After more than 120 hours of testing we are pleased to introduce our top pick for the best air purifier for 2017, the Alen Breathesmart. This powerful machine covers rooms up to 1,100 square feet, comes in 14 panel colors to suit your home's design theme, is surprisingly quiet and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Our mid-end budget pick, the Coway AP-1512HH is another award-winning purification machine for 2017. It has CADR ratings of 210 for dust, smoke and pollen and has a 4-stage filtration process.
Our bargain budget pick, the GermGuardian AC5000E 3-in-1 True HEPA may be less powerful than our other top picks, but still packs a punch. Its CADR ratings for dust, smoke and pollen is 125, sufficient for basic protection. Models like this are relatively inexpensive but still able to clean the air from harmful pollutants, toxins, and even allergens that could upset your health.
One of the most common questions is how large the coverage capacity you need. First, read the product description for an indication of the recommended maximum coverage area.
The coverage area you see in the product descriptions typically refer to the space within which the unit can filter the air 5 times an hour. This is also known as air changes per hour or ACH. This metric is always tied to the volume of the space within which an air cleaner operates in. For example, the Alen Breathesmart, our top pick, is suitable for use in rooms up to 1,200 square feet. This means that it is capable of cleaning the air in a 1,200 square feet room 5 times an hour.
The more contaminated or polluted the air, the higher you need the ACH rating to be. To give you a range, a 5x ACH rating will be sufficient for most residential environments. An 8x ACH rating may be needed for commercial environments, while a 10x ACH rating will be needed for industrial environments. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, hospitals and other critical environments will need a 12x ACH rating.
To figure out how large a machine you need, identify where you would need the air to be purified. For most people, spaces include each bedroom and the living room.
Next, figure out the size of each of these rooms to determine the size you need. If you get one with a large coverage area, depending on the layout of your house, you may just need one placed in the living room to purify your entire house.
Once you have figured out how to size the air purifier, there are many other factors you should also consider:
Coverage Area: This is the area over which your machine will be able to clean the air at least 5 times an hour. When considering how powerful a machine you need, this is a key criterion. No point getting a purifier for a small room if you are really trying to purify your entire living room.
CADR Rating: Also known as the Clean Air Delivery Rate rating, this is a standard industry metric that allows you to benchmark different air purifiers on their ability to remove dust, smoke and pollen. Look for CADR ratings of at least 100 when picking one.
ACH Rating: As explained above, the Air Changes Per Hour rating is closely tied to the size of the space the air purifier operates in. Most manufacturers default this to 5x for the coverage area advertised, but check the fineprint just to be sure.
Ozone Emission: Ozone emissions can be harmful to the lungs overtime. Unfortunately, most machines on the market claim to emit minimal ozone but not all emit absolutely no ozone. Always check just to be sure.
Pre-Filter: Look at whether your machine comes with a pre-filter, and if it does, whether it can be vacuumed. Pre-filters help block larger particles and protect the core HEPA filter, which can be more delicate and used to filter out finer particles. Often, pre-filters may be coated with activated carbon or other materials to help absorb smoke smells and other odors.
Noise: Some machines might work like a charm but can be very distracting if they generate very loud white noise. Check for their noise levels and whether other customers have been able to sleep well.
Warranty: Most will come with at least a 3-year warranty. Look for this as a bare minimum you should accept. Any lower than this and the quality of the product might be suspect. Some manufacturers even offer lifetime warranties.
Top Pick: Best Air Purifier 2017
Of all the models we reviewed, only the Alen Breathesmart comes with unlimited lifetime warranty. This purifier covers rooms or houses up to 1,100 square feet, more than enough for most living rooms. It comes with 4 speed settings, does not emit ozone and under normal operation is extremely quiet, generally barely audible.
The standard filter the Alen comes with is a HEPA-Pure filter, which is the standard HEPA air filter capable of removing 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. If you need additional filtration power, this best Alen air purifier also has the following more advanced filters you can choose from:
Activated Carbon filter: This filter is good for light odors such as cooking smells and smells from common household chemicals.
HEPA-Silver Filter: This filter is more advanced than the basic filter, and is capable of removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cleaning products.
HEPA-FreshPlus Filter: This is an advanced filter option that is suitable for removing strong odors such as those from heavily polluted air, chemicals and paint.
For those of you who simply want the most powerful model the IQAir HealthPro Plus would be a good choice. Manufactured in Switzerland, the IQAir is designed for perfection and of top engineering quality. Trusted by hospitals and winner of multiple awards internationally, the IQAir is extremely energy efficient and is our top choice for the best whole house air purifier and a step-up pick. It uses a HyperHEPA filtration system, which allows it to filter out particles as small as 0.003 microns. This means it is 100x more effective than ordinary HEPA purifiers.
IQAir uses a 4-stage filtration process:
1. Pre-Filter: the pre-filter protects the core filters by first removing larger particles such as pet dander, pollen and dust.
2. Activated Carbon Filter: the carbon filter is the best defense against pesky odors. Activated carbon absorbs odors easily and also traps any volatile organic compounds. V5 filter, a specialized gas and odor filter that can remove a large variety of chemicals and odors.
3. Pelletized Chemisorption: the pelletized chemisorption filter is extremely powerful and takes care of chemicals that most other air purifiers will not be able to capture. This filter makes the IQAir the best air purifier for formaldehyde.
4. HyperHEPA Filter: this final filter captures ultrafine particles including viruses and bacteria
Mid-End Budget Pick
The sleek-designed Coway AP-1512HH has won numerous awards and is relatively inexpensive. It covers rooms up to 326 square feet and has a CADR rating of 210. It is extremely quiet and comes with five settings (low / medium / high / eco / auto). On Eco mode, the air purifier will turn itself off until it detects a change in air quality, helping you save energy. On low mode, the unit is barely audible and is perfect for sleeping. It also comes with an ionizer mode that allows you to generate negatively charged air.
We love the Coway because it simply works – no weird smells, no nonsense, just clean air that smells fresh.
Bargain Budget Pick
For those who suffer from allergies or are worried about how clean their air at home is, the Germ Guardian AC5000E offers everything that they are looking for. This model did a great job in our tests of removing impurities from the air. It also worked great at making the air smell fresh and clean which is always a nice added feature. It runs quietly and does not cost much to run.
The True HEPA filter that is featured on this model is great and is successful in removing nearly all impurities from the air. In fact, only about 0.03% of impurities are found in the air after it has passed through this filter. Additionally, the added charcoal filter is great if you have pets because it can quickly and effectively remove unpleasant odors from the air.
Another feature about this model is that the actual filter only needs to be replaced every six to eight months which means that there is little maintenance with its use.
The Winix WAC9500 is able to wipe out 99.99% of all pollutants from the air and is specially designed for those who live with pets and those who may have pet allergies. This air purifier for pets actually can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns. Plus, this unit features the special PlasmaWave Technology which helps to neutralize viruses, gases, and other pollutants in the air. The pre-filter captures pet hair and other large particles easily. It is washable so you can just clean and re-use it too which makes it easier to maintain and less expensive.
Even if you are a non-smoker but you have a neighbor or roommate who smokes, chances are your room or apartment will still smell of smoke. The best way to deal with the situation is to remove the source, but should that not be possible, getting a good air purifier for smoke is your best bet. The Blueair 503 is a powerhouse with clean air delivery rates of 375 for dust, smoke and pollen. It is designed for rooms up to 580 square feet. If volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde removal are also important, this model also shines in these aspects.
To make the Blueair 503 even more powerful, Blueair has a separate specialized Smokestop filter you can order that works wonders against VOCs, heavy gases and smoke. The filter contains activated carbon, magnesium dioxide and copper oxide, a potent mix that traps smoke particles and tobacco extremely well.
If you are dealing with various kinds of allergies, the RabbitAir is the best for allergies. It is very well-built, durable, and features a six-stage air purification process (pre-filter, medium filter, HEPA filter, customized filter, charcoal filter, negative ions). It comes with four advanced filter options (odor remover, pet allergy, germ defense, toxin absorber) and covers rooms up to 700 square feet. The unit is certified to emit zero ozone, and has CADR ratings of 208 for pollen, 200 for dust, 193 for smoke.
The filter is long-lasting and only needs to be changed once every one to two years. In the interim, all you need to do is to vacuum the pre-filter occasionally.
If dust is the issue, consider getting the Oransi Max, the best air purifier for dust we have reviewed. One of our reviewers unfortunately lived near a construction site and the Oransi Max was what she used to protect her family from the dust that would accumulate in the house everyday even with most windows closed.
This model was rated #1 in testing conducted by an independent Clemson University study, and comes with a sturdy 10-year warranty. The Oransi Max works well in rooms up to 600 square feet, has a CADR rating for dust, smoke and pollen of 230, and produces white noise that is barely audible. This unit is very stylish and fits well in any contemporary living room or bedroom.
If you have a mold or mildew problem, you need the Airfree Onix 3000. When dealing with mold, take note that most purifiers with filters would not be effective over the long term. Instead, you need a filterless air purifier like the Airfree Onix 3000. This air purifier for mold contains a heated core and uses heat to destroy microscopic spores, mold, dust mites, bacteria, viruses and any other microorganisms you may want to get rid of. An added advantage of using a filterless model is that there are no filters to replace – which could represent significant savings over time. The Airfree Onix is also completely silent.
Best HEPA Air Purifier
If you are on a shoestring budget and need something that you can afford then check out this pick. The Holmes HEPA Type Desktop Purifier can safely and easily remove 2 microns and 99% of the particles that are in the air. This is a great choice because of its low cost for those living on a budget or for those who do not think that they need one. In fact, this is probably one of the best starter models that you can buy to see how it can change your life and the lives of those who are living in your home.
For those who are living on a budget, the idea of an air filter might only seem like a dream. Not anymore, it offers you everything that you are looking for in a purifier without breaking the bank. This model will remove 99% of the airborne particles. However, you are not going to get the benefit of better smelling air as this one does not have an odor eliminator. You can also use a number of different sized filters with this one which is nice because when you are on a budget, you will have choices to try and find the best deals.
The O-Ion B-1000 Permanent Filter Ionizer has everything you need to breathe clean fresh air at home. It can remove up to 99% of the toxins in the air. It has a number of different types of filtration that your air goes through before you are breathing it, which means that you have cleaner air to breathe. It also helps you to have air that smells better since it has a carbon filtration system. Its UVGI technology kills germs, bacteria and other allergens effectively.
This model removes a little less impurities from the air but it is offered at a better price. It still helps to make homes smell great, even if they have pets, and ionizes the air which can help make it easier to breathe.
If you’d like a step-up from the regular and need something that gets rid of allergens effectively, then you have to check this out. It comes with a UV sterilizing function that destroys the molecular structure of bacteria, and is ideal for those suffering from allergies. The Biota Bot uses 7 stages of purification and with its charcoal filter removes formaldehyde, smoke and pet odors from your living surroundings. We also liked the sleek design - nice addition to any living room.
Best Room Air Purifier
The Honeywell True HEPA 50250-S contains a glass fiber HEPA filter and a carbon activated pre-filter, and has CADR ratings of 250 for dust, smoke and pollen. Unlike many other models, the unit is able to take in and discharge air from any angle. The 360-degree protection makes placement easy for this machine, the top for rooms we have come across. It is one of the most value-for-money we have come across.
Best Air Purifier and Humidifier
The Venta Airwasher 2-in-1 humidifier and air purifier is an outstanding 2-in-1 unit. It is compact and efficient, suitable for spaces up to 200 square feet. This unit is also filterless, instead using water to purify and humidify the air. This means you will save significantly on filter replacement costs over time. German engineered, this air purifier humidifier combo is hygienic, clean and low maintenance and a steal.
Learning how to maintain an air cleaner will save you both time and money in the long run. Taking care of little things like keeping windows and doors shut when the unit is on and directing the unit close to pollutants is important.
Air purifiers are more straightforward and energy-efficient to work with when placed in an open space. They need plenty of breathing space to promote air circulation and air filtration. That said, making sure you keep your purifier in a large space is important. It is especially important when you have any allergies or asthma-related medical conditions.
This, not to mention, prolongs the shelf life of any model. Cleaning filters or replacing them with brand-new ones regularly help immensely.
Most of the times, you will find a precise manufacturer’ time interval on the specifications that tell you how often you have to either clean or replace the filters. To maintain your unit better, here’s what you need to know.
- Before cleaning, make sure you unplug the unit from the socket. Get ready to take apart each component of the purifier in such a way that it can be put back together easily. This includes unfastening the grill and removing the filters for a clean or for replacing.
- If you’re using a model with permanent filters, you can vacuum the filters once every 3 months for them to filter indoor air pollutants more effectively.
- Using pre-filters that are hand-washable are perfect when removing large particles that block the filtration process.
- It’s always safe to use transparent water for cleaning the filters and the whole purifier unit. Avoid using any detergent, glass cleaner, paint thinner, gasoline and other chemicals. Also, using a damp cloth for cleaning the surface of the purifier is good enough.
- If you want to remove any dust or pet hair from the filter, using a brush with soft bristles is a good option. This step prolongs the shelf life of any filter for as long as you gently scrub.
- HEPA air purifiers should be cleaned with a dry cloth.
Nice to Have Features
Here is a laundry list of features that are nice to have in the best air purifier but not essential. Since you spend most of your time indoors, taking care of your health is not something to take lightly. The following features will help you deal with the level of irritants, microbes, bacteria, and dust particles that can enter through doors and windows.
Speed Controls: Most models come with versatile speed functions. You can control the intensity level of the unit easily depending on your preferences.
So when you’re spending time in your room during the day with the windows open, keeping your air purifying speed to a higher speed is essential. You can reduce it to lower speeds when you need a quieter working or sleeping environment.
Remote control: With a remote control, you can simply control all the settings without physically walking up to the machine. This saves time and makes the unit more accessible and efficient.
Indicators: This includes a filter change indicator and maintenance indicator. You won’t always know when the air purifier’s filter is clogged. And neither will you know the right time to replace your worn out filters. Having such expert guidance can increase shelf life and help you make the right decisions for better care and maintenance.
Dirt sensor: This feature is typically found in higher spec models. Based on the number of dust particles and other microbes in your room, the unit will be able to adjust its fan speed settings for better air filtration.
Pre-filter: A pre-filter comes before the main filtration system to get rid of bigger dust particles that may block the natural flow of the air purifying process. This works to increase the shelf life of the main filters.
There are many you can choose from out there, but we think the Alen Breathesmart is probably the best air purifier for most people, with its high CADR, WhisperMax technology and unlimited lifetime warranty.