The air quality of your home can substantially affect the way you feel throughout the day and night. Air purifiers are no longer just for those with severe respiratory problems and allergies. This is why Freshome has done the research to find the best air purifier for your home.
The benefits of using an air purifier go much further than the obvious removal of airborne contaminants to improve health. Depending on the model, they may include less pet hair in your home, quicker recovery from food-preparation odors and even less housework, thanks to a reduction of dust.
There are hundreds of air purifiers on the market today. How do you make sure you get the one that will provide the cleanest air for your money? We made it easy for you by sifting through hundreds of owner testimonials and complaints, manufacturer websites and professional reviews.
Here are our picks for best air purifier:
How We Chose Them
Balancing performance and price gave us the best options in the middle price range of air purifiers. There are points of comparison in the quality of air the purifier produces (clean-air delivery rate, or CADR), and the units we chose rank higher in this area. With those higher ratings comes a higher cost, but lower-priced units tend to be less effective, with more complaints of being noisy and less energy efficient.
The CADR is based on the amount of particulate that remains in the air and is not captured by the filter or air cleaning unit. The higher the number, the better the air filtration per minute for a specific particle (i.e., smoke, pollen, dust). The rating is accurate only when a new filter is being used; using a filter of higher or lower efficiency may decrease the airflow of the unit, thereby negating the CADR rating.
If you have pets or allergies, or if there are smokers in the home, choose a unit with higher CADR ratings. Regardless of the model, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for filter replacement.
Since air purifiers are most effective when they run continuously, consider the energy and filter costs when choosing a unit. Replacement filters can be pricey. Some companies tout longer-lasting filters, but this is dependent on your lifestyle, as well as the number and type of pollutants in your home.
Ionizer Pros and Cons
Many units come equipped with an option to run the ionizer. Ionizers enable your air purifier to work more efficiently, giving you cleaner air to breathe. But there is a big caveat here: HEPA filters must be relatively new in order for the ionizer to run efficiently. If not, you could actually be doing yourself more harm than good.
When the ionizer is on, electrons are released and attach to air particles within the home; this causes negative ions to form, attaching to all the dust, smoke, pet dander and other pollutants within the home. If the unit has older HEPA filters, then the negative ions are released into the atmosphere of your home, settling in carpets, curtains and duct work. Essentially, unless you plan to vacuum and dust daily, ensure that your HEPA filter is relatively new and in good working condition before running the ionizer.
The ionizer feature can produce trace amounts of ozone. This is great in the upper atmosphere, but potentially harmful in your home, especially if you have respiratory conditions. We suggest a thorough reading of the owners manual before running the ionizer. Keep in mind that if your home has excessive allergens, the life of the HEPA filter may be shortened a great deal.
- Price: $250
- Dimensions: 17 inches wide, 18 inches high, 10 inches deep
- Weight: 15 pounds
- CADR (smoke): 233
- CADR (dust): 246
- CADR (pollen): 240
- Maximum area: 326 square feet
- Energy Star certified: Yes
- Manufacturer warranty: Three years
The Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier is compact and extremely effective, placing it at the top of our recommended list. Its sleek design makes it look somewhat like a shiny subwoofer. It offers five settings and three layers of filtering
The Korean-designed unit features an air-quality indicator, auto mode and eco feature that puts the unit to sleep if no pollutants are detected for 30 minutes. An indicator will let you know when filters need to be replaced.
The pre-filter is washable, while the odor filter boasts a six-month life span and the HEPA filter should last for a year. The unit is available in black or white.
Coway Mighty Reviews
Owners and reviewers alike are impressed with the power of the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier. Nearly all of the Amazon reviewers (92 percent) ranked it as a 4- or 5-star appliance, and it was the top selection on a number of review sites as well.
Why? For starters, the unit delivers results that rival those of purifiers that cost two to three times as much. Owners noted that the Mighty runs quietly. It is easy to clean, use and change filters.
The reviewers at Sweethome found that the the Coway was the least expensive air purifier to own and operate over a five-year period, including purchase price, replacement filters and energy costs. Owners noted that the filters are inexpensive to replace, not the case for a number of other purifiers.
They also commented that the unit is extremely responsive to allergens when on the auto setting, even turning itself up to catch dander and hair when a pet walks by. It is lightweight enough to transport easily, aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. It has colored light indicators for air quality and recovery of last settings in case of power loss.
The few negative comments were surprisingly focused on those air-quality indicator lights. A small percentage of owners felt the light was disturbingly bright at night in a dark room, but they were more than willing to cover it up and continue to appreciate the improved air quality the unit delivers.
As we mentioned earlier, although it has four levels of filtration, the ionizer feature can produce trace amounts of ozone. This is great in the upper atmosphere, but potentially harmful in your home, especially if you have any respiratory conditions.
Other complaints had to do with the lack of remote, the packaging and vibrations. The Coway does not come with a remote control. The instructions don’t mention that you need to open the purifier and remove the plastic film on the filter before starting the unit. Finally, the unit could benefit from some rubber grips on the bottom to lessen any vibrations when on glass or metal tables.
Bottom line: The Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier is a solid investment. It has low operating costs over a five-year period and an overwhelmingly happy customer base.
Rabbit Air MinusA2
- Price: $460
- Dimensions: 21 inches wide, 20 inches high, 7 inches deep
- Weight: 19 pounds
- CADR (smoke): 193
- CADR (dust): 200
- CADR (pollen): 201
- Maximum area: 700 square feet (350 for allergy sufferers)
- Energy Star certified: Yes
- Manufacturer warranty: Five years
Rabbit Air’s MinusA2 is a unique offering in the air purifier industry. The California-based company has created a quality unit that offers customizable options. It is the only air purifier in this review to allow for wall mounting, making it a nice option for those who want to keep the unit up and away from inquisitive children and lumbering pets.
The unit’s design is modern and clean, but for an additional $20-$40 you can add panels to customize its appearance; the art includes famous paintings such as Starry Night and The Kiss, as well as Snoopy and Paul Frank’s Julius.
You also can choose from among four types of filters: Germ Defense, Toxin Absorber, Pet Allergy and Odor Remover. Four additional filters are built into the unit. There is an optional negative-ion-generator feature, which can be turned off to prevent the production of ozone.
The MinusA2 features an air-quality indicator, auto mode and light sensor, which automatically transitions the unit to sleep mode in a darkened room. It also has a filter-life indicator and front-panel LED light.
The pre-filter is washable. Rabbit Air says the four other filters — medium, customized, BioGS HEPA and charcoal-based activated-carbon — all last up to two years, though results will vary based on use. The MinusA2 is another unit offering low daily operating costs.
Rabbit Air MinusA2 Reviews
The owners who reviewed the Rabbit Air MinusA2 air purifier were generally positive; 87 percent of Amazon reviewers ranked it 4 or 5 stars. They were impressed with the resulting air quality after using the unit, and commented on improved health with it in their homes.
They liked the design of the unit, even without the addition of the custom art panels, and said it ran quietly while still moving a lot of air. A selling point for some users was the ability to mount it on the wall and the option to control it with the included remote.
The MinusA2 received consistently positive remarks regarding the ease of use and filter cleaning/replacement. It is energy efficient and responsive to changes in the environment when on automatic.
As we hinted in the review of the Coway, not all replacement filters are priced alike, and the high cost of those for the Rabbit Air MinusA2 hit a sour note with many users. They felt the price of the replacement filter kits (85$) was much too high for filters that must be replaced over time.
Others noted the high cost of the unit, but the satisfied owners thought the cost was well justified based on the quality of the product and the resulting air. The MinusA2 had another common complaint (shared with the Coway); some said the lights on the unit were too bright.
Bottom line: The Rabbit Air MinusA2 is a high-quality air purifier that offers several options for personalization and placement.
- Price: $599
- Dimensions: 18 inches wide, 26 inches high, 10 inches deep
- Weight: 21 pounds
- CADR (smoke): 256
- CADR (dust): 276
- CADR (pollen): 301
- Maximum area: 1,100 square feet
- Energy Star certified: Yes
- Manufacturer warranty: Lifetime (U.S. only)
The Alen BreatheSmart HEPA Air Purifier is the most expensive in our review, but it offers a lifetime warranty and a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. That peace of mind alone is enough to warrant the high price tag for some consumers, but the BreatheSmart offers other benefits as well.
The Texas-based company offers the highest square footage of coverage from a single unit (assuming its claims are reliable). The BreatheSmart has a sleek white design, with some customization available. Separate panels can be purchased for this unit in a variety of colors and woodgrain patterns, as well as one that is primed for painting.
The unit has a timer, filter life indicator, ionizer (which can be turned off) and sleep mode options. There are four fan speeds and an auto option. Filter life is claimed to be up to nine months.
The BreatheSmart has four HEPA filter options: dust and allergens, bacteria and germs, smoke and heavy odors, and chemicals and VOCs. Except for the dust and allergen filter (HEPA-Pure), there is an additional fee of $15-$30 for these filters.
Alen BreatheSmart Reviews
Combining the reviews of users on Amazon and the Alen site itself, the 4- to 5-star ratings for the BreatheSmart range from 89 percent to 92 percent. Owners claimed what they considered impressive improvement in their breathing and noticeably better air quality in their homes.
The unit is easy to use, clean and move. Even at the higher fan speeds, people said that it was a very quiet unit. Reviewers commented that the BreatheSmart is sensitive and responsive, is good at removing odors and covers a huge area.
The BreatheSmart is reported to move enough air that it made the room’s temperature decrease. Even the packaging received positive comments; it is now a featured bit of information on the Amazon product-description page, with users commenting that it is a testimonial to Alen’s attention to detail.
With an MSRP of almost $600, it’s no wonder that expense was among the most common negative comments. Not only the initial purchase price of the unit, but also the cost of the replacement filters garnered negative comments. However, many of the positive reviews affirmed that the unit was worth every penny.
As we saw with each of the other units, there always seems to be a certain portion of the population that believes the lights on air purifiers are just too bright. Another point to consider is that the BreatheSmart is a larger unit, so it may not blend into your home decor as seamlessly as you might hope.
Bottom line: if you don’t mind the added expense and the larger size of this unit, then the BreatheSmart may be an impressive contender for high-quality air.
- Price: $200
- Dimensions: 16 inches wide, 28 inches high, 8.5 inches deep
- Weight: 16 pounds
- CADR (smoke): 235
- CADR (dust): 216
- CADR (pollen): 251
- Maximum area: 350 square feet
- Energy Star certified: Yes
- Manufacturer warranty: One year
The Winix PlasmaWave WAC5300 is the least-expensive unit in this review (based on initial purchase price). It features an odor-control carbon pre-filter and a HEPA filter. The PlasmaWave is an ionizer that can be turned off to prevent ozone production. However, this reduces the amount of filtration that the device offers.
This unit offers four fan speeds, a filter-life indicator, and auto and sleep modes. The unit is gray with a control panel and vent grill on the front. This air purifier features a remote control and air-quality indicator.
Winix PlasmaWave Reviews
We left out the reviews from the Winix site, as they were all 5-star reviews — an unlikely development based on the reality of consumers. However, 85 percent of users who reviewed the PlasmaWave on Amazon ranked it a 4- or 5-star product.
Owners said that the unit works quietly and effectively; that it had improved the air quality of their homes; that it has health benefits; that it was nicely designed; and that it is easy to use and maintain. Most reported the odor control as highly effective, and felt that it was a durable unit.
The most damaging critiques of the Winix unit had to do with the costs associated with the product and the PlasmaWave technology. Some people reported negative reactions to the small amount of ozone production; others simply noted a high-pitched noise when it was turned on. However, some who used this unit with the PlasmaWave activated said it was the best air purifier they had ever used.
Bottom line: The Winix PlasmaWave is not as energy efficient as some other models, and replacement filters are quite pricey. So even though its initial price may be less, it could end up costing more over time.
Overall, we found that the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty is the best air purifier. It scored high for its initial cost, operating cost, ease of operation and ability to purify the air. It is best able to handle a broad range of environmental factors without requiring you to select your filtration priorities. It simply works very well at a reasonable price.
Our runners up — the Rabbit Air MinusA2, Alen BreatheSmart HEPA Air Purifier and Winix PlasmaWave — are also high-quality air purifiers worth noting. Whichever option you choose, you’ll breathe easier knowing that you have fewer contaminants and cleaner air in your home.
Coway Mighty reviews, thesweethome.com
Coway Mighty reviews, amazon.com
Rabbit Air MinusA2 reviews, amazon.com
Alen BreatheSmart reviews, amazon.com
Winix PlasmaWave reviews, amazon.com