Air Purifier Buying Guide

A Guide To Find The Best Air Purifier To Meet Your Needs

The Greatest Appliances Air Purifier Buying Guide will show you everything you need to know to make an intelligent decision before buying your next purifier.

This Air Purifier Buying Guide will provide you with the information you need to be certain the next air purifier you purchase is the right one for your needs.

If you are able to do it, inhale deeply. Many people that purchase air purifiers do so with the hope that the appliance will help alleviate allergy or asthma issues.

However, contrary to air purifier manufacturer claims, our air purifier buying guide finds that there is really not a lot of medical evidence to suggest that air purifiers provide any relief to respiratory issues.

If you already know all about air purifiers and just want to find the best one to meet for your needs, be sure to check out our Air Purifier Reviews. You should also check out all of our Appliance Buying Guides.

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To start the process of improving the quality of your air indoors, pollutant sources like dust, pet hair, and cigarette smoke should be minimized as much as possible. In our reviews, we check out how well a room air purifier gets rid of smoke and dust from within an enclosed area in addition to how well it performs at both low and high speeds. We also take note of how quiet it is when running.

As far as whole-house filters go, we check to see how freely the air flows through the filter to determine the air-flow resistance.

Be sure to check out our Air Purifier Reviews and find out which are the Best Air Purifiers on the market before you make a buying-decision

The top-rated portable air filters that we reviewed were pretty good at cleaning the air of smoke, pollen, and dust at both high and low speeds. Our recommendations for the whole-house filters performed very well filtering pollen and dust without restricting the airflow of forced-air cooling and heating systems. On the low-performing end, they were not very good at all.

Do-It-Yourself First

Prior to your resorting to purchasing an air purifier, attempt these simple steps to decrease indoor air irritants, including:

  • Vacuum frequently and thoroughly with a vacuum with HEPA filtration.
  • Cease all smoking indoors.
  • Perform maintenance on your heating equipment and change filters with regularity.
  • Reduce the use of candles and wood fires.
  • Utilize exhaust fans in kitchen, bath, and laundry rooms.
  • Don’t keep chemicals, solvents, glues, or pesticides in storage close to your living quarters.
  • If pollen or related allergies prevent you from opening windows, use your AC or forced-air cooling system with a clean filter.

Air Purifier Buying Guide List of Types of Air Purifiers

The best selling air purifiers are of the portable variety. Whole-home systems are another option. We reviewed portable room air purifiers and filters for homes that have forced-air heating and cooling systems.

Room Air Purifiers

These are the best way to go for homes that do not have forced-air heating or cooling.


You can move them from room to room. The majority of room air purifiers weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds, provide a handle, and you place them on the floor or on a table. However, most models weighing more normally come with wheels.

A lot of models come with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which is capable of capturing ultrafine particles. Remember: The majority of HEPA filters must be replaced each year, an cost that could reach the cost of the air cleaner, but a number of models now come with HEPA filters that you can clean.


Room models which utilize either electrostatic-precipitator or ionizer technology might produce some ozone, an irritant to the lungs.

Dedicated ozone generators, a subcategory of room models, emit considerable amounts of ozone by design. According to product manufacturers, that is to decrease the amount of allergens like smoke, pollen, mold, and dust.

Ozone, though, is a very concerning health risk, which prompted the State of California to make the sale of ozone generators (and other air purifiers that produce over 50 parts per billion of ozone) illegal.

Range from $50 to $850

image of honeywell whole house air purifierWhole-House Air Filters

Throwing in a specialized air filter is a cheaper alternative if you already have forced-air heating and cooling as opposed to buying a built-in unit. You pretty much treat it as an air conditioner or furnace filter that you routinely replace.


The advantages are pretty obvious. The process to replace the filter is really easy. Slide out the old filter and slip in the new one. Some filters are pleated or electrically snag the particles and some of the filters are conventional fiberglass. It’s important to note that even though they often have names to make you think otherwise, electrically-charged models are not powered by electricity and they will not emit ozone.

Whole-house air filters typically are available in a range of standard sizes, with some that are able to adapt in order to fit different sized return-air openings or filter-boxes.


You might find that getting your ductwork modified by a professional is necessary in order for some of the more thick filters to fit properly.

You will need to replace the filters every couple of months.

Cost: From $20 to $80 per filter

Air Purifier Buying Guide List Of Things to Consider

Cost of Operation

Several room (aka portable) models can require an annual operating expense of $150 to $200 for filter replacement and electricity (with most of the expense coming from replacement filters). Filter prices can be from as low as $10 each up to approximately $100 (with a number of them reaching well into the hundreds).

Some units utilize a pre-filter to grab bigger airborne particles prior to reaching the HEPA filter, which might result in an extension of life and can cost anywhere from $10 to $35.

Depending on how much it is being used, you normally will want to replace filters every three months. To reduce costs, keep an eye out for room models which are Energy Star qualified. Which means they are somewhat more energy-efficient in comparison to standard models. Some models possess washable filters that you simply clean and re-use. For whole-house filters, yearly costs for replacements are usually less than $100.

The Cleaner The Better

Any kind of air purifier will not work very well if the filter gets dusty and clogged. Also, if the filter gets full, it could stop working or even send the pollutants back into the air.

Quietness Matters

Another important factor is noise level, specifically if the room where you work or sleep is where you will be running the air purifier. We suggest, for the sake of being efficient, selecting a bigger unit and have it run at a lower speed as opposed to getting a small unit and cranking that baby up full-blast.

Air Purifier Buying Guide List Of Important Features

image of honeywell room air purifierFan: The majority of room air cleaners utilize a fan to suck in air for filtration. Those that do not have a fan (the air circulates naturally throughout your home) tend to be more quiet, however the ones we reviewed without fans performed poorly.

Servicing indicator: An air cleaner that’s clogged is not very efficient. This feature alerts you when the unit has to be cleaned or the filter needs to be replaced.

Programmable timer: These controls let you set the purifier to run a couple of hours prior to your using a room, or turns it off at a set time automatically.

Carrying handle:  Allows you to easily move unit from one room to another.

Number of speeds: The unit makes adjustments to your air-cleaning needs—less while you sleep are working and require quiet, more during prime time for pollen.

Ionizer: If a unit comes with an ionizer (attracting particles due to an effect similar to static electricity), it’s critical that it doesn’t emit ozone (it might state this on the box or in an operator manual; you can also see our Reviews), a hazardous lung irritant.

Remote control: Allows you to easily make adjustments to the settings from anywhere in the room.

Dirt sensor: In a number of room models, the unit adjusts fan speeds automatically to match the level of pollutants in the air.

Washable pre-filter: A pre-filter that is washable – and re-usable – grabs big particles; if it’s washable, it can help reduce the overhead costs. But, several of our higher-rated models did not provide a washable filter.

Air Purifier Buying Guide Time To Clear The Air

What Makes Them Awesome

The higher-rated air purifiers are perform particularly well at filtering pollutant particles like dust, pollen, or smoke from fireplaces or candles.

What Could Be Better

VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) from paints, cleaning products, and adhesives, and other kinds of gaseous pollutants pose different issues.

A lot of the portable models that have carbon pre-filters that allege to filter VOCs, but the Environmental Protection Agency cautions that such filters are geared towards certain specific gaseous pollutants but not for others. The EPA also states that no single air purifier that should be expected to get rid of all gaseous pollutants found in the normal household.

Carbon filters have to be replaced frequently, normally every three to six months, or they will cease to work altogether.

What the Terms Mean

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers certifies the majority of room models as part of a voluntary program that includes appropriate room size and maximum clean-air delivery rate (CADR), a measure of cleaning speed. We review a CADR of over 350 to be outstanding and lower than 100 to be less than acceptable.

Select a model built for a room bigger than your own for improved cleaning at a slower, more quiet speed. Several whole-house filters provide a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

The best-rated models in our reviews normally have a MERV higher than 10.

Air Purifier Buying Guide Favorite Brands

Blueair is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Blueair air purifiers, an international company based in Sweden and founded in 1996, are available nationally from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Amazon, Sears, and Costco. Prices range from $350 to $1100.

Dyson is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Dyson is a British technology company that designs and manufactures a number of products such as hair dryers, humidifiers, air purifiers, and more. Products are sold directly through Dyson, as well as at most major retailers.

Germ Guardian is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Germ Guardian develops and sells products for mass retailers. Its air purifiers are available online at Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, and Amazon. Prices range from $80 to $500.

Honeywell is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Honeywell is a mass-market brand available at mass merchants, including Walmart and Target, and widely online. Price range from $100 to $260.

Holmes is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Holmes claims clean, “comfortable” air as part of its marketing strategy for air purifiers. The units retail at mass merchants, including Target, Walmart, and Sears. Prices range from $15 to $300.

Hunter is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Hunter is a popular brand for home shopping channels. They are also available at mass merchants and home centers, including Walmart, Best Buy, and Lowe’s. Prices range from $60 to $150.

Idylis is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Idylis is Lowe’s private label brand of air purifiers and humidifiers. Prices range from $70 to $250.

Kenmore is a Favorite Brand of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Kenmore is a Sears private-label brand. Its products are sold at Sears and Kmart stores, as well as online. Prices range from $120 to $220.

Other Brands that are favorites of this Air Purifier Buying Guide

Other brands include: Allergy Pro, Electrolux, Frigidaire, Hamilton Beach, Homedics, Ionic Pro, Rowenta, Sharp, SPT, Whirlpool, and Winix.

We hope you’ve learned a lot from this air purifier buying guide, feeling more equipped to buy the best purifier for your specific needs because of what you’ve learned here.