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Following an in-depth comparison of more than thirty consumer air cleaners by (me) an indoor electrical room air quality engineer, we’ve determined that the best air purifier for pets and allergy sufferers, and number one pick, is the Austin Air Healthmate Standard ($538.99). It also has several features that make it a contender for top-rated air purifiers.
The decision was based on pre-filter quality (to catch large particulate like dust and hair), True HEPA filter class (based on the European Norm), carbon filter grade and specifications (for odor and gas control), and an analysis of the motor implemented and its effectiveness moving air across the multi-staged filter arrangements. The machine’s pre-filter effectively captures large pet dander before moving air through the activated carbon and True HEPA filter array which works exceptionally well, eliminating smells that your hairy companion might track in and filtering finer particulate in the air.
Pre-filters help remove larger particulate from the air stream prior to more precision filtration. They’re often reusable and washable, and external to the higher-grade carbon and HEPA air filters installed inside of a home air purifier. But, compare air filters vs air purifiers to make sure you get the best one. The main benefit of pre-filter inclusion in an air purifier design is that larger contaminants in the air are restricted from passing on to the more advanced filters and that increases the life and efficiency of expensive filters meant to remove the things that matter.
Pre-filters are relatively cheap to manufacture and cheap to include as a component in an air purifier and as such we believe the exclusion of such a feature demonstrates poor design. All of our top picks include pre-filter configurations, some of which are part of the activated carbon filter.
Pet odors are another issue that we wanted to ensure our top picks addressed. As such, a pet air purifier should remove nasty odors in both small and large rooms as well as clean the air. Plan carefully if you need to clean a large room, since not all air purifiers can clean them, so consider looking at the best air purifier for large rooms. To clean the air, some form of an activated carbon filter needed to be a part of the filtration process. Activated carbon, or charcoal, filters adsorb odors by trapping molecules inside an extremely porous carbon substrate. Since our top picks focus solely on the best air purifier for pets, we didn’t weigh our decision based on the quality of the carbon media used, but rather only on the inclusion of a carbon filtration step. Air purifiers intended for use as smoke eliminators, or volatile organic compound (VOCs) removers require high-grade, activated carbon media to clean an environment more effectively. Be sure to check out some of the best air purifiers for smoke if you regularly smoke in your home or office.
HEPA Air Filters, or High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance, filters are a crucial component in any air purification equipment. They function as the finest line of defense in the filtration process, filtering out a minimum of 99.97% of particulate matter that is as small as 0.3 microns in diameter (to put that into perspective, a human – or pet’s – hair is approximately 100 times larger in diameter). The best air purifiers will utilize HEPA filters or a filtration system that operates to the same standard, capturing and successfully eliminating 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. Using the aforementioned European Norm as a guideline to classify HEPA quality, we began our analysis by ensuring that air purifiers that made our list met a rating of at least the standard E12 classification. Purifiers using HEPA filters exceeding our baseline were rated more highly, with those combining multiple, high-grade purification technologies rated considerably higher.
Finally, motor quality and machine construction were considered to ensure that each air cleaner had sufficient power to move each manufacturer’s rated volumetric air across filter arrays. This is critical to performance because, without enough power, air cleaners can’t optimally force flow through filters. Our top picks all demonstrate high airflow rates equating to powerful motors capable of pulling air into the machines and through filters as advertised. Typically, motor specifications and/or airflow information isn’t something that air purifier companies publish. More commonly, coverage area and maybe air changes per hour (ACH) are marketed to demonstrate product effectiveness. These numbers are usually reliable indicators of machine power although we’ve found some with grossly inaccurate claims so always do your own homework.
ACH numbers are the best way for a machine’s effectiveness to be gauged and compared. ACH is the number of times a purifier completely filters the air in an advertised square footage space within one hour. So for example, if a machine’s ACH is 5 and the machine is marketed as being able to purify spaces as large as 500 sq ft, then the machine will completely filter all of the air in a 500 sq ft (square feet) area 5 times in one hour. Now, there’s a bit more to ACH than this simple explanation. Room height is assumed to be seven feet in ACH calculations. So for spaces in your home that have higher ceilings, the advertised ACH will not be accurate. There isn’t an optimal ACH rate. It’s only a way to measure and compare filtration power. If you’re looking at two purifiers with the same square footage rating and one has a higher ACH it’s a more capable unit.
We all love our pets, but did you know that certain elements found within pet dander, saliva, urine, and fecal matter can be the cause of allergic reactions, or irritate asthma sufferers? Also, shedding pet hair creates an environment in which pollen and mold spores can live if undisturbed. So you may also want to check out the top-rated air purifier for mold too.
Most medical resources suggest that asthma and allergy sufferers remove pets from their homes if irritation becomes a consistent problem, but we realize that this option isn’t always ideal. The best air purifier for pets will help owners mitigate the risk associated with pet allergens by removing harmful contaminants from the air. If you and your pet reside in a large home and want your air purifier to cover more ground, consider a whole-house air purifier. Additionally, if it’s hard on you, it will probably be hard on your child, which is why you want to invest in the leading air purifier for babies.
The EPA lists indoor air quality as one of the leading contributors to individual health and wellness in the United States. Long-term effects of poor air quality have been suggested as having a potential to cause respiratory diseases, heart disease, some forms of cancer – and in extreme cases – death. Everyone reacts differently to indoor air pollutants though, so it’s important to consider your unique situation about the information provided here and elsewhere. Having said that, pet owners can live healthier lives by using Pet Air Purifiers in areas frequented by their furry friends.
Price: $539 | HEPA Class: H14 | Coverage: 1,500 Sq Ft | Auto Mode: No
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Austin Air’s Healthmate Standard takes a no-BS approach to air purification with components that are top quality in the industry. This is our editor’s choice and the best air purifier for pet odors.
So why is the Austin Air Healthmate Standard our top-pick? What makes it the best for this consumer application? Simply put: it’s an industrially designed air purifier that beats most others in its class concerning the variables we found most important.
The machine’s pre-filter, activated carbon and zeolite filter, and HEPA filter has been combined into a cylindrical, one-piece filter array that can easily be removed and replaced from the bottom of the machine when needed (although a new filter array should last an average user approximately three years). The Healthmate’s HEPA filter is industrial-grade, rated as H14 on the European Norm scale, and retains 99.995% of particulate measuring 0.3 micrometers in diameter.
Build quality is superior, like the Bissell Air220, and the machine isn’t an eyesore like some. Austin uses a purely mechanical filtration process for filtering air (devoid of ionization or ultraviolet treatments) and the motor we tested pushes air through the machine without straining. At full speed, the machine can be a bit loud (approximately 65 dB), but with this kind of performance, it’s understandable. We recommend running it on high for the first three to four hours after installation and then setting it to medium for continued operation. If you have pets, you may not consider air purifiers to be pet gadgets, but they help with dander and make life easier for you and your furry friends.
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Price: $711 | HEPA Class: H13 | Coverage: 1,560 Sq Ft | Auto Mode: Yes
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The most connected, “smart,” high-performance air purifier for pet allergies and asthma.
Airmega manufactures some of the most attractive and tech-savvy air purifiers on the market, and the 400S is the company’s MVP. If you’re looking for a high-performing air purifier for pet dander, this is an excellent buy. It is the best air purifier for pet allergies and asthma.
Unlike many other air purifiers, Airmega’s units pull air through two separate intakes utilizing individual motors and carbon/HEPA combination filters. The machine’s side panels can easily be removed for cleaning and replacing each filter box. Just like the Healthmate, this machine comes loaded with an industrial-grade HEPA filter rated as H13 and retains 99.95% of airborne particulate.
It’s a great-looking machine that’s well built and nice to look at – probably the most attractive air cleaner we’ve reviewed yet. A mechanical filtration process ensures that contaminants are captured, and because the unit uses two separate motors to drive the suction fans on either side it’s capable of operating more quietly than others rated for the similar coverage areas. Smart features on the device enable users to control the unit and monitor indoor air quality from their smart devices. You won’t find these features on the best cheap air purifier.
Price: $899 | HEPA Class: E12| Coverage: 1,125 Sq Ft | Auto Mode: No
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: IQAir’s HealthPro Plus has been rated as a top performer in more of our application-specific reviews than any other air purifier.
We’ve discussed how much we love IQAir’s HealthPro Plus in the past, but never regarding pet dander. An excellent machine for nearly every application, the HealthPro Plus performs exceptionally well for pet-related pollutants due to its unique combination of filters, internal sealing system, and build quality. It has earned the spot for the best pet dander air purifier.
The HealthPro Plus includes a pre-filter, granulated activated carbon and impregnated activated alumina filter, and E12/H13 HEPA filter. Filters are installed in individual filter housing segments from top to bottom. The HEPA filter’s class varies between E12 and H13 depending on the machine’s airflow setting (airflow rates below 112 CFM keep the filter classified as a medical-grade H13, while higher flow rates reduce efficiency to E12).
IQAir uses a doubled-walled housing, rubber vibration padding on the motor, and an “EvenFlow” air diffuser to reduce the noise created from the operation and in our examination, all of these features seem to work well. Just like our other top picks, the HealthPro Plus doesn’t use ionizers or UV-c light to treat air, but rather works its magic through a completely mechanical purification process. Air is pulled from the bottom of the machine and suctioned through the filter arrangement until clean, purified air is released from the top (EvenFlow Diffuser). Another model great for homes with pets is the Germ Guardian AC4300 – an air purifier with a HEPA Filter and a Pet Pure Treatment Filter. The filter includes an antimicrobial agent (Pet Pure) that prevents the build-up of mold, mildew, and odor-causing bacteria on the surface of the filter, plus, an activated charcoal filter that reduces odors from cats, dogs, smoking, and cooking.
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As a buying guide, look out for these features when choosing an air purifier for your home. A good place to start is to check out HEPA Air Purifiers and compare their specs and features to other models.
This needs to be reiterated: without the incorporation of a pre-filter and air purifier meant to help against pet dander could be less effective due to carbon and HEPA filter blockage by larger particulates. Always check to make sure a pre-filter is part of the design of the machine for this application.
It may be tempting to try out a less expensive product, but be very cautious. We’ve found that many machines priced under $150 are often just too weak to properly pull in the air around them.
One method that some less powerful machines will incorporate into the filtration process is ionization. Air ionizers charge particles so that negative and positive attractions retain impurities in the air, and while this technology can be used very effectively – most consumer products that feature ionization just don’t perform as they should. Another issue with ionizers is that they produce ozone which is a respiratory irritant at specific parts per million. Again, some machines utilize ionization very well – but you’ll need to do your homework carefully.
Don’t be overwhelmed. With so many models and brands to choose from, it can be a pain to figure out which air purifier is right for you. Popular models such as the Honeywell HPA300, the Levoit LV-H132, Hamilton Beach TrueAir, GermGuardian AC5350B, and many other great air purifiers available can make it a difficult decision. Regardless, make sure you shop around, compare specs and features, and in the end, choose a model you like!
When composing this piece, we had quite a bit of feedback regarding just removing animals from the home, but as pet owners ourselves we realize that sometimes that isn’t a reasonable solution to the problem. As additional steps to combat allergies caused by indoor pets, consider using hypoallergenic shampoos, as well as regular vacuuming with a vacuum that incorporates a HEPA filter of its own. Alternatively, buying a great HEPA air purifier will help tons.
Doing these things in combination with running the best air purifier for pets works well to eliminate irritating sources of allergies that can hide in your home. If you’re looking for an air purifier to treat a wider variety of pollutants, check out our air purifier comparison article between Winix vs Dyson air purifiers.
Our top pick as Editor’s Choice/Best Air Purifier for Pets, Austin Air’s Healthmate Standard is an excellent choice for reducing airborne pollutants that could be causing asthma attacks and/or irritating allergies. We’ve personally tested this unit and it’s one of the best units for consumers with animals in their homes!