When you’re living in a closed environment such as a house or apartment, clean air is essential to good health. If you have pets, have respiratory issues or allergies, this becomes even more important. An air purifier that removes contaminants such as pollen, dust, dander, and smoke from the air will improve your indoor air quality and keep your home cleaner longer.
There are several things to consider when shopping for an air purifier, so do some homework to determine what your specific needs are in an air purifier. Ask yourself a few questions:
What Kind of Particulates Do You Want to Remove?
Removing smoke and odors from the air takes a different kind of filter than removing particulates such as dust from the air. Pollen is one of the most challenging things to remove, as is mildew. Some filters only remove certain particulates because they aren’t fine enough to remove smaller particles.
Do You Want Replaceable or Reusable Filters?
Some air purifiers have reusable filters you can wash, dry, and use again. Others use filters that can only be used once and have to be periodically replaced. HEPA filters have to be replaced, but they are also highly effective, so you’ll need to factor the cost of the replacement filters in.
How Much Noise Can I Tolerate?
Some air purifiers are virtually silent. Others hum, making a sound similar to white noise, which some people enjoy and others find grating. Be sure you know whether your air purifier is going to drive you nuts or not.
Understanding The Types of Air Purifiers
Air purifiers are either filter air purifiers or electrostatic air purifiers. Air purifiers can come with filters with varying degrees of filter fineness that filter out particulates from sizes ranging from o.5 microns on up. The range varies greatly, with the most powerful filters effective against pollens. HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are the most effective against pollens and pet dander, so if allergies are a problem, consider a HEPA filter. They aren’t as effective against odors. For odors, a charcoal filter is the most effective option. Some air purifiers have both charcoal and HEPA filters.
The other common type of air purifier is the electrostatic purifier. Rather than a paper or fiber filter, this purifier electrostatically charges the air, which draws the charged particles into the system, where they stick to a metal bar or grid. The grid needs to periodically be rinsed off.
When comparing filters, look for the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rating) score. This is a determination based on a sophisticated algorithm taking into consideration the recommended size of a room, the size of the contaminants removed, the percentage of removed contaminants, and the volume of air processed by the air purifier. The higher the CADR score compared to another, similar purifier, the more effective the air purifier.
Our Top Air Purifier Picks
We’ve chosen three air purifiers with proven performance and dependability that aren’t complicated to use or too much equipment for most people’s needs. Which one is best for you largely depends on whether you’re looking for allergy relief, a cleaner home or odor mitigation, and what price point you’re looking at.
This is an incredibly powerful air purifier in a small and attractive package. Coming in at just over twelve pounds and attractively packaged in a sleek, two-tone cube, this purifier can effectively clean the air in a room up to 540 square feet. The Blue Air 211+ consistently scores high for reliable performance. It is very quiet, producing only a very low hum that you won’t notice unless you’re reading in a quiet room. The fan has three speeds, and particulate counts can be reduced by up to 99%. There is no charcoal filter, but it still does a good job filtering out odors with the HEPA filter
- Extremely effective
- Low noise
- Lightweight (12.2 pounds)
- Several available color options for covers
- HEPA filter
- CADR of 350 CFM
- Filters are expensive
- No automatic shut-off timer
- No charcoal filter
- Not a lot of settings at this price point
Final Thought: You won’t get a better air purifier for the money, but the filters are expensive, so your operating costs will be steep compared to others.
The Honeywell HPA300 is a solidly build, powerhouse air purifier often recommended by allergists because it’s so effective at removing everything from pollen to dust mites and mildew from the air. It can comfortably handle cleaning the air in a room up to 465 square feet, which will handle most medium to large rooms. It isn’t as stylish as the Blue Air, but it also isn’t quite as expensive, and the filters cost significantly less. It also utilizes an activated carbon pre-filter to remove odors, so if smells are a concern, this is a nice extra. You have four levels of cleaning as well – turbo, general, allergen, and germs. There’s an automatic shut-off for two, four, and eight hours. It, however, noisier than most other models.
- Extremely effective
- Combination of activated carbon filter, pre-filter, and HEPA filter
- CADR of 300 CFM
- Automatic shut-off timer with three settings
- Filters are reasonably priced
- Backed by Honeywell
- Four fan speeds
- Four cleaning levels can be confusing
- Noisier than other air purifiers
- Not particularly attractive
- 21 pounds
Final Thought: For pure cleaning power at an excellent price, the Honeywell HPA300 is definitely a good investment, but it won’t win a beauty pageant.
If you’re looking for a small but powerful air purifier, look no farther than the Coway Mighty Air Purifier. This is small enough to fit on a sofa table or tuck unobtrusively beside your couch. It’s affordable and performs incredibly well for something so little. The Coway Mighty is unique because it uses three filters (pre-filter for dust and pet hair, activated carbon for odors, and a HEPA filter) as well as an electronic ionizer to boost performance.
While it doesn’t have the same high CADR score as our other picks, it’s still impressive at around 240. It also has a host of features you don’t find on a lot of air purifiers at twice the price, like the Eco Mode, which runs only when air quality is poor, then switches to standby when the air is clean. It’s incredibly energy efficient.
- Above-average filtration
- Three filters
- Ionizer system with on-off capability
- Small size
- Automatic mode means you can set it and forget it
- 13 pounds
- Available in black or white
- Air quality indicator
- Lots of extras
- Filter replacements can be expensive
- CADR numbers are good but not as high as some other air purifiers
- Noisy at higher settings
Final Thought: You’re getting a lot for your money here, and the Eco Mode can save you a lot more over time while still get optimal clean air. The sleek design is unobtrusive and looks expensive.
Our Top Pick
We love the Coway Mighty Air Purifier. It has tons of high-end features, including the Eco Mode, which you won’t find anywhere else. The four different filtration levels and three fan speeds are both features you expect to see in higher priced models. It’s very quiet at low and medium speeds. Our only complaint is that it’s a bit noisy at high speed. Still, if you’re looking for a lot of power and features packed into a small air purifier, you can’t go wrong with the Coway Mighty Air. The innovative features make this truly impressive.
Although a bit more expensive, the Blue Air 211+ is consistently at the top of the pack, and owners love this air purifier for several reasons. Although on the large size, it’s one of the most efficient on the market and you can order covers in several colors to match it to your home’s décor. It’s especially useful for larger rooms and has one of the highest CADR ratings on the market.
The Honeywell HPA300 is not as stylish as the Blue Air or as small as the Mighty Air, but the combination of upfront cost and the price of filters make it a better operating value than either of them, and its performance is excellent. It’s a workhorse that has an automatic shut-off timer, which is a great money-saver and makes it ideal for the bedroom. If you’re looking for cleaning bang for your buck, this is what you’re looking for.
Investing a few hundred dollars in a good air purifier, then continuing to invest in filters periodically, will save you money in the long run. You’ll see the return in lower health care costs, a cleaner house, and fewer colds and allergies. You’ll also have fewer odors in y our home, which will make it a pleasanter environment. It’s definitely worth it to buy an air purifier for the rooms you use the most and reap the benefits of cleaner, healthier air.