Your home is a refuge from your busy life, right? I know that I go to my home to escape from work, friends, relatives, errands, and the noise of life. But there is one thing that your home is NOT an escape from – dirty air.
The EPA says that indoor air often has two to five times the amount of pollutants as outdoor air. That’s twice as many dust mites, pollen, dander, and other airborne things that make you cough and sneeze. Indoor air also has pollutants that don’t exist outside, like off-gassing from all the products in your home. The foam in your seat cushions, the glue in your table, and the fire repellant in your drapes all give off chemical gases that wind up in your lungs. And to top it off, your home HVAC filter only provides the illusion of security, since no home air filter is capable of cleaning the air to a satisfactory level.
Fortunately, we have home air-purifying systems that can eliminate harmful air pollutants and gases. Air purifiers come to us from some of the most polluted cities in the world, mostly in Asia. The air in cities like Hong Kong and Seoul is so polluted and unbearable that owning an air purifier is a necessity.
If you need to eliminate smells, have crippling allergies, or just need a breath of fresh air, then an air purifier is definitely a needed home appliance.
Air purifiers use a series of filters and a fan to cycle air in a room. Each filter is designed to attack particular pollutants. Typically, air purifiers will have at least a carbon filter and a true HEPA filter in addition to other filtering methods.
After extensive research, I have compiled a list of the top 5 air purifiers currently on the market.
While some air purifiers can have niche customers in mind, I made my list based on what an average consumer would want in an air-cleaning system.
I rank them using six different criteria:
- Initial cost: The price of the unit at the time of purchase
- Long-term cost: The cost of the unit plus filters over 5 years
- User ratings: Average star rating on Amazon
- Manufacturer support: Warranty information
- Filter capability: Quality of filtering technology
- Life integration: How it incorporates into everyday life
Nabbing the number-one spot is the Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0. This air purifier is at the top of the list with its advanced filtering technology, low maintenance, and long-term affordability.
The Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 has a permanent washable prefilter made from micro-mesh, an advanced granular activated carbon filter, a special HEPA filter designed for reducing buildup, and an ionizer. Together, these technologies pack a serious punch, which is one of the reasons it clinches the number-one spot.
Like several other purifiers on this list, the BioGS 2.0 uses a granular charcoal filter. These specialized filters have many times more activated carbon than a standard carbon filter. The greater amount of activated carbon makes a huge difference when it comes to filtering odors, harmful gases, and VOCs.
The BioGS 2.0 also has an advanced HEPA filter with a special coating that kills bacteria and prevents germs from growing on the filter and creating a breeding ground.
Not only are these advanced filters better for cleaning the air, they are also better for your wallet by allowing three years in between filter changes. Despite the Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0’s high initial cost of $400, it has a five-year cost comparable to other devices on this list of $480.
Another reason the BioGS takes the number-one spot is because of how little you have to worry about changing filters. Three years is a long time, and it’s hard to believe it’s possible to go that long in between filter changes. The Rabbit Air does require regular cleaning, as with all air purifiers. So don’t forget to wash your prefilter and vacuum your HEPA every month.
The Rabbit Air also comes with a five-year manufacturer's warranty, so you will have a chance to actually realize those five-year cost savings. In the world of air purifiers, one and three years is typical for a warranty. The Rabbit Air has one of the longest warranties out there and the company itself is based in the US, so you won’t need to ship your air purifier overseas if you need any work done.
One of the great features of the BioGS 2.0 is how perfectly designed for the average person it is. Not only does it look great, but it also has features designed for easy use, and it is a great size for most homes.
The Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 has a nice-looking remote control, an air quality sensor and odor sensor, ionizer on/off switch, an auto mode, and a timer. These are all great features to look for in an air purifier, and it’s rare for a single device to have all of them.
The BioGS 2.0 is also perfectly suited for an average-sized living space. It’s designed to filter 625 square feet of space, which is about the size of an open floor plan area. This beats the serviceable area of most other units on this list without being so big that it won’t meet its potential. Most floors of a townhouse or apartment are about 625 square feet, making the Rabbit Air capable of handling your living space.
Advanced filtering technology and features, ease of use, low maintenance, perfect fit for most homes.
The initial investment is quite high.
If the high initial cost of the Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 caught you off guard, then the Coway AP-1512HH might be the right air purifier for you. At almost half the cost of the BioGS, the Coway AP-1512HH is a highly capable air purifier for the average user.
The Coway AP-1512HH is one of the most popular air purifiers on the market, and it’s not just because it looks like a giant iPod shuffle. This air purifier is able to cycle large rooms several times an hour, all while providing excellent conveniences for the average person.
While some of the purifiers on this list use more advanced filtering technologies, the Coway is very much standard. The Coway AP-1512HH uses a washable micromesh prefilter for catching large debris, a thin activated carbon layer for attacking odors, a true HEPA filter for doing the heavy filtering, and an ionizer for freshening the air. This filtering setup is fairly standard, though many devices don’t have a washable prefilter. But while it may not have a granular activated carbon filter, it will still filter 99.97% of particulate larger than .3 microns.
The reason the Coway made the number-two spot on the list is its price relative to its feature set.
The Coway AP-1512HH has a timer, multi-speed fan, auto mode, eco mode, ionizer, and even an adjustable particulate sensor. The auto and eco modes on this air purifier really make it easy to use.
Just set to auto mode and the fan will adjust based on the contamination levels in the air. Set to eco mode if you want the fan to be able to turn off when the air is clean. Also, if you think the Coway is too sensitive to contaminated air, or not sensitive enough, then you can adjust the particle sensor to your liking.
One of the big reasons the Coway made it on the list is its large room size rating. The Coway is rated for rooms up to 528 square feet. While that is less than the Rabbit Air and the AIRMEGA on this list, it is also much more reasonably priced at $230. With filter replacements every year, the five-year cost is about $472.
Great features for ease of use, large cleaning area, reasonable upfront cost.
Average air purification technology, average long-term cost.
The AIRMEGA 400S is the air purifier that all other air purifiers hope to be. Of the units on our list, the AIRMEGA has the most advanced user interface technology, is among the most advanced in cleaning technology, and is capable of cleaning the most indoor space. So why is this powerhouse only number three on the list? Because of the price.
The AIRMEGA is an ultra-premium air purifier at an ultra-premium price. The initial cost of the 400S is $637, which is almost three times as much as the Coway and more than six times the cost of the PureZone (our number-five purifier). And with expensive filter changes every year, the five-year cost of the AIRMEGA is about $1,287, two and a half times as much as the next most costly unit on the list. But, for all that money, you sure get one hell of an air purifier.
The AIRMEGA takes in air from two sides and discharges air out from the top. This is great for circulation and means that it uses two micromesh prefilters, two granular activated carbon filters, and two green HEPA filters. Having two sets of filters allows the AIRMEGA 400S to cycle through a lot of air quickly, contributing to its 1,560-square-foot rating, the largest on our list by far.
Like the Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0, the AIRMEGA uses an advanced granular carbon filter that has much more activated carbon than most other filters. This makes it much more effective at attacking odors, VOCs, and harmful gases.
The AIRMEGA also uses a more advanced HEPA filter that is infused with antibacterial material that prevents germs from living and growing on your filter.
The AIRMEGA’s air purification technology is top notch, but it is also packed with technology that helps with its ease of use. The 400S has real-time air quality sensors that will adjust the speed of the fan based on the particulate count in the air. It also has light sensors that will put the device into sleep mode when the lights go out. In sleep mode, the device dims its lights and lowers the fan speed so that it can’t be heard, all while still cleaning the air. This is a great feature to have if you want to go to sleep with it in the room or if you want to watch a movie.
The AIRMEGA is also the only air purifier on our list that is app-connected and even Amazon Alexa-connected. As long as you have internet, you can control the AIRMEGA using your smartphone. Did you forget to turn it off before you left for vacation? No problem! Just open your app and adjust the device from anywhere.
Being Alexa-enabled is also a great feature. Just give your commands and it obeys. “Hey Alexa, turn on the AIRMEGA.”
The last thing to mention is the superb build quality. This device is really built to last and to look great. The design and the fit and finish are obviously of high quality. The five-year warranty is also one of the longest in the industry.
Great for large spaces, excellent technology and features, smartphone- and Alexa-connected.
High initial and long-term costs.
The Winix 5500-2 is one of the more popular air purifiers on the market and has been for a long time. It has great cleaning technology, comes at a reasonable price, but is also decidedly the ugliest air purifier on our list.
As far as pure value for the money, the Winix 5500-2 might be the best. Even though it is an older design compared to the rest of the list, the 5500-2 has some great technology that helped pioneer the field.
The Winix 5500-2 uses a washable micromesh prefilter to catch large debris, uses an advanced granular activated carbon filter for neutralizing odors and stopping harmful gases, and has a true HEPA filter for fine particulate. Winix also uses a technology that it calls Plasmawave. The Plasmawave system releases hydroxyls into the air which help kill bacteria, viruses, and VOCs.
The Winix has an air quality sensor so that it can adjust the fan speed based on the needs of the room, and a sleep mode for quiet operation while you are sleeping, watching a movie, or reading a book.
You may have noticed that many of these features are on the more expensive models on our list. So the Winix must be in the same price range, right? Wrong. The Winix 5500-2 is only $158, an incredible bargain for what you get. And with inexpensive filter changes once a year, the Winix 5500-2 has a long-term cost of only $275, comparable to the PureZone.
The Winix has a coverage area of 360 square feet, which is great for most single rooms but may not be enough for large open floor plans.
One of the downsides to the Winix is its short one-year warranty. Despite being one of the more popular models, the Winix 5500-2 only has a 4.3-star rating on Amazon, which may be due to reliability problems with some models. A longer warranty would help ease the minds of buyers and is one reason that the 5500-2 isn’t higher on the list.
Great cleaning technology, low cost.
Older design, short warranty, average coverage.
The PureZone 3-in-1 air purifier is a great budget option for people who want excellent quality for use in their medium-sized room. The PureZone is the most budget-friendly air purifier on the list at only $100 and with a five-year cost of only $250. Despite other models having more advanced features, most people seem to be satisfied with simple technology and low prices. This is evidenced by the 4.8-star user rating that the PureZone 3-in-1 has on Amazon.
One of the reasons the PureZone is so reliable is that it has such a simple design. The air filter is three filters built into one and priced at only $15 for replacements. This is great for simplicity’s sake, but it also means that you can’t vacuum your HEPA to make it last longer, which is part of the reason that the filter needs to be changed every six months.
The 3-in-1 filter contains a prefilter for large particles, a thin carbon filter for neutralizing odors, and a true HEPA filter for catching microparticles. After air goes through the filter, the PureZone uses UV light to kill bacteria and viruses in the exiting air.
On top of the device, there are four simple buttons. There is an on/off switch, a fan speed button, a button for activating the UV light, and a timer button. It’s a simple enough device that gets the job done. But simplicity creates reliability, which is how PureZone is able to offer a five-year warranty on this device.
At 200 square feet, the PureZone has the lowest coverage of any of our top 5 units. But 200 square feet is still a 14-by-14-foot room. If you only want an air purifier for a bedroom, kitchen, or small apartment, then 200 square feet is all the coverage you need.
Low cost, easy to use.
Small coverage, limited technology.
Of course, picking out an air purifier that fits your needs is not as simple as buying the number-one device on a top 5 list. Each person is different, and so are their needs.
People with bad allergies may need the Rabbit Air for its superior air-cleaning technology. People with large homes may want the AIRMEGA for its amazing coverage. A student who just wants fresh air in their musty dorm will likely find that the PureZone fits all their needs. What’s most important is that you find a device that fits your lifestyle best.
What About the Cheapies?
Did the price tag on our top 5 list make you blush? Here are a few budget options that can meet your needs.
The GermGuardian AC4100 is a tabletop air purifier. At $55, it is rated for rooms up to 100 square feet. This is small but great for a home office, dorm room, or bedroom. It uses a true HEPA filter, carbon filter, and even UV light to kill bacteria and viruses.
Hamilton Beach TrueAir
The Hamilton Beach is a true budget air purifier at only $43. This device is rated for rooms up to 160 square feet but uses only one filter technology, the HEPA filter.
The GermGuardian AC4825 is the best-selling air purifier on Amazon. Likely, its good price ($80) and decent cleaning technology have helped it take the number-one spot. The AC4825 is rated for rooms up to 160 square feet and uses a carbon filter, true HEPA filter, and a UV light to scrub the air. The lower build quality, small coverage area, and some design flaws kept this unit off of our top 5 list, but it deserves an honorable mention for its great value.