the purifier will simply work even more efficiently.
- Surprisingly quiet operation. Given its power and the noise created by some other Honeywell air purifiers, one would expect the HPA300 to be rather loud. However, this unit is surprisingly quiet at all but the highest setting – and the blue LED lights on the control panel can thankfully be deactivated at night.
- Great value. Like the Honeywell 50250-S, the HPA300 represents an excellent price-to-performance ratio given its excellent CADR and extra-large area coverage, even when compared with models that are considerably more expensive.
Fairly basic functions. Aside from its excellent filtration capabilities, this model is lacking certain modern conveniences like smart sensors, auto modes, and a remote control. It does have a programmable timer and LED filter change indicators, however.
Best Portable Air Purifier
Alternatively, you may only need an air purifier sufficient enough for a small area such as a bedroom or personal workspace. In this case, a compact tabletop-friendly model can provide a lot of satisfaction, and usually for cheap: Portable air purifiers typically come in at well under $100. Designed for cleaning the air in spaces between 100 and 160 square feet, these are perfectly suitable for most bedrooms and offices where these are likely to be used. Note, however, that such small units often lack true HEPA capability and may therefore be insufficient for users with allergies.
A full-sized air purifier might be overkill if you only need to keep the air clean in a single bedroom, office, or similar small space. While not a true HEPA filter, the Hamilton Beach TrueAir is a compact desktop-friendly air purifier that captures airborne particles as small as 3 microns with 99% efficiency. Perhaps its best feature is its permanent washable filter, freeing you from having to spend extra money on replacements.
Why We Recommend It
- Compact, lightweight, and portable. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir compact purifier measures 13.5” x 8.5” x 6” and can sit horizontally or vertically on any flat surface. You can easily position this unit on a desk, table, shelf, or nightstand, and its small size makes it travel-friendly.
- Effective for its size. Despite its small form factor, the TrueAir can cover a room of up to 160 square feet. This is impressive for its size, as it can handle wider spaces, such as workshops and large master bedrooms, better than similar compact purifiers.
- Permanent washable filter. The built-in HEPA-type filter is made of a tough fabric material that is designed to be cleaned and re-used indefinitely – this means no more paying for filter replacements or trying to calculate long-term use costs.
- Quiet operation won’t disrupt your sleep. As compact air purifiers find their place in many users’ bedrooms, noise levels are an important consideration. Thankfully, the TrueAir runs quietly, with many users finding the ambient white noise that the unit generates to be a relaxing sleep aid.
No true HEPA capability. The permanent filter included with this purifier is advertised as “HEPA-type,” and while it does remove 99% of airborne particles down to 3 microns in size, it is not a true HEPA filter. Unfortunately, no true HEPA replacement filter is available for this model, either.