For our air purifier review roundup, we’ve compiled a list of the best HEPA air purifiers based on filtration methodology and filter specifications. Our analysis of high-grade, HEPA air purifiers includes a deep look into the mechanics of HEPA filtration and the machines used to move air through them. The European Norm (EN 1822:2009) specification was referred to as an initial rating schedule for HEPA filter class, denoting total particulate retention from 85% (E10) to 99.999995% (U17).
You can breathe easier knowing we factored these features, along with others like ease of use, types of filters and room sizing, into our research and testing. After breathing all the clean air we could, we chose the Germ Guardian AC4825 as our top pick. It features a top-of-the-line UV-C light for extra purification, along with high-quality carbon and HEPA filters. Continue reading to get the scoop on the Germ Guardian as well as our other top picks.
- 1 Top 5 Best HEPA Air Purifier Compared
- 2 How We Choose
- 3 Why You Should Buy
- 4 Key Factors and Features to Look For
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid
- 6 What Else You Should Think About
Top 5 Best HEPA Air Purifier Compared
#1 Germ Guardian AC4825 – Top Pick/Best HEPA Air Purifier for MoldWHY WE LIKE IT: The Germ Guardian AC4825 is the most affordable option on our list while still offering premium features and performance. It includes a UV-C sanitizer alongside the HEPA filter for maximum purification.
The Germ Guardian AC4825 takes a three-layered approach when it comes to purifiying the air in your home. First, air passes through an activated carbon filter, then throught the True HEPA filter and finally through a UV-C light. With this 3-in-1 approach, you’ll get comprehensive purification that eliminates even the toughest airborne bacteria and mold spores.
Unfortunately, the Germ Guardian doesn’t include any smart features or automatic timers, but it’s super easy to use, which alleviates the disappointment in those missing features a little bit. You’ll also get a really great 3-year warranty with the Germ Guardian, which is the second longest on our list. If you’re looking for an air purifier with True HEPA that includes UV light, you can’t go wrong with the Germ Guardian AC4825.
#2 Levoit LV-H132 – Honorable Mention/Best BudgetWHY WE LIKE IT: The Levoit LV-H132 air purifier is the smallest option on our list, but it still packs a punch when it comes to tackling tough allergens and other air contaminants. It’s also more portable than anything else on our list due to its extra-compact design.
Levoit is a fairly big name in the air purification game. They specialize in building purifiers that stand out when it comes to overall build quality and design. The LV-H132 follows this same line of thinking. It’s super compact so you can use it anywhere you’d like, but just be aware that this small purifier is only rated for small rooms up to 86 sq. ft.
When it comes to performance, though, the Levoit LV-H132 doesn’t hold back, despite its compact size. It features a 3-stage filtration process that includes a fine preliminary filter for eliminating larger particles, then a True HEPA filter for tiny particles and finally an activated carbon filter for odors and smoke. Not many purifiers have this pre-filter stage, which is great for eliminating allergies. If you’re looking for a solution to your allergies, definitely consider purchasing the Levoit.
#3 Honeywell HPA300 – Best for Large Rooms & PetsWHY WE LIKE IT: Eliminating pet dander can be difficult because of how mobile our pets often are. The Honeywell HPA300 doesn’t have a problem with this, though, since it can cover areas up to 456 sq. ft. without sacrificing purification performance.
One of the best features of the Honeywell HPA300 is the sheer power it can produce behind its purification process. This HEPA air purifier is the most powerful on our list, able to clean air in rooms up to 456 square feet. And one might expect performance to suffer in such large spaces. Fortunately, the opposite is true, especially when eliminated pet dander. The air passes through stages within the Honeywell: pre-filter and True HEPA filter.
We were a little disappointed when it came to some design choices on the Honeywell. Mainly, the unit doesn’t include a remote, so you’ll need to manually operate it whenever needed. It can also be a bit noisy when purifiying the air in large rooms. In the end, though, we were willing to overlook these minor inconveniences when we saw just how well the purifier performed in eliminating pet dander and other contaminants.
#4 Pure Enrichment PureZone 3-in-1 – Best HEPA Air Purifier for SmokeWHY WE LIKE IT: The Pure Enrichment PureZone 3-in-1 is a powerful little air purifier with a super sleek design and whisper-quiet noise level. Its powerful filtration system can handle tough situations like smoke and microbes.
While the Pure Enrichment PureZone doesn’t offer the most cutting edge technology, but it certainly does look the part. Fortunately, the sleek design does house some powerful air filtration capability. While the unit is marketing as 3-in-1, it actually features a 4 stage filtration process. Air will first pass through a pre-filter, the activated carbon filter, the true HEPA filter and finally the UV-C light.
With such a comprehensive purification process, we’ve found that this air purifier is perfect for clearing smoke out of your home, especially if that smoke is from house or forest fires. Many customers report that the PureZone 3-in-1 cleared their homes of smoke without a problem. Unfortunately, the purifier only works in smaller areas and doesn’t do well to eliminate cooking orders.
#5 VEVA 8000 Elite Pro Series – Best ValueWHY WE LIKE IT: At a sub-$100 price point, the VEVA 8000 Elite Pro Series is a hard air purifier to pass up. With 4 activated carbon pre-filters and a True HEPA filter, this unit can take care of seriously dirty air with ease.
If you’re shopping for a high-quality air purifier on budget, then you can’t do better than the VEVA 8000. It can purify the air in rooms up to 325 square feet, an impressive feat that we usually only see on premium models. It performs best when eliminating odors from cooking or other unfortunate circumstances, but does well in most applications, too.
At a budget, you might expect this air purifier is of cheaper construction, and you’d be right. With mostly plastic housing, you’re bound to run into some surface scratching and scuffing. The less-than-premium design also plays a factor in overall noise levels, especially at high power where the fan sometimes gets annoyingly loud. Overall, the performance from the 4 activated carbon filters and True HEPA filter at such a low price is well worth the few downsides the VEVA actually has.
How We Choose
My background is in electrical engineering and electrical room air quality analysis. I’ve managed multi-million dollar industrial air purification projects for Fortune 500 companies, and to put it mildly, I am an expert for indoor air particulate analysis, and instrumentation and controls engineering.
The term HEPA is thrown around quite a bit by manufacturers, and most consumers don’t know the difference between a standard HEPA filter (usually an E12 HEPA class which removes up to 99.5% of airborne contaminants) and a medical, or industrial-grade filter. Machines marketed toward regular consumers using filters which are rated as H13 and above were only considered in this review.
Typically, H13 and H14 are used in industrial settings like pharmaceutical manufacturing and electronic control rooms. These filters remove airborne particles of 0.3 micrometers in diameter (just like all other HEPA filters) however, they have a greater particulate retention rate and therefore are more efficient when it comes to removing harmful toxins from environments.
We also considered the distinct architecture of the air purifiers on our list. Air flow dynamics are critical to optimal air filtration and so the arrangement of air intake(s) versus the clean air exhaust(s) is crucial to machine performance. Things like air flow eddy currents generated near where the machine is installed in a home, or office, should be considered when designing a machine and mapping air patterns. It’s important that a machine doesn’t just recycle air that it has already cleaned, but rather continue to process dirty air in a uniform and consistent manner.
Why You Should Buy
Allergies can be triggered by a number of air pollutants ranging from dust, pollen, mold spores, and smoke particles to volatile organic compounds, dust mite feces, and even off gas generated by fireplaces and automobiles.
Even short-term exposure to contaminates can cause health issues, and some medical studies suggest that long-term exposure to polluted indoor air could eventually lead to severe health problems such as respiratory distress, asthma, some forms of cancer, and even death in rare cases. Regularly using an indoor HEPA air purifier can mitigate health risks associated with home air pollutants – and even completely remove risks if used in conjunction with other air and surface cleaning techniques (this would include using a HEPA vacuum cleaner, regularly washing linens, and ensuring cleaning products are environmentally safe).
Key Factors and Features to Look For
HEPA Filter Class
- Understanding filter class is critical to understanding what an air purifier is capable of. HEPA filters aren’t all identical and neither are air purifiers.
- Most consumer-grade HEPA filters are E12 HEPA class and perform well enough for most needs. The review only considered HEPA air purifiers demonstrating filters beyond the average classification.
Airflow Design Characteristics
- Think of how water in a stream wraps itself around a protruding rock. Currents in the water spin backward into themselves and the rock divides flow around itself. Air currents behave the same way, and when air purifiers are designed airflow analysis has to take into account air patterns created by both the machine and its placement in a home.
- If a machine lacks an adequate design it can create an air vortex, or eddy currents, which reduce the effectiveness of the machine’s cleaning potential. We analyzed intake and exhaust placements to ensure that thought was given to probable airflow problems.
- Noise generated by consumer-grade HEPA air purifiers ranges from a low thirty decibels to, in some cases, a high ninety decibels. For bedroom use, we recommend machines that generate a maximum of seventy-five decibels at their highest setting. All of the machines on our list meet these specifications at a minimum.
Particulate Filter Retention
- Filters come in a wide variety of configurations and classifications, and navigating the sea of technical terms can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. To keep it simple, look for specifications in the product description that mention rates higher than 95%.
- If you’re inclined to dig deeper, a medical-grade filter (H13) should have at least a local retention rate of 99.75% (local retention means at any arbitrary point on the filter) and a total retention rate of 99.95% (total retention is the filter’s overall particualte retention capability).
Filter Replacement Indicator
- A great feature to have, especially for the absent minded, is a filter replacement indicator. Who has time to remember to replace a filter after twelve months?
- Typically, portable air purifiers requirement a filter change between 12 and 36 months (this varies greatly with filter type and configuration), but owners should always refer to product manuals for manufacturer recommendations. Dependent on the machine, replacement filters can be relatively expensive often ranging from $100 to $200 USD.
- Automatic modes help regulate the best HEPA air purifier airflow settings so that purification can be regulated based on air pollution. We like the “set it and forget it” options. Gauging air pollution without a sensor isn’t always possible. Sure, if you’re cleaning or cooking you can crank up the fan speed, but without an air quality indication you don’t know when to crank it down.
- Some really fantastic HEPA air purifiers are available that don’t feature automatic detection, and while manually changing the airflow setting on a machine isn’t a difficult task, it isn’t the most efficient either. The only model on our list that includes an auto mode is the Airmega 400S.
Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t let yourself be fooled by HEPA marketing hype. Some manufacturers like to tout about HEPA ratings and mention “99%,” but 99% isn’t enough data to understand the nature of the filter used for purification. Chances are, if a manufacturer states 99% instead of 99.97%, they’re offering a standard HEPA filter instead of a cut above the rest.
Machines without air quality sensors and automatic modes should be carefully evaluated before buying. Are you, as an owner, going to adjust a machine’s setting diligently? Would you forget about the purifier after a few months and just leave it running on one airflow speed indefinitely? If you’re like me, automation is valuable. It frees my time to do other things, and ensures devices are operating as efficiently as possible. As indoor air pollution rises from cleaning products, cooking, vacuuming, and outdoor contaminant infiltration, an automatic air purifier will adjust its performance as needed.
Pay mind to where you will put a new HEPA air purifier in your home. Placing a new machine too close to a wall, or furniture, can inhibit its filtration abilities. Always read manufacturer manuals, and as a good rule of thumb never place a purifier closer than 12″ from any object, or surface.
What Else You Should Think About
Consider your specific needs carefully. Not everyone requires an industrial-grade HEPA filter, nor a forty-five pound activated carbon filter. If you’re interested in learning more about air purifiers for allergies and dust then we’ve got a review for that. If you want to learn more about HEPA we’ve got an article for that too.
Our top pick, the Germ Guardian AC4825, is the best HEPA air purifier we’ve reviewed based on HEPA filter class, airflow characteristics, and structural design. It’s affordable considering its performance, and it’s pretty slick looking too to boot.