I Test the Best Air Purifiers for a Living, and These Are the 10 That Really Work

A collection of the air purifiers
Terri Williams | SPY.com

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I’ve tested dozen of air purifiers — in fact, next to coffee makers and vacuums, they’re my favorite item to test. In part, that’s due to the fact that I’m terribly allergic to tobacco smoke, and unfortunately, my state has the 11th highest smoking rate in the nation. And when 21% of adults (more than 1 in 5 people) smoke, it’s impossible to dodge second-hand smoke from your neighbors.

But tobacco smoke isn’t the only thing that can negatively affect indoor air quality. Dust, pollen and animal dander can also make the air inside of your home more polluted than the air outdoors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution can cause irritated eyes, throat, and nose, along with headaches. Long-term effects include respiratory diseases along with heart disease and cancer.

While even the best air purifiers cannot completely combat the effects of indoor air pollution, they can help to remove some of those toxins from the air, making it easier to breathe. And in addition to removing tobacco smoke, dust, pollen and pet dander, air purifiers also help to remove other air pollutants, including other types of smoke (such as from cooking and wildfires), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde. Smart purifiers can even be controlled from your smartphone and send you notifications on the quality of your air.

In addition to a quality air purifier, I also recommend using a good humidifier to add moisture back into the air. Regularly cleaning with a good vacuum cleaner can also help remove some of the dust and debris that leads to airborne pollutants.

Below, you’ll find my top 10 picks for the best air purifier, and they’re items that I have tested extensively. Most of these appliances have been in my home for over a year, and I can say, unequivocally, that they really do work to remove pollutants and allergens.

  

How We Chose the Best Air Purifiers: Testing Criteria

When trying to decide between air purifiers, there are several important factors to consider. Some will determine the overall effectiveness of the unit, while others take your personal preferences into account. If you don’t want to pay more for smart features, then you can save some money. In addition to comparing the specifications, price and features, I also tested each of these air purifiers within my own home. Here are the criteria I considered for this review:

Filters – One crucial consideration is the type of filter(s) used in an air purifier. True HEPA filters are excellent at capturing cigarette fumes, dust particles and fine dust, and some manufacturers say they can even capture mold. In theory, HEPA filters should even be able to filter the coronavirus from the air (by trapping the droplets that carry it). Like the best N95 masks, true HEPA filters can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. Activated carbon filters are good at removing odors from VOCs, pets, food and cigarettes. Some air purifiers combine HEPA filters and activated carbon filters, delivering the best of both worlds.

Filters can also be expensive — and some are more expensive than others — so filter replacement is something that you should take into account when determining the total cost of ownership. Some of the best air purifiers even have washable filters and pre-filters to capture hair, fur and dust, which can save you money, but washable filters can also degrade over time.

Room size – You’ll also need to take room size into consideration. Larger air purifiers tend to cost more, so smaller, more cost-friendly models may look more appealing to your wallet. However, you should purchase an air purifier based on the size of the room. If you place a unit designed for a smaller room into a larger, open-concept space, it’s not going to work effectively.

A collection of air purifiers tested by SPY.com A collection of air purifiers tested by the author. Terri Williams | SPY.com

Fan speeds – The number of fan speeds on an air purifier is a personal preference. However, you can’t go wrong with multiple settings. I adjust the fan speeds depending on the level of smoke that I detect in the air — although, usually, the air purifiers are on an auto setting to self-adjust. I would highly recommend an auto setting so you don’t have to worry about decreasing or increasing the speed.

Noise – Regardless of what air purifier manufacturers tell you, whether the fan is quiet or not depends on the setting. Some are louder than others, but they’re all pretty loud on a high setting. But usually, you would only need to leave it on high for around 30 minutes for an intense cleaning, and then you can put it back on a lower setting.

Other features – Convenience features may or may not be important to you. For example, some air purifiers have remote controls so you can operate them from across the room. Some will provide filter notifications to let you know when the filter needs to be changed. There are also air purifiers on the list that provide real-time information, so you can just look at the display panel to see if the air is in the good, average or poor range. Smart air purifiers can also be controlled via an app so you can change settings and view real-time data on your smartphone.

Effectiveness – It’s relatively easy to know if the air smells cleaner — incidents of sneezing and coughing declines, and the level of dust decreases.  However, I’m not a scientist, so I cannot vouch for the veracity of claims that air purifiers can remove specific concentrations of gasses in the building, or that the UV lights can effectively remove mold and bacteria from the air. At least one of my favorites on this list makes that claim; however, the UV feature is optional, and I never select it.

Also, some “features” are quite controversial. For example, air purifiers with an ion generator (ionizer) claim to remove allergens from the air. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, ionizers and any type of ozone generators can be detrimental to your health. If an air purifier has this setting, I would recommend leaving it off. If that’s the only way it cleans, avoid that model altogether.

  

The Top 10 Air Purifiers of 2022

All of the air purifiers below were tested based on the criteria outlined above, along with an evaluation of their design, performance and overall value for the money. Fortunately, we were able to include some affordable air purifiers as well, although we didn’t include any products under $200. If you want to buy one of the best air purifiers for sale in 2022, then you should plan on spending between $200-$700.

This post will be updated as new air purifiers become available, and we’re always searching for new appliances to review. For now, keep reading to find the top air purifiers for your home.

1. Coway Airmega AP-1512HHS

BEST OVERALL

If this Coway Airmega AP-1512HHS air purifier below looks rather weathered, that’s because it is! I’ve had this one since May 2020, and I’m still enjoying every moment of using it. The design is stylish, and the air purifier is easy to move when I need to dust or vacuum around it. More importantly, it has a pre-filter, carbon filter and True HEPA filter, and together, they work to clean the air quietly and effectively.

The smart air purifier also connects via app and even has voice control. However, I love being able to just look at the top right side to easily determine the indoor air quality. If it’s blue, the air quality is good; a pinkish color indicates that the air is moderately good; and red means the air quality is unhealthy. There’s also a light that glows when each filter needs to be cleaned/changed. The Coway Airmega AP-1512HHS has a timer I can set for it to run 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours, and it has an auto setting and eco mode to save energy. Of course, I can also do and see everything on the app as well. The $300 price tag isn’t cheap, but I believe this is the best air purifier for most people.

PROS

  • Multiple-filter system
  • Auto setting
  • App/voice control
  • Easy to transport

CONS

  • None that I can find

Quick Specs:  

  • Recommended room size: 325 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 9.6” x 16.8” x 18.3”
  • Weight: 12.34 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 3
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
Coway Airmega AP-1512HHS in home Terri Williams
  

2. TruSens Smart Large Air Purifier

RUNNER UP

The TruSens is another purifier that I’ve had since May 2020, and I recommend it for several reasons. The five fan speeds (including whisper and turbo) provide more choices, and the touch controls are really simple to use. The air purifier also includes a Sensor Pod that is placed on the other side of the room and detects changes in the air even several feet away (and adjusts the fan’s speed accordingly). There’s a washable pre-filter, carbon filter and True HEPA filter. The air purifier has a UV purification setting, but I don’t use it. Although the TruSens is designed for rooms up to 1,425 sq ft, I’ve found that it works best in smaller rooms (up to 1,000 ft).

In addition to red, yellow and blue lights to let me know the air quality reading, there are also actual numbers based on the air purifier’s algorithm. For example, yellow indicates moderate air quality, but the range is between 50-100, so a numerical reading of 90 lets me know the room is close to entering a poor-quality range. Other indicator lights are for replacing the filters and UV bulb. The lights on the control panel can also be turned off when I’m sleeping. The timer can be set to turn the purifier off after 2, 4, 8 or 12 hours. TruSens isn’t as well known as some of my other picks for the best air purifiers such as Dyson or Coway, but it’s a dependable model and a great choice for medium-sized rooms and homes.

PROS

  • Sleek design
  • Handle makes it easy to carry
  • Multiple-filter system
  • SensorPod

CONS

  • Must turn air purifier on side to change filters

Quick Specs:

  • Recommended room size: 1425 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 10” x 10” x 28”
  • Weight: 13.23 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 5
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
TruSens Smart Large Air Purifier in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

 

3. Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde TP09

BEST ALL-IN-ONE

I’ve had the Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde since November 2021, and honestly, I’ve never had an appliance that multitasks to this degree. I will admit that it’s insanely expensive. However, when you consider how much you would spend on a good air purifier, a good fan and a good humidifier, maybe it’s not so expensive after all. (Plus, this appliance is powered by Dyson’s famously reliable engineering.) It’s quite convenient to have one appliance that can perform three different functions, and this is easily one of the best air purifiers I’ve ever tested.

This makes it an all-season air purifier, since I can use the fan in warm months and use the humidifier in cold months. But most of the time, I’m only using the air purification function. Dyson’s smart air purifier uses a HEPA H13 filter and an activated carbon filter. The filter is sealed to keep pollutants inside. In addition, the catalytic filter (which doesn’t need to be replaced) traps formaldehyde molecules. I tend to use the auto mode, but the remote control is magnetic and fits on top of the air purifier, so I don’t have to worry about losing it. The remote can control all of the functions and speeds, but you can also use the Dyson Link app as well as Alexa (or your voice assistant of choice) to control it as well.

PROS

  • Magnetic remote control
  • Includes fan
  • Kills formaldehyde
  • Includes humidifier
  • Dyson engineering

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No transport handle

Quick Specs: 

  • Recommended room size: 2860 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 12.22” x 11.02” x 36.33”
  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 10
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes

Full Review: The Dyson Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde TP09

Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde TP09 in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

4. LG PuriCare 360

BEST DISPLAY

I’ve only had the LG PuriCare 360-Degree Air Purifier since March 2022, but it has already become one of my favorites. When I turn it on, the Clean Booster head (which lays flat when the appliance is off) slowly rotates 70 degrees, and I can also select “swing” to turn it left or right. Booster mode helps clean and circulate the air quickly. However, I can also choose to use Smart mode, (in which the top is flat) to automatically make adjustments based on the air quality in my home (there’s also a Normal mode).

In Boost mode, it’s a lot easier to see the features on the very impressive control panel (mode, speed, booster speed, swing, indicator, and sleep timer) from a distance. That’s important because there’s a lot of information on the status display panel. For example, in addition to showing the overall air quality in colors, it also uses colors (red, orange, yellow and green) to show particulate matter and concentration of odor, while the concentration of particles is shown in numbers. The smart air purifier uses a True HEPA filter, a carbon filter and an ultra-fine filter. It comes with a remote and can also be used with the LG ThinQ app. (One caution: I would be concerned about kids or pets being around the top as it’s moving.)

PROS

  • Interesting design and great display
  • Clean Boost head
  • Multiple-filter system
  • Numerous air quality indicators

CONS

  • Heavy, with no transport handle

Key Specs:

  • Recommended room size: 310 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 13.5” x 13.5” x 23.1”
  • Weight: 25.4 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 5
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
LG PuriCare 360 in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

5. Alen BreathSmart 75i

BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS

I’ve been running this Alen Air Purifier in my bedroom non-stop 24/7/365 (unless I’m out of town) since September 2020, so I can definitely vouch for its longevity. The air purifier is recommended for areas up to 1,300 square feet, and my bedroom isn’t even close to being that large. However, when I’m asleep, it’s the perfect height for me to just roll over and adjust with just one eye open. Even though there are five speeds, I typically run it on speed 2 — and if my neighbors are outside smoking while I’m trying to sleep, I’ll bump it up to 3 — which is still quiet enough not to disrupt my sleep cycles. Honestly, I never need to go to speeds 4 and 5.

There’s a color-coded system to let me know how clean (or dirty) the air is, and I can choose the type of H13 True HEPA filter to use. I use the B7-Fresh with activated carbon for allergens and smoke, but there are also two other filter choices for this model — and all of the features come with their own pre-filter that can be vacuumed for added cleanliness. Another feature I love is the ability to choose the panel color. I chose a red cover, but then purchased a gray (stainless steel) cover so I can swap them out occasionally (can you tell that I really like my air purifiers?). Other panel colors choices include white, espresso, weathered gray, oak and graphite. Be warned: this air purifier is heavy, but there’s a handle that makes it easy to move when I need to vacuum or clean my bedroom.

PROS

  • Easy to operate
  • Multi-filter system
  • Choice of colors
  • Choice of filter types
  • Transport handle

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Key Specs:

  • Recommended room size:1300 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 12” x 19” x 27”
  • Weight: 27 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 5
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
Alen air purifier in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

6. Aura Smart Air Purifier

BEST WALL MOUNTED

I’ve had the Aura Air since August 2021, and have found it to be quite effective. It’s a great choice if you’re out of floor space, or if you have small kids or pets. Initially, I was rather apprehensive about hanging this on my wall (primarily because I was concerned it wouldn’t fit my décor). However, most of it is encased in grey cloth and actually looks like wall art (except for the unsightly cord).

The air purifier uses a pre-filter, HEPA filter, carbon filter, UV light and a sterionizer. The light at the bottom changes colors to let me know if the air is clean or not, and also if the WiFi connection has been lost. A WiFi connection doesn’t affect the device’s ability to function, but since it can only be controlled via the app or voice assistants, if I happen to lose my connection, I can’t make adjustments or view air quality indicators. It’s also rather loud, even on lower settings, so I tend to run it for about 30 minutes when I’m not in the bedroom.

PROS

  • Saves floor space
  • Works well
  • Detailed air quality data

CONS

  • No manual controls
  • No remote
  • Rather loud

Key Specs: 

  • Recommended room size: 600 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 5.91” x 14.76” x 14.76”
  • Weight: 12.1 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 4
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
Aura smart air purifier hanging on wall Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

7. Oransi Mod

MOST USER FRIENDLY

I’ve had the Oransi since October 2020, and it’s incredibly easy to use. Simple touch controls turn it on/off and reset the change filter notification. And there’s a reason why I don’t know the number of fan speeds: I merely slide my finger around the touchscreen to increase and decrease the speed like a dimmer switch. The Oransi Mod uses a three-filter system that includes a pre-filter, True HEPA filter and an activated carbon layer.

It’s heavy to move around, but the colorful orange handle helps. Some air purifiers — especially those marketed for use in large rooms — struggle to actually be effective in large spaces. However, this one lives up to the hype, and in my testing, I found that it does a great job of cleaning smoke, dust and other pollutants from the air.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Unique design
  • Effectively cleans large rooms
  • Touchscreen controls

CONS

  • Must turn upside down to change filter

Key Specs:

  • Recommended room size: 1,250 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 14” x 14” x 25”
  • Weight:  18 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: Variable
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: n/a
Oransi Mod air purifier in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

8. Coway Airmega 400S

BEST FOR EXTRA-LARGE SPACES

The Coway Airmega 400S is one of the two air purifiers that I’ve only had for a short period of time (February 2022). Although its brand spanking new, this model has already more than earned its spot among the very best air purifiers. Even in a short period of time, it’s proven to be easy to use and effective in cleaning the air in large rooms. The smart purifier uses a multi-filter system that includes a True HEPA filter, active carbon and a washable pre-filter.

The rings on the front turn different colors to let me easily view air quality in real-time, and the indicators on the top alert me when it’s time to wash or replace filters. The air purifier has five fan speeds, including a smart and a sleep mode. I can set the timer for 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours. In addition to the manual controls, the Coway IoCare Mobile app lets me control and monitor air quality remotely, and I can also use Alexa for voice control.

PROS

  • Handles on the side
  • Can slide on floor
  • Multi-filter system
  • Uses Coway IoCare App
  • Attractive design
  • Great price for the capacity

CONS

  • Bulky

Key Specs:

  • Recommended room size: 1,560 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 15” x 15” x 23”
  • Weight:  24.7 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 5
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
Coway Airmega 400s in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

9. BlueAir Blue Pure 211+

BEST SMELLING AIR

I’ve had the Blue Air 411+ since June 2020, and it produces the best smelling air of all of the purifiers I’ve tested. To clarify, they all remove bad and stale odors and create a fresh clean smell. However, the BlueAir Blue Pure 211+ produces a particularly nice smelling home — although it’s not perfumed in any way. The air purifier uses a HEPA Silent filtration system that includes a carbon filter, particle filter, and washable fabric pre-filter.

In the photo above, you’ll notice that I don’t have a fabric pre-filter on my unit. The pre-filters come in various colors, like grey and black, but I honestly think the fabric pre-filters detract from the beautiful Scandinavian design, so I just commit to vacuuming the exterior and interior more often. Like the best air purifiers I’ve reviewed, the Blue Pure 211+ is also easy to operate. There’s just one button, and I press it to turn the device on and also to change fan speeds.

PROS

  • Very easy to operate
  • Great smell
  • Color assortment for pre-filters

CONS

  • Heavy
  • Hard to transport with no handles

Key Specs:

  • Recommended room size: 540 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 13” x 13” x 20.4 inches
  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 3
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
BlueAir Blue Pure 211+ in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

10. Bissell Air320 Air Purifier

BEST FOR TIGHT SPACES

The Bissell Air320 looks like a modern piece of furniture, and it’s been gracing my home since March 2021. It’s a work of art, with a slim profile, grey fabric panel and wooden legs, and it can even be placed flush up against the wall if needed. Plus, the cord can be stored inside of the air purifier to save even more floor space. It uses an H13 HEPA filter, along with a carbon filter and pre-HEPA filter.

The single button/dial is responsible for controlling everything, even resetting the filter alert. The digital display is right below the control dial. It shows the air quality in numbers and colors (for example, blue 002 is good, yellow 139 is moderate, and red 457 is poor). The display also shows the fan speeds, which include an auto-adjust speed setting. This air purifier would be perfect for a small space like a 1-bedroom apartment or studio thanks to its compact shape and super-attractive design.

PROS

  • Slim design fits right up against the wall
  • Easy to operate
  • Works well even on lower settings
  • Only designed for very small spaces

CONS

  • Hard to read

Key Specs:

  • Recommended room size: 308 sq ft
  • Dimensions: 14.5” x 8.5” x 25”
  • Weight: 19.2 pounds
  • Fan Speeds: 5
  • Indoor Air Quality Feedback: Yes
Bissell Air320 Air Purifier in home Terri Williams | SPY.com
  

About the Author

Terri Williams has tested and written about home and tech products for a variety of digital publications, including Popular Science, Architectural Digest, CNN, NBC News, USA Today, Tom’s Guide, Popular Mechanics, The Daily Beast, The Spruce, and several other websites. She has tested dozens of air purifiers and other types of home appliances, and she loves trying out new products. As an allergy sufferer, she depends on high-quality air purifiers to breathe easy.

    

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