What is the best air purifier overall?
With the Canadian wildfires spreading their ashes up and down the east coast and allergy season at its peak, you might be considering protecting yourself against airborne toxins at home with an air purifier. We tested several air purifiers and landed on the $211 Honeywell Home Allergen Plus as the best air purifier for the money, and the best overall air purifier for most people.
Air purifiers help you filter out allergens and other pollutants from the air, and they can help make life easier for those with allergies or other respiratory conditions, especially if you put your air purifier in the right place. Even if you don’t have any issues breathing easy, having an air purifier for your home can offer peace of mind that you’re breathing the cleanest air possible within your specific living conditions.
Read more: The Best Spot to Put an Air Purifier
Air purifiers for home use are small appliances that use one or more of a variety of technologies to filter particulate matter out of the air, including dust, allergens and viruses, recirculating cleaner air back into your living space. Air purifiers employing HEPA filters — defined by the US Department of Energy as high-efficiency particulate air filters that are capable of removing at least 99.97% of airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns — are the most numerous and most highly rated type available. Most air purifiers are equipped to handle one or two rooms, with a few models that claim to purify the air in an entire home.
After considering the space you need to cover, choosing a HEPA air purifier from among many popular models is largely a matter of budget and space you’re looking to purify. While the Honeywell tops our list as the best air purifier for most people, there are air purifiers better suited for particularly large or small spaces, and given that an air purifier will likely live in your living room or bedroom, aesthetics may be just as important as bottom-line value. With these matters in mind, we’ve rounded up the best air purifiers for home use in 2023.
Best air purifiers of 2023
Best air purifiers compared
|Model||Blueair Blue Pure 211 Plus Auto||Honeywell Home Allergen Plus 300 XL||Coway Airmega AP-1512HH||Blueair Blue Pure 411 Auto||Coway Airmega 400S||Coway Airmega 240||Levoit EverestAir Smart True|
|Size||20.5 x 13 x 13 in||22.3 x 20 x 10.8 in||16.8 x 18.3 x 9.6 in||6.7 x 7.9 x 7.9 in||14.8 x 22.8 x 14.8 in||16.7 x 22.8 x 8.3 in||18.9 x 8.5 x 23.2 in|
|Room capacity||550 square feet||465 square feet||361 square feet||190 square feet||1,560 square feet||403 square feet||558 square feet|
|Settings||Low, medium, high, auto||Low, medium, high, turbo||Low, medium, high, auto, eco, ionizer||Low, medium, high, auto||Low, medium, high, auto, eco, sleep||Low, medium, high, auto, eco, sleep||Low, medium, high, auto, turbo, sleep|
|Special features||None||Timer||Wi-Fi, voice control, timer||None||Wi-Fi, voice control, timer||Timer||Wi-Fi, adjustable vent|
|Replacement filter cost||$70||$35 HEPA filter, $30 prefilter||$57.49 filter, $25 prefilter||$24||$129 for 2 HEPA filters, $25 prefilter||$84||$100|
|Energy draw||38W||Not available||77W||10W||66W||60W||70W|
How we test air purifiers
We tested each of these models over the course of several weeks, evaluating their available features, ease of use, and noise level at various settings while looking out for any glaring operational problems. In the end, available power versus price was the biggest factor in picking the best air purifiers for 2023 but secondary considerations such as size, volume, sturdiness and aesthetics also played a part.
The field of air purifiers was narrowed based on some of our previous picks from the last round of testing, other models that were vetted by review sites, the newest models available by trusted brands and those that achieved extremely high user ratings (4.7 out of 5 and above) across a variety of retailer sites where air purifiers for home are sold such as Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Outside of a lab environment with controlled conditions and variables, air purifiers are difficult to test accurately in terms of how well they perform at cleaning the air. However, third-party certifications that do test these models in controlled lab environments are becoming standard practice, and you can expect that air purifiers with HEPA filters will filter what they claim to filter when used appropriately. Additionally, all of these brands show an AHAM Verifide Clean Air Delivery Rate, which indicates how much air can be processed in a given time frame, as well as the particle size various models are capable of filtering out of the air. (The smaller the particle, the more effective the air purifier.)
Air purifier buying guide: How to pick the perfect air purifier
The primary consideration in purchasing an air purifier for home use is how much square footage you’re trying to cover. Trying to save money by purchasing a smaller air purifier than what you actually need will just give you disappointing results. The air purifiers on this list all have extremely high proficiency, so any one of them will effectively clean the air in your home, provided they are the correct size and placed appropriately, and with the filters and pre-filters maintained accordingly.
After room capacity, the amount of space the device itself takes up may be important based on the geography of your room and where you’re hoping to put it. When considering your budget for an air purifier, you might also want to consider the cost of replacing the filter roughly every six months.
Types of air purifiers
While this list consists only of HEPA air purifiers, which are the most available and highest functioning models on the market, several of them utilize more than one type of filtration technology. In order to better understand those aspects of your air purifier, or if you want to consider another type of air purifier, here is a breakdown of all of the different methods of air purification technology:
HEPA air purifiers: Standing for “high efficiency particulate air,” air purifiers with HEPA technology use a fiberglass filter that traps particles of a certain size out of the air.
Activated carbon air purifiers: Where HEPA filters manage solid particles in the air, most of the air purifiers on this list also include activated carbon technology (which is the same thing as activated charcoal), whose porous nature helps filter gases or volatile organic compounds out of the air. Gases in your home air typically present themselves as odors from pets, cigarettes or cooking.
Negative ion air purifiers: Ionic or negative ion air purifiers work by using high voltage to give an electrical charge to particles or molecules in the air, which causes them to clump together, and then seek out positively charged molecules with which to bond. Certain models that utilize this type of technology also include a positively charged collector plate that the ionized particles will stick to, taking them out of the air. (Without a collector plate, these particles are no longer circulating in the air, but may hang on surfaces in order to be cleaned or vacuumed out of your home.) Most models employing this technology don’t use fans, which requires more time to filter the air in a room, but also make for extremely quiet conditions. Molekule and Dyson make popular models that utilize variants of this type of technology.
UVGI air purifiers: “Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation” air purifiers are similar in mechanical function to HEPA air purifiers, in that they use fans to recirculate the air in order to purify it quickly. Inside the device, UVGI air purifiers rely on shielded ultraviolet light to neutralize dust and allergens. This type of technology is not available in air purifiers for home use, however, and is typically employed in larger systems available for public settings such as office buildings.
There’s a good amount of research and expert guidance that goes into choosing the best air purifier for you and your family. First consider how much you can comfortably invest in air purification. Will you need an ionic air purifier or a full home filtration system? Do you want a purifier with an activated carbon filter? We’re here to answer those questions and help you sort through your options.
Are home air purifiers even necessary?
For some people, having an air purifier in the house may be more of a necessity than a luxury. If you live in an area where allergy season tends to wreak havoc or where wildfires and smoky skies are common, an air purifier can seriously help improve the breathability of the air in your house. However, with so many different models on the market, it can be difficult to know which is the best air purifier for your home and your needs.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus an increase in wildfire activity, we are all becoming more aware of air quality. (Arguably severe allergy sufferers have always been aware of air quality.) While having an air purifier isn’t a failsafe against COVID-19 — you are more likely to get the virus from repeated close contact with someone in your home than from particles lingering in the air long enough to get filtered out — they can be especially effective for those with asthma or allergies.
Depending on your living conditions, if there are numerous pollutants affecting the air in your home, the cleaner air and increased airflow that air purifiers provide can potentially make a big difference for the quality of life (and air) of those in your household. If you’re thinking of getting an air purifier and want additional reassurance, it may be worth speaking to your doctor or allergist.
Read more: Do Air Purifiers Protect Against COVID-19? What About Wildfire Smoke?
Air purifier FAQs
Other air purifiers we’ve tested
In addition to our picks above, other HEPA cleaners such as the $100 Levoit Core 300, the $70 Bissell and the $100 GermGuardian all offer only so-so power for their prices. The IQAir HealthPro Plus wasn’t among the devices we tested, in part because we were looking at more affordable options. But IQAir’s $799 air cleaner is one of the few devices on the market to contain multiple kilograms of activated carbon, which will filter out odors and gaseous pollutants much more effectively than most consumer air cleaners under $1,000.
Two devices feature an ionic filter: the Coway AP-1512HH mentioned above and the $175 Sharp FPK50UW. The Sharp’s CADR rating is only 259 square feet, which is significantly lower than Coway’s and not great for the price.
Are Molekule and Dyson air purifiers worth the money?
You may have heard of another air purifier called Molekule, which grabbed headlines for its attractive design and proprietary filtration technology back in 2017. But the Molekule presents a complicated problem: Its maker claims its proprietary PECO air filter destroys airborne particles much smaller than 0.03 micrometer, but it filters air at such a slow rate that, even if the company’s claims are accurate, it cleans the air very inefficiently compared with HEPA air purification models (as Consumer Reports rightly pointed out in its highly critical 2019 review).
We have tested but don’t currently recommend the $500 Molekule Air Mini Plus as a result of these problems, as well as a 2020 decision by the National Advertising Review Board to force a retraction of many of Molekule’s misleading advertising claims. That said, the air purifier does appear to address a problem that most HEPA filtration cleaners simply don’t: the presence of gaseous pollutants in the home. Such pollutants have plenty of sources, whether from paint, furniture, cleaning solutions or even some composite boards. For that reason alone, Molekule’s eye-catching brand is worth keeping tabs on — especially since the company merged with AeroClean, a pathogen elimination technology company, in October 2022.
Dyson’s devices offer a similar but slightly different problem. Some of its air purifiers, such as the Dyson Pure Cool TP04, which we also tested, use a HEPA filter, but provides no CADR. A Dyson spokesperson told us, “CADR as measured by some current methods is not an accurate representation of a real home,” and thus the company has developed its own testing procedures “to replicate a more realistic setting.” That includes a testing room that has over double the footprint of AHAM’s testing rooms, along with nine sensors placed around the space (versus AHAM’s single sensor). The Dyson TP04, perhaps unsurprisingly, performs well according to Dyson’s own metrics.
In addition, the Dyson TP04 air purifier features a handful of extra goodies, including an oscillating fan to help circulate clean air around larger rooms, an app with home air quality data and a small but nifty display. Our tower fan reviewer really liked these features of the TP04. But is all that worth the price bump from, say, Coway’s purifier?
For most people, the answer is likely no — especially considering that Dyson’s devices haven’t stacked up especially well against the competition in third-party testing, such as Wirecutter’s, where the TP04’s performance was in line with the far more affordable Blueair 411.
Still have more questions about air purifiers and whether you’re ready to buy one? Check out our full air purifier FAQ for more info.
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