Best Air Purifiers of 2018

John Carlsen ·
Smart Home & HVAC Editor
Updated
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We tested 10 air purifiers to find the quietest, most energy efficient model, and we compared their Clean Air Delivery Rates with industry standards. Although the Coway AP-1512HH doesn't have the best filter performance, we found it to be the best air purifier for most people. It has a balanced set of features, including timer and auto modes that clean your home's air only when necessary. It's portable and one of the lightest units we tested, weighing around 15 pounds. Lastly, it is one of the most energy efficient air purifiers out there. 

Best Overall
Coway AP1512HH
While there are purifiers that do a better job cleaning air, the Coway AP-1512HH's design balances portability, features and filter effectiveness well, making it the best air purifier for most people.
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Best Value
Honeywell HPA300
The Honeywell HPA300 has a simple design and lacks many features you find on more complex air purifiers. However, that makes it more affordable, and it has better filter performance than most competitors.
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Best Filtering
Whirlpool Whispure
The Whirlpool Whispure is the best air purifier for removing airborne particles from your home, which its excellent CADR scores show. It's also the most powerful air purifier we tested.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Cleaning Capabilities & Modes
Convenience
Energy & Certifications
Number of Cleaning Stages
Sleep/Quiet Mode
Ionizer
Auto Mode
Maximum Power Use (watts)
Certifications
Estimated Annual Electrical Cost
Remote Control
Noise Level (Highest Speed)
Timer & Scheduler
Weight
Warranty
Pollen Removal CADR
Dust Removal CADR
Adjusted Area Coverage (square feet)
Smoke Removal CADR
Air Changes per Hour
$186.00 Amazon
9.3 8.8 9.8 9.8
4
N/A
Optional
79
Energy Star, CARB
$27.68
N/A
58.3 dB
15.41 lbs
3 Years
240
246
360
232
4.03
$243.14 Amazon
9.3 8.9 9.6 9.4
2
N/A
N/A
102
Energy Star, CARB
$35.74
N/A
55.1 dB
19.6 lbs
5 Years
401
325
490
316
4.80
$249.00 CJ
9.2 9 9.6 9
2
N/A
131
Energy Star, CARB
$45.90
60.6 dB
18.58 lbs
5 Years
300
300
465
300
4.10
$215.27 Amazon
9 8.5 9.6 9.1
2
N/A
N/A
N/A
127
Energy Star, CARB
$44.50
N/A
63 dB
16.8 lbs
5 Years
300
320
465
300
5.00
$273.74 Amazon
8.9 9.6 7.6 9.4
5
Always On
110
Energy Star, CARB
$38.54
65.1 dB
N/A
19.4 lbs
5 Years
343
298
451
291
4.35
$549.95 Amazon
8.7 8.8 8 9.9
6
Optional
62
Energy Star, CARB
$21.72
57.3 dB
N/A
19.4 lbs
5 Years
208
200
299
193
3.27
$219.99 CJ
8.5 7.5 9.3 9.5
2
N/A
Optional
N/A
101
Energy Star, CARB
$35.39
N/A
62.4 dB
17 lbs
1 Year
251
229
318
205
3.23
$199.99 Amazon
7.6 8.1 7.8 6
2
N/A
145*
N/A
$50.81
N/A
69 dB
N/A
14.95 lbs
5 Years
245
218
318
205
3.21
Best Overall
The Coway AP-1512HH is an excellent purifier for bedrooms and kitchens, since it can clean air in rooms up to 360 square feet. Although this is bigger than most master bedrooms, it's not as effective in large spaces such as family rooms.
Its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) scores are below average compared to the other purifiers we tested, meaning it removes indoor pollutants less effectively than models like the Whirlpool Whispure and Honeywell HPA300, though it's still capable of cleaning indoor air. The Coway's four-stage filtration process includes a washable pre-filter for large particles as well as a carbon filter for odors, though we found it might not remove strong odors quickly. The third stage is a HEPA filter that captures the smallest particles such as cigarette smoke and pollen. The final stage is an optional ionizer, though we don't recommend using this feature since it can produce trace amounts of ozone, a harmful gas. Although the Coway doesn't have a sleep or quiet mode, its auto mode senses the air quality in the room and fine-tunes the settings. You can also set a timer to run for one, four or eight hours. At its highest setting, the Coway only produces 58 dB of sound, so you can run it while you're home without too much noise. This machine weighs 15 pounds and is the second-lightest air purifier we tested. This air purifier is Energy Star certified and rated to use up to 79 watts, making it one of the most energy-efficient models we reviewed. The company's three-year warranty is shorter than that of the best air cleaners but average among air purifiers.
Pros
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Energy efficient
  • Automatic filter controls
Cons
  • No sleep mode
  • Shorter warranty than competition
  • Below-average filter effectiveness
$215.48Amazon
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Best Value
Unlike most large air purifiers, the Honeywell HPA300 is quiet and has a low-profile design. However, it’s missing many of the features you find on other models.
Overall, the HPA300 is more effective at removing indoor pollutants than our top pick from Coway, which is evident in its high CADR scores, particularly the one for dust. The Honeywell HPA300 has a simple, effective design and is more affordable than the Coway, though not by much. Although we tested cheaper air purifiers, their cleaning effectiveness and CADR scores were too low to be considered a better value than this Honeywell unit. This air purifier has a dust CADR of 320, which is one of the best scores of the models we tested – only the Whirlpool Whispure has a higher score. It also removes smoke particles better than most air purifiers, with a CADR of 300. Its pollen CADR score is average for the air cleaners we tested. This unit is effective in rooms up to 465 square feet, making it the second most powerful air cleaner we tested. In addition, it can make five air changes an hour, the most in our review, by circulating a room's air once every 12 minutes. The Honeywell HPA300 performs well, but it keeps costs down by not having convenience features such as an auto mode that adjusts settings based on a room's air quality, a shut-off timer or a remote control. These are nice to have but aren't necessary, and the HPA300 does well enough without them. However, it has an excellent five-year warranty, which the longest available among air purifiers.
Pros
  • Excellent filter effectiveness
  • Five-year warranty
  • Simple design
Cons
  • No timer
  • No sleep mode
  • No remote
$199.99Amazon
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Best Filtering
The Whirlpool Whispure AP51030K is quite capable of cleaning large rooms of up to 490 square feet. This makes it the most powerful air purifier we tested, though it's useful in large and small rooms alike.
Its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) scores are the highest of all the purifiers we reviewed, which means it has the most effective filtering system for removing smoke, dust and pollen from indoor air. The Whispure's HEPA filters meet rigorous requirements to catch the smallest airborne particles. However, it only has two cleaning stages, so you might need to replace or clean the filters more often. This is the quietest air purifier we tested – it only produces 55 dB of noise on its highest setting, which is quite low. In addition, it has a sleep mode, which saves energy and makes it even quieter at night. However, the Whirlpool Whispure doesn't automatically adjust settings based on the air quality in your room like the Coway AP-1512HH. This is also the heaviest air purifier we tested, weighing nearly 20 pounds, which makes it less portable than the Coway.
Pros
  • Exceptionally effective filter
  • Quieter than competition
  • Five-year warranty
Cons
  • No automatic filter controls
  • Not as energy efficient as top pick
  • Heavier than other models we tested
$255.76Amazon
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Most Efficient
The Rabbit Air MinusA2 is the most efficient air purifier we looked at, it only uses are 62 watts while running. It also has a unique aesthetic that makes it more attractive than the competition.
The low energy consumption of the MinusA2 means it won't affect your electricity bill too much. However, this unit's mobile app controls make it an expensive product at nearly $600. There are six cleaning stages that clean air in rooms up to 300 square feet, which is lower than average, but sufficient for most rooms in a home. The filters aren't as effective as with more affordable units, which is disappointing. A built-in air quality sensor means this unit works automatically and informs you when the filters need to be replaced. You can mount this air purifier on the wall, which is unique among the products we reviewed. Furthermore, Rabbit Air lets you choose from a variety of artwork for the front panel, effectively turning the unit into a decoration that doesn't detract from your home's décor.
Pros
  • Requires less energy to run than other air purifiers
Cons
  • Expensive
-
Read the full review
Best for Smaller Rooms
The Kenmore 83396 doesn't have the same filtering performance as larger air purifiers, but it's an excellent and affordable option for smaller rooms up to 318 square feet.
It has lower CADR scores and a lower number of air changes per hour than most air purifiers we reviewed, though you can offset these deficiencies by using the unit in smaller rooms. This air purifier only weighs 17 pounds, making it one of the lightest units we reviewed. This means you can move it between rooms without much trouble. Although it's not particularly efficient compared to the competition, this unit does have an Energy Star certification, which makes it better than many cheaper units on the market. There are only basic timer settings, which means you don't get sleep or automatic modes, but this simplicity helps make the unit easier to use. The one-year warranty is disappointing compared to the five-year warranties we found on most of the units we reviewed.
Pros
  • Excellent for smaller rooms
Cons
  • Less effective filtering than competition
-
Read the full review

Latest News & Updates (December 2018)

We have tentative plans to test air purifiers in 2019.

Since our last round of testing, the following products are now available to purchase:

  • Dyson Pure Cool TP04: This model is similar to the Dyson Cool tower fan, but with added HEPA and activated carbon air filters. (Released in March 2018 for $550)
  • Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP04: Dyson’s newest air purifier is a follow-up to the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link. Its design is similar to other recent Dyson Pure air purifiers but with the addition of a heating element, so it can double as a space heater during the winter. (Released in December 2018 for $649.99)
  • Molekule: This air purifier has an attractive design that uses a new type of filter known as Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO). The company claims that this type of filter is more effective than HEPA filters. Molekule also has a subscription plan that sends you new pre-filters and PECO filters every six months. (Released in June 2018 for $799 – filter subscription costs $129 a year)
  • CISNO True HEPA: This air purifier is designed for rooms up to 86 square feet and is supposedly as quiet as 26.1 decibels. (Released in June 2018 for $81)
  • The Pure Company Large Room Air Purifier: This unit features 360-degree airflow, a light ring that changes color based on the air quality in your room and an aromatherapy pad for use with essential oils. Like Molekule, The Pure Company also offers a subscription program for replacement filters. (Released in October 2018 for $399)
The Electrolux PureOxygen Allergy 450 has been removed from our comparison because it is no longer available. We are evaluating possible replacements from Electrolux for inclusion in our 2019 air purifier tests, including the Electrolux PureOxygen Allergy 400. We’re also evaluating other air purifier brands, such as GermGuardian and Blue Pure, in addition to the newer products listed above.


Why Trust Us?

As we prepared for our air purifier review, we contacted the American Lung Association, the California Air Resources Board and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). We spoke with experts and read research from each of these organizations to get a good picture of whether air cleaners are useful and for advice on choosing the best one.

We also asked who benefits from cleaner indoor air. For example, we spoke with Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy for the American Lung Association. She said "people with asthma or allergies, especially children and teenagers, and older adults or people with cardiovascular problems."

However, Nolen also told ShopSavvy that "removing the source of the pollution problem or adding ventilation [is] far more effective than plugging in a device." After taking steps to remove pollution sources and ensure good ventilation, Nolen suggests using an air purifier as a supplement to filter out airborne particles that can intensify asthma, allergy symptoms and cardiovascular conditions.

How We Tested 

We tested 10 air purifier models from the following brands: Coway, Electrolux, Heaven Fresh, Honeywell, Idylis, Kenmore, RabbitAir, Vornado, Whirlpool and Winix. Because we don't have a reliable way to test air purification, we used the CADR scores provided by AHAM to judge effectiveness. Instead, our in-house testing focused on noise levels and energy use.

To test the home air purifiers’ noise levels, we ran each machine at both its lowest and highest settings and measured how loud it was using a sound meter. Our tests revealed noise levels on low settings averaged around 30 dB, about the volume of a whisper. When we tested the highest settings, we found an average around 60 dB or greater, about as loud as a conversation.

Noise levels matter most when you plan to use an air cleaner in your bedroom since loud machines can interfere with sleep patterns. However, if you use it in the kitchen during the day, noise levels aren't as much of an issue.

Our second test tracked how much energy an air cleaner uses on its maximum settings and what sort of effect that might have on your energy bill. We found these machines are inexpensive to use daily, as the least efficient purifier only costs around $60 a year to run, or $5 a month.

How Much Do Air Purifiers Cost?

Air purifiers for small rooms and personal use cost between $30 and $200. Larger air purifiers, like the ones in our comparison, cost between $200 and $300, though some premium models cost as much as $600. Additionally, you can expect to pay between $15 and $100 for replacement filters every few months with larger filters demanding a higher premium.

What Else to Look for in an Air Purifier?

Although CADR scores mostly measure purifier effectiveness, they can also tell you what room size a machine can handle. AHAM takes the smoke CADR score and multiples it by 1.55 to get an air purifier's suggested room size. For best results, an air purifier should cover a larger room than the one you use it in. Using an air purifier in a room larger than it can handle often makes it less effective or useless.

Air Changes per Hour
This is how much air the purifier can clean in an hour, and it shows the machine’s airflow. The more times air passes through a machine's filters, the more likely they are to catch previously missed dust or pollen. To illustrate this, if you use a purifier rated for 500 square feet in a room that's 250 square feet, you essentially make two air changes every hour.

HEPA Filters
The most important filter in an air purifier is the HEPA filter, which removes 99.97 percent of 0.3-micrometer particles and must meet rigorous regulations and industry standards. HEPA filters allow an air purifier to remove most pollen and fine dust from the air. You should plan to replace the HEPA filter in your home air purifier on an annual basis. Replacement HEPA filters are more expensive than other filters in your machine but don’t need to be replaced as often. Each air cleaner we tested uses HEPA filters.

Activated Carbon Filters
This type of filter focuses on removing smoke and odors caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is often used as a pre-filter to keep large airborne particles such as animal hair and dust from reaching the HEPA filter. These filters should be replaced three or four times a year.

Pre-Filters
Although it’s common to see carbon filters fill this role, some air cleaners may have a separate pre-filter that you clean once a month using soap and water. It’s a good idea to check your air purifier’s manual to see if it has a washable pre-filter since other types of filters can’t be cleaned.

Warranty
Most of the air purifier brands we reviewed, such as Whirlpool, Idylis, Honeywell, Winix, Rabbit Air and Vornado, have an outstanding five-year warranty. Unfortunately, Coway and Kenmore offer shorter three-year and one-year warranties respectively. While you can probably expect most air purifiers to outlast their warranties, longer warranties offer extra peace of mind that you won’t need to pay for replacement parts or defective machines sooner than you’d like.

As with all warranties, if there’s evidence of damage resulting from from neglect, misuse or mishandling, the air purifier manufacturer might not honor the warranty. Additionally, some companies request that you fill out and mail in a registration card that comes with your product upon purchase to prevent out-of-warranty service requests.

Due to their disposable nature, there is no warranty coverage on the filters that come with your unit or replacement filters, just the purifier itself. This means that you need to rely on the retailer’s return policy if a filter arrives damaged.

Ionizers
Ionizers charge particles as they move through the machine so they attach more easily to a filter or any other surface, thus removing themselves from the air. Ionizers are fairly common in air purifiers but controversial, as they produce trace amounts of ozone.

"Ozone is an outdoor air pollutant," Nolen told ShopSavvy, "and it's a very dangerous pollutant that causes asthma attacks and has been linked now to cardiovascular disease and certainly causes premature death."

Due to the risks associated with ozone, the American Lung Association does not recommend using ionizers in your home. We suggest choosing an air cleaner without an ionizer or with one that you can turn off. We did not include it in our scoring.

Air Purifier Alternatives

HVAC Filters vs. Air Purifiers
There’s no doubt that the filter on your HVAC system can clear particles from your home’s air, but there are several reasons air purifiers are more effective:

  • HEPA Filters – Air purifiers incorporate HEPA filters to capture a majority of harmful particles in the air, including dust and pollen. In contrast, most residential HVAC systems are incompatible with HEPA filters.
  • Activated Carbon Filters – As with HEPA filters, HVAC systems do not use this type of filter, which is common in most air purifiers. The activated carbon filter is responsible for removing smoke and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are the main source of many odors in your home.
  • Operation Costs – You can run an air purifier continuously without adding much to your utility bills, but HVAC systems aren’t designed to run that frequently. While HVAC systems have fan-only modes that circulate air throughout your home, they use more energy than an air purifier does.
  • Different Purposes – Air purifiers focus on cleaning air, while HVAC systems focus on creating a comfortable environment. The primary purpose of a furnace filter is to protect equipment, and cleaner air is just a beneficial side effect.

Despite the drawbacks of using your HVAC system for air purification, it can adequately clean the air if you use a furnace filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of at least 13, provided your system is rated for it. Filters with higher MERV ratings must be changed more often –since they're more effective at filtering the air, particles build up on them quicker, which can negatively affect your HVAC system’s overall performance.

DIY Air Purifiers
Building a DIY air purifier is a cheaper alternative without HEPA and activated carbon filters, but it can be surprisingly effective against dust and pet hair. The simplest method involves square 20-inch furnace filters and standard box fans, which are a perfect fit for each other. To combine the two, place the furnace filter on the back of the fan where it pulls the air through the filter. This placement keeps debris out of the fan and the fan’s suction helps keep the filter in place.

Some furnace filters have an arrow on the side to indicate flow direction so this should be pointed at the fan. Put tape around the edges where the fan and filter meet to create a better seal and your DIY air cleaner is complete. Remember to change the filters following the manufacturer’s directions. Unlike normal air purifiers, this DIY setup isn’t a good option for places where you need a quiet room, but can be used anywhere in your home.

Plants as Air Purifiers
Although we primarily use houseplants as a means of making our homes more attractive, they can also improve air quality and even your mental health. In fact, there’s no shortage of scientific studies establishing the effectiveness of plants as a method for purifying the air in your home.

While the air cleaning power of a plant may not cut down on dust and pollen, it can help remove VOCs and carbon dioxide from the air in your home. Because of this, you should consider getting some houseplants to supplement your air purifier. If you want more information on the science behind plants as air purifiers, check out this article by our colleagues over at Live Science: “Do Indoor Plants Really Clean the Air?

Do Air Purifiers Really Work?

Yes, though they are not a cure-all for poor air quality in your home. As we mentioned earlier in our guide, removing sources of indoor air pollution and having proper ventilation in your home are often more effective solutions than air purifiers. However, an air purifier can still improve air quality, especially if you have asthma, allergies or a cardiovascular condition that makes you more sensitive to poor-quality air.

That said, you’ll get the best performance out of your air purifier if you follow some guidelines to eliminate indoor air pollution in your home beforehand:

  • Vacuum your carpet three times a week. Vacuuming regularly helps prevent dust, dust mites, pollen, animal hair and other particles from building up in your carpet, only to get kicked into the air as you move through your home. Because some vacuums tend to put more dust in the air, it’s best to use a HEPA-equipped vacuum such as the Miele Maverick. For more detailed vacuuming tips, check out our upright vacuum cleaner comparison.
  • Vacuum your upholstery once a week. Couches and chairs, particularly those you use the most, can collect particles as easily as your carpet. If you have a furry friend, consider vacuuming your upholstery twice a week.
  • Dust other surfaces in your home once a week. Make sure you use a tool that traps dust instead of moving it around, for example a microfiber cloth or duster. If your dusting tool gets too dirty, it’s time to swap it out for a clean one.
  • Open your windows to let fresh air in, especially if your HVAC system doesn’t bring outside air into your home. This is an excellent way to flush out gases and odors, though you should be mindful of outdoor air quality, pollen counts and weather in your area to prevent bringing the wrong type of air into your home.


Can Air Purifiers Make You Sick?


It depends on if your air purifier uses an ionizer or not. Ionizers are the only type of air purification that can potentially make you sick because they produce small amounts of a harmful gas called ozone.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ozone exposure can potentially cause symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation, chest pain, shortness of breath, inflammation in the lungs and decreased lung function. These symptoms can make you more vulnerable to respiratory infections. If you have asthma, you might experience more frequent asthma attacks.

With regard to the safety of other methods of air filtration, such as HEPA filters and activated carbon filters, these actually remove common contaminants that can make you sick. Because of this, there’s no risk of an air purifier making you sick when used properly, provided it doesn’t have an ionizing feature.

Do Air Purifiers Dry Out the Air?

The filters in air purifiers do not remove moisture from the air. The easiest way to tell if a device removes moisture from the air is to see if it has one of the following: a dehumidifier setting, a water storage tank or a drainage hose. Without a storage tank or drainage hose, there’s no place for collected water to drain, except onto the floor, which is a safety hazard.

If you’re concerned that the air in your home is too dry, you should consider getting a humidifier to bring the humidity up to a more comfortable level. Humidifiers provide some of the same benefits you get from air purifiers. For example, they can relieve symptoms associated with asthma and allergies. You can use both devices together, depending on your needs. On the other hand, if the air in your home feels muggy, you might need a dehumidifier.


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