Air Purifiers are becoming increasingly popular in the family home as people learn about the health benefits they can provide. But how do you find the best air cleaner for your home? Your House Garden’s review of the top 5 best air purifiers has you covered!
The days when air purifiers were a “novelty” item you’d see at Sharper Image, and only actually used by the chronically ill or germaphobes, are long gone. Today, most people understand that the presence of allergens and pollutants in their home can cause real health problems, and sales of home air purifiers are at an all-time high.
Choosing between the many types of air purifiers on the market can be extremely confusing. There are carbon pre-filters and HEPA filters, electrostatic precipitators and ozone generators – and that’s just scratching the surface. The easiest way to narrow down your choices is to consult our list of the 5 best air purifiers you can put in your bedroom, in which the Your House Garden review team sort out many of the differences between models.
All set? Here we go.
1. IQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifier
The IQAir HealthPro Plus is the best air purifier available for those suffering from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities, and is widely used in hospitals and other medical facilities.
It was famously used to help control the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, and IQAir has been selected by the American Lung Association as its sole educational partner in the air purifier industry.
The HyperHEPA filter and four-state filtration system in this air purifier work to remove ultrafine particles as small as 0.003 microns, such as viruses, dust mites and pet dander – primary causes for the breathing difficulties suffered by those with asthma and allergies. The IQAir also has a new V5 filter to remove chemicals and odors from the air, improving performance even more than in the past. The controls on this unit are easy to operate from either the machine itself or a remote control, with complete pre-programming options as well as status and filter life indicators.
With the most-powerful fan in the units we’ve highlighted here, this air purifier delivers more clean air per minute than competitive purifiers but at a pretty steep price. The IQAir is quite pricey, requires expensive pre-filter, odor, and HyperHEPA filter changes regularly, and is not very energy-efficient. And those costs don’t normally cover an entire home; the coverage area for the HealthPro Plus is approximately 1000 square feet so it’s only suitable for a large room or apartment use unless you live in a small house.
Overall, this IQAir purifier is a great choice, but only if you can justify the cost. Those who are buying an air purifier for medical reasons are most likely to appreciate a HealthPro Plus, despite its price.
A closer look at the IQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifier:
2. Alen Breathe Smart HEPA Air Purifier
The Alen Breathe Smart air purifier doesn’t filter the smallest particles in your home’s air quite as effectively as the IQAir because it uses a standard HEPA filter; it also doesn’t have a separate odor filter.
Nevertheless, it will remove almost all of the common contaminants which cause common health and breathing problems from an area up to 1100 square feet, at a price that’s lower than the HealthPro Plus. Its CADR ratings (which measure removal of contaminants) are among the highest of all purifiers on the market.
A wonderful feature of this Alen air purifier is its intuitive smart sensor, which can continually sense the amount of pollution in the air and adjust the fan accordingly. If you’d prefer to operate the unit in timed or manual modes to save energy you can do that as well (although this air purifier is Energy Star certified), and there’s also a night setting which lowers both the fan speed to reduce noise and the brightness of the LED indicators. There’s also a filter monitor.
One feature that you should know about is the Breathe Smart’s optional ionizing unit, which is a controversial subject. Atoms that have been charged by the ionizer can more efficiently trap air particles, but ionized air can also cause breathing problems for those with sensitive or compromised lungs. The ionizer on the Alen air purifier can be easily turned off, though, if you prefer to operate the unit without it.
This air purifier is very effective, and a good choice for those concerned about their health and the quality of the air they breathe but not suffering from serious chemical sensitivities or allergies. It’s also attractive, with a high-tech look and seven front color panels to choose from.
The details of the Alen Breathe Smart HEPA Air Purifier:
3. Rabbit Air MinusA2 Air Purifier
The Rabbit Air is a good “compromise” air purifier. It only provides maximum coverage for rooms up to 350 square feet and can only cover 700 square feet at less effective operating levels, but is usually cheaper compared to the Alen Breathe Smart.
But it offers customizable filter options allowing you to specifically target the purification system at toxins, germs, odors, or pet dander. If any of those issues are a major concern for you or your family, you may be very willing to compromise on a purifier’s coverage area and price.
There’s no compromise on the quality of the MinusA2’s performance, however. There are five other filters built into the system including a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. Working in tandem with your choice of custom filter, they do an outstanding job of cleaning the air of particles and contaminants. There is also an optional ionizer for the air leaving the machine – the manufacturer claims, though, that it does not produce ozone.
One drawback is that there is no programmable functionality with this Rabbit Air model. There are several advantages, though. There is a handy air quality sensor indicator which shows you how well the air purifier is working, the unit is one of the quietest on our list, and the MinusA2 is attractive and easily mountable on the wall.
This isn’t the machine to choose for a spacious living room with floor-to-ceiling windows, but it’s definitely worthy of consideration for smaller rooms where there are specific types of pollution or contaminants to filter.
More info on the Rabbit Air MinusA2 Air Purifier:
4. Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier
Now, for a quality smaller room air purifier with a more palatable price tag. The Coway AP-1512HH is a compact unit designed for full operation in rooms a little bigger than 300 square feet and has a four-state filtration system that includes a HEPA filter to remove small particles and other contaminants, plus an odor filter.
The Mighty Air Purifier also uses an ionizing system which can be turned off if desired, although the company says the ozone that’s created by the system is minimal at best and the unit has been approved under California’s strict standards.
This purifier also has an air quality indicator but goes a step further than the MinusA2 by using the detected air quality to automatically increase fan speed if needed, or turn off the unit when no particles have been detected for half-an-hour. In addition, it’s very quiet compared to most competitive models.
The Your House Garden review team would give the Coway an “A” for pollen and dust, a “B” for allergens and a “C” for odors. Those aren’t bad grades at all for an energy-efficient machine.
5. Honeywell 50250-S Round Air Purifier
This solid, round unit is HEPA certified – the Honeywell air purifier 50250-S is ideal for those who want to move an inexpensive air purifier from room to room as needed.
It is slightly larger than the Coway but sells for a bargain-basement price. It features a glass-fiber HEPA filter and carbon-activated pre-filter for well-above-adequate removal of contaminants, and its round design (while not particularly attractive) circulates the clean air 360 degrees throughout the 390 square feet it can cover.
There’s no air quality monitor and the Honeywell air purifier is not programmable, but there is a sensor that determines how many pollutants the filters have captured and tells you when they should be changed.
This is a loud machine, but it does the job at a cost that just about anyone can handle.
What you need to know about the Honeywell air purifier 50250-S Round Air Purifier:
Air Purifier Buying Guide
There’s Something in the Air Tonight
The first step to take before shopping for an air purifier is to figure out what has to be removed from the air in your home. That’s because each model of purifier uses different types of filters to remove specific pollutants.
Allergies and asthma are most often triggered by airborne particles such as pollen, pet dander, and fungus. The best purifier filters for removing allergens are HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which can trap small particles like pet dander and dust mites. HEPA filters are built to remove virtually 100% (99.97%, to be exact) of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. The effectiveness of a HEPA filter depends in large part on its size and the material used to make it.
Viral and bacterial infections are caused, of course, by viruses and bacteria. They’re too small to be snagged by ordinary HEPA filters, but some of those filters are treated with germicides or special antibacterial agents that are able to kill micro-organisms. Other air purifiers use ultraviolet light to kill the germs or alter their DNA so they can’t reproduce.
Irritants like smoke, chemical fumes from cleaners, and kitchen and bathroom odors may not cause specific illnesses for most people, but they’re still annoying and potentially hazardous. Activated charcoal or activated carbon filters are often used in air purifiers, side-by-side with other filters, to trap the odors or chemicals and neutralize them. Purifiers designed specifically for homes with pets may add an activated carbon pet hair pre-filter which grabs pet hair out of the air before a second filter deals with dander and other contaminants.
You’ll find that inexpensive air purifiers may offer lesser types of filtration such as ion generators, charged media filters or electrostatic precipitators. They’re usually not worth their price. Ion generators release ions to combine with pollutants, but the particles then stick to walls and ceilings (making a mess), and they release ozone which can irritate the lungs. Charged media filters and electrostatic precipitators work on principles similar to static electricity and can sometimes work well. But charged media filters have to be changed constantly, and electrostatic precipitators often just recycle air and emit ozone as well.
Several newer technologies are promising and can be found in a few models now being sold. Photocatalytic oxidation uses UV light and a charged metal plate to break down the molecules of airborne contaminants, and purifiers using high heat theoretically burn up the contaminants over time. These methods have not yet been shown to be fully effective yet.
One final note before we move on: not all HEPA filters (or carbon-activated ones, for that matter) are equal. Check the details of the filtration system, particularly ensuring that HEPA filters can remove ultra-fine particles, before deciding on a particular model.
Best Air Purifiers: What to Look For
Now that you know the type of filter (or filters) that will work best in your home, it’s time to consider some of the other important features that vary between models.
Most air purifiers are built to handle just one room (or possibly two). You may find units that claim to handle an entire home, but it’s unlikely they can do it. All purifiers will specify their coverage area in square feet; you should know the dimensions of the room you need to accommodate (and remember that vaulted or cathedral ceilings will require extra coverage). Additionally, you’ll see a specification called CFM, which stands for cubic feet per minute and represents the amount of air the purifier can scrub. Higher ratings are important if you’re suffering from allergies.
A hidden cost of air purifiers involves filter changes. HEPA filters will have to be changed at least once a year and carbon/charcoal filters may need to replaced every three months. Figure those numbers – and the cost of the filters – into your buying decision.
Also, consider how quiet the unit is. Some can be quite noisy due to their internal fans, but models without fans are usually not as efficient. Other considerations for some buyers are whether there are multiple operating speeds, timers, and remote controls and whether the machine is light enough to move from room to room if that’s in your plans. Lastly, ensure that the purifier doesn’t emit ozone, since that can cause one problem even as it’s solving another.
Your House Garden’s Best Air Purifier Comparison Table
Use the comparison table to help you identify if there is a specific purifier that interests you, and identify the key differences. You can then choose to:
- use the “Quick Navigation” button at the bottom of the table to navigate straight to the model you are interested in reading more about
- use the “Check Price on Amazon” button if you know the model you want to research more (or buy) on Amazon
- Take your time and read more about the different types of kettles and buying considerations back towards the top of the article
If you are investigating Air Purifiers you might also want to consider reading about the Top 5 Best Humidifiers.