The air you breathe may be affecting you in ways you are not even aware of. Air pollutants such as dust, pollen, smoke and mold can trigger allergies and irritate you. Chemicals, perfumes, paint, and carpeting can release noxious odors and harmful particulates. Not to mention that the 2020 pandemic has made us all more conscious of what we breathe in and out.
Choosing the best air purifier for the home or office, including a home office, can really improve the quality of life and enhance productivity. The air purifiers in our list can help you breathe easier. The key is identifying the specific particulates you are concerned about and ensuring the air purifier you buy can filter them. You also must choose the right size purifier for your space. Whether you want to clean the air in a small office for the benefit of employees and customers — or make your home or home office more enjoyable — an air purifier can deliver peace of mind and comfort.
Best Air Purifiers for the Money
Air purifiers with HEPA filters today are cost effective. They are among the top recommended.
- Top Pick for Best: LEVOIT Air Purifier
- Runner Up: Blueair 211+ Air Purifier
- Best Value: Medify Air V2.0 Air Purifier
LEVOIT Air Purifier
Top Pick: This elegant unit is our top choice as one of the best air purifiers you can buy for around $100 — great for those on a tight budget. The Levoit covers a 215 square foot room — more than enough for a home office in, say, a spare bedroom. Several Levoit air purifiers can be used together to filtrate the room air in a larger office or your entire home. This one is quiet at 24 db and looks nice. It has an astounding 35,000+ reviews on Amazon, averaging around 4.7 out of 5 stars.
The Levoit uses its Vortexair Technology to create a strong air flow. It has three stage filtration: the H13 Ture HEPA filter works with an ultra-fine pre-filter and activated carbon filter. This allows it to trap 99. 97% of fine particles as well as allergens as small as 0. 3 microns. The Levoit easily captures large pollutants like pollen, mold, dust, pet dander and smoke, making you more comfortable.
Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier
Runner Up: The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ is our next choice, suitable for a large open-plan room or office space. A single unit can clean spaces up to 540 square feet – and do it five times per hour. The Blueair Blue Pure uses Swedish filter technology (not HEPA) to capture airborne pollutants like viruses, dust, pollen, mold and bacteria. It is AHAM Verified for Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and pulls in air from 360 degrees. The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ has a one button control and turns red when the filter needs changing. It retails for roughly $300 on Amazon.
This unit is best on the floor, because of its size: over 20 inches high and 13 inches wide. The Blueair Blue Pure line also comes in a larger version (28 inches high) called the 121 model that covers 620 square feet. A nice feature of the Blueair Blue Pure products is the ability to change the color of the filter cover to match your room decor. It comes with two washable covers in blue and dark gray. Replacement covers can be purchased in yellow, pink or light gray for around $10 each.
Blue Pure 411: For smaller rooms, the Blue Pure 411 line is an alternative with 3 models. The Blue Pure 411 versions are less expensive and cover anywhere from 161 to 190 square foot rooms.
Medify Air V2.0 Air Purifier
Best Value: This large air purifier is capable of cleaning a space up to 1,600 square feet every hour. And it can clean 420 square feet in 15 minutes. The Medify has a higher grade of HEPA filters – called H13 filters which are higher rated than True HEPA air filters. It captures pollen and smoke. The optional anion generator produces negative ions to charge particles and trap them inside the unit. You can turn the anion generator off if you don’t want to use it. It retails for around $300 on Amazon, sometimes less. It can be purchased as a single unit or a duo of two units (pictured).
The CARB, Energy Star and ETL certified item comes with a quiet sleep mode and three fan speeds along with a lifetime warranty. It’s 26 inches high and only about 11 inches wide, so it might be able to fit better in spaces than some others that are more squat or square shaped. This one is powerful but a bit louder than some others at higher speeds. Medify also makes a smaller air purifier, called the MA-25, that is quieter and less expensive.
Coway Airmega 400
This powerful Coway air purifier can clean a space up to 1,560 square feet at least twice per hour. A combination of activated carbon filter and True HEPA air filter can capture and reduce up to 99.97% of 0.3-micron particles in the air. This includes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fumes such as ammonia and Acetaldehyde. The Coway’s permanent pre-filter can catch larger dust particles.
This Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air is a smart device. It has a pollution sensor that monitors indoor air quality in real-time. It has an air quality indicator (a bright LED ring) that lets you know how clean or dirty your indoor air is. It has an auto mode that automatically adjusts speeds and other settings depending on air particulates and what’s needed for cleaning the air. If you download the Coway mobile app, you can monitor the indoor air quality remotely. But the powerful features of this Coway Airmega Smart Air purifier do not come without a cost. The only reason it is not one of our 3 best air purifiers is price. It retails for around $500, depending on promotions — that’s more than some other air purifiers.
Coway also makes less expensive, smaller air purifiers. For instance, the Coway 200M filters up to 361 square feet.
RabbitAir MinusA2 Air Purifier
This room air purifier filters a space up to 815 square feet. An advanced HEPA filtration system includes six stages of purification and deodorization, including an activated carbon filter. The CADR settings for pollen, dust and smoke are high. This is one of the more quiet air purifiers. Depending on the fan speed, the 780A has a low noise level of 25.6 decibels and a high of 51.3 decibels. The smaller 700 model is even quieter. There’s also a WiFi version that can be managed with a smartphone or paired with Alexa.
The RabbitAir 780A purifier has a unique design that allows you to mount it on a wall. It also comes with a stand so it be placed desktop. The manufacturer says the filters last up to two years based on 12 hour usage per day. It has over 1,000 customer reviews on Amazon, the majority positive. The 780A retails on Amazon for approximately $600.
HOKEKI Air Purifier
Using its built-in air quality sensor this purifier detects the air quality at work. It then diagnoses the air and displays the air quality level (blue-green-orange-red) so you can adjust the cleaning level. There is a 5-in-1 odor eliminator while cleaning pollen, pet dander, bacteria, and mold. It has a true HEPA filter as well as an antibacterial pre-filter that captures big airborne particles like hair and dust.
The HOKEKI room air purifier is one of the quieter air cleaners, and has a timer and memory function. This air purifier cleans an area of up to 333 square feet. It has over 1,600 reviews on Amazon, mostly positive. And the price is good – retailing for around $100 depending on promotions.
Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier and Fan
Besides the unique design, the Dyson Pure Cool will remove 99.7% of allergens, pollutants, dust, pollen, mold, and VOCs. And once it purifies air, its Air Multiplier technology and oscillating fan delivers over 77 gallons per second of airflow. The tower fan and HEPA filter also include 10 fan speed settings and automatic shut-off if it gets tipped over.
Fans of Dyson products may gravitate to this product because of the trusted brand. But remember that this HEPA air purifier is also a fan that oscillates. That could be a positive or negative, depending on whether you want extra breeze. In an office setting with papers, you may need to run it as a low fan speed. Depending on the third party seller in Amazon, the price could range from around $375 to almost $600.
How to Choose the Best Air Purifier
The best air purifiers offer the best combination of filtering capability, air circulation capacity, looks, low noise, affordable cost, and easy maintenance. Consider these specific factors:
- Size: Consider the size of room the air purifier is meant for. An undersized product won’t do the job. Some models are small enough to use in a home office setting — say a spare bedroom. Other air purifiers are big enough for larger spaces like an open office. Measure the size of the room for the air you want to clean. Then look for specific square footage in product descriptions as you shop for the best air purifier.
- Price: The best air purifiers range in price from about $100 up to thousands of dollars. Budget conscious buyers usually can find something between $100 to $600, depending on size and features.
- Particulates: The best air purifiers can clean many particulates from your office environment, but different models actually have quite a bit of variance. If there are specific airborne particles or particulates you want to filter out, check product specifications carefully or ask the manufacturer. Be especially careful about claims to remove specific particulates such as mold spores, virus airborne particles, or dust, pollen and smoke.
- True HEPA filter: With a True HEPA filter, a purifier will remove 99.97% of particulates measuring 0.3-micron in diameter. Some air purifiers do not have true HEPA filters, but may offer a higher level of HEPA. Others have what they call a HEPA type filter.
- Other filters: Different filters catch different things. The best air purifiers include multiple types of filters, including carbon activated filters, true HEPA, and outer filters to capture hair and dust bunnies.
- CADR rating: The CADR (clean-air delivery rate) rating indicates the rate in which it can clean out smoke, pollen, and dust. And there is a number for each particulate. You want higher numbers because it means it filters more air in cubic feet per minute (CFM). CADR gives you a way to pick out the best air purifier by comparing different brands and models.
- Noise: A loud air purifier can be annoying and interfere with work. Compare decibel levels at the fan speed you are most likely to use. For comparison, the sound of rustling leaves is about 20 decibels, while a standard conversation at home is about 50 decibels. Search for the words “quiet” or “ultra quiet” in descriptions of air purifier products.
- Placement: Also consider where the air purifier will be placed. If placed on your desk the noise level matters a lot more than if a unit is off in a corner. How big is the unit? That also determines placement. Some air purifiers are just too big to go on a tabletop or fit into a small workspace or cubicle.
- Style and design: The best air purifiers don’t just work great, they look great. Consider how the purifier looks. It makes a difference.
- Odors: Many air purifiers do not do a good job with ordinary odors. It depends on the type of odor, and the type of filters. What’s the odor’s underlying cause? Removing the cause can help remove the odor – but if you don’t get rid of the cause such as mildew or pet stains, the odor will be persistent. Purifiers with an activated carbon filter generally do the best job cleaning the most odors, but read descriptions carefully.
- Changing filters and long-term costs: Air purifiers require regular changes and/or cleaning of filters. HEPA filters, in particular, must be changed at recommended intervals if you expect to get the benefits. Filters add to the long-term cost, so consider the price of filters when comparing costs of the best air purifiers.
- AHAM Verified mark: The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers tests and verifies products to ensure safety and efficacy. It does this for the EPA and its Energy Star program. The testing also includes the CADR rating.
Air Purifiers and Coronavirus
People want to know whether an air purifier can protect workers from COVID-19. The answer, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic, is that air purifiers with a HEPA filter can help by exchanging clean air — but by itself even the best air purifier is not enough protection against the virus.
“The more air exchanges and the cleaner the air, the lower the risk,” says Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert in a video statement on October 2, 2020. But he goes on to say, “By itself, it’s not satisfactory, so what we’re doing, as we’ve talked about over the months, is we’re layering protections. Let’s be sure the air in our home, if we’re having people to our home, is as safe as it can be. That means a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.” The filter does not kill the virus, but rather it exchanges clean air more rapidly to get rid of the virus faster, he adds.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also weighs in, “When used properly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, in a home or confined space.” But the CDC guidance goes on to say, “Running your HVAC system, using an air purifier or a portable air cleaner, and increasing ventilation are not enough to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. Continue to follow other prevention guidelines.”
In summary, according to the experts, an air purifier with a HEPA filter can help clean and circulate air, but is not protection enough alone. Other protection techniques such as masks, social distancing, hand sanitizers, and more must be used — along with an air purifier with HEPA filter.
Editor’s note: We will continue to update this topic as the experts learn more and share additional guidance.
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