2019 Best Overall Air Purifiers

Given the fact that an average person can breathe in as much as 3,400 gallons of air every day while sitting idly at home, it is clear just how big of an impact air quality can have on your well-being. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned against the harmful effects of indoor pollutants to your health. These effects vary from short-term illnesses like dizziness and fatigue to more serious concerns like respiratory diseases and even cancer. Having a reliable air purifier to clean the air inside your home can be helpful in avoiding these problems.

This article takes a closer look at the best air purifiers on the market today. Examining each model’s key features, this list should be able to guide you in choosing the best model for your home.

  Coway Airmega 400S
Check price on amazon
Winix 5500-2
Check price on amazon
Alen BreatheSmart Classic
Check price on amazon
GermGuardian AC4825
Check price on amazon
Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier
Check price on amazon
 
 
Check price on amazon
Check price on amazon
Check price on amazon
Check price on amazon
Check price on amazon

Performance

Number of Filters 3 4 4 3 4
HEPA Filter Yes (True HEPA) Yes (True HEPA) Yes Yes (True HEPA) Yes (True HEPA)
Technology Washable pre-filter + Max2 filter (combined HEPA and carbon filter) Pre-filter + True HEPA + Activated carbon + Ionizer Pre-filter + HEPA + Ionizer + Carbon Filter Pre-filter + True HEPA + UV-C + Charcoal Pre-filter + Activated carbon filter + True HEPA filter + Ionizer
CADR Dust 350, Smoke 350, Pollen 350 Dust 243, Smoke 232, Pollen 246 Dust 256, Smoke 276, Pollen 301 Smoke 108, Dust 118, Pollen 125 Smoke 233, Dust 246, Pollen 240
Room size 1560 sq. ft. 360 sq. ft. 1100 sq. ft. 167 sq. ft. 361 sq. ft.
Air Changes per Hour 2 4 2 4 4
Fan Speeds and Modes 3 + Sleep + Eco 4 + Sleep + Auto 4 + Sleep 3 3 + Eco + Auto
UV Light X X X X
Ionizer X X
Air Quality Sensors X

Convenience

Programmable Timer X
Remote Control X X X X
Noise Level 22 to 52 dB 28 to 55 dB 41.5 to 56 dB N/A 24 to 54 dB
Auto Shut Off X
Filter Indicator

Design

Size 22.8 x 14.8 x 14.8 inches 15 x 8.2 x 23.6 inches 10 x 17.8 x 26.8 inches 5.5 x 9 x 21.5 inches 16.8 x 18.3 x 9.6 inches
Color Graphite or White Black 14 options Black Black or White
Controls Type Electronic Electronic touch Electronic Electronic Electronic

Energy

Consumption 66 watts 70 watts 105 watts 70 watts 77 watts
Energy Star Rated

Warranty

Product Warranty 5-year 1-year Lifetime 3-year 1-year
Customer Service

Latest Air Purification Systems Evaluation & Reviews

Coway Airmega 400S

The Coway Airmega 400S provides unmatched convenience thanks to its accompanying Airmega app and Amazon Alexa compatibility. This lets you control the air purifier from any of your mobile devices. Also, aside from having a programmable timer, you can schedule when exactly you want the device to run from the app.

It comes with a unique Max2 filter, which is a combination of activated carbon and True HEPA. The Max2 filter is capable of removing both odors, VOCs, dust, and other allergens while maintaining high airflow. The device, which covers extra-large spaces up to 1560 sq. ft., is also protected by a 5-year warranty. With all these aspects considered, it’s not surprising that this model comes at a premium price and with a large footprint. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind the steep price that comes with owning a high-end smart air purifier, the Coway Airmega 400S is a great choice.

Pros

  • Max2 filter permits higher airflow and removes different types of air pollutants quickly
  • WiFi-capable, Alexa-compatible, comes with Airmega app
  • Automatic air quality monitoring and fan speed adjustment
  • Programmable timer and scheduler
  • Unique, modern design
  • Excellent for large areas
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Expensive (upfront and long-term)
  • No casters

Winix 5500-2

The Winix 5500-2 is one of the best air purifiers you can buy if you’re looking for one that’s highly effective but also reasonably priced. Rated to cover rooms up to 360 sq. ft. in size, the 5500-2 uses a 4-stage air filtration system consisting of a pre-filter, a washable carbon filter, a True HEPA filter, and Winix’s PlasmaWave ionizer.

One of the downsides to owning this device is its high long-term costs, which include expensive replacement HEPA filters and higher power consumption. In addition, many users have complained about both the bright control panel lights that stay on even on sleep mode and the unimpressive 1-year warranty. Overall, however, the 5500-2 gives you so much bang for your buck because it works extremely well against a wide variety of air pollutants. The auto mode and sleep mode are also very useful and convenient features that allow you to customize your experience depending on your needs. The 5500-2 may not be WiFi-enabled, but it does have a remote control that allows you to change the settings from a distance.

Pros

  • Affordable upfront
  • Large room coverage
  • Remote control boosts convenience
  • Auto mode and sleep mode allow you to set it and forget it
  • Works quickly against VOCs, odors, and allergens

Cons

  • Expensive replacement HEPA filters
  • Bright control panel lights even on sleep mode
  • Short warranty

Alen BreatheSmart

Alen’s BreatheSmart is a customizable air purifier with premium features and, unsurprisingly, a premium price tag. It lets you choose between four filter types—namely, HEPA-Pure (the standard filter for use against dust and allergens), HEPA-Silver (best for mold and germs), HEPA-FreshPlus (for fighting smoke, VOCs, and chemical fumes), or HEPA-OdorCell (an odor neutralizer). Although it doesn’t use True HEPA filters, it’s still capable of doing a good job at removing particles like dust and pollen.

Its rather plain exterior can be customized with a panel style/color of your choice. In addition, it features a lights-off mode that’s great for bedtime use. Other notable features include an auto mode, smart sensors, and a control panel lock. Finally, it’s capable of purifying spaces up to 1100 sq. ft., which makes it ideal for large rooms or homes with open floor plans.

Pros

  • Customizable panel with several different colors/designs to choose from
  • Interchangeable filters to fit your specific needs
  • Smart sensors
  • Large coverage area
  • Lights-off mode
  • Automatic all day mode

Cons

  • Expensive upfront and long-term
  • Not True HEPA
  • Big and bulky

GermGuardian AC4825

The GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1 air purifier combines three stages to clean the air in your home—namely, a True HEPA filter, a carbon filter, and TiO2 UV-C light. This results in a dynamic approach against pollutants like dust, mold, odors, germs, pollen, and smoke. Note, though, that it is suitable only for spaces that are smaller than 167 sq. ft.

This affordable device comes with a filter change indicator, but it lacks a programmable timer and modes. It does, however, let you adjust the fan speed according to your liking with three speed levels. Another thing to take note with this model is that several users have claimed that it emits a strong burning smell. This may be an isolated case, however, as the AC4825 remains to be one of the most well-loved budget air purifiers available on the market today.

Pros

  • Affordable (upfront)
  • Energy efficient
  • Sleek, space-saving tower-type design
  • Filter replacement indicator
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Capable of removing different types of pollutants such as allergens, odors, and bacteria
  • Permanent pre-filter and charcoal filter

Cons

  • Small coverage area
  • Expensive replacement HEPA filter
  • No smart features or modes
  • Users report burning smell coming from the unit

Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier

Dubbed by the Wirecutter as the Best Air Purifier for 2019, the Coway AP-1512HH has maintained its spot as one of the best air purifiers to date. It has similar specifications to the Winix 5500-2 but costs more upfront. Its small footprint and affordable replacement filters, however, make it one of the most affordable air purifiers to own on this list.

The AP-1512HH does have a few minor flaws, the first of which is that it tends to operate quite loudly even on its lower settings. Another flaw is that it seems to struggle with removing odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which isn’t uncommon for air purifiers.

Overall, the benefits of this device far outweigh these flaws. The AP-1512HH works wonders for homes that suffer from the effects of air pollution as it works quickly and efficiently. It also has an Auto Mode that allows the air purifier to work automatically depending on the current air quality as well as an Eco Mode that helps lower power consumption. Despite having a short warranty, the AP-1512HH is sure to help you address your air quality problems for years to come.

Pros

  • Affordable (upfront and long-term)
  • Large coverage area
  • Works quickly and effectively against a wide range of air pollutants
  • Energy efficient especially on Eco mode
  • Automatic air quality monitoring and fan speed adjustment
  • Durable

Cons

  • Loud
  • Struggles to remove odors and VOCs
  • Short warranty

Buyer’s Guide:

Air Purifiers

The Role of the Air Purifier

An air purifier is an appliance that boosts indoor air quality by removing airborne contaminants and thus cleans the air, making them great for us in homes, offices, or any space where they can benefit people who suffer from discomfort, asthma, allergies, respiratory problems, and chemical sensitivity.

These appliances draw in polluted air from its environment and then pass that air through layers of filtering media. Depending on the types of filtration media featured on the system, different allergens and contaminants of all sizes, ranging from microscopic to larger particles, are eliminated from the air passing through them. At the end of the process, clean air is then returned back into the room.

The Air Pollutants that Can Affect Your Indoor Environment

Ambient air pollution is a major environmental problem and a risk to public health. What most people don’t realize is that all homes are affected by this issue, whether they are in an urban city or in a rural town. To understand the factors that can influence your living space, the Clean Air Act has set air quality standards for some of the most common pollutants:

  • Carbon monoxide is a gas that is released when furnaces and house heaters burn fossil fuels. The presence of carbon monoxide in the air makes it hard for the human body to get the amount of oxygen it needs to run properly. Dizziness, headaches, and tiredness are the main symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure. Elderly people who have heart conditions are hospitalized more often when they live in a space that contains high carbon monoxide levels.
  • Ozone is a pollutant that forms near the ground as a result of nitrogen oxides interacting with volatile organic compounds. It can lead to a large number of health problems, including asthma attacks, sore throats, breathing difficulties, and coughs.
  • Nitrogen dioxide is a gas with a strong smell, and it comes from engines that burn fossil fuels. People who are exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can suffer from pulmonary edema and acute bronchitis, and these lead to a higher risk of contracting respiratory infections.
  • Lead is a metal that can be found in many forms. This blue-gray metal can have a devastating impact on a child’s development as it can lower IQ and affect the kidneys. Furthermore, adults are at risk of stroke, brain damage, and heart attack when exposed to high amounts of lead.
  • Particulate matter is comprised of dust, tobacco smoke, asbestos, and other impurities that are small enough to enter the lungs and cause serious problems.
  • Sulfur dioxide is an odorless gas that comes from factories which produce chemicals, fuel, or paper. It irritates people’s eyes, throats, and noses, and it can cause asthma and emphysema, as well.

Benefits of Using an Air Purifier

Besides outright removing the various sources of pollutants inside your home, the best way to improve indoor air quality is to use an air purifier. In fact, minimizing exposure to air pollutants can prevent 70 percent of asthma cases among children and adults.

Because indoor air contains a relatively higher concentration of impurities, taking proper measures to maintain clean indoor air is recommended. Again, opting for an effective air purifier is the best thing to do in this situation. Detailed here are the advantages that you can get from using such an appliance:

  • It ensures a safe environment for your family

    Air purifiers eliminate indoor pollution and help create a safe living space. Given that people spend much of their time indoors, we need to be able to reduce the elements that pose a threat to our health. Opting for a device that cleans the air gives you access to long-term health benefits and allows you to protect your family from serious illnesses.

  • It creates better conditions for those who already suffer from asthma

    An air purifier can remove allergens that represent a serious problem for people who have asthma. Clearing the air of particles that trigger allergies, then, can be a great relief for asthma sufferers that are prone to discomfort.

  • It eliminates bad odors

    Some air purifiers have the capacity to remove bad odors. Air purifiers with a carbon filter can eliminate cigarette smoke, cooking odors, and pet odors, to name a few. For extreme odors, get an ozone generator.

The Different Types of Air Purification Systems

Deciding among the many types of air purifiers that exist on the market can seem intimidating. The first thing that you need to know about air purifiers is that some of them integrate technologies that manually filter the air, while others clean the air by destroying pollutants. Some models combine these two methods for better performance and versatility, as well. Here are your options:

Filters

Most air purifiers have some type of filter, which trap unwanted particles and contaminants in order to provide clean air. There are many different types of filters, but the most common ones are pre-filters, HEPA filters, and activated carbon filters.

Most air purifiers have a pre-filter by the default. Pre-filters are perfect for capturing large debris such as hair fur, dust, and some pollen. Once these particles are trapped, the other filters inside the air purifier can work at maximum levels. Its main purpose is to act as the first line of defense in order to capture the largest particles possible. Generally, pre-filters don’t need to be replaced and only need to undergo regular cleaning. If the pre-filter is combined with activated carbon, though, it’ll need to be replaced when the activated charcoal surface stops functioning.

Air purifiers that use a True HEPA filter, like the Coway Airmega 400S or the Levoit LV-PUR131, were designed to have an efficiency of 99.97% for trapping particles that are at least 0.3 microns in diameter. While they remove dangerous contaminants like bacteria, asbestos, lead paint, pharmaceutical dust, mold spores, and pollen, HEPA air purifiers can’t remove bad odors and chemical fumes.

Activated carbon filters are made of carbon, an absorbent material that traps gaseous contaminants as they penetrate the filter. Activated carbon/charcoal filters have the ability to eliminate chemical fumes, tobacco smoke, gases, and odors, but they can’t remove allergens like dust and microorganisms which is why it’s best paired with a HEPA filter. The Whirlpool Whispure WP500 and the GermGuardian AC4825E both combine the efficiency of the activated carbon filter with a HEPA filter to ensure maximum performance in eliminating both air particles and odors.

UV Light

UV light is able to turn molecules of oxygen and water found in the air in your home into ozone and hydroxyl. These molecules react with air contaminants and destroy them, turning them into harmless components like water and carbon dioxide. The effectiveness of a UV light filter is fully dependent on the wattage of the light and the length of exposure to the light. To maintain the effectiveness of UV light air filters, the UV lamp should be regularly monitored and replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

UV light technology is best when used with other particulate filters like HEPA and activated carbon filters. Without a filter system, too many microorganisms get shaded from the UV light by particulates, ultimately decreasing the effectiveness of the UV light filter. Therefore, most air purifiers that employ UV light start off by filtering the air with HEPA and activated carbon and use the UV light filter as a final stage of filtration. A good example of an air purifier that uses UV light to purifier the air is the GermGuardian AC4825E.

Ionizers

Home air ionizers use a process known as corona discharge to create negative ions that help purify the air. These negative ions attach themselves to air pollutants and impurities, making them too heavy to stay in the air. As such, even microscopic particles that would otherwise stay airborne will fall to the ground. On the other hand, the resulting particles have a tendency to stick to ceilings, walls, and furniture as they don’t get destroyed or held in a filter. Therefore, you’re expected to regularly clean your home and wipe off dusty surfaces so that these particles don’t end up being recirculated. Air purifiers like the Alen BreatheSmart include an ionizer feature that increases their efficiency in removing air impurities.

Ozone Generators

An ozone generator is designed to alter oxygen molecules and turn them into ozone, which is the device’s main weapon for purification. Ozone attaches to any type of molecule that it encounters and proceeds to disrupt it at the molecular level, which enables it to remove odors and kill mold and bacteria. Important note: an ozone generator can be dangerous to animals and people. Air purifiers that use ozone should be used for strong odors only and in empty rooms.

Electrostatic Air Cleaners

Electrostatic purifiers use an electrical field to catch and trap particles, and they can be installed as central filtration systems or as portable units with fans. The advantage of purchasing this type of unit is that it’s typically associated with low energy costs, thereby allowing the user to eliminate pet dander and dust while saving money. On the other hand, it can’t remove contaminants like mildew, chemicals, smoke, and bacteria. It’s also not as efficient as HEPA filters (see below). A good example of an air purifier that uses electrostatic precipitation is the Oreck AIRPCS. You can read our full review of this product here.

The best air purifiers out these use a combination of the methods above to effectively purify your air.

What’s Behind our Ratings

If you want to invest money in a reliable air purifier, you need to pay attention to the following aspects:

  • Area Coverage and Filter Efficiency

    Keep in mind that the square footage listed for the air purifier must be the same as (or bigger than) the square footage of the space where you want to use it. In addition, make sure that the air purifier is designed to remove the specific types of pollutants that exist in your space.

  • Budget for Filter Replacements

    Most air purifiers use physical filters to purify the air, remember to check how much the replacement filters will cost you over time. Given that the price of an air purifier is not the only cost related to running such a device, you should also consider the cost of replacing the filters. Changing the filters when required will help you maintain your unit’s purifying efficiency, therefore consistently giving you the best filtration results.

  • Energy Usage

    Unlike other appliances, air purifiers are commonly being run 24/7, so you should consider your energy bill before finalizing a purchase. Take a look at your chosen models’ daily kilowatt usage, and choose the unit that is the most efficient. Moreover, we advise you to search for products that are Energy Star rated, like all those models recommended here.

  • Noise Level

    While some air purifiers are very quiet, some might be too loud for you if you’re noise-sensitive. With that said, opting for an air filtration system that has adjustable speed will give you the power to control the level of noise emitted by the device. Check the decibel level of each model on the chart above. The quietest model is the Coway Airmega 400S.

  • Warranty

    Buying a cheap air purifier might seem like a no-brainer if you’re on a budget, but if it comes with a short warranty it might require a replacement sooner than expected. The Alen BreatheSmart Classic comes with a hefty price tag, but is guaranteed for life.

  • True HEPA Filters

    True HEPA filters are the gold standard when it comes to air filtration because they have been required to meet a standard to filter at least 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns. Particles that HEPA filters are able to trap include chemicals, bacteria, and viruses, thus, HEPA air purifiers create a more sanitary environment. Air purifiers that use HEPA filters are automatically more efficient at trapping and removing airborne pollutants.

  • Air Changes Per Hour (ACH)

    The number of air changes per hour (ACH) is defined as the number of times an air purifier is able to completely cycle all the air in a room of a specific size within an hour. As a minimum requirement, a good quality air purifier should be able to purify all the air in the room at least twice per hour, but for homes with more serious air quality problems or for individuals who suffer from some form of respiratory disease 4 to 5 ACH is more ideal.

  • What does the CADR rating stand for?

    CADR stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate and it is given in three measurements, each of them indicating the purifier’s performance when tackling a certain contaminant: a rating for pollen, a rating for dust, and a rating for tobacco smoke. It is an indicator of the quality of the air purifier’s performance which gives you the volume of filtered air provided by the purification system per unit time. The higher the CADR ratings, the better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I place my air purifier?

There are many things you should take into consideration before choosing where to place your air purifier. Before anything else, determine which room you want to place it in. Ideally, an air purifier should be placed in a room in which you or your family spend the most time. That way, more people get to enjoy the benefits of clean, purified air. Some people choose to place their air purifiers in areas in which the source of air pollutants exists. The closer the air purifier is to the source, the faster it will be able to trap the contaminants.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect room to place your air purifier, it’s time to decide where in the room you should place it. The most ideal location for an air purifier is in the center of the room where it is free from any obstructions. Unfortunately, placing an air purifier in the center of the room might be a little awkward for some. The next best place would be near a wall, but make sure that you put enough space in between the wall and the air purifier’s air intake grill so that you can maximize the amount of air that goes in.

How long should I keep my air purifier on?

It’s best to leave your air purifier on as long as possible, ideally 24 hours a day. This ensures that it’s constantly scrubbing the air clean and trapping any airborne impurities. If you shut off your air purifier, you risk allowing air pollutants to re-enter your home. Within 3 to 4 hours, the air can get as polluted as it was before you turned on your air purifier.

If you’re concerned about power consumption, you can run the air purifier on high for 2 hours and run it on low for the rest of the day. If you don’t want to be bothered by constantly monitoring and changing the settings on your air purifier, you might want to consider using a whole house air purifier instead.

What is the best air purifier for allergies?

When it comes to choosing an air purifier for allergies, it’s best to choose one that has a True HEPA filter which is the best at trapping allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Ideally, it would have high CADR ratings to match as well as the ability to do several air changes per hour. With that said, our pick for the best air purifier for allergies is the Coway AP-1512HH. Read our detailed review here.

What is the best air purifier for odors?

When it comes to choosing an air purifier for odor removal, you will want an air purifier that has a dedicated carbon filter. Activated carbon or charcoal is excellent for removing odors coming from cooking or smoking. With that said, our pick for the best air purifier for odors is the Alen BreatheSmart Classic. Find out why in our review.

What is the best air purifier for mold?

True HEPA filters are great for removing mold spores. Our pick for the best air purifier for mold is the AeraMax 300. For more choices on air purifiers for mold, check out our comprehensive review here.

The Best Air Purifier Pick

With so many choices available to us, it can be difficult to pick out the best air purifier for our needs. All the air purifiers on this list have their own merits and are all good choices for anyone looking to have an air purifier in their home. Aside from effectiveness and affordability, we’ve also put a premium on convenience as we assessed the best air purifiers on the market.

With that said, we think that the best air purifier overall is the Coway Airmega 400S, which is not only incredibly effective against all sorts of air pollutants but also remarkably convenient to use thanks to its WiFi capabilities and Airmega app. It is one of the most well-rounded devices on the market today and seamlessly combines style, functionality, and convenience into one powerful air purifier. Yes, it’s big investment to make upfront, but when you take into consideration the benefits it will bring about for your entire family, it’ll be worth every penny.

If affordability is a non-negotiable requirement for you, then we suggest the GermGuardian AC4825 as our budget pick.

Related Posts