In this Guide
Air purifiers can make a big difference in your home air quality, whether you’re concerned about environmental pollutants, trying to reduce odors, or simply trying to keep your allergy symptoms at bay. These machines can remove all sorts of impurities from the environment, anything from dust to pet dander to cigarette smells and chemical odors. Buying the right air purifier can keep you and your family breathing better, staying well, and living more fully.
However, to the average consumer, it’s pretty hard to navigate the marketplace. Some can keep up with shedding, dander-producing pets, and others can’t. Likewise, some machines are equipped to handle only particulate matter, while others are equipped to handle harmful molecular pollutants like VOC’s. How’s the ordinary person to know the difference, especially when there’s so much misinformation and pseudoscience in air purifier advertisements?
Welcome to our site! We created it to take the mystery out of shopping for your new machine. Here on our main page, we’ll look at a few all-around winners on the market today. We’ll talk through all their key features, and show you why we think they’re currently the best all-purpose machines you can buy.
How did we come up with our recommendations? We compared dozens of models from all around the market–top brands to lesser-known foreign makers. We looked at lab tests from Consumer Reports and the Sweethome, and then we took a good hard look at reviews from previous buyers.
After lots and lots of research, we narrowed the field down to a small selection of great models. We’ve sorted them into categories (small, best for dust, etc.), and written guides for each category. You can find links at the bottom of the page.
Here, we’ve featured our all-time top three models. Our in-depth reviews will take you through all their key features, and show you why we think they’re the best all-around performers out there!
For more on how these machines work, what you can expect them to do, and how to shop for your ideal model, check out our handy guide at the bottom of the page! You’ll also find links and featured reviews from our more specific guides to finding the best machines for tackling dust, smoke, pets, and more!
Best on a Budget
- Rating: 4.4
- Reviews: 755
- Rating: 4.5
- Reviews: 1,096
- Rating: 4.2
- Reviews: 40
Best HEPA Air Purifier Reviews 2018
1. Honeywell HPA300
Our most affordable recommendation comes from Honeywell. It’s suitable for spaces up to 465 square feet. At just over $200, it provides a very impressive range of filtration features, making it one of our favorite all-around performers.
This one can handle fine dust particles with True HEPA filtration, and it has an activated carbon prefilter to tackle odors and molecular pollutants that the HEPA filter can’t eliminate. Plus, it’s priced to be affordable for almost any buyer!
It has an easy-to-navigate digital control panel. There are three different settings for the fan, ranging from a lower “allergen” setting to the highest setting, “germ.” There’s also a turbo feature which cranks up the fan speed all the way for maximum purification. It’s good for when you’re getting back to the house after some time away.
All the buttons are easy to figure out, and there are warning lights which indicate when you need to check the pre filter and HEPA filter. The latest version also offers dimmable light settings, so you can adjust the brightness to make sleeping easier. You can also set the Honeywell to run on a timer (2, 4, or 8 hours)–all from the control panel.
This one has dual-stage filtration. First, air is pulled through an activated carbon pre-filter, which reduces odors and harmful VOC molecular pollutants which can’t be trapped by a HEPA filter. That’s a major advantage for people dealing with smoke, fumes, or general stenches.
Then, air is pulled through a True HEPA filter, which traps dust, dirt, and pollen particles as small as 0.3 microns. True HEPA filters are a big upgrade over HEPA filters, because they eliminate much smaller particulate matter. The two stages of filtration make this a great all-purpose purifier, since it can handle both particulate and molecular pollutants.
It performed very well in professional lab testing, as well as buyer reviews. It’s recommended by Consumer Reports, who are famously very conservative about recommending air purifiers.
This one scored the best in their testing, and they gave it a “Best Buy” rating. The Sweethome also rated this model very highly. Previous buyers said it made a significant difference with both cigarette and pet odors, and cut down on airborne dust substantially.
It doesn’t produce any ozone. Many purifiers, especially at this price, create ozone particles as part of the purification process, and they’re circulated back into the environment. You can find more on ozone in our buying guide section.
In short, research has proven ozone to be a lung irritant, which can actually worsen your breathing symptoms with many purifiers! It’s nice to see that the Honeywell doesn’t produce any ozone in operation.
It cleans frequently, and can handle a large radius. The Honeywell is rated for spaces up to 465 square feet, and can cycle air up to 5X per hour within that radius. It’s certified to produce a CADR (clean air delivery rate) of 300, as tested by the AHAM institute. That’s officially in our “golden zone”. Reviewers said they got very good results even over 500 square feet, although they did advise that the machine had to be running at high speed to handle those larger spaces.
It’s both compact and lightweight. This one’s less than 2 feet tall, with a width of just over 1 ½ feet and a thickness of about 9”. Previous buyers appreciated how compact it was, especially compared to the amount of air it could handle. They also appreciated that it could be placed relatively close to walls without compromising performance (although we always advise that you place your machine as optimally as possible to maximize coverage).
It’s very affordable. One of the biggest selling points both professional and buyer reviewers cited was the low price tag. This one won’t cost you much more than $200, which is about ½ the price of a lot of comparable machines.
It’s quite loud. Previous buyers said that while the Turbo setting certainly moved a lot of air, they didn’t like to be in the same room as the machine when it was running on high speed or Turbo mode. Given that CADR rates and coverage is usually calculated at the higher fan speeds, that means this one isn’t always as effective as it’s rated to be, if you’re not running it at the highest setting.
It’s inexpensive, but there are some substantive maintenance costs involved. The filters are expensive to replace, and they need to be changed more often than the manufacturer specifies. Previous buyers said they got through about ¼ of the year with one set of filters. Be prepared to budget in 3-4 changes every year, especially if you have pets, or see a lot of pollen in your area. To change all three filter components, it can cost about $100.
It has a pretty mixed record for reliability. Some buyers had their units fail altogether. Other said that the control panel felt cheap, and didn’t work for long after purchase. One common issue (which seems to have been fixed in the past year) was a front door latch which didn’t shut properly. We’d recommend purchasing extended warranty coverage for this unit. You can find more on why we recommend these add-on policies for some units in our “How To” section below!
It’s a relatively small unit. This one is only equipped to handle 465 square feet, so it might not be able to tackle your whole living space.
2. Whirlpool Whispure
This Whirlpool unit is a slightly more reliable, effective choice than the Honeywell. It has a bit more coverage capacity, and quieter overall noise levels which make it more pleasant to use in living spaces, especially overnight. We think it’s an especially good choice for people dealing with odors from cigarettes, as well as people with pets who see a high volume of dust and dander.
It earns high marks from lab testers, especially when it comes to cigarette odors and smoke. As with the Honeywell, the Whirlpool is recommended by both Consumer Reports and The Sweethome. It scored high marks on overall coverage, quiet operation, and especially cigarette smoke and odor reduction. It scored highest in Consumer Reports’ testing with cigarette odors, of all the models they tested.
It’s not as loud as the Honeywell. Previous buyers said this was one of the quietest units they’d ever used, even at the higher settings. People who had used both the Honeywell and the Whirlpool said they noticed a big difference, especially at the upper levels. It stays below 55 decibels on most speeds, which is generally equivalent to a low to mid-volume conversation.
While it costs slightly more than the Honeywell up front, it has a much lower overall upkeep cost. That’s thanks to a smart, layered filter design. This one uses a permanent, grille-style pre-filter as its first line of defense, then a carbon filter takes care of odors and larger particles before air hits the standard True HEPA allergen filter.
Buyers and testers particularly liked the permanent pre-filter design, which works a lot like a dryer filter. You can easily vacuum it clean, which preserves the working lives of the replaceable filters. That means that the internal filters last a long longer than they otherwise would. It’s also easy to vacuum the carbon prefilter to extend the HEPA filter’s life. In short, the cleanable layers are a smart design format which allows for the lowest possible upkeep cost.
Previous buyers said they didn’t need to replace the HEPA filter more than every year or so, provided they stayed on top of vacuuming the prefilter and carbon filter. As such, you’re looking at a fraction of the Honeywell’s upkeep cost.
It has about the same size to power ratio as the Honeywell. The Whirlpool can cover as much ground as the Honeywell, and it has a roughly equivalent CADR (315). Overall, it’s just slightly more powerful, but not drastically so.
Reviewers had good results within 500 feet, and they appreciated how much air the Whirlpool moved for its size. They had especially complimentary things to say about the Whirlpool’s performance with pollen. Folks with allergies said their symptoms were much reduced.
Like the Honeywell, this one has a simple, straightforward digital control panel. The Whirlpool has 4 fan settings, plus turbo and sleep modes. We like that it has an extra speed setting, and we also appreciate being able to lock the control panel. That’s great for homes with kids or pets, where buttons can be pressed by accident.
The other big advantage is that the HEPA and carbon filters each have graduated warning lights. The Honeywell alerts you that it’s time to change filters, but only once they’re fully clogged. The Whirlpool gives you a lot more advance warning.
Plus, the pre filter lights allow you to plan your vacuuming routine if you’re trying to preserve the filter’s life. Overall, previous buyers said it was surprisingly durable compared to other cheap touch panels (like the Honeywell’s).
Our favorite control panel feature is the sleep mode. It automatically switches the fan to the lowest setting, so you don’t have to scroll through all the options. They, after 8 hours, it’ll come back to just how you left it! It’s a nice automatic touch that you normally only find on premium machines or smart home-connected appliances.
As with the Honeywell, the Whirlpool doesn’t emit any ozone particles into the environment. It’s a completely passive system, which medical research shows to be the safest type of machine.
It’s more reliable than the Honeywell. This one consistently scores better for long term reliability, and we found that fewer buyers received lemons out of the box. It’s also covered by a 5-year warranty.
It puts out a lot of heat. Previous buyers said they definitely noticed a difference in the temperature of their rooms when this machine was running. If you live in a particularly warm climate without air conditioning, we wouldn’t recommend this one.
While the vast majority of buyers said their units operated very quietly, a few ended up with unbalanced fans out of the box, which made much more of a racket. That’d be covered under the warranty, but we’d like to see better quality control, especially when you’re spending $250+ on an appliance.
Some previous buyers also experienced units which were quiet out of the box, and developed the clanking/rattling sound over time. They were displeased to find that they would be responsible for covering
Between the large number of buyers who ended up with clanking units within the first year and the cost of shipping one of these back to Whirlpool, we’d recommend adding on warranty coverage from a third party. It’s usually pretty inexpensive on Amazon, and it allows you to skip dealing with frustrating company representatives and procedures.
3. Blueair 650 E
Our top quality recommendation for an air purifier comes highly recommended by Consumer Reports, among other periodicals. It’s a huge quality and power upgrade over our other recommendations, with Scandinavian design and build.
This one covers twice the area of the Honeywell or Whirlpool, and has a much higher CADR rating. We love its smart automatic sensor mode, which allows you to have effortless air quality control without having to make any adjustments.
It’s a great choice for larger spaces, or even entire smaller homes. We also recommend it for lifelong allergy sufferers, since it has a much better reputation for reliability than our other recommendations.
You can run it fully automatically. In the auto mode, the machine will judge your indoor air quality, and adjust its fan speeds accordingly. It uses a special sensor to detect both dust/pollen particles and odor content, such as cigarettes or fumes from paint.
Then, the machine chooses the optimal setting for solving the problem as quickly as possible. Previous buyers said that while they were suspicious at first, they were soon convinced by how clean their air ended up being without them having to touch a button more than once! As far as convenience goes, this is the best we’ve seen on the market.
As well as being more convenient, the Bluer is also more effective than our other recommendations. It filters particulate matter better than either the Honeywell or the Whirlpool, and it handles odors adeptly.
The Blueair removes particles as small as 0.1 micron, where the other models only clean air to 0.3 micron particles! That’s thanks to a HEPA Silent filtration system that uses both mechanical and electrostatic filtration techniques. The Honeywell and the Whirlpool use only mechanical filtration.
The filtration system works in three stages. First, air is drawn into the intake grilles via the fans. Second, it is ionized inside the machine, which makes the dust particles much easier to trap in the filters. Finally, the ionized air passes through three layers of HEPA filtration, making sure even the finest particles stay behind in the machine.
Depending on your needs, you can customize the internal HEPA filters to have added features like smoke reduction. It’s a smart system which has clear advantages over other models, as you can see from the 650 E’s effectiveness ratings.
That brings us to the numbers: It’s rated for spaces as large as 700 square feet! That’s twice the coverage of our other recommendations. It’s also tested and rated by AHAM at a CADR of 450, which is 50% higher than our other recommendations.
That allows it to cycle through the air in those 700 square feet just as many times as the other machines cycle through half as much air in an hour. It’s equipped with a patented multidirectional intake system, which the manufacturer says pulls in about 6 times more air than the average purifier. Given the specs and the small size, it’s hard to argue!
Previous buyers said it did exceptionally well at removing pollen during allergy season. Other buyers raved about how well it handled persistent smoke during wildfire season.
It also received high marks from pet owners who said their allergy symptoms had been greatly reduced, along with the general pet odors in their home. Overall, there’s not much this unit won’t remove from your environment!
Even though it’s so much more powerful than our other recommendations, it’s unobtrusive in several ways. It’s compact, at just about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The only real difference between this and our other recommendations is the width, which is twice as big.
However, the whole thing is still a small, inconspicuous console. It’s also Energy Star-rated, so you won’t see a big dent on your power bill when you start using it. It’s built on a rolling, caster wheel base, so you can easily move it between rooms, or out of the way as you vacuum.
It’s remote-controllable, and comes with a remote in the box. The remote control is easy to keep track of, since it sticks magnetically to the purifier when you’re not using it
The smart control panel on the console has a full LCD screen with readouts of real-time dust and odor levels, as well as a timer and a date ticker for keeping on top of your filter replacements. Like the Whirlpool, it has graduated warning lights for changing the filters. There are 3 manual fan speeds, plus the automatic self-adjusting setting.
We like that the panel is located at the side of the unit, so you can easily point it away from you as you sleep or work. The remote control will still work if the control panel is pointed away from you, since there’s an additional sensor on the front of the machine.
It’s designed to use its surround-style air flow system to prevent drafts, no matter what speed the fans run. Air flows in at the sides and bottom, and flows out the top and sides. Previous buyers said it was hard to believe that the machine worked as well as it did, given the lack of a breeze in their home!
It’s very light, at 35 pounds. That’s particularly impressive given the sturdy metal build quality.
It’s quiet. This one runs from 32-66 decibels, depending on the level of the fans. Previous buyers said that they could hardly tell when it was running-especially when left to its own devices on the automatic setting.
The filters last relatively long. Reviewers found that their filter sets lasted about 6 months, which is as often as the manufacturer recommends replacing them. Blueair also has a very convenient registration program which gives you lots of discounts for ordering refills–a big advantage over having to hunt for the best filter deals with other makes. Signing up for the program also gets you a lifetime extension on your warranty, which is the best deal we’ve seen on the market.
It’s designed and built in Sweden. Unlike the Honeywell and Whirlpool, which are built cheaply in China from thin plastic, the Blueair is made from galvanized steel for extra durability and better environmental sustainability (you can recycle the materials after you’re done with the machine). The company has a much better track record for reliability than other air purifier brands, and we couldn’t find any complaints about durability with this model.
Even though it uses an ionization process inside the machine, it’s clinically tested by the California regulatory board to produce absolutely no ozone!
There are free caps available to cover the LED lights while you sleep.
It’s quite expensive. This machine costs over $800, and we know that’s not a casual purchase for most people. However, it covers twice as much ground as the cheaper options, and if you sign up for the filter replacement plan, your machine is covered by a lifetime warranty.
We know some buyers might not be able to fork up the cash for this machine up front. However, if you can, it’s a very smart long-term purchase.
The main display panel is located rather inconveniently. It’s down low on the side of the unit, so you’ll have to bend down or sit on the floor to use it.
Some buyers weren’t confident that the automatic air sensor feature was working properly. People who tried to test it with smells or dust puffs from pillows had mixed results. However, most agreed that given a few days of use, their air did see a big improvement, regardless of their initial impressions.
As with any machine, you’ll find one or two reviews from buyers who simply didn’t notice much of a difference in air quality. We’ve looked carefully at their feedback and noticed they had two main complaints: the Blueair didn’t remove cigarette odors as well as they had hoped, and they still had to do a decent amount of dusting. The cigarette odor is a valid concern, but not an issue if you make sure to order the unit with the SmokeStop filter kit.
As far as dusting is concerned, we’re always careful to stress to buyers that a filter removes airborne dust. It’s not going to prevent dust from accumulating on your floors or surfaces. Dust can often be reduced by using a purifier, but it’s not a substitute for vacuuming–even at this price.
The filters can be expensive, especially if you opt for the specialized smoke or VOC-reduction models. Some buyers reported paying up to $150 to change the set. That’s why we’d recommend that Blueair buyers register for the company’s discounted subscription service.
What is the Best Home Air Purifier for You?
The Honeywell is the most budget-friendly model here, and we strongly recommend it to people who are tight for cash, but still need real results. It can cover a decent amount of space, up to 400 square feet, and it does a good job on all types of filtration, from pollen to odors.
It’s much better than gimmicky models under $200, and it’s got all the right specs. However, it costs more than the Whirlpool to maintain. This one also has a slightly worse reputation for reliability over the long term. It scores the highest in Consumer Reports’ testing, but it’s best to insure it with additional warranty coverage, since it has iffy reliability long term. We’d recommend it to people on the tightest budget.
The Whirlpool doesn’t offer a huge boost over the Honeywell when it comes to coverage, but it’s a more reliable, economical choice over the long term. Far fewer buyers had problem units out of the box, and fewer developed serious problems after use.
We also found that the control panel and filters last much longer on the Whirlpool. It’s quieter to run, and you can get a lot more out of each filter, thanks to the vacuum-able grille. However, it still has fairly cheap build quality, and it won’t work for larger spaces.
We highly recommend the Blueair to people who are trying to cover a larger area, whether it’s a big room like a home theatre or your whole living space, up to 700 square feet. It’s also the best quality option overall, for people who simply like to buy the most reliable and effective choice out there. It’s one of very few models on the market to be made in Europe from durable metal parts, and it’s full of smart features which make it nearly effortless to use.
Plus, if you enroll in the manufacturer’s filter subscription program, you end up saving lots on filters, and getting lifetime coverage for your machine. This model costs by far the most money up front, but we think it’s the best long-term purchase by a long shot.
If you’re someone who consistently suffers with allergies, or lives in an area with strong pollution or pollen, this is an excellent purchase. However, it may be overkill for very small spaces, and even the best of our recommendations is no substitute for staying on top of your housework.
How to Choose the Best Air Filter for Home
Know what to expect from an air purifier:
Before you start shopping, it’s best to hash out exactly what you can and can’t expect your machine to do. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, from buyers who don’t know what these machines really do, to manufacturers packing their marketing materials with claims that their machines are really miracle cures.
So, let’s break down exactly what an air purifier does, and what it doesn’t do:
Air purifiers are essentially a circulating filtration system for your air. They pull air from around your home into an intake vent, then through a system of filters. In those filters, there’s usually a layer of HEPA filtration, which traps all the physical allergens (dust, pollen, and fur particles) from your air.
Often, there’s a second filter or pre-filter which is carbon activated to remove odors and harmful VOC molecular content that’s too small for even the best HEPA filtration to reach. In short, air purifiers eliminate all that gunk that’s floating around in your air, so you can breathe easier. You can expect them to reduce your allergy symptoms, keep you breathing easier, and reduce the spread of germs in your home. These machines can also make significant reductions in household odors from pets, cooking, and cigarettes.
However, many buyers expect them to do much more. Air purifiers are just that–they work on your air. They’re not vacuum cleaners, and they aren’t powerful enough to magically suck dust and hair off your furniture or fixtures. They can’t clean your carpets, and they can’t clean up after a shedding dog. They’re no substitute for cleaning: they simply remove airborne particles and odor molecules.
So, if you want to reduce your allergy symptoms, or just cut down on dust in your house, don’t expect the machine to take the place of a cleaning regimen. You’ll need to vacuum frequently, and take care of all the allergens, dirt, and odor sources which aren’t airborne.
Many users find that their air purifiers do enable them to dust less frequently, since less dust makes it through your air and lands on things. With that said, your vacuum is still your primary weapon in combating filth of all types. Use it frequently, and with a good filter bag.
You should also take other steps to limit all the other sources of aggravation. If you’re trying to eliminate smoking odors, for instance, cleaning the walls will help a lot. Minimize chemical odors in your living space by using safe, plant-based solvents and cleaners instead of bleach or other fume-producing chemicals.
Make sure your interior paint is low-VOC, and try to buy furniture that doesn’t have strong flame retardant chemicals. Change the filters in your air conditioners and furnace blowers regularly. Make sure you clean the exhaust fan grilles in the kitchen and in the bathroom.
All these steps will make just as much of a difference in your air quality as using an air purifier. Doing what you can to eliminate the sources of air pollution in your home is also a smart money decision, since it will give you purifier’s air filters a longer working life.
Think about your budget:
Air purifiers can cost anywhere from $100-$1,000+. There’s a huge range of options out there, so it’s good to get a rough sense of what your dollar will get you before you buy.
First, you can go right ahead and cross anything under $200 off the list. Under $200, you won’t find any serious air purifiers. Instead, <$200 models are gimmicky, cheap, and weak. They don’t have HEPA-grade filtration, and they don’t have the fan power to circulate a significant amount of air through their filter systems.
Plus, these models are so cheaply built that they tend to fall apart almost immediately. They might seem appealing for small spaces like a bedroom, but they’re a racket: both in terms of noise level, and in terms of effectiveness. Trust us-stay away from the suspiciously low-priced models!
We recommend even the most budget-conscious buyers set their minimum spend at about $200. That’s the least you’ll pay for a machine that can cover a significant amount of space (up to 300 square feet), with HEPA-grade, lab-tested filtration that can actually remove small dust, pollen, and pet dander particles. It’s also the least you can pay for a machine with a reasonably long working life.
For small spaces, either single rooms or compact apartments under 500 square feet, you can easily use something in the $200-$500 range. The more you pay within that price range, the more you’ll get in terms of convenient features like automatic air sensors, remote controls, and maintenance alerts. However, you won’t find anything under $500 that can reliably handle a large area over 500 square feet.
For larger, draftier rooms and entire living spaces up to 1000 square feet, you’ll be looking at something between $500 and $1000. These models have all those added conveniences we’ve mentioned as a matter of course, and you should expect them to have premium features and sturdy build quality standard.
The more you pay in this price range, the better efficiency you’ll get from your machine. Top-price models handle larger areas quietly, and many can run fully-automatically. They’re the best choice for people with consistent allergy issues, or areas with heavy pollution, like big cities.
More expensive models in any price range tend to be more efficient over their coverage area. They work more quietly, and need fewer filter replacements. You’ll also find that as a general rule, more expensive options have more of an all-purpose filtration system which can handle odors and toxic VOC’s as well as dust and pollen particles.
Even the nicest models under $500 tend to have fairly iffy reliability. That’s because air purifiers as a whole simply aren’t a very reliable type of product. You can find more on that in our “Think about the long term” section below.
With that in mind, we recommend that you purchase a third-party add-on warranty when you checkout. These plans are usually available for under $20 on Amazon, and they have two key benefits:
First, they extend your coverage, and in many cases double it! That guarantees a much longer working life for your new appliance. Second, and most importantly, they allow you to make warranty claims without dealing with the manufacturer directly.
The warranty provider will deal with all the frustrating customer service people for you, so you can get your replacement or refund and get on with your life. People who purchase these plans report much better interactions than those who had to deal with air purifier manufacturers, some of whom can be very unhelpful.
Over $500, we’ve found that most models have exceptionally strong build quality, and much better reliability. You shouldn’t need third-party coverage for these machines, though you should certainly make sure to research the manufacturer’s warranty policies.
Some require you to subscribe to filter replacement plans to extend the coverage fully, and others will simply mandate that you get the company’s filters instead of off-brands. Be sure you know what the warranty covers, and how it works.
Know how much ground you need to cover:
The most important factor to consider when you’re shopping for and comparing air purifiers is the space you’re planning on purifying. Know how many square feet you’re going to be purifying, whether you’re shopping for a single room or an entire house.
Most air purifiers have a rated square footage on the package. You can use that as a rough guide, but keep it mind that those ratings are usually calculated at the highest fan setting, which can often be very loud.
Be generous, and remember that having a slightly overpowered purifier can actually be a good thing. It’ll run quieter, use less power, and do a better job overall.
Before you shop, measure the exact square footage of your area, and round up slightly to give yourself a benchmark for what you need from your new machine. Make sure you remember that square footage in homes usually assumes a standard 8 foot ceiling. If your ceilings are higher, or you’re dealing with a drafty house with lots of airways, make sure you round up accordingly.
Think about the long term:
In our blurb about deciding on your budget, we mentioned that many air purifiers have spotty reliability. They’re some of the least reliable appliances out there, and they can be comparable to dehumidifiers and air conditioners in their long term prospects (not great).
Their fans often come unbalanced, which creates a significant racket that’s much louder than the machines were out of the box. These machines also tend to die suddenly and without warning, after a year or few years of service.
With most <$500 models, you’ll find that 2/3 of buyers loved their machines, and the other 1/3 ended up with lemons. To account for the quality control and reliability issues we’ve seen on many models, we strongly encourage buyers to get only models with warranty coverage.
It’s also a good idea to purchase additional warranty coverage at the checkout. You’ll find that most appliances (air purifiers included) have optional add-on policies from $5-$20. These can extend or even double your warranty coverage for a very low cost.
While you might not want to spend an extra $20 up front, it’s a lot better than having to spend another $300 because your purifier died just outside of the manufacturer’s warranty. These policies also have another key benefit: they allow you to deal with a third party provider instead of the manufacturer.
That means you won’t have to spend hours on hold with frustrating representatives, or deal with confusing or cumbersome return policies. It’s a small price to pay for getting fair, equitable treatment.
While you’re thinking about long-term performance, make sure you know what the upkeep costs will be for a given unit. Think about how often you’ll need to change the filters, and find out how much a set will cost you. Look for models which need to be changed as infrequently as possible. It’s a great idea to find models with pre-filters and grilles which can be vacuumed, to save the life of the internal filters.
Avoid pseudoscientific features:
There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding air purifiers. Some of it just wastes your money by selling you products with lots of gimmicky features that don’t actually work.
However, other features can actually be dangerous to your health, and cause more harm than good for your air quality. If you don’t understand what a feature is or how it works, stay away.
Here are a few common features that should be big warning signs for you as a buyer:
One big fad that’s taken hold in the air purifier market is something called “ionization.” It’s not entirely a bad idea, but it can be troublesome in practice. Most purifiers use mechanical filtration, which is where air is pulled through a HEPA filter. It’s simple, straightforward, and effective. However, the filter fibers can occasionally miss particles. To solve the problem, some makers integrate an electrostatic grid in the filter. It ionizes the air molecules as they pass through, so that dust and pollen particles clump together, and stick to the filter more thoroughly. Up to that point, we love the technology, and think it’s an effective addition to a mechanical system.
However, some machines ionize the air they exhaust into your room. That’s marketed as adding “negative ions” to your air. These particles are supposed to have a multitude of health benefits, and cause dust to collect on your floors and surfaces, rather than floating in the air.
There’s not a lot of scientific research to support the purported health claims of negative ions. In fact, most studies have concluded that they have a negligible or nonexistent impact on health. Some studies have actually warned against using this technology, until more data is available.
And as far as we’re concerned, they don’t make a noticeable difference in cleaning. It’s best to avoid ionization wherever possible, unless the process is entirely inside the machine. At the very least, look for ionization features that can be turned off as you see fit.
That brings us conveniently to the other big no-no:
The other big downside of ionization systems is that in many cases, they produce something called ozone as a byproduct. Like “negative ions”, ozone has been touted as a beneficial element, or at worst a harmless byproduct. In recent years, though, scientists have totally refuted the original claims that ozone might have health benefits. In fact, research shows just the opposite.
Ozone is considered by most health organizations to be a lung irritant. That’s not something you want in your air–especially when you’re trying to breathe easier!
Make sure you check your machine to verify that it’s been tested to emit zero ozone content. Some machines ionize air internally to aid filtration, without ionizing the expelled air. That can be done safely, without producing ozone, but it isn’t always done in a safe way. California bans machines that emit even the slightest bit of ozone, so look for CA state seals of approval to guarantee that your machine is safely ozone-free.
Know your specific needs:
Finally, make sure your air purifier is suitable for eliminating whichever airborne irritants affect you most.
For most all-around purification needs, including dust, soot pollution, pollen, and pet dander, you’ll find that any model with True HEPA or better filtration can keep your air comfortable and clean.
If you have severe sensitivities or respiratory health issues, you may want to look at something even more refined than True HEPA, such as HEPA Silent filters, which can remove particles as small as 0.1 micron.
If you’re trying to tackle persistent odors or fumes, such as from cigarettes or vapes, you’ll want to make sure your air purifier has a carbon activated filter onboard. Some models don’t have any odor control features at all, so make sure you buy a model that does include some. You may also find that some models don’t have odor-reduction filters out of the box, but can be upgraded by using more specific filters from the manufacturer.
Guides to Other Specific Kinds of Air Purifiers
Best Small Air Purifiers
One of the biggest downsides of any new appliance, and especially air purifiers, is the space the machine takes up in your home. Air purifiers can be bulky, and we know you don’t want to be wasting any more space than you absolutely have to.
If you’re living in a cramped apartment space, or just trying to keep as much open living space as possible, we’ve got you covered. In our guide to the best small air purifiers, we’ve put together a top three list of our favorite compact models, so you can save space and enjoy all the open freedom of your fresh home air.
We looked at all sorts of options, from wall-mounted units that look like flat screen TVs, to compact floor consoles which are as unobtrusive as a nightstand. See all our favorites here!
Our top quality pick in the compact category is currently the Rabbit Air MinusA2:
The Rabbit Air might not be the smallest unit on the market, but it’s certainly one of the most space-efficient models we’ve ever seen. It fits up to 800 square feet of coverage into the footprint of a flat screen TV!
Plus, you can hang it on the wall like a TV, so it doesn’t take up any floorspace at all. The Rabbit Air has customizable filters, automatic features, and excellent warranty coverage from a company with spotless customer service. If you’re looking to purify larger rooms or entire small apartments with one unit, and need to conserve space, this one should be right up your alley!
Learn more about the Rabbit Air, and see the rest of our favorite small air purifiers here!
Best Air Purifiers for Smoke
Smoke from tobacco products, whether they be traditional cigarettes or modern vapes, can be one of the most harmful air pollutants for your health. Plus, smoke is of the most pervasive, obnoxious odors known to mankind.
Many buyers are shopping for air purifiers specifically to deal with smoke.
The problem is, most air purifiers aren’t actually equipped to handle smoking odors and pollutants. That’s because their HEPA filters are sized to deal with particles of dust, dirt, pollen, etc. that are larger than 0.3 microns.
That’s some pretty great cleaning power, but it doesn’t do much for smoke vapor, because smoking produces molecular pollutants that are much smaller than fine particles. Plus, smoking odors can hang around no matter how much you use a HEPA filter. You’ll need a purifier with an active carbon pre-filter or secondary filter, which can handle molecular pollutants and odors as well as the HEPA-grade irritants.
Whether you’re dealing with a living space with a history of smokers as past residents, or trying to minimize the health risks of having roommates who are smokers, we’ve got a guide specially for you! We’ve rounded up 3 great options for dealing with smoke, and you can find our full reviews of all 3 here!
One of our favorites is the Alen BreatheSmart.
The BreatheSmart is one of our all-time favorite air purifiers, with its smart automatic design and quiet operation. It’s ideal for spaces with a history of smoking, since you can customize the filter system specifically to address smoke!
By using the Alen with the FreshPlus filter pack, you’ll have True HEPA particle removal, as well as odor removal and VOC removal. That means you’ll tackle both the nagging smell and residual health hazards from nicotine, tar, and tobacco smoke. This one can cover lots of ground (over 1000 square feet), and you can even customize the front panel to match your decor and other appliances.
See the full reviews of our best air purifiers for smoke, and compare the BreatheSmart with our other recommendations for dealing with smoke here!
Best Air Purifiers for Pets
One big downside of pets, especially for folks with allergy sensitivities, is the amount of dust, hair and dander they generate. It gets in your eyes, stuffs up your nose, and irritates your throat.
While no air purifier can take the place of a good vacuum and cleaning regimen, a proper air purifier can cut down on all those airborne allergens in a hurry, and keep you feeling healthy and happy with your animals. Plus, if you know which models to buy, you can also reduce or even eliminate pet odors-especially in humid areas where they get really dank.
With all that said, animals can pose a major challenge to many air purifiers. You need a model that will eliminate very fine dander and dust, without getting overwhelmed by floating hairs. Plus, you need a pre-filter that’s easy to clean, and filters that are easy and inexpensive to replace, given the sheer volume of irritants in your air.
Some air purifiers simply can’t handle the volume of allergens pets can produce. Some aren’t equipped to handle odors at all. How are you supposed to know the difference, or sort through all the misleading “pet” branding?
Don’t worry, pet owners! Our special guide to air purifiers for dealing with pets answers all your questions, and show you a few models that can handle all your pet-related needs:
One great option for dealing with pet allergens is this Brondell:
The O2+ is a budget-priced air purifier with lots of deluxe features. It’s one of the least expensive units you can find with a real automatic function. That’s ideal for homes with pets, since you might not always be home to turn the machine on when pets are running around and creating a fur storm! With the O2+, you can simply set it and forget it.
We also think it’s perfect for pets since it has a washable pre-filter that collects all the large hairs and dander which can clog up your internal HEPA filters prematurely. You can simply vacuum the pre-filter during your cleaning routine, and extend the working lives of the internal filters astronomically!
With Energy Star and CARB certifications for low electricity consumption, and an ozone-free filtration system, it’s safe for you and your pets, and it’s good for the planet to boot.
Find the full review, and see more of the best air purifiers for pets here!
Best Air Purifiers for Dust
Air purifiers can do any number of things, from reducing odors to cutting down on harmful VOC pollutants from house paint and flame retardants in your furniture. However, most of us buy them to tackle one key thing: dust.
Now, to handle dust, you have to start by vacuuming. Air purifiers are never a substitute for cleaning thoroughly. Even if you vacuum 24/7, though, you’ll never completely eliminate all the airborne dust motes floating around your home. They’re still there to nag you and cause your allergy or health symptoms to flare up, even if you do a great job cleaning your home.
Air purifiers with HEPA filters can come very close to eliminating even the finest dust particles from your air. They’ll trap them in one place, so you can vacuum them all up at once without having to breathe them all in.
On the other hand, enough dust can choke a poorly-designed air purifier. And even air purifiers marked “HEPA” don’t always live up to the lofty claims on the box about eliminating the finest dust particles.
We’ve gone searching for the absolute best dust-busting air purifiers on the market right now. You’ll find them all in our dedicated guide, along with a handy rundown of all the things to look for and consider as you shop for a purifier to handle your dust problems.
One of the best is the Blueair 203:
It’s the best compact unit you can find in terms of sheer dust removal. Most other air purifiers are certified True HEPA, which means they remove 99.7% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. The 203 has a HEPA Silent system which can remove particles as small as 0.1 micron!
That doesn’t look like a big difference on paper, but it can make a big difference with the finest dust particles. We think this one is the ultimate bedroom unit for folks with severe dust sensitivity. It’s also quieter than the competition, so it’s very easy to sleep with.
See our full review, and compare the Blueair 203 to our other top of the line air purifiers for dust!
Want to compare the rest of the best air purifiers for your home? Check out the best sellers on Amazon here!