Air purifiers have become a household necessity, especially in regions prone to wildfires or high pollution levels. These devices can significantly improve indoor air quality by capturing airborne allergens, bacteria, viruses, and smoke particles. This guide will help you understand the intricacies of air purifiers and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Understanding Air Purifiers
Air purifiers are fundamentally simple machines, primarily consisting of a fan and a filter. However, a well-designed purifier can capture virtually all airborne allergens, such as pollen and mold spores, as well as bacteria, viruses, and smoke.
The particles that cause the most trouble are the smallest ones. They stay suspended in the air the longest and can be breathed into our lungs. Our nasal passages are not filtering them.
Key Features to Consider
When choosing an air purifier, consider the following Features:
- High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter: A good air purifier should have a HEPA filter. This type of filter can remove at least 99.97% of pollutants, including dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns.
- Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR): This gauges how much filtered air an air purifier delivers. The higher the CADR, the faster and more efficient the air purifier is at cleaning the air.
- Room Size: Match the air purifier to the size of the space you plan on using it. For a bedroom, a small air purifier might be enough, but you might need something bigger for a large home with tall ceilings and multiple rooms.
- Activated Carbon Filter: If you need odor removal, your air purifier should also have an activated carbon filter. This carbon is great for a wide range of gases, including mold-related odors and smoke.
Top Air Purifiers to Consider
|Feature||Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty||Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto||Austin Air HealthMate HM400||Mila Air Purifier|
|Coverage||361 sq ft||388 sq ft||1500 sq ft||1000 sq ft|
|Filter Configuration||Pre-filter, Deodorization filter, True HEPA filter, Bipolar Ionizer||Particle filter, Carbon sheet||Pre-filter, Medium Particle Pre-filter, Activated Carbon and Zeolite, True HEPA filter||45 ft² H12 HEPA, 99.6% filtration efficiency|
|Filter Life||1 Year (HEPA and Honeycomb Activated Carbon)||6 Months||3-5 Years||1 Year|
|Noise Level||24 dB (Low) – 53 dB (High)||23 dB (Low) – 53 dB (High)||40 dB (Low) – 65 dB (High)||24 dB (Low)|
|Smart Control||No||No||No||Yes (App)|
|Pros||Compact size, powerful 4-stage filtration, purifies 361 ft² in 12.5 mins, awarded “Top Pick” by Wirecutter, good cost per CADR, high-performance fan, quiet operation||Efficient filtration, compact and customizable design, quiet operation, auto mode, easy to use||Highly efficient filtration, durable construction, effective in removing allergens and pollutants, long-lasting filter life, suitable for large rooms||Excellent performance on smoke particles, powerful CADR for large rooms, high filtration efficiency, smart control through an app, quiet operation, attractive design, multiple environmental sensors|
|Cons||High power consumption, reported CADR based on ionizer combined with HEPA filter, design may not appeal to everyone||Struggles with odors, high cost of filters, decreased value compared to other products||Lacks smart Features and advanced controls, high power consumption, noisy at higher fan speeds||Initial setup issues, occasional software bugs/glitches|
Based on extensive testing and reviews, here are some top air purifiers to consider:
Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty
- Room Size: 361 sq ft
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 18.3 x 16.8 x 9.6 in.
- Net Weight: 12.34 lbs
- Filter Configuration: Pre-filter, Deodorization filter and True HEPA filter
- Filter Life: Honeycomb Activated Carbon (1 Year), HEPA (1 Year)
- Air Flow Control: 5 Stages (Auto, 1/1, 2/3, / 2 /3 / Eco)
- Compact size, perfect for medium spaces up to 874 ft2.
- Powerful 4-stage filtration system, including a True HEPA filter, deodorizing carbon filter, pre-filter, and bipolar ionizer
- Purifies 361 ft2 in 12.5 minutes, 874 ft2 in 30 minutes, and 1,748 ft2 in 60 minutes.
- Awarded “Top Pick” by Wirecutter for 9 years running
- Good cost per CADR: 62 cents per CFM
- A high-performance fan makes light work of heavy pollution
- Sound levels range from 24 dB (lowest fan speed) to 53 dB (high fan speed)
- It uses a lot of power due to its high-powered motor
- The reported CADR is based on it using an ionizer combined with a HEPA filter
- The design may not appeal to everyone, as it looks like it’s come straight out of Darth Vader’s bedroom
The Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty is a high-performing, durable, and economical air purifier. It’s powerful enough to use in a large room, quiet enough to sleep in, engineered to last for years, and inexpensive enough to set up in multiple rooms. It’s not the best unit on the market, but it’s hard-working and does its job well. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, this air purifier can help. One in each room of the house can help even more—especially if your house is tightly sealed from the outside. Indoor pollutants can be as bad or worse than outside, depending on where you live. Plus, why take the chance? Coway gets great recommendations and can be insurance for better health.
Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto
- Filter Type: Particle Filter + Carbon Sheet Activated coconut shell carbon
- Dimensions: 20.5 x 10.2 x 10.2 in
- Product weight: 6.8lbs
- Energy consumption: 3-35 W
- Sound level: 23-53 dB (A)
- Air outlet: Top
- Air inlet: 360°
- Efficient filtration: The Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto uses a non-HEPA filter that is very efficient, combining it with a system that imparts an electrical charge to any particles that pass through, helping them stick to the filter the next time around.
- Compact and customizable design: The purifier is compact and has a customizable design, making it a solid choice for small spaces.
- Quiet operation: The purifier operates at noise levels that are a whisper quiet 23 dB on its lowest speed and no louder than a 53 dB rainfall on its highest setting.
- Auto mode: One-touch auto mode uses a particle sensor to constantly adjust the fan to the perfect setting.
- Easy to use: The Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto is an incredibly easy-to-use, conveniently sized cylindrical purifier that will fit nearly any room’s decor.
- Struggles with odors: Despite having a carbon layer in its filtering system, the Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto struggles with the much more difficult task of removing the smoky odor from the room.
- High cost of filters: While the power consumption of the Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto isn’t particularly high, the cost of the filters is, and the manufacturer recommends a filter replacement every six months.
- Value: Its value has decreased compared to other products that performed better and cost less.
The Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto is a high-quality, high-performance device that looks good to boot. The unit’s namesake auto function is a highlight, as it ensures that air quality will be at its finest without a thought on the user’s part while keeping energy consumption to a minimum. All told, this is a great choice for small-to-medium-sized spaces. However, it struggles with removing odors, and the cost of filters is high, which may decrease its value compared to other products.
Austin Air HealthMate HM400
- Room Coverage: Up to 1500 sq ft
- Dimensions: 14.5″ W x 14.5″ D x 23″ H
- Weight: 45 lbs
- Filter Configuration: Pre-filter + Medium Particle Pre-filter + Activated Carbon and Zeolite + True HEPA filter
- Filter Life: 3-5 years (depending on usage and environmental conditions)
- Fan Speeds: 3 (Low, Medium, and High)
- Noise Level: 40 to 65 dB
- Power Consumption: 56 to 132 Watts
- Highly efficient filtration system, combining True HEPA filter and 15 lbs of activated carbon and zeolite blend
- Durable construction with steel housing
- Effective in removing allergens, dust, pet dander, smoke, odors, and chemical vapors
- Long-lasting filter life, with filter replacements needed only once every 3–5 years
- Suitable for large rooms up to 1500 sq ft
- Lacks smart Features and advanced controls
- High power consumption compared to other air purifiers
- Can be noisy at higher fan speeds
The Austin Air HealthMate HM400 is a powerful and efficient air purifier designed to improve air quality in large rooms up to 1500 sq ft. Its combination of a true HEPA filter and an activated carbon and zeolite blend effectively removes a wide range of airborne particles, chemicals, gases, and odors. The durable steel construction ensures long-lasting performance, and the filter life of 3-5 years makes it a low-maintenance option. However, it lacks smart Features and advanced controls, and its power consumption and noise levels may be higher than other air purifiers on the market. Overall, the HealthMate HM400 is a solid choice for those seeking a reliable and effective air purifier for large spaces, especially for individuals with allergies or asthma.
Mila Air Purifier
- Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR): 447 m3/hr
- Coverage: Large rooms up to 1,000 ft2
- Filter: 45 ft2 of high-performance H12 HEPA with a 99.6% filtration efficiency
- Smart Control: Sleek, highly-rated app for real-time air quality data
- Noise Level: Whisper quiet at 24 dB
- Design: Contemporary with clean lines, cute curves, and bamboo legs
- Additional Features: 8 environmental sensors, including a CO sensor
- Excellent performance on smoke particles
- Powerful CADR for large rooms
- High filtration efficiency
- Smart control through an app
- Quiet operation
- Attractive design
- Multiple environmental sensors
- Some users reported initial setup issues
- Occasional software bugs and glitches
The Mila Air Purifier is a standout in the realm of smart air purifiers. It boasts a high CADR, making it suitable for large rooms, and its filtration efficiency is impressive. The smart control through an app adds a layer of convenience, and its quiet operation ensures it won’t be a disturbance. Its design is modern and appealing, fitting well in any contemporary home. However, some users have reported issues with the initial setup and occasional software glitches. Despite these minor drawbacks, its performance and Features make it a strong contender in the air purifier market.
DIY Air Purifier
If you’re on a budget, consider the “Corsi-Rosenthal Box,” a widely used air purifier design that is easy to build yourself for less than $100. To make it, you need a box fan and five minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) air filters to capture smoke. Duct-tape the filters into a cube and mount the fan on top to capture and filter air.
An air purifier can provide the fresh air you’re looking for as long as it has enough airflow and the right type and amount of filter media. Remember, the goal is to turn your room into a clean room. So, choose wisely and breathe easier.