What is an Air Purifier
If you’re looking at air purifiers online, you probably already have a good idea of what one is; essentially, it’s a device that purifies the air in your home by removing pollutants such as dust, allergens, and pollen. Some can even handle contaminants like smoke and other odors. Considering the sheer amount of time we spend indoors, an air purifier can make a large impact on your health in your health if you suffer from allergies, asthma or other breathing problems, and provide some welcome relief.
But with that said, there are about as many different air purifiers out there as there are needs for them, and to help you get a better understanding and handle of the many options available to you, we’ve put together a buying guide of some of the best options available today.
Things to Consider in Choosing An Air Purifier
What is an HEPA Filter?
When choosing an air purifier, you’re going to see the phrase “True HEPA Filter” being thrown around often. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, and refers to a filter that can capture large amounts of very small particles – 99.7% of contaminants, down to .3 microns. For the history buffs out there, the standard was originally created in the 1940’s to capture radioactive particles that might be floating around research facilities. These days, it’s more of a generic term, but is used to denote that the filter works to the standards set by the US Department of Energy.
The word “True” is important as well; Filters marketed as “HEPA Type”, rather than “True HEPA” are still very effective, but usually only filter about 85-90% of contaminants found in the air – or about 1 micron in size.
How Much Are You Willing To Spend?
This will most likely be the first thing you think of when looking at choices. Air purifiers are available in prices that range from the very affordable ($50-$100) to the very expensive ($500-$500), with just about everything in between (good mid-range models can cost $150-$300).
Annual Operating Costs
Running an air purifier continuously in your home is going to cost some money, but exactly how much will depend on which one you choose. It should really only add a few dollars to your electric bill, but you will also have to keep the cost of filters in mind. While some lesser filters can be found for around $150-20 a pop, some more expensive models can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 each; when you have to replace them 3-4 months, this can add up quickly. (Tip: While a lot of manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every few months for best results, we find you can usually get away with cleaning them regularly and only replacing one or twice a year).
How Large of A Purifier Do You Need?
Other than price, this is likely the most important consideration in choosing an air purifier. The strength of a purifier is usually measured in Air Changes per Hour, or ACH. This is a measure of how many times the purifier can completely change the air in a room of a certain size in a single hour. You’ll want to look for an air purifier with an ACH of 2-5, but some larger, industrial models may go up to 10-12 ACH. Of course, if you stick a purifier with a lower ACH in a smaller room, it’s effective ACH will go up to match the size of the room.
You may also see things marked in terms of CADR, or Clean Air Delivery Rate, which also measures the volume and speed an air purifier turns out. Look for one with a CADR of at least 100+ for fast, powerful cleaning.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
Many air purifiers come with multi-stage air purifiers, which provide multiple layers of filtering and choices for different purposes, such as filters for smoke or for allergens. Many will have a pre-filter, which blocks larger contaminants and particles before reaching the main HEPA filter, and helps extend its life. Others have filters coated in activated charcoal or carbon to further absorb odors – the Rabbitair MinusA2, for example, has 5 different filter stages, and lets you pick from 4 different custom filters such as Pet Allergy or Toxin Absorber. Remember to keep the cost of additional filters and maintenance in mind when choosing a model.
Air purifiers with built-in UV-C lights are becoming more and more popular. UV-C lights help sanitize the air in your room by zapping it with UV rays, killing any germs or viruses that may be floating. While most models won’t have one of these, they are nice extra defense against illness.
Some air purifiers come with ionizers, which release negatively charged molecules into the air. These ions bind with pollutants in the air, making it easier for the filters to capture them, or are absorbed into the surfaces in your house. It’s not proven how well these work, and there is also a downside; ionizers create ozone, a toxic gas, that can further aggravate respiratory conditions.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Most air purifiers will be relatively quiet – they are made for running continuously in your home, after all – but will make some noise, which you will want to be aware of, especially if you plan on using it in a bedroom. Most models have quiet modes for night time, and some even have automatic sensors.
TIPS FOR USING AND MAINTAINING AIR PURIFIERS
– It’s wise to take some preliminary steps to remove indoor pollutants from the air, like cigarette smoke, vacuuming regularly, and changing the air filters in your central air system. These will not only improve the quality of your air, but also help lessen the stress and demand place on the air filter, and increase its longevity.
– While some air filters need to be regularly changed, others can be cleaned and re-used simply using water and light scrubbing with dish soap. Doing so save you a good chunk of change on filters, and you can probably get away with replacing much less often than recommended, unless your air is particularly bad.
– Remember to keep doors and windows closed while running an air purifier. Much like if you were trying to heat the house, leaving windows open will only result in the purified air escaping as soon as it is treated, and never making any progress.
– If you live in a humid environment, pair the air purifier with a dehumidifier for best results. This will prevent the growth of mold or mildew in your home in the first place, and relieve some of the stress off the filter.
AIR PURIFIER REVIEWS
Alen Breathesmart – BEST OF THE BEST
Our Top Choice for an air purifier is the Alen Breathesmart, one of the most featured and most powerful premium air purifiers on the market. With a CADR Rating of 300, an effective area of 1100 square feet – several rooms at once – and a pure HEPA filter, it is the most powerful and the most effective at cleaning the air on our list. The Breathesmart is also packed full of modern features, such as a Smart sensor that adjusts its power to the amount of pollutants found in the air, automatic Night Settings that turns down the noise and dims the lights, and a filter monitor that tells you when it’s time to change it. There’s also an optional ionizer mode.
The Breathesmart is also one of the most attractive air purifiers you will find, with a sleek, small body that comes in 15 different colors and blends seamlessly into the décor of your home. Every new customer also gets a free phone consultation to help with setup.
Are there downsides to the Breathesmart? The most notable one we can think of, is that it is kind of pricey, though we believe the quality and features make it worth it. Likewise, the replacement filters are some of the most expensive, though you can probably get away with changing them less frequently than recommended. And as always, the ionizer will release some ozone into the air, should you choose to use it.
Still, the Breathesmart is easily out top pick for an air purifier, thanks to its power, smart features, sleek façade and excellent build quality, all of which make it worth the price tag.
- Smart Features – Automatic Night Sensors, filter monitor
- 300+ CADR
- 1100 Sq. Ft Effective Area
- Modern Design
- Expensive, including filters
- Optional Ionizer releases ozone
Our follow-up to the Alen Breathesmart is the Rabbitair MinusA2, another powerful and modern air purifier with an effective area of 700 sq. feet and ACH of 2. It has one of the best filter systems we’ve seen yet, with six different filters including a pre-filter, medium filter, BioGs filter (which prevents the buildup of mold and bacteria), Custom filter, a Charcoal-based, carbon-activated filter, and a negative ion filter. The custom filter lets you choose between Germ Defense, Toxin Absorber, Odor Remover and Pet Allergy filters, suiting it’s cleaning power to whatever you need most in your home. And as a true HEPA filter, it filters down to .03 microns, removing 99.7% of contaminants in the air.
The MinusA2 is, like the Breathesmart, sleek, modern and attractive. While not as small as the Breathesmart, it is very thin, blends well into its surroundings, and even comes with a free wall mount kit for putting it neatly up on your wall. You can place it in your kitchen, living room, or bedroom, and the smart sensors automatically tone down the speed and lights at night. There are also childproof options, and it automatically shuts off should the front panel be removed while in use. Rabbitair also tosses in a 5-year warranty, which isn’t bad at all.
Overall, the MinusA2 is another high-quality, powerful and attractive option for an air purifier. Our only drawback is that it does not cover as much area as the Breathesmart (1100 vs 700 sq. ft), making the Breathesmart a better choice for the price.
- 700 Sq Ft Effective Area, 2 ACH
- True HEPA Filter
- 6 Filter Design with Custom Filter
- Modern aesthetic blends in well
- Smart sensors, childproof locks
- Coverage is good, but not as much as Alen Breathesmart
The Levoit Pur131 is a much more affordable option than the two we’ve already highlighted. It’s a true HEPA filter, with 3 stages – Fine Preliminary, True HEPA and activated carbon. These work together to cover a decently large area of 322 square feet – not nearly as large as the two above it, but that’s to be expected for its lower price. It has a CADR of 135+, and is 100% ozone free.
The Levoit has a few of the smart features lacking in cheaper models, such as Sleep Mode, which turns down the fan and noise for up to 12 hours at night, and an automatic sensor that determines the quality of the air in your room and suggests a fan speed accordingly on the LED panel. Its external design isn’t quite as sleek as the Rabbitair or the Breathesmart, but is still attractive enough to fit in with your home or office without sticking out conspicuously.
It may not have the sheer power or coverage that more expensive air purifiers have, but the Levoit is an otherwise much more affordable, quality option for your home. It has all the necessary features at a good price, and very effectively cleans the air. Many reviewers have also emphasized how conservative the recommended filter replacement time is, and you can easily push it much longer.
- Mid-range price
- 3 Stage Filter
- 135+ CADR
- Smart sensors
- Small area (322 sq ft)
- Not as attractive
The Purezone 3-in-1 is an affordable air purifier is designed for smaller areas of up to 200 square feet – not quite the power and range of others (or even the Levoit Pur131), but more than enough for a large room or kitchen. In addition to the pure HEPA filter, which captures 99.7% of pollutants, it also has a pre-filter and an activated carbon filter, hence the name “3-in-1”. A 3-speed fan lets you choose how powerful you need it. In addition, it has a UV-C light to sanitize the air, destroying germs, fungi, and mold, but no ionizer, eliminating any worry about ozone in the air.
Like the GermGaurdian, it doesn’t have much in the way of fancy smart features, but it does have an automatic timer, which can be set to 2, 4 or 8 hours, as well as a filter reset light. What it lacks in features, though, it makes up for in price and convenience; it is small and easy to transport, and can be moved around from room to room as you need. It does its job, is very effective at removing dust and allergens, and Purezone also includes a 5-year warranty, so you never have to worry about potential problems or breakdowns.
- 3 Stage Filter Design
- UV-C Light for sanitizing air
- Low cleaning area (200 square feet)
- No smart sensors
GERMGAURDIAN – BUDGET BUY
Our last air purifier and our choice for Budget Buy is the GermGuardian AC4825. The GermGaurdian is a very basic and affordable air purifier, perfect for smaller rooms and houses. While it lacks the fancy features and power of some of the more expensive options on our list, it makes up for those with its affordable price tag. It has a CADR of 100, and can cover up to 155 square feet. There is a pre-filter, for capturing large particles, and a charcoal filter for absorbing odors. It also does not have an ionizer, which means it does not release any ozone. In its place, you’ll find a UV-C light, which sanitizes the air around it with UV light, killing bacteria and germs that may come into contact with it. This adds a nice layer of defense against illness, and makes a good alternative to ozone being released in the air.
The GermGaurdian is very quiet, and compact, but as a result, does not cover much area – especially when compared to top tier models like the Breathesmart or Rabbitair. Some users also complain about the smell it emits when first opened, though that does dissipate over time. Still, if you’re looking for an affordable, easy to use option that doesn’t have a lot of fancy features and is just needed to do one or two rooms, it’s a solid bet. And thanks to its small size and ease of use, it’s very quick to move around the house to whichever room calls for it.
- Very affordable
- UV-C Light
- No ionizer
- Pre-filter plus charcoal filter
- Easy to move around
- Small effective range
- No smart sensors or features
- Not very attractive
All-in-all, any of the air purifiers we’ve mentioned will be excellent choices for thoroughly cleaning the air in your home. As mentioned above, we recommend the Alen Breathesmart as our top pick, thanks to its attractive appearance, cleaning power, smart features and overall dependability. If you can’t quite afford the Breathesmart, however, and are looking for something cheaper, the GermGaurdian AC4825 is our Budget Buy, thanks to its portability and ease of use, UV-C light, and of course, price.