According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality can be more polluted than outside air. This is alarming considering we spend almost 90% of our time indoors.
The best air purifiers address this problem by filtering out the dangerous particles in the air to make your indoor space safer to breathe.
To gain a better understanding of how room air purifiers work, we’ve put together this article where we talk about the best home air purifiers today, the different types, and what to look for when buying one.
Table of Contents:
Top 10 Best Air Purifiers in 2020
- Honeywell True HEPA
- Dyson Pure Cool
- LEVOIT Air Purifie
- Molekule Air Purifier
- Blueair Blue Pure 411
- Blueair Blue Pure 211+
- Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier
- Alen BreatheSmart Air Purifier
- Partu Air Purifier
- Austin Air HealthMate Standard Air Purifier
The Honeywell True HEPA delivers a powerful performance, promising 5 air changes an hour. It utilizes an activated carbon pre-filter to reduce odors and a true HEPA filter to remove almost all the airborne allergens present in the room.
Its features include a carrying handle, filter indicator lights, and a programmable timer. It’s also Energy Star-qualified and AHAM-certified. It has a rated cleaning capacity of up to 495 feet, a CADR rating of 300 each for smoke and pollen, and 320 for dust, making it best for allergies.
- Compact and portable
- Choice of 4 speeds
- Relatively quiet operation
- Considerable maintenance requirements
The Dyson Pure Cool boasts dual functionality as it can double as a cooling fan during the hot summer months. Its unique design enables it to capture airborne particles at all angles, and it uses the patented Air Multiplier technology for a smooth, uninterrupted stream of purified air.
Since it doesn’t have any accessible blades, this model is best for those with pets and children. Its smart capabilities like voice control, remote control, and app updates also make this best for tech-savvy homeowners.
- Smooth 180-degree oscillation
- Convenient extra features
- Can get a bit loud at its highest speed
The LEVOIT Air Purifier may be small but it still delivers premium performance with its 3-level filtration system. Its fine pre-filter and HEPA filter take care of airborne particles, both large and small, while its activated carbon filter helps reduce odors in the air.
It can clean rooms of up to 215 square feet in size and features 3 fan speeds, a timer, and a sleep mode. With its compact design, this air purifier is best for small rooms.
- 360-degree air filtration
- Option to lock or turn off the display
- Lacks an automatic sensor for air quality changes
The Molekule Air Purifier provides an alternative to HEPA filter with its own patented PECO technology that the manufacturer claims can destroy finer particles. PECO, or photoelectrochemical oxidation, uses light to stimulate the filter and start a chemical reaction to destroy particles.
Its features include WiFi connectivity for remote control using your smartphone and a touch screen display where you can access its 4 modes. The manufacturer claims it can clean rooms up to 600 square feet in size, which makes this model best for large rooms.
- Sleek, modern aesthetic
- Self-adjusting based on air quality
- Quiet operation
- Higher maintenance costs
The Blueair Blue Pure 411 is a portable air purifier that can clean the air of rooms between 100 and 175 square feet in size. Its 3-stage filtration system ensures that both airborne allergens and odors are removed. It uses HEPASilent technology, which shouldn’t be confused with a true HEPA filter, to purify the air.
It operates quality, with noise levels ranging between 17 and 46 decibels, and it’s AHAM-certified with a CADR rating of 119 for smoke, 131 for pollen, and 121 for dust. Its affordable price makes it best for those who are on a budget.
- Low-cost replacement filter
- Customizable color options
- Limited reach
Despite not using HEPA-certified filters, the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ can still deliver high cleaning performance by using an electric charge to make particles stick to the filter fibers. Its 3-part filtration system targets fabric, airborne particles, and carbon particles.
It’s AHAM-certified to clean rooms up to 540 square feet and has a CADR rating of 350 for all three particles. It can filter indoor air up to 5 times an hour in medium- and large-sized rooms and its relatively low noise levels make it best for watching movies or reading.
- Less clogging of filters
- Low energy consumption
- Compatible with most decor
- Design is not child-friendly
The Conway Airmega 400 filters air with style. Its dual filtration system consisting of an activated carbon pre-filter and true HEPA filter sanitizes and deodorizes indoor air. Its dual suction allows it to draw air from both sides while releasing the purified air at the top for more efficient circulation.
It has a built-in pollution sensor that monitors indoor air quality in real-time. Its 3-setting smart mode also allows it to adapt to the air quality and lighting condition of its surroundings. With a cleaning capacity of up to 1,650 square feet, this model is best for office spaces and apartments.
- Easy set-up
- Indoor air quality LED indicator
- Comes with app control
- High HEPA filter replacement cost
The Alen BreatheSmart Air Purifier offers 4 types of HEPA filters, giving you more options regarding the level of air purification. You can go for the basic pre-filter and HEPA Pure filter or add an activating carbon filter. You can even go further and add the ionizing function to destroy particles at the molecular level.
It features 4 fan settings and smart sensor technology to detect indoor air quality, letting you monitor the air quality level with its color-coded LED ring light. It can clean areas up to 1,100 square feet, which makes it best for bedrooms, basements, and workshops.
- Easy to operate
- Large room coverage
- Low noise levels
- Expensive air filter replacement
Despite its size, the Partu Air Purifier delivers a solid performance with its 5-stage filtration system. Apart from the filter layers, it features a membrane net and a mesh scaffold for structural support and preventing carbon loss.
It also features a sleep mode that keeps noise levels at a low 25 decibels, and it can clean rooms up to 160 square feet. The moderate performance of this air purifier combined with its compact size makes this best for everyday use in smaller rooms.
- Remembers your settings
- Colorful nightlight options
- Power-saver feature
- Design may not be appealing to some
The 4-stage filtration system of the Austin Air HealthMate ensures medical-grade protection from most indoor air pollutants, including sub-micron particles and noxious gases. It’s quite heavy at 45 pounds but it comes with rollers so you can easily move it around.
It features a 360-degree intake system which lets it draw air from all sides. It can clean rooms up to 1,500 square feet and it has a very high CADR rating at 400, which means it can purify the air faster. This, along with its 780 cubic feet of activated carbon filtration, makes it best for odor removal.
- High-performing filters
- Durable housing
- Long-lasting air filter
- Loud at higher fan speeds
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
The process of air purification begins when the fans inside the machine pull the air in, before the mechanical filters trap particles. There are usually two filters at work: the prefilter, which catches the larger particles like human hair or pet fur, and the true HEPA filter, which removes the smaller and finer particles. Some purifiers have an additional carbon filter to help remove gases and odors. Once the air has been filtered, the fans then push it back out.
What can they do well?
Air purifiers have been proven effective in filtering airborne particulate matter by an average of 69% to 80%. A 2018 study showed that HEPA filters in air purifiers help to reduce pollution coming from the outside by 23%. Cleaner air produced by air purifiers has been shown to improve cardiovascular and respiratory health, especially those with allergies and asthma symptoms.
What can’t they help with?
Since air purifiers can only filter particles in the air, they can’t filter the dust, pollen, and dander particles that have settled on surfaces like countertops and room corners. To address this, you still have to perform a deep cleaning of your house. Also, most air purifiers have limited effectivity in filtering volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Types of Air Purifiers
Different types of air purifiers use different methods to remove airborne pollutants. They each have their own benefits and drawbacks.
Usually found in most air purifiers, mechanical or pleated filters trap the air particles in a web of fine fibers to clean the air. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is a type of mechanical filter with very fine mesh material that can trap 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger.
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon filters can remove odors and some gases but can’t trap particles just by themselves. They are best used in tandem with mechanical filters. Carbon filters tend to get saturated much more quickly and may need regular replacement, which can be costly.
Ozone generators produce ozone gas that’s being marketed to combat indoor pollution and odors. However, a study published by the National Library of Medicine revealed that when the ozone molecule interacts with certain chemicals, it can become a source of indoor secondary pollutants. Ozone can cause lung damage when inhaled. For these reasons, ozone generators aren’t recommended for home use.
Electronic Air Purifiers
Instead of using filters, electronic air purifiers and ionizers use static electricity to charge airborne particles so that they stick to the internal washable filtration system. These purifiers have two major drawbacks: first, they can produce ozone, and second, the filtration system needs to be washed constantly.
Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation
Some air purifiers have UV lamps that are said to kill airborne microorganisms, dust-mite allergens, and gas pollutants as they pass through the machine. However, for this to be effective, the particles need to be exposed to higher levels of UV light for longer than is typical of air purifiers of this kind.
Photocatalytic air purifiers use UV light to energize a catalyst like titanium dioxide to convert the water in the air into hydroxyl radicals. These radicals then attack the organic pollutant molecules, oxidize them, and turn them into supposedly harmless substances. However, there’s a risk that reactions with certain pollutants can produce harmful byproducts like ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
What are the Factors to Consider When Choosing an Air Purifier?
It can be difficult to choose the best room air purifier for you. To help guide your choice, here are some important factors to look at when buying an air purifier.
Certifications are a good indicator of the quality of an air purifier, with the two main ones being the Energy Star and the AHAM Verifide. The Energy Star is awarded to models that are energy-efficient. This is important since air purifiers must run continuously to be effective and less energy-efficient models can drive your electric bills up.
A model that has the AHAM Verifide seal has undergone the voluntary testing program of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). AHAM also assigns the clean air delivery rate (CADR) rating, which can tell you a model’s effectivity in purifying the air a specific room size.
When choosing an air purifier, you need to consider the size of the room where you’re going to place it in. A mismatch can result in the device not being able to purify the air adequately. Fortunately, the AHAM Verifide seal provides information on the ideal room size for the particular model.
Air purifiers with true HEPA filters are the recommended standard because of their ability to filter out 99.97% of particulate matter. Take note that some models feature HEPA-type filters which may work well but aren’t held to the same standard as true HEPA filters. If you want odors to be removed as well, look for one with an additional activated carbon filter.
Ideally, you’ll be running your air purifier constantly so that means you need to have one whose noise level you can stand. You can usually find this detail on the packaging or on the manufacturer’s website. As a rule of thumb, 50 decibels is roughly the same noise level a refrigerator makes.
The prices of air purifiers tend to go up with the more certifications they have, the higher the CADR rating, and the additional features they offer. The key to finding the right balance is knowing which features you value most and which you can do without.
Cost of Replacement Filters
Depending on the filter type, some models may require constant replacement while others may take years but are more expensive to replace. If you’ve opted to have the activated carbon filter, keep in mind that it gets saturated easily and may need to be replaced frequently.
Features like programmable timers, remote control, and dimmable lights add to the convenience but aren’t absolutely necessary. They might be nice to have but keep in mind that these also drive up the prices for the model.
Best Air Purifiers FAQs
What is the best air purifier on the market?
It depends on your needs and what features you’re looking for, but we recommend Honeywell True HEPA for its powerful performance and high CADR rating.
Do air purifiers really work?
Yes, they’re effective in removing airborne contaminants like allergens, dust, mold, and smoke. However, for best results, they should be used in tandem with home cleaning and proper filtration.
Do air purifiers prevent coronavirus?
No, by themselves, air purifiers aren’t enough to prevent coronavirus. While they may not prevent COVID-19, home air purifiers are still able to respiratory health, which is important in our fight against the virus.
Should I sleep with an air purifier on?
Yes. Since the air quality of your home is constantly changing, your air purifier should be on so that it can continuously filter air.
How long does it take for an air purifier to clean a room?
It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to completely cover a room. It depends on the room size, the air purifier’s coverage, and the fan speed.
With the coronavirus epidemic going on today, more than ever it’s important to safeguard our respiratory health and those of our loved ones. The best air purifiers help in promoting good indoor air quality by trapping airborne particles.