Best Air Purifier of 2021
$159.99 at Amazon
$177.07 at Amazon
$279 at Amazon
$134.99 at Amazon
$88.95 at Amazon
|Pros||Exceptional air cleaning performance, very quiet operation, simple user experience||Excellent air cleaning performance, quiet operation, average lifetime cost||Good air cleaning performance, seperate air quality meter, quiet||Good air cleaning performance, very quiet, simple to use||Quiet, low operating costs|
|Cons||Expensive||Expensive up front cost||Expensive upfront cost, no CADR rating||Somewhat expensive filters||Somewhat weak|
|Bottom Line||Excellent, high quality air cleaning performance from a quiet and convenient appliance||A top performing model that combines average lifetime costs to create a great value||Easy to use and powerful, great for those dealing with common pollen and pet allergies||One of our favorite models, it's a high performing, quiet machine at a mid range price||It's quiet, well designed, and relatively inexpensive but feels a bit underpowered|
|Rating Categories||Winix 5500-2||Coway AP-1512HH||TruSens Z-2000||GermGuardian AC5350B||Levoit LV-H132|
|Air Cleaning Performance (40%)|
|Ease Of Use (25%)|
|Operating Cost (10%)|
|Specs||Winix 5500-2||Coway AP-1512HH||TruSens Z-2000||GermGuardian AC5350B||Levoit LV-H132|
|Dimensions||8.2" × 15" × 23.6"||16.5" x 9.5" x 18.5"||12.6" x 11.6" x 25.4"||9.06" x 6.69" x 27.56"||7.5" x 7.5" x 13"|
|Weight||15.4 lb||12.7 lb||7.4 lb||11.25 lb||8.45 lb|
|CADR||246 CFM||240 CFM||N/A||125 CFM||110 CFM|
|Estimated Lifetime Cost||$660||$556||$548||$542||$323|
|Airborne Particulate Reduction After 1 Hour (%)||99.99%||99.84%||99.85%||99.50%||95.66%|
Best Overall Air Purifier
The Winix 5500-2 is the most effective air purifier we tested, as it consistently reduced the measurable concentration of airborne particles by 99.99%. Perhaps equally impressive is that it achieved this without producing any more noise than a gentle and inoffensive humming sound. Many of the other units produce an obnoxious and high-pitched whistle, which drove our testers more than a little crazy. This unit is loaded with features, such as an air quality monitor that will adjust the settings automatically based on current ambient air quality, a remote control, different fan settings, and programmable timers.
The obvious drawback is the price. This high-quality machine comes at a cost much above the average of the other models we tested. That being said, given its truly excellent performance, it is a worthy investment for your household's ongoing health. If you're looking for the absolute best-performing air purifier and willing to spare no expense, this may be the model for you.
Read review: Winix 5500-2
Boasts Great Air Cleaning Performance
Coming in at a close second in terms of performance is the Coway AP-1512HH. Over the course of an hour, it removed 99.84% of measurable airborne particulates from our testing room. While it's a few decimals shy of our highest ranked model, this is still top-tier performance. The fans on this machine are powerful enough to circulate cool air but not so loud as to disturb your evening Netflix binge. The built-in air quality monitor is convenient and accurate.
The upfront cost of this unit is higher than most of the other models we tested, but this cost comes with a caveat. The Coway is one of the most economical air purifiers to actually run. Its filters are long-lasting, and the unit uses very little electricity. All in all, this is a high-quality device that is a little bit more economical than our top choice.
Read review: Coway AP-1512HH
Credible research studies such as NASA's test results suggest that HEPA filter equipped air purifiers can filter more than 99.9% of airborne virus particles that enter the air purifier. However, they cannot stop virus particles from contaminating surfaces nor from passing directly between people. Therefore, purifiers likely offer only marginal if any protective benefits from the virus itself and definitely should not be used as a replacement for any of the best practices put forth by the CDC or local healthcare and governmental organizations.
Best Bang for the Buck
The GermGuardian AC4300BPTCA offers consumers a tremendous value given its high performance and low price. This unit removed 99.39% of measurable airborne particulates from our testing room and did so using a minimal amount of electricity. While the fan wasn't as quiet as our top performers, the noise it produces is largely unnoticeable and won't disturb the sanctity of your peaceful home.
While the basic functions of the GermGuardian scored quite well, it is missing some of the convenient features found in the more premium models. This unit doesn't have a built-in air quality monitor nor does it have as large of a working capacity. This machine is best suited for rooms under 150 square feet. If you have severe respiratory issues and need to filter a larger space, we'd suggest you go with one of the aforementioned models. The AC4300BPTCA offers great performance for use in a smaller bedroom at a below-average price.
Read review: GermGuardian AC4300BPTCA
Great for Small Rooms
If you're looking for a purifier to be used in a smaller bedroom, the GermGuardian AC4100 is an effective and inexpensive way to get rid of pollen while you sleep. Our testing indicated that it has enough power to get airborne particulate out of small rooms, and it is nearly silent on its low fan setting. Combine all of that with a super-simple interface, and you've got a great machine to fight the pollen all season long.
The AC4100 is noticeably less powerful than other purifiers. Even when used in a small room, you'll likely want to run it for an hour or so before you go to bed to enjoy the maximum benefit. Another drawback is that on medium or high settings, it can also get a bit loud. If you can live with those minor flaws, we think this is the best and most economical purifier available for small rooms.
Read review: GermGuardian AC4100
Best for Larger Rooms
Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover
Finding a large-capacity air purifier can be difficult. Many advertised as high capacity models simply claim a larger effective area than the certified CADR (clean air delivery rate) would suggest. Others don't use true HEPA filters, a standard that is probably important to many people. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover walks this line better than other models we've found. It offers a higher-than-average CADR of 300, meaning it can be highly effective in rooms of up to 450 square feet. It also uses a real HEPA filter.
While we love that the Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover's capacity can handle larger rooms, the compromise is its fan is louder than average. Depending on the acoustics of your home, it can be annoying. In the long run, you'll also spend a bit more than on some of its competitors — this model's replacement filters are more expensive than average, and it uses more electricity. However, if you're looking for true HEPA filtration from a larger capacity purifier, the True HEPA Allergen Remover ticks all of the boxes.
Read review: Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover
Many purifiers utilize ionizers that release charged particles into the air that then latch onto airborne particulates, making them easier to filter. However, some ionizers can create ozone as a byproduct, which can be a harmful lung irritant. While some ionizers are likely safe, we like to adhere to the precautionary principle in cases like these. Therefore, we only tested models that don't have ionizers, or can be run with the ionizer switched off.
Unique Detachable Air Quality Monitor
This TruSens Z-2000 places near the top of the heap for offering great performance. This model sets itself apart from the rest of the field with a separate air quality sensor that can be placed away from the purifier itself (this sensor communicates with the purifier wirelessly but must be plugged into an outlet). This lets you place the sensor on your bedstand or next to your favorite chair, prompting the purifier to react to the quality of the air that you're actually breathing, not just the air immediately surrounding the main unit. It backs this feature up with a user-friendly interface, quiet operation, and reasonable operating costs relative to its performance.
Apart from fairly hefty upfront costs, our only real qualms with the TruSens are that it was slightly less effective at removing odors than the top-scoring Coway. It also hasn't received a clean air delivery rate (CADR) certification. However, our tests indicate that it effectively removes airborne allergens (generally 2.5 microns and above). This would likely make it a great choice for those seeking relief from pollen.
Read review: TruSens Z-2000
Why You Should Trust Us
Authors Steven Tata and Max Mutter have spent the last three years researching and testing a variety of health and wellness products, including air purifiers, humidifiers, electric toothbrushes, and fitness trackers. They've also tested many other home and kitchen products, from security cameras and wireless speakers to toaster ovens and pressure cookers.
To test our lineup of the best purifiers, we used a professional grade air quality meter to measure airborne particulate concentrations and tested all of the purifiers in the same 150 square foot room to keep conditions as consistent as possible. To choose the models that made it into this review, we researched over 100 different products before whittling it down to the 14 most promising. We then spent over 200 hours testing the air quality produced by each machine and assessing user-friendliness, noise levels, and overall operating costs.
Related: How We Tested Air Purifiers
Analysis and Test Results
In scoring air purifiers, we divided our tests into four different weighted metrics. The results of our air cleaning performance tests factor most heavily into each model's final score. We also consider noise production, user-friendliness, and operating costs, which can significantly impact the user experience. In the following sections, we dig deep into the results of all these tests to help you find the best air cleaning device for your home or office.
In general, paying more for an air purifier will get you a larger capacity and/or better performance. There are exceptions, however. The Winix 5500-2, for example, provides stellar performance and often sells for significantly less than its list price. The GermGuardian AC4300BPTCA also performs well above its price tag, offering high-quality air cleaning for less than many competitors.
Air Cleaning Performance
Our most heavily weighted metric is air cleaning performance. We sealed up a 150 square foot room in our testing, then filled it with smoke by burning incense, matches, and paper. Once we got the room to the desired level of airborne particulate pollution, we ran each purifier for an hour, monitoring the air cleaning progress with a Dylos air quality meter. Our tests focused on the elimination of airborne particles sized 2.5 microns and up. This size range corresponds to the vast majority of airborne allergens, including most pet dander, pollen, and mold. We chose to focus here because we've found most people seeking out this information are doing so searching for allergy relief, though all of the models that we tested also eliminate much smaller particles.
The first of multiple models topping our air cleaning leaderboard is the Winix 5500-2. It managed to remove 99.99% of the measured airborne particulates in our testing room in just the span of an hour. No other model could match this feat. While we still haven't been able to find an air purifier that is truly effective at removing odors, the Winix 5500-2 proves to be more successful than most.
The Coway AP-1512HH also removed nearly all measured airborne particulates, reaching a reduction of 99.84% within an hour in our test. It also removed more odors than most, though smoke smells remained quite noticeable. The Blueair Pure 211 boasts one of the largest certified clean air delivery rates (CADR) of the models we've tested, making it suitable for rooms of up to 525 square feet. It also removed 99.95% of measured airborne particulates in our test. While it performed quite well in our tests, it is one of the few models that does not use HEPA filters. This doesn't really matter if pollen is your main concern, but if you're looking to filter out smaller particles, the HEPA standard adds quite a bit of peace of mind.
The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover also gave an elite performance, obtaining a 99.78% measured airborne particulate reduction in our test. It also removed more odors than most, even if they still remained prevalent.
The TruSens Z-2000 falls just behind the top scorers. It generally matched the top models in our tests, hitting a 99% reduction after half an hour and getting close to eliminating all large particles before one hour passed. It also did better at removing the smoke odor than most. However, it doesn't have a CADR certification — something all of the top scorers possess.
A few models fall into the average bar on our air cleaning performance ladder. The GermGuardian AC5350B and its sibling, the AC4300BPTCA eliminated 95% of airborne particulates within half an hour, and by the time the 60-minute mark hit, both were able to push that figure to just over 99%. The Levoit LV-PUR131 also achieved just over 99% airborne particulate reduction after an hour in our testing room. Still, it was quite slow out of the gate, hitting just an 85% reduction after the half-hour mark.
Given its high price tag, the Dyson Pure Cool Link proved to be a bit of a disappointment in our air cleaning tests. After an hour, only 97% of the airborne particulates from our testing room had cleared. In contrast, many models that cost only a fraction of the price could push that figure well above 99.5%. It also struggled to remove odors more than most of its competitors. The PureZone 3-in-1 followed closely behind, reducing particulate concentration by 93.6%.
Two units on the smaller side that we tested, the GermGuardian AC4100 and the Levoit LV-H132, only achieved a 95% reduction after an hour in our testing room. While those figures aren't impressive, both models would likely be able to help out anyone suffering from allergies sleeping in a 150 square foot bedroom. However, we definitely wouldn't recommend them for larger spaces.
The worst performer in our testing was the Hamilton Beach TrueAir. It failed to hit a 90% reduction after an hour of cleaning and struggled to remove any of the room's smoke odor. Granted, it is a small unit, but the equally small GermGuardian AC4100 was significantly more effective.
Since most people will be in the same room as the air purifier, any odd noises the device emits could have significant impacts on your ability to cohabitate with it comfortably. The good news is that none of the tested models are particularly loud — none registered more than 61 decibels on our sound meter — the equivalent of a normal conversational volume. Still, even relatively quiet noises can be annoying if they're at the wrong pitch. Thus, we spent a night with each in our bedrooms, as well as hours working on our computers right next to each model as they ran.
The Winix 5500-2 is our top recommendation for those that are particularly sensitive to noise. We had to strain to hear it when it was set to its lowest mode. Even on the highest setting, it only gave off an innocuous, low-pitched hum.
The GermGuardian AC5350B is also quite easy on the ears; it stays nearly silent in its low mode, only emitting a low hum when turned to high. The TruSens Z-2000 also maintains a low auditory profile. Its lowest setting is virtually silent, and even when cranked up to turbo mode, it produces only a fairly low-pitched, white noise hum.
The Coway AP-1512HH is almost silent in its lowest setting. Though it is just a bit higher-pitched than the field-leading GermGuardian AC5350B, it generally remains in the innocuous, low-pitched genre when you crank it up to high. Also sitting atop our noise scoreboard are the Levoit LV-H132 and the PureZone 3-in-1. Like the other models, these models are practically silent when set on low and are audible but not offensive when set on high. It should also be noted that these units are smaller than the Coway and the GermGuardian and thus have less powerful fans.
In our noise testing, a slew of models scored just below the top step. The Levoit LV-PUR131's high setting produces a low-pitched hum, similar to that of the top-scoring models. On low, it is a bit louder than the nearly silent low settings of models like the Coway. The Blueair Pure 211 keeps a low rumble that blends into the background when on its highest setting, but that low rumble remains to be just as noticeable when you turn it down to its lowest setting.
The Hamilton Beach TrueAir came in just behind the top contenders in our noise testing. When set on high, it emits a fairly low-pitched hum that can mostly fade into the background, but not completely. It is quiet on low but still much more noticeable than the top performers. The Dyson Pure Cool Link is the average performer in our noise testing. It was almost completely silent on low settings, but the fan emits a higher-pitched roar when on high that is hard not to notice and may even make you click up the volume a few notches on the TV.
Two different models tied for the bottom slot in our noise testing. When used on its highest setting, the GermGuardian AC4100 belched out a high pitch that is quite hard to ignore. The pitch got a bit lower and less grating on its low setting but was still very distinct. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover produced an even louder high-pitched noise on its high setting; on its low setting, it's slightly quieter.
Ease of Use
Outside of periodically replacing the filter, air purifiers are generally simple and require no real maintenance. However, certain features can make day-to-day use a bit more enjoyable. Variable fan modes let you dial down the noise if you're watching TV; remote controls let you do that without even leaving the couch. Handles and wheels make it easy to move the purifier around if you want it to follow you from the living room to the bedroom. If you always forget to turn the purifier off when you leave the house, timers can help. We evaluated all of these aspects of our purifiers to determine how easy they are to operate and incorporate into your daily routine.
Out of all the models we've tested, the Winix 5500-2 delivers one of the most convenient user experiences. Its control panel is straightforward and simple, allowing you to easily access its off timers, different fan speeds, and its auto mode, which automatically adjusts its output based on the ambient air quality, as measured by its internal air quality meter. It is quite easy to move around despite being 15.4 pounds, thanks to a well-designed carrying handle.
The TruSens Z-2000 also offers a sleek user interface, multiple fan speeds, and off timers. The unique feature offered is its separate pod that can measure air quality from anywhere in your home and relays that information back to the purifier. You can program the purifier to react to air quality changes right at your bed or your favorite couch, instead of the air quality directly adjacent to the purifier. We found installing and using this pod to be quite easy. Weighing in at a relatively feathery 7.4 pounds, we found it easy to move from room to room.
Both the Coway AP-152HH and the Levoit LV-PUR131 provided similarly user-friendly experiences in our testing. These models have streamlined control panels, convenient carry handles, and air quality sensors that allow the machines to automatically kick on when the air quality diminishes. Once the quality improves, it powers down to save energy. Both models also weigh about 12 pounds and are light enough to move around without too much hassle. Between the two, our preference slightly leans towards the Coway, as we found its air quality meter to be slightly more accurate. The Levoit's air quality meter is still accurate enough to be useful, but we would be more likely to use that feature on the Coway. The GermGuardian AC5350B is user-friendly. The control panel is simple and intuitive, it is on the lighter side at just over 11 pounds, and it has an automatic shut-off timer — so you can set it and forget it.
Slightly behind the top scorers are three easy-to-use models; however, they do have some minor drawbacks. The Dyson Pure Cool Link is easy to set up and incredibly light; it also has 10 different fan speeds and a convenient remote control. However, the purifier itself only has an on/off button, so if you lose that remote, you lose quite a bit of functionality. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover has a clean interface and all the bells and whistles, but at 17 pounds, it is one of the least portable of the bunch. The GermGuardian AC4100 is very simple and compact, and user friendly, but only has three fan speeds and does not have an automatic off timer. The GermGuardian AC4300BPTCA has incredibly simple and easy-to-use controls but lacks an auto-off timer.
At the bottom of our ease of use scoresheet is the Hamilton Beach TrueAir. Purifiers are quite simple machines, so even this model wasn't challenging to operate, but they were a bit less streamlined than the other models. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir is the only model that required some actual assembly out of the box, but it was fairly simple. It has only three fan speeds controlled with a dial that feels somewhat flimsy. It is, however, very light and portable.
It's easy to forget that you're going to have to pay for replacement filters and electricity costs throughout the lifetime of your air purifier. To estimate how much each unit will end up costing buyers in the long run, we've measured every purifier's energy consumption and price-checked all of their replacement filters. Our lifetime cost calculations assumed the national average for electricity cost ($0.12/kWh), average usage of 12 hours a day, filters being replaced according to manufacturer recommendations, and a functioning lifetime of five years.
The lowest lifetime cost is the GermGuardian AC4100. With an average electricity economy and fairly inexpensive filters, we estimated its lifetime cost at $294. The Levoit LV-H132 follows behind with an estimated lifetime cost of $323. The PureZone 3-in-1 is still in this ballpark, logging an estimated lifetime cost of $279.
When it came to estimated lifetime cost, most of the models we tested fell into the $500-$600 range. The Levoit LV-PUR131 is very economical in terms of electricity usage, but a middle-of-the-road list price and relatively expensive filters pushed the estimated lifetime cost to $549. The TruSens Z-2000 costs a bit more upfront but sips electricity and uses fairly inexpensive filters, pushing its estimated lifetime cost to $548. The Coway AP-151HH also uses very little electricity, but the high list price and slightly above average filter costs led to an estimated lifetime cost of $556. The GermGuardian AC5350B doesn't cost much upfront, but the costly filters will cost you $542 in the long run. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir uses a relatively short life span filter, pushing its long-term costs up to $573.
According to our calculations, the Winix 5500-2 will cost $660 over its lifetime, putting it a bit above average. A few models garnered far above average estimated lifetime costs. Because none of these models were top performers, we would only recommend picking up that extra cost in certain extenuating circumstances. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover gulps up electricity, resulting in a high lifetime cost of $771. However, it has a larger than average capacity, so it may be worth the extra cost if you want a purifier for a larger room. The Dyson Pure Cool Link uses electricity very economically, but its high list price pushes the lifetime cost to $889. That extra cost is only worth it if you're enamored with Dyson's bladeless fan technology. The Blueair Pure 211 has expensive replacement filters, resulting in a lifetime cost of $1,105. This machine also has the highest capacity of any model we tested, so that enormous extra cost might be worth it if you're trying to clean a large, 500+ square foot room.
Though they may not be necessary for every household, air purifiers can effectively relieve symptoms for those with bad allergies or improve poor air quality for those with pulmonary illnesses. It's important to shop carefully though, since some models are much more effective at air cleaning than others. Some are whisper quiet while others are grating, and some that look like a bargain hide extra costs in the form of expensive filters. We hope that our testing results have elucidated all of those things for you and led you to find the perfect model for your home. Now go fight that pollen!
— Buck Yedor, Max Mutter, and Steven Tata