Best Home Air Purifier 2019 – Air Purifiers Reviews Buyers Guide

Purifying the air in your home leads to a cleaner environment and a healthier lifestyle. So naturally, we purchased 14 of the best air purifiers and tested them extensively to see what they were made of. Our independent study to determine the top air purifiers found that mechanical air filtering was the most efficient, and within that air purifiers that achieved a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 200 or higher.

After purchasing 14 of the best air purifiers on the market today, we’ve determined that the #1 Pick is the ​Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover HPA300. This model is a purely mechanical filtering system which is preferred to hybrid and electronic units, has a CADR rating of 300, can filter a space of up to 465 square feet, self monitors filter performance, weighs less than 25 lbs, comes with a 5-year limited warranty, and costs less than $200.

Top Air Purifiers Compared

OVERVIEW
gr5-table__imageHoneywell HPA300
  • CADR 300
  • 5-Year Warranty
  • 465 sq ft
  • Price: $199
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gr5-table__imageHealthMate Standard HM-400
  • CADR 220
  • 5-Year Warranty
  • 341 sq ft
  • Price: $595
Buy Now
gr5-table__imageCoway AP-1512HH
  • CADR 233
  • 3-Year Warranty
  • 361 sq ft
  • Price: $222
Buy Now
gr5-table__imageAlen Breathesmart
  • CADR 300
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 465 sq ft
  • Price: $599
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gr5-table__imageDyson Pure Cool Link
  • CADR N/A
  • 2-Year Warranty
  • 200 sq ft
  • Price: $447
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#1 Pick Honeywell True Allergen Remover HPA300

Honeywell True HEPA HPA300 Review
Honeywell HPA300

best air purifier for allergies 2017 best air purifier consumer reportsCADR: 300 | Area: 465 sq ft | Warranty: 5 Years

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Doesn’t ionize air, lightweight, and low cost.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Effective at removing dust
  • 4 Speeds
Cons
  • Not many setting or control options
  • Only fit for one average room

No bull, no fuss, just straight air purification.

The purifier uses a two-stage, mechanical filtration process, first pulling air through an activated carbon pre-filter, then through a HEPA filter. It’s powerful enough to handle rooms up to 465 sq ft without a problem, and it also features an auto-off setting that’s convenient if you intend on using this unit passively as a multi-room appliance.

Honeywell claims that this unit can handle approximately 280 cubic feet of air per minute in a 465 sq ft room, or rather that the unit “Circulates room air up to 5 times an hour based on AHAM smoke CADR [of 300] in [a 465 sq ft room].” A self-monitoring function alerts the owner when it’s time to change filters, and the front panel is removable allowing for simple filter replacements. The unit itself is also super lightweight (only 21 lbs), which is very refreshing considering many purifiers at this same level are significantly heavier.

Note: Honeywell makes the claim that its the #1 Allergist recommended brand, but we couldn’t find an endorsement by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (even though we were able to find a few independent allergists that recommended Honeywell purifiers).

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#2 Pick Austin Air HealthMate Standard HM-400 – Best For Smoke

Austin Air Healthmate Standard HM 400 Review
Healthmate Standard HM 400

best air purifier for petsCADR: 220 | Area: 341 sq ft | Warranty: 5 Years

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Doesn’t ionize air, and has a MASSIVE 15 pound carbon filter.

Pros
  • Filters dont need to be replaced often
  • Has decent area coverage
  • 4 stage filter
Cons
  • Not cheap
  • Little bit noisy on high-speed
  • No filter change indicator

We would marry the HealthMate if it was legal. It’s the best rated air purifier with respect to performance.

The HealthMate’s filtration process is top-notch, nearly industrial-grade. It’s a four-stage, mechanical purification system that first stops large particles like those from pet dander and dust, then medium-sized particles like pollen before passing air through the fifteen-pound, activated carbon and zeolite filter (it’s a beast), and then finally removing the the smallest contaminants with its HEPA filter.

While Austin Air claims this unit is capable of handling interior spaces as large as 1500 sq ft, we recommend spaces no larger than 341 sq ft based on the smoke CADR rating of 220.

From a controls perspective, this is about as simple as it gets. The unit features a four position, three speed control switch on its front cover, and the filter can be replaced by removing the bottom plate with four screws, and then simply pulling the pre-filter and primary filter assembly out of the HealthMate. Also, the purifier sits on a set of swivel caster wheels which helps a lot when moving the not so light 45 pound air cleaner.

Note: This unit is all about the quality of the filtration process – it doesn’t play around. Keep that in mind when it’s time to replace that filter assembly, they’re not cheap.

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#3 Pick Coway AP-1512HH – Best HEPA Air Purifier

Coway AP-1512HH Review
Coway AP-1512HH

 best air purifier for moldCADR: 233 | Area: 361 sq ft | Warranty: 3 Years

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Quality performance, modern design, and price.

Pros
  • High tech
  • Very quiet
  • Plenty of operation options
Cons
  • May struggle with thick dust
  • Doesn’t cover a lot of space

The Coway AP-1512HH doesn’t disappoint. Despite employing an ionization step in its filtration process, it performs exceptionally well. It uses a four-stage process to filter air, beginning with a simple pre-filter that captures larger particulate matter, then an activated carbon filter for gases and odors, followed by HEPA filtration, and finally passing air through Coways’ proprietary Vital Ionizer.

If you’ve read our “How We Choose” section then you’ll know how we feel about air purifiers that use ionization techniques, but even so the Coway outperformed other purifiers through our extensive weighted testing. We recommend using this unit in well-ventilated areas larger than 200 sq ft, and away from walls and furniture due to the ozone byproduct created.

The AP-1512HH can handle spaces up to 361 sq ft, and has a plethora of control features including self-monitoring, air quality indication, an Eco mode which automatically turns the fan off if pollutants fall below a predefined level, and conventional speed settings to name a few.

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#4 Pick  Alen BreatheSmart – Best Home Air Purifier

Alen Breathesmart Review
Alen Breathesmart

best air purifier for smokeCADR: 300 | Area: 465 sq ft | Warranty: Lifetime

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Lots of customization options, modern design, and very positive consumer rating.

Pros
  • Customizable color options
  • Very quiet
  • Large room coverage
Cons
  • No True HEPA for the price
  • High air filter replacement cost

Unlike most other portable air cleaners on the market, the Alen BreatheSmart offers a ton of customization options. If you’re not thrilled about putting a bulky box in your bedroom, or living room, this unit may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Alen offers interchangeable front face plates in fourteen color options, allowing buyers to match their home’s decor (they even have a cover that can be painted).

On the technical side, the BreatheSmart uses a three-stage process to filter pollutants. Air is pulled into the unit through the back, passes over a pre-filter that encases the primary HEPA filter, and then exits the unit after passing through an optional ionization field activated at the control panel on the top of the system. Alen also lets customers pick from four different HEPA/carbon combination filters including the “HEPA-PURE, HEPA-SILVER, HEPA-FreshPlus,and HEPA-OdorCell” filters. While specifications aren’t readily available on the Alen website, the main distinction between its “PURE” and “SILVER” options are the particulate size capabilities, where the “PURE” is meant for larger particles, the “SILVER” filters smaller matter like pollen more effectively. Alen’s “FreshPlus” and “OdorCell” filters use activated carbon as a means to filter gases and odors – our assumption is that the “OdorCell” has a higher concentration of carbon.

We advise that you use the ionization feature in a well-ventilated room that’s at least 200 sq ft. As with the Coway, try to place this unit away from furniture and walls to avoid soiling from the ozone that’s created. Alen advertises this unit as being capable of treating areas up to 1100 sq ft in size, but using the smoke CADR rating of 300 we don’t recommend areas larger than 465 sq ft.

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#5 Pick  Dyson Pure Cool Link – Best For Dust

Blue Dyson Pure Cool Link Review
Dyson Pure Cool Link

best air purifier for allergies and moldRead Full Review: Dyson Pure Cool Link Review | CADR: N/A | Area: 200 sq ft | Warranty: 2 Years

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Design, smart features, and weight.

Pros
  • Dyson good looks
  • Three products in one
  • Easy to use and intuitive app
Cons
  • Connecting to your home’s WiFi can be a laborious process
  • Fairly tall making it difficult to hide

Our favorite when it comes to smart features and connectivity, the Dyson Pure Cool Link is part air purifier, and part fan. It comes with a remote, but it can also be controlled via a Google Play app and iOS app. From the smart device application users can also schedule operation times, and review indoor air quality reports.

While operational specifics aren’t published on Dyson’s site, from what we’ve found about 1/15th of the airflow through the device is actually filtered through the HEPA and activated carbon filter at the base of the unit. The Pure Cool Link uses Dyson’s two-stage filter, passing air through its glass HEPA filter, and then through an activated carbon layer for odor control. There are ten speed settings on the Link, and it even has a self-monitoring mode that will variate the speed of the unit based on air quality it detects.

We recommend using the Cool Link in areas no larger than 200 sq ft to maximize its filtration potential. Two flow pattern options can be selected from the physical remote, or smart phone app, and for efficient cleaning our research indicates that the “diffused” mode performs better compared to the “personal” mode.

Note: This machine was the loudest out of all of the top five reviewed (max setting was 81 dB). Having said that, it wasn’t so loud that it interfered with much of anything with headphones or light music on in the background.

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How We Choose

We began our research with the top fifteen most highly consumer-rated, portable air purifiers available in 2016. Chase Williams, an electrical engineer and staff contributor, helped review technical features and overall performance data. He’s worked as a project manager for some of the world’s largest specialty chemical manufacturers and specializes in electrical room air quality, pressurization, and control systems. His unique experience in the field of air quality analysis helps to set our study apart from others.

Industry standards set forth by the EPA and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers helped us narrow our focus by defining the most important performance and safety features.

The most significant performance metric we used in rating was the physical filtering process itself. There are a lot of purifiers on the market that use ionization as part of the decontamination process to neutralize particulate matter too small for carbon and HEPA filters. Manufacturers will argue that ionization is a quality feature, adding value to the purification process, but the EPA (as well as multiple independent researchers) advise against the use of ionization within portable air purifiers due to the creation of ozone byproduct. It’s true, there are also studies that show how well micro-contaminants can be filtered with ionization technology – but for single-room, portable air purifiers we don’t believe the introduction of a containment justifies the reduction of another.

Ozone is toxic, and above a specific volumetric level can be a significant health risk. All that said, some purifiers in our top five list feature ionization as part of the purification cycle, and while they may have ranked lower due to that, they moved past other purifiers due to an overall high score based on all of the metrics we measured.

One of the other more significant variables we used to judge performance was the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) – a measure of how effective an air purifier is at removing particulates of a specific size from a volume of air at a defined rate of flow. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) developed the CADR as a means of measurement and certification so that consumers weren’t mislead by poorly performing purifiers marketing high-efficiency filter ratings, or high CFM ratings.

All air pollutants aren’t created equal. Larger particles are heavier and typically more difficult for purifiers to process before they settle on the floor. Smaller contaminants often require specific filter types in order to containment. Because of this, the CADR is measured in three distinct performance tiers: smoke, pollen, and dust.

For our examination, we only ranked purifiers with a smoke CADR of 200, or higher (excluding the Dyson).We gave bonus points to machines using activated carbon filters as part of a staged filtering process. Even more points were awarded for purifiers with carbon filters of five pounds, or more.

An activated carbon filter is nothing more than a charcoal screen that has been treated to expand surface area in order to adsorb more vapors and solvents from the air. Maximum noise, unit weight, self-monitoring features, manufacturer warranty, consumer ratings, and price were all also considered during our review.

Who Should Buy An Air Purifier

Thousands of consumers have stated that continued use of indoor air purification systems has improved their quality of life.

In addition to more commonly known air pollutants like pet dander, dust, mold, and smoke, other contaminants may be lingering that you’re unaware of. Anytime you cook, use cleaning products, paint, treat for insects, print documents, or use any kind of chemical process to do pretty much anything, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are released into your home’s air. As you might expect, levels of VOCs vary greatly from household to household, but the EPA estimates that most homes contain anywhere from two to a thousand times higher levels than outdoors.

VOCs are harmful to humans, and at certain concentrations can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Prolonged exposure to some VOCs can cause chronic health problems, including cancer and even death.

If you live in an area that has outdoor air pollution, have indoor pets, suffer from allergies, have constant headaches, or find that your eyes or sinuses are constantly irritated you should consider investing in a purifier and why our air purifier reviews are important considerations for you to follow.

Key Factors and Features Considered – Air Purifier Reviews

  • Filtering Process: We make a major distinction between purifiers that use purely mechanical methods to filter air versus those that incorporate electronic methods such as ionization. While ionization may work well in larger areas, the creation of ozone as a byproduct of the process is concerning in small, poorly ventilated rooms. Ozone particulate is also difficult for them to recover, and often causes deposit buildup on nearby walls, or furniture.
  • CADR: The Clean Air Delivery Rate is the measure of 100% removal of a specific sized particle from a defined cubic feet per minute of air. Our testing threshold set a minimum acceptable CADR of 200 rated for smoke. We also calculated the maximum recommended square feet from the CADR. Note: There are variations reported by some of our top picks. For instance, the Austin Air unit claims acceptable use up to 1500 sq ft, but using the CADR we found 341 sq ft to be the threshold. 
  • HEPA and Activated Carbon Filters: You’ll be hard pressed to find an air purifier that doesn’t use a HEPA-rated filter, but finding one that uses an activated carbon filter with more than five pounds of medium is a bit more difficult. We gave extra points to filtration systems with five pounds of activated carbon, or more.
  • Self-Monitoring: A pretty standard feature, self-monitoring helps the user keep track of filter efficiency and uses an alerting system to indicate when the filter needs replacing.
  • Coverage: We hardly ever review products without checking manufacturer warranties. We used a limited warranty baseline of five years, and gave units with better coverage extra points.

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Ozone Producing: Stay away from air “cleaners” that purposefully create ozone. Not all of these devices are suitable for indoor use. Ozone is a toxic gas that can cause respiratory problems at high levels. (Air cleaners that use ionization methods to remove pollutants are typically okay for indoor air purification.)
  • Noise: If you’re planning on putting an air purifier in your bedroom you may want to consider the noise it generates on its maximum setting. Typically, a 300-400 sq ft unit will make around 55 dB at full blast.

Which Air Purifier is Right for Me

The majority of consumers shopping for an air purifier are probably going to be more concerned about performance than any other feature, and while all of our top picks performed well, if air purification efficiency is your #1 priority we recommend our Editor’s Choice/Best Air Purifier, the Honeywell HPA300, or our Best Multi-Room Purifier, the Healthmate Standard HM-400.

On the other hand, if you prefer a purifier that’s easy to customize, or one that plays nicely with the Internet of Things, we recommend the Alen Breathesmart and our Best Ergonomically Designed Air Purifier, the Dyson Pure Cool Link respectively.

Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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16 Comments

  1. I bought an Austin Healthmate for the woodsmoke in my area. I found it had no effect on VOC levels as measured by my air monitor. The woodsmoke seems a vexing problem for air purifiers. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

  2. I am interested in the Coway ap-1512. I thought I could turn off the ionizer? Is it safe for ozone that way?

    Also, wouldn’t it be somewhat safe to use the ionizer every once in a while? Is ozone something that builds up and doesn’t go away?

    I am most interested in using this in the bedroom, fyi.

  3. What about the Molekule? Also, I appreciated the educated discussions in the comments! Maybe the first comments section where I saw people hear others points! What!?! Haha

    1. Hey Geline, we didn’t. Largely because our editor narrowed the picks according to his expert industry knowledge and research, and unfortunately they didn’t make the cut.

  4. I have owned a specialist air purification company since 2012 and this report is the exact reason why I started my company. Mechanical filtration such as hepa filters and activated carbon are very good for particles such as dust, pollen, dander, cigarette smoke …… but these are not the real dangers when we talk about indoor air pollution. Nitrogen Dioxide from traffic fumes, toxic gas from cooking, formaldehyde from furnishings, respiratory viruses and bacteria, tiny mold spores that trigger asthma and allergies – for these pollutants you need more than just a dust collector!
    Yes ionisers create a by product of ozone but there are technologies out there that are ozone free and in fact create the more powerful (but safe for humans) super oxidant called hydroxyl radicals which decomposes air pollutants that you can not catch with filters.
    The other thing to be careful of with mechanical filtration is exactly the things you are catching, storing and someday will agitate when you change the filter. Activated carbon is very good at catching VOC’s and gas but when it is used without UV light or PCO – it gets blocked very quickly and after only a few weeks will take a huge drop in efficiency.
    Sorry to say this Gadget Review, I like your site but this time your post should belong back in 2005.

    1. Richard, these purifiers were selected based on an overall scoring system weighing many different factors. Having said that, we have several more specific articles scheduled for publication that hit home on the points you’ve mentioned; You’re absolutely right, VOC and gas collection requires a well-engineered, activated carbon filter. UV can be effective, but only if designed properly – the EPA has warned of the ineffectiveness of UV in portable air purification systems due to short contaminant exposure time. As far as blocked carbon filters, lifespan depends on weight. A five-pound filter isn’t going to last as long as a fifteen-pound filter.

      PCO can be a very effective technology if the UV source is high-quality, and the catalyst is installed properly around the UV lamp – I will say though, that using PCO in conjunction with a filter array isn’t considered best practice in the industry. Filter free purifiers employing photocatalytic oxidation work best.

      All great information. Keep an eye out for our other posts on air purifiers.

      1. Hi Chase, good comments.
        I would like to send you some documents and test reports on our technology, we partnered with one of the industries leading companies based in South Korea and launched it in the UK a few months ago -will be launching in the US next year. You will see that having mechanical filtration at the front end followed by a reactor chamber made up multiple UV lights (8 in the small unit and 16 in the larger) which are surrounded by multiple nano coated hexagon filters filled with activated carbon (40 in the small unit and 80 in the larger) gives unparalleled all round results.
        The reason for my initial comment is that a lot of air purification companies make big claims that they can not back up with test data, especially when it comes to respiratory viruses, toxic gas, NO2, formaldehyde etc. In my opinion, if people are paying good money for air purification and the upkeep of expensive filters – then they should be more accurately informed of what pollution they will deal with.
        A good example of this is that none of the filters you mentioned above will tackle NO2 from traffic fumes at a high efficiency and as this is the biggest air pollution health risk right now – how can they be the best air purifiers of 2016?
        You are absolutely right about the efficiency of UV lamps. A lot of companies throw an inefficient UV lamp into air purifiers and then state ‘air sterilisation’. It is a shame as it tarnishes others who do it properly. We are also launching a very novel air purifier on Kickstarter next week that has taken the concept of UV + PCO and multiplied its efficiency by ten times by using optimum reflection and refraction. I would love to send you one of these units to test for yourself as soon as we have stock.
        As you can tell – this subject is close to my heart and I am working with some of the best minds in the industry in developing new technology to keep people safe indoors, apologies if I come across as being argumentative.

        1. Richard, you’re absolutely right. It’s frustrating to see so much false information online – especially from manufactures. With respect to NO2 filtration, you’re right – we didn’t include this as a significant pollutant here in the US – based on electrical versus gas appliance use. NO2 from traffic wasn’t a major concern since these are home-based and we didn’t expect much emission translation from auto off-gas. Smoking and fireplace fumes can also be a source of CO2 ( as I’m sure you know :) ). We should have included best practices in our review for these toxins – we’ll update to reflect.

          Also, we would love to review a test unit – sounds very interesting! Let’s discuss via email and I’ll copy our Executive Editor.

          Cheers!

          1. Dear Chase,

            I am interested to know if your company had the chance to test and review the Radic8 Hextio Air Purifier? What are your thoughts?

            Thank you.

        2. Will you do a review on the Clairy Natural Air Purifier. They’ve just sent out their products from their kickstarter campaign.

    1. Oh :) We love IQAir! Some if the company’s products (especially the IQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifier) are being featured in more specific air purification reviews we’re developing right now. Keep an eye out, Chris. Cheers!

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