Welcome to our featured review on the best air purifiers currently available. Air quality is not something most individuals spend a lot of time thinking about. However, we only need to look so far at the developments in China to be reminded how important quality of air is and what implications it may have for our health. Fortunately, most people’s homes will never face such smog like conditions, but there are numerous airborne-particles that thrive indoors, particularly in older homes and apartments or those with pets.
Particle allergens such as mold, dander, and pollen are just a few of the antagonists found in the common household. Some of the best air purifiers will remove virtually all these airborne particles in a few hours or even less, ensuring you breathe pure air. While there may be some health benefits, these machines can be particularly life changing for people who suffer from allergies.
During the course of our discussion, our readers will find a general thoughts section with some links to various studies on air purifiers. Following that, we have a selection guide and things you should consider before making a purchase. In our air purifier reviews section below, we take a look at the most popular and best air purifiers on the market.
In our comparison table we compare apples to apples on the top air purifiers of this year.
|Levoit LV-H132||Fine Pre, Carbon, HEPA||About 100 Square Feet||2-Year Limited|
|GermGuardian AC4825||Carbon, HEPA||About 300 Square Feet ; Energy Star Certified||3-Year Limited|
|Honeywell 17000-S QuietCare||Carbon, HEPA||About 200 Square Feet||5-Year Limited|
|Honeywell 50250-S||Carbon, HEPA||About 400 Square Feet||5-Year Limited|
|Winix 5300-2 PlasmaWave||Carbon, HEPA||About 360 Square Feet ; Energy Star Certified||1-Year Limited Warranty|
|Biota Bot MM208||Pre(Washable), Carbon, HEPA||About 400 Square Feet||3-Year Limited|
|Coway Mighty AP-1512HH w/ Eco Mode||Pre(Washable), Carbon, HEPA||About 360 Square Feet ; Energy Star Certified||3-Year Limited|
|Austin Air Healthmate HM-400||Mineral Zeolite, Carbon, HEPA||About 1500 Square Feet||5-Year Limited|
|Blueair 503 HepaSilent||Ionizer, Electrostic, Carbon, HEPA||About 600 Square Feet ; Energy Star Certified||5-Year Limited|
|IQAir HealthPro Plus||V5-Cell Gas, Carbon, HyperHEPA||About 1100 Square Feet||5-Year Limited (Upgrade to 10-Year with Registration)|
In this air purifiers review section, we check out the most popular mean germ butt kicking air purifying machines on the market.
The Biota Bot tops our list of the best air purifiers. It may not be as well known as the likes of Honeywell and Hamilton Beach but the Biota Bot is a solid air purifier fully capable of cleansing air in rooms about 400-500 square feet and smaller. It is ideal for putting in a small to medium sized room. For example, your bedroom is an excellent location and sets you up for success—breathing clean air all night long. Particularly for older homes and apartments there are a great many airborne particles that don’t agree with the human body’s respiratory systems.
Bioto Bot provides three layers of defense: an elementary filter, activated carbon filter, and the true HEPA filter. These work together to vacuum up everything from cooking odors to micro particles like mold. This model is rounded out nicely by a quiet operation, filter replacement indicator light, ultraviolet sterilizing function, sleep and timer mode, and adjustable fan speed. Another feature we dig is the automatic sensor that monitors air quality and will display a Blue color for excellent air quality, Purple for moderate, and Red for poor.
One of the most popular air purifiers in recent years is GermGuardian’s air cleaning system. We don’t know how they got the price so low on this machine but kudos to them—this is truly a great value. The GermGuardian AC4825 is a 22 inch tall, 3 speed tower with UV-C light and Titanium Dioxide technology. This will purge the air in rooms up to 400 square feet quite efficiently.
The only downside is that it can only reasonably keep the air 100% pure in one room, but it is quiet and makes it ideal for the bedroom or office. Furthermore, it is very lightweight and easy to move from room-to-room if you do so choose. The one two combo punch of a charcoal and HEPA filter kicks nasty particles to the curb. Furthermore, this is bolstered by its Energy Start qualification, meaning you are doing right by the environment and not sucking up an excessive amount of electrical energy to power it.
Winix make some great air purifiers and their 3-stage air cleaning technology is excellent. It removes smoke, dust, odors, pet dander, mold, spores, and pretty much everything in between. The PlasmaWave technology means that it breaks down all of these pollutants without releasing or producing any harmful byproducts.
The 5300 is Energy Star approved so you know you aren’t going to get wrecked on the electricity bill. This is certified for rooms up to 350 square feet, but you’ll still see benefit if you have a room larger than that, especially if you keep it running for a long time.
If you want the best of the best, this unit from IQAir is the favorite of many experts and air research specialists. This baby can handle spaces as big as 1,125 square feet. Essentially, you could use this as a whole house air purifier and have peace of mind that within a few weeks all the indoor air of your home will be pretty darn pure.
The machine itself incorporates HyperHEPA technology, which is a fancy term describing its ability to remove ultrafine particles some of which are responsible for specific respiratory diseases.
Honeywell has numerous air purifier models that are high quality units. This round one is their best all around unit for any space and is arguably the best air purifier in the $100-200 price range. It is definitely not going to win any awards in the beauty department, but this Honeywell air purifier gets the job done. Plus, it is great for larger rooms too, managing up to about 400 square feet efficiently.
The 360 degree airflow makes this unit perfect for the big jobs and enables you to place it anywhere in a room. Of course you get the HEPA certified filter and it is backed by the 5 year warranty that comes with it too. The CADR ratings for this unit are 250 across the board which is excellent for the price.
Here are some other options you may want to check out before making a final purchase.
A CADR of 375 by itself makes this model worth looking into. Designed for large rooms, this is one of the best air purifiers money can buy.
This won thesweethome.com’s award for the best all around air purifier and the machine is a beauty.
A low cost option from a trusted brand, this is perhaps one of the most portable air purifiers with HEPA certification weighing only 11.5 pounds.
Austin Air claims their filters last 5 years, you may want to put this beast to the test.
Levoit’s Air Purifier is a great budget option for really small square footages. You get HEPA filtering power for less, 3 speed settings, a total of 3 filters (pre, HEPA, carbon), and a fancy nightlight function.
While masks are not as comprehensive a solution as the air purifiers in our list above, it is not always possible to stay at home where the air is pure. If you live in an urban environment, or an area with poor air quality (nearby forest fires, airborne allergens, etc) you may want to consider a filtration mask to protect your respiratory health away from home.
Here are a couple options we thought looked okay appearance-wise and are not overly cumbersome:
If you want to get really serious about breathing clean air, U Mask is worth a look. This mask is very popular in the European Union and U.Mask ships to the United States as well. It comes in an array of cool designs like optical, floral, knit, camo, and animal designs like tiger/panda/shark. This air purifying mask employs a a Bio-active layer that is chock full of enzymes which immobilize harmful compounds.
This mask is 99.9% efficient at protecting the user from viruses and bacteria, traffic pollution, and fine dust. It works against contaminant exposure of up to NPF 50x TLV as opposed to a N95 mask that has a NPF of only 12x TPV. What does all that gimberish mean!? That means the U Mask is more effective than dust masks, allergy masks, and N95 masks. The U-Ox Bio-Active layer remains active for one year after opening the package.
This particular mask is geared towards individuals who want to protect themselves from air bourne illnesses like the flu. It also shields the wearer from allergens. This flexible, athletic material is available in 8 color choices and is lined with Breathe Healthy material which contains an antimicrobial agent. This mask filters down to 1.0 microns and is great for travel and cold months to stay warm and help prevent colds and the flu.
An air purifier is a machine that helps purge the air of particulate contaminants. One of the situations that really benefits from a air purifier is a home with a pet or multiple pets. Homes that have a smoker or used to have a smoker will see a great difference as well. Air purifiers will also help collect and break down odors therefore removing them from the air. Air purifiers won’t completely eliminate odors but it can remove many of the unpleasant ones which is nice for people who have a sensitive sense of smell.
Purified air is simply air minus all the particulate components such as dust, pollen, dander, etc. Air purifying machines accomplish this task by using a fan to force air through a filter array. The filter collects and traps all the particulates while letting the air itself flow back into your home. However, it is important to note that this does not mean your air is 100% safe. Some gases or other volatile organic compounds a well known one being formaldehyde could still be hiding out in your air. There are some purifiers come with additional equipment that will remove these harmful gases. Other than that, some forms of molds and dust mites remain in an environment even if the air is clean and must be removed at the source such as your carpet. All in all, having an air purifier is going to still make a significant difference in your air quality.
The fact remains us humans do a lot of breathing. It is sort of an important part of our survival. Particulate matter that is highly concentrated has been shown to cause lung conditions, respiratory issues, and aggravate existing health problems like chronic bronchitis and asthma. Extremely fine particles (less than 2.5 micrometers in size) are particularly dangerous because they can get into the deepest tissues of the lungs. That is why HEPA filters have become so popular in air purifying systems.
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate absorption. It is a strict government manufacturer standard an air purifier machine must meet to be rewarded with a HEPA certified label. To qualify for the label, the air purifier’s filter must remove 99.97% of particles in the air that are 0.3 micrometers or larger. For an idea of how small that really is a human hair is actually 70 micrometers in width. Basically, if an air purifier has a HEPA rated filter, it in a probably a top model. If you’re going to spend money a lot of money on an air purifier a machine that has a HEPA filter is a must.
As a comparison, non HEPA filter air purifiers remove about 75-95% of particles, sometimes less. While not as effective as an air purifier with a HEPA certified filter, it is certainly better than not having one at all. Furthermore, non HEPA air purifiers are generally much less expensive. The production costs of HEPA air purifiers are much higher than that of non HEPA. As a general rule of thumb, HEPA air purifiers range from about $200-$300 while other models can be had for $50-$200ish.
List of Airborne Particles:
As a side note, if you aren’t ready to invest in an air purifier there are a few common-sense steps you can take to keep your home’s air clean. Vacuuming often and banning smoking indoors are two very big steps that will cut down on indoor air pollution. You can also minimize the use of wood fires, candles, and test your home for radon gas. You’ll want to use the exhaust fans in your kitchen, bathrooms, and utility rooms often. If you can help it don’t store chemicals, solvents, and other pesticides in your house. Of course, make sure you’ve got those carbon-monoxide alarms on all floors of your home.
In this section, you’ll find some of the common terms associated with air purifiers.
HEPA Filter: HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate arrestance. A air purifier filter with HEPA certification means that air purifier removes nearly all air pollutants and irritants (99.9%). This type of filter is capable of collecting extremely tiny airborne particles. The HEPA standard was developed by the US Department of Energy. This is the same type of filter in vacuums that traps dust.
Ozone (Ionizer) Technology: Some air purifier machines double as air fresheners. They generate Ozone which to the human nose is a sweet smelling fragrance. Most critics of these machines say to stay away from them because Ozone has been shown to be a lung irritant to some individuals. Probably the best thing to is to stay away from models that do not have a switch to turn this feature off. Ozone and some VOCs can have chemical reactions whose byproducts may be harmful to your health.
Ultraviolet Light: This is a relatively new technology that some manufacturers are integrating in their machines. These machines use ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) which is effective at killing germs. While in general it looks like a promising technology for air purifying, the effectiveness in small portable air purifiers may be limited. This is because air quickly passes through these machines so the exposure to UV light is very short. This technology therefore may be better suited to commercial applications.
Activated Carbon Filter: This technology is incorporated in some air purifiers to add a chemical filtration component to the machine. These chemical sorbent filters are constructed using activated carbon or sometimes zeolite. Both of these materials are great at absorbing odors, some gases, and VOCs. The only issue is that you need to stay on the ball when replacing these filters. If a filter becomes saturated it will not only stop removing the bad guys, but actually start releasing them instead.
CADR: This acronym stands for clean air delivery rate which delineates the max square footage recommended in which to use the air purifier. It also refers to how fast the air purifier can remove the three most common air pollutants: smoke, pollen, and dust. The higher the value, the faster the machine can filter the air.
There is a wide range of prices when it comes to air purifiers. Like many things, the models that are actually effective are expensive upfront. The silver lining is that the best models usually have lower operating costs and replacement filters are easily available and cost a bit less. Though there are many claims about air purifiers having a dramatic positive impact on people’s health the data so far is not definitive. The human body is a complex system and it can be very difficult to match cause and effect in a complicated environment with so many variables. Nevertheless, the average person spends 87% of their time indoors, and caring about the air quality indoors makes a lot of sense. Perhaps the best thing to do is to judge for yourself personally if it makes a difference after running it for awhile.
Situations where it makes the most amount of sense to buy an air purifier is if you are sensitive to pet dander and own a lot of pets, have bad allergies, do not have access to clean outdoor air, live near busy roads/power plants/factories, or have any type of respiratory affliction. For pretty much everyone else, it comes down to whether or not it will give you a peace of mind that is worth the price of buying and maintaining an air purifier. If you have lived your whole life without trouble you’ll probably be okay without buying one. They are expensive machines and have ongoing costs such as filter replacements and not to mention the added electricity cost on your utility bill.