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What would make someone choose a desktop air purifier, and what factors would be prioritized? First and foremost, size is going to be important. Typically air purifiers that can sit on a desk are going to be much smaller than traditional floor models. You don’t want a popular air purifier that’s so bulky you can’t work comfortably at your desk.
But then you’ll also want to consider what exactly you’re trying to remove from the air, as this will determine which filtration method you need. For example, if dust and smoke are a concern, a HEPA filter is a good choice, just like the one you’ll find in our Coway Airmega 150 review. While people focused on pathogens should opt for a different filtration method.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This fine Levoit air purifier has a powerful filtration system suitable for houses with pets and people with allergies. It has a stylish design that will add a touch of sophistication to any home.
The Levoit LV-H132 air purifier is a corded model that efficiently cleans up the air in small-sized rooms. This device has an ozone-free filtration system that uses environmentally responsible tech. This air purifier has a HEPA H13 filter that eliminates pet hair, pollen, and small dust particles. Featuring a quiet fan, this air purifier is suitable for placement in the bedroom. An indicator alerts users when it’s time to replace the filter. However, this device emits some EMF radiation.
This Levoit LV-H132 air purifier is rated 20W, so it’s economical to operate. A blue ambiance light on this device adds a touch of modern flair to the room. We like that the night light can be switched off if needed. It has a soft white palette that compliments a wide variety of interior design schemes. The device also has several certifications for safety. Its control panel is conveniently located on the top, easily customizing the fan speed and other settings. It, unfortunately, isn’t one of the leading smart air purifiers, but it still does its job.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This air purifier has an incredibly compact yet stylish design that adds visual interest to any space. It has a power consumption of just 18W, so it’s unlikely to significantly add to the power bill. But, compare this unit to a strong Dyson air purifier to see which one is better.
The KOIOS EPI810 air purifier is a compact desktop model with a powerful filtration capacity. Weighing just 2.1 pounds, this 18W device is easy to carry around. It boasts an H13 HEPA air filter that deals with pollen and fine dust particles as small as 0.03 microns. This filter has a three-stage filtration system that includes a pre-filter, carbon filter, and HEPA filter, so it delivers efficient and effective filtration. However, this model is not adequate for large rooms. If you need one suitable for a big living space, you should consider one of the best large room air purifiers.
The KOIOS EPI810 capably handles 55 cubic feet of air per hour, making it ideal for small-sized rooms. Its compact, stylish design will also add visual interest to any space. This air purifier produces as low as 25 dB of sound, so it’s suitable for bedrooms at night. A charming blue light on this filter provides a good ambiance, and it can be turned off by pressing and holding the power button for 4 seconds. It has two fan speeds, which users can adjust via a top button.
Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: This air purifier has a lithium-ion battery that is suitable for people who want to clean up the air at the workplace or in a vehicle. Its three-speed fan enables wide-ranging use.
The Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini air purifier is a portable model designed for use on the go, which means it could be a great car air purifier. This device has a removable handle for portability. With a two-stage air filtration system, this device removes most particles. A HEPA filter works in tandem with a carbon filter to remove larger and smaller particles. It has three fan speeds, so it’s suitable for use in living rooms and bedrooms. However, at its highest power setting, this device gets loud.
The device weighs just 1 pound and can easily be carried on the go. Thanks to a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, this Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini air purifier is the device of choice for purifying the air in vehicles. It charges with a USB cable for convenience. Removing the base to access the filter is easy and done with a simple twist motion. The purifier has a stylish design that will become the focal point in any room.
Award: BEST FOR VEHICLES
WHY WE LIKE IT: This air purifier has a compact design and a 5000 mAh battery, enabling users to take it on camping trips and long foreign trips. It has a powerful filtration system for eliminating dust and pollen particles.
The Three Musketeers III M air purifier is a powerful device that’s recommended for rooms of up to 6 square meters. It has an energy-efficient 5V power input, and its low noise levels make it a fine air purifier for office spaces, living rooms, and bedrooms. The device has a built-in 10,000 mAh battery that enables use on the go. However, this device has moderate suction power and is only suitable for small rooms.
A sleep mode on this device enables placement in bedrooms and offices. It also has a high-power mode that eliminates particles and odors fast. Featuring a white color palette, this The Three Musketeer II M air purifier blends in with most wall decor. The buttons are located conveniently on top for hassle-free operation. This device has a HEPA filtration system that’s suitable for homes with pets and people with allergies.
Award: BEST FOR SLEEPING SPACES
WHY WE LIKE IT: This purifier has a touch control panel that allows users to set anything from fan speed to room presets. Because of its delay switch-off function, the device is suitable for sleeping spaces.
The Potulas C104 air purifier is a compact model used in offices, living rooms, bedrooms, and other spaces. This device effectively cleans up to 30 sq. meters per hour and is recommended for rooms of up to 108 sq. ft. We like the three fan speeds on this unit, which enable adjusting between effective filtration and silent operation. A sleep mode switches off the lights and reduces noise, making this device a good choice for bedrooms. However, compare a fan vs an air purifier to see which one makes a better option for you.
This Potulas C104 air purifier has a noise rating of about 30 dB, so it doesn’t get so loud even at the maximum fan setting. It comes with a HEPA filter that eliminates allergens. An intuitive touch control panel on the top of the device supports the simple operation. It boasts a Replace Filter button that notifies users when the filter is clogged up. This device is USB-powered for hassle-free operation. The purifier has five delay switch-off presets, ranging from 30 minutes to 5 hours.
Award: BEST FOR SMOKE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This powerful air purifier includes an ionizing system that easily captures particles in the home. It can be placed vertically and horizontally, making it easy to fit on small tables.
The Holmes HAP242-NUC air purifier is a two-in-one device that includes an optional ionizer. This device has an effective HEPA filter that captures over 99% of particles of up to 0.03 microns. With a 70 CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate), this device is effective in moderately sized rooms. This air filter supports both vertical and horizontal placement. However, this device is not as stylish as other desktop air purifiers.
This Holmes HAP242-NUC is effective in rooms of up to 109 sq. ft. It includes an ionizer that binds dust and smoke particles to simplify filtration, and this function can be switched off. With manual control dials, this device is easy to operate. The air purifier is compatible with many Holmes AER1 Series air filters, so getting a replacement is easy. It has three fan speed settings to enable customization.
Desktop air purifiers are a compact version of air purifiers designed to remove irritants or pollutants from the air. They operate similarly to other air purifiers but can fit comfortably on a desktop, making them ideal for people who want to improve the air quality in their immediate vicinity. For a look at a very small model capable of doing this, read our InvisiClean IC-103 review.
And just like larger models, desktop air purifiers come with a variety of filtration methods — each with varying degrees of success that depend on the type of pollutant you’re trying to remove from the air. Still, the most common options for air purifier filters include HEPA, activated carbon, and UV light. But you can also find desktop air purifiers with ionizers which can help to remove odors from the air.
The only difference between a desktop air purifier and a traditional air purifier is the size and CADR score. Traditional air purifiers are designed to sit on the floor and purify the air in a room. As a result, these types of purifiers can move more air, making them ideal for larger spaces. However, they tend to be bulkier and aren’t usually designed to be moved frequently.
In contrast, a desktop air purifier is designed to be compact. It sits on your desktop without occupying too much space. Because of their smaller size, these types of air purifiers are perfect for traveling.
But most importantly, desktop air purifiers are going to have a much smaller CADR score because they don’t feature the larger, more powerful fans seen on traditional floor air purifiers. So, keep in mind that these types of air purifiers will have a smaller range and output.
Desktop air purifiers work exactly like traditional air purifiers — just in a compact appliance. Air is sucked into an intake where it passes over one or more filters to remove pollutants from the air. The clean air is then released back into your desktop space. For best results, you should keep your air purifier running continuously.
Periodically, the filter will need to be replaced. Depending on the filtration method you select, you may need to replace your filters as frequently as every three to six months or six to 12 months. So, you’ll want to factor in the additional costs for replacement filters as you shop for a desktop air purifier.
And just like with floor air purifiers, you can find desktop air purifiers that feature prefilters, ionizers, and UV lights. A prefilter is a great option because it can help prolong the primary filter’s lifespan, which must trap most pollutants.
Your most common options for filtration will include HEPA, activated carbon, UV light, and ionizers. Each is ideal for specific pollutants, so you’ll need to think about which factor is the biggest concern and choose accordingly.
HEPA filters are considered the top option because they can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns. This translates to removing up to 99.97% of indoor allergens, including dust and pollen. Activated carbon filters can also remove some dust, but not to the efficiency seen with HEPA filters.
However, if you’re concerned about odors and chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), this area where activated carbon outperforms HEPA filters. Likewise, people concerned about odors may also want to consider air purifiers with ionizers. While this method isn’t as effective as activated carbon, it can help to neutralize odors while the device is in operation.
And if pathogens are top of mind, an air purifier that also includes UV light is a good choice. But, you’ll want to ensure that when the UV light mode is activated, the light stays on for several minutes as pathogens must be exposed to UV light for sustained periods to be neutralized.
And if you partake of recreational or medicinal marijuana, the best air purifiers for weed smoke might also be of interest to you.
Office spaces can have a variety of smells or stale air, making indoor air quality less than ideal. From smelly lunches to off-gassing caused by anything from carpet to electronics, here’s why a desktop air purifier can be helpful.
You’re Concerned About Indoor Air Quality: Office settings can have interesting smells — even if there’s an HVAC system installed. Whether you don’t want to smell your cubicle mate’s lunch or are irritated by office plants, a desktop air purifier can help improve air quality.
You’re Worried About VOCs: VOCs can be present anywhere, but office environments can be prime locations for them to appear. From electronics to carpeting, even to highlighters and printer ink, everyday office items can release noxious fumes into the air.
You Have a Respiratory Condition: If you suffer from any kind of respiratory condition that’s easily aggravated by dust or VOCs, then a desktop air purifier is a good idea to keep nearby. Also, check out our page on an air purifier for cough if you are prone to coughing fits to see how these machines can help.
You Don’t Have Space on Your Desk: Like floor air purifiers, desktop air purifiers need sufficient space around them to work properly. This won’t offer optimal results if you’re tempted to shove an air purifier up against a wall.
You Don’t Want to Pay for Replacement Filters: Air purifiers are great but do come with a fixed, long-term cost because of the replacement filters. And especially if you were eyeing an air purifier with a HEPA filter, those costs can add up over time. There are filterless air purifiers you can also consider.
You Won’t Run It Continuously: There’s no point in having an air purifier if you’re only going to run it occasionally. For best results, these appliances do need to be run continuously — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The actual device can last for quite a while as long as you take care of the exterior unit. But the real question is, how frequently do the filters need to be changed, and if there is a pre-filter? Replacement frequency depends on the filtration technology.
If you have an air purifier with a HEPA filter, expect to replace the filter every six to 12 months. And note that these filters are usually the most expensive, costing as much as $200 for premium options. In contrast, air purifiers with activated carbon filters need to be changed more frequently — every three to six months. However, the filters are significantly cheaper, usually no more than $50.
If those timelines sound too frequent, look for air purifiers that feature a washable pre-filter. The pre-filter can catch larger particles from the air, helping pick up some workloads that would otherwise go to the primary filter. By washing the prefilter, you can extend the lifespan of your primary filter.
While there’s no guarantee that you’ll always be able to squeeze an extra month or two out of your primary filter, remembering to periodically wash the prefilter is considered a best practice that all air purifier owners should do.
Everyone’s needs will vary when it comes to air purifiers, especially when shopping for a desktop model. Finding the right desktop air purifier that fits your desk without feeling crowded, removes the pollutants that bother you, and doesn’t break the bank doesn’t have to be impossible.
By default, desktop air purifiers are designed to be more compact than floor models. But that doesn’t mean that they’re all the same size. Be sure to measure your desktop, keeping in mind that you can’t place an air purifier against a wall or cubicle panel for the best results. Read our Dyson Pure Cool Link review to look at a fine desktop model.
But you also want to make sure that wherever you place your desktop air purifier, you still have space to work comfortably without feeling cramped.
Remember that all air purifiers rely on some form of filtration to remove pollutants from the air. But depending on the particles being targeted, some filters are better than others, like the highly-rated photocatalytic oxidation air purifiers. HEPA is best for dust and smoke, and activated carbon is ideal for odors and VOCs. Or, opt for an air purifier that contains both filters.
However, UV light — when triggered for a proper length of time — can neutralize pathogens. And an ionizer is a nice addition to HEPA-based air purifiers if you want to remove both odor and dust.
CADR stands for clean air delivery rate, and it refers to how efficiently an air purifier can filter the air within a specific timeframe. Usually, a CADR score is listed either as cubic feet per minute (CFM) or cubic meters per hour (CMH). A higher CADR score means that an air purifier can work more efficiently. But remember that CADR doesn’t determine how effectively pollutants are removed, only how efficiently the appliance can move air.
Even if your office is louder, that doesn’t mean that you want to sit next to a noisy appliance. While a little noise is expected if you’re operating a desktop air purifier at the highest setting, you should also check to see the total decibel output in lower settings. For desktop air purifiers, you’ll want to find models that emit no more than 35 to 40 decibels in the higher settings.