If you need to control asthma or allergies, or you just want to make the air around you as clean as possible, an air purifier may help you breathe a bit easier. These portable units range from less than $100 to close to $1,000 if you need a large, heavy-duty model. Most rely on high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which remove dust, pollen, mold, and other undesirable particles from the air. Many air purifiers also have carbon filters that tackle smoke and other odors.
Before you buy,... know that air purifiers come with a couple of caveats. First, though many owners rave about them, there’s no concrete evidence that air purifiers will give you any sort of health boost. Second, some air purifiers include ionizers that emit low levels of ozone, which experts say can actually exacerbate respiratory conditions. These products typically meet strict emissions standards, but look for models without this feature (or an ionizer that can be shut off), if you’re concerned.
If you’re serious about clean air and need a reliable air purifier that can handle a larger space, the Honeywell HPA 300 True HEPA Allergen Remover gets top ratings in expert tests for effectively removing dust, pollen, and smoke from the air. It cleans all the air in a large room five times an hour, letting you breathe a little deeper. This air purifier is Energy Star-rated and certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) for spaces as large as 465 square feet.
Owners say... the HPA 300 is easy to use and relatively quiet. There are four speeds ranging from low to “turbo,” and it includes an integrated timer. An indicator reminds you when to change filters. Reviewers say low speeds are just fine for most day-to-day use, while higher settings are useful for tackling dust or odors as quickly as possible—after a smoky cooking mishap, for instance. Users can also dim the lights on the control panel, which they say is particularly handy for use in a bedroom. And while it isn’t the quietest air purifier around, it’s still among the quietest when on the highest speed setting. Users say it’s virtually silent on its lowest speed.
At 24 inches tall, 22 inches wide and 13 inches deep, the HPA 300 is a bit bulky, and while the utilitarian black casing won’t win any beauty contests, it won’t attract much attention in a corner. Built-in handles make it easy to move from room to room. The unit uses one odor-reducing carbon filter and three HEPA filters. The carbon filter runs about $12 and should be changed every three months. The HEPA filters are about $60 for a three-pack and should be changed once a year.
If you don’t need an air purifier as powerful as the Honeywell HPA 300, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier with True HEPA and Eco Mode is a sleek, effective unit for smaller spaces. It’s AHAM-certified for rooms up to 326 square feet and cleans the air four times an hour. This Energy Star-rated air purifier is also super-efficient. On medium speed, it used only a bit more electricity than one LED light bulb, according to tests by The Sweethome. Experts there say it’s strong across the board... except for odor removal, which leaves something to be desired.
The AP-1512HH has a timer, three speeds, an automatic mode, and an energy-saving eco mode. On automatic, it senses surrounding air quality and adjusts accordingly. Reviewers like both settings, and they say the controls on top of the unit are easy to use. An air-quality indicator light cycles between blue, purple, and red, and while most owners like this feature, a few say it shows blue almost all the time, and others are annoyed by how bright it is in a dark bedroom. Most say noise is negligible at low speed, and comparable to a standard fan on the highest setting. There is an ionizer on this air purifier, but it can be turned off.
At 18 inches tall, 17 inches wide and 9.5 inches deep, the AP-1512HH is more compact than the HPA 300. It’s also more attractive, especially if you like modern design: A shiny black finish and rounded edges make it a lot nicer to look at than most air purifiers. There is a washable pre-filter for large particles, a carbon filter that should be changed every six months, and a HEPA filter that should be changed once a year. A pack of one HEPA filter and two carbon filters costs about $50.
Clean air shouldn’t be costly, and the top-selling GermGuardian AC4825 means it doesn’t have to be. Like most less-expensive units, this air purifier is best for smaller rooms—in this case, suitable for spaces up to 155 square feet. Aside from the usual carbon and HEPA filters, this Energy Star-rated unit also has a UV-C light to combat germs and bacteria.
The AC4825 has three speed settings, but it lacks some of the features you’ll find on pricier models. For instance, there is no timer or... automatic mode. Reviewers say the unit is fairly quiet, especially on low, while medium and high speeds sound more like a white noise machine. The push-button controls on top of the unit are easy to use, but some users warn the panel’s LED lights are very bright while they’re trying to sleep—particularly the UV-C light indicator. There are reminder lights that blink when it’s time to change a filter or the UV light.
The black AC4825 is tall and slender, measuring 21.5 inches tall, 10 inches wide and 7 inches deep. The unit has a combined pre-filter, carbon filter and HEPA filter that costs about $35 and should be changed every six months. The UV light should be replaced yearly and costs about $16.
The Rabbit Air MinusA2 can cover a lot of ground in larger rooms, so it should be particularly appealing to homeowners with open floor plans. It’s effective in spaces up to 815 square feet with two air changes an hour, or 408 square feet with four air changes an hour (more air changes are better for allergy sufferers). Buyers can even choose a customized filter optimized for their needs, such as odor removal or pet allergies.
The Energy Star-certified MinusA2 features a six-stage purification and... deodorization system. There are five speed settings and push-button controls, and it automatically adjusts fan speed based on its air-quality sensors. It can even act as a large LED mood light. Replacement filter kits run about $85, and all filters should be replaced about once a year.
The Minus A2 can either stand on its own or be mounted to the wall – that way, it won’t take up limited floor space. It’s roughly 24 by 23 by 10 inches, and buyers can even choose an Artists’ Series model that replaces the large black side panel with a famous image such as Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Users say it’s not only more stylish than the average air purifier, but quieter, too.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
Slender, quiet, and effective, the Honeywell HFD-120-Q combines features that make it an ideal pick for bedrooms. It’s AHAM-certified for rooms up to 170 square feet and cleans the air up to five times an hour. It’s Energy Star-rated, and the washable filters mean users save money, not just energy.
The HFD-120-Q oscillates like a fan, a feature owners love because it helps move air in all directions. There are three speed settings and a simple LED control panel on top of the unit. An indicator... light reminds users when to clean the filters, though some reviewers say the light doesn’t come on even when there’s a lot of dust and debris in the filters. A few also say they have to cover the bright LEDs to fall asleep. The noise is comparable to a low-level white noise machine, making it ideal for use when sleeping. While there is a built-in ionizer that can’t be shut off, it does comply with California Air Resources Board standards that limit emissions to fewer than 50 parts per billion.
At 29 inches tall, 11 inches long and 10 inches wide, the HFD-120-Q won’t take up much floor space in the corner of even a small room. Rounded corners and a black finish help it blend in most modern households. The unit has a pre-filter and an electrostatic ifD filter that should be washed about once a month—no replacements required.
If you’re willing to spend a substantial chunk of change to get an air purifier with some extra features, sleek design and an impressive reach, the AIRMEGA 300S is worth consideration. It covers more than 1,200 square feet at two air changes an hour, and a real-time monitor changes colors according to air quality. But the AIRMEGA’s real claim to fame is that it’s app-enabled, so you can control it with iOS or Android phones or tablets.
The AIRMEGA has four fan speeds; a timer; and auto, eco and... sleep modes. Auto mode automatically adjusts the purifier’s speed based on current air quality, while eco shuts down the fan when air quality is good and restarts it when needed. Sleep mode automatically detects darkness and cuts fan speed. Users say the AIRMEGA is quiet and effective, though a few report problems keeping it connected to their phones.
At roughly 22 by 13.5 by 13.5, the AIRMEGA is bigger than some units, but it has a sleek design that will look at home in any tech-savvy home. It requires a HEPA filter and also has a washable carbon filter. A two-pack of HEPA filters is about $99. Filters should be changed about once a year, and indicators tell users when filters need attention.
You’ll pay a premium, but the Dyson Pure Cool Link Air Purifier is arguably the best looking air purifier on the market. It’s also one of the highest-tech because you can control it with your smartphone. Dyson says the unit’s HEPA filter removes more than 99.9 percent of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.3 microns from the air, but it’s unclear how many times it cleans the air each hour or how big of a space it can cover.
The Cool Link boasts 10 airflow settings that can be selected via... remote control. It also doubles as a bladeless, oscillating fan, though some owners say they feel the fan is underpowered. Air purification is automatic—the unit senses air quality and adjusts accordingly. A night mode dims the LED display and limits operation to the quietest settings, and a sleep timer can be set for up to nine hours. Dyson’s Cool Link app lets users operate the unit and monitor air quality, humidity, and temperature data for both inside and outside the home. However, some users report trouble pairing the Cool Link with their phone.
Design is the Cool Link’s strong suit. The sleek, oval-shaped tower is a minimalist’s dream, and that’s a good thing: At 40 inches tall, over 4 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep, this air purifier isn’t going to disappear. It’s available in two color combinations: white with silver accents or blue with slate accents. The 360-degree HEPA filter is about $70 and should be replaced after six months of continuous use.
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