The Best Air Purifiers of 2017

Dreading the next pollen season? We researched more than 70 air purifiers, then bought the 11 best for a series of side-by-side tests.If you find yourself sniffling like a congested snuffleupagus every allergy season, or live in an area with poor air quality and end up coughing all the time, an air purifier may help relieve some of your symptoms. We thoroughly vetted all of our purifiers, testing their air cleaning ability, noise level, and operating costs in a series of controlled experiments. No matter your room size or budget, our testing results can help you find a model that fits your needs.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
Coway AP-1512HH
GermGuardian AC5350B
Levoit LV-PUR131
Winix 9500
Blueair Pure 211
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award       
Price $230 List
$229.99 at Amazon
$180 List
$143.99 at Amazon
$160 List
$159.99 at Amazon
$330 List
$204.99 at Amazon
$300 List
$249.99 at Amazon
Overall Score 
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77
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71
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68
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64
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63
Star Rating
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Pros Excellent air cleaning performance, quiet operation, average lifetime costGood air cleaning performance, very quiet, simple to useGood air cleaning performance, quiet operationExcellent air cleaning performance, quiet operationExcellent air cleaning performance, quiet operation, large CADR
Cons Expensive up front costSomewhat expensive filtersLifetime cost similar to better performing modelsConfusing controls, heavyVery high operating costs
Ratings by Category Coway AP-1512HH GermGuardian AC5350B Levoit LV-PUR131 Winix 9500 Blueair Pure 211
Air Cleaning Performance - 30%
10
0
8
10
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6
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
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8
Noise - 25%
10
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9
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9
10
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10
0
8
10
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8
Ease Of Use - 25%
10
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8
10
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8
10
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4
10
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6
Operating Cost - 20%
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5
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Specs Coway AP-1512HH GermGuardian AC5350B Levoit LV-PUR131 Winix 9500 Blueair Pure 211
Dimensions 16.5 x 9.5 x 18.5 9.06 x 6.69 x 27.56 14.5 x 7.25 x 18.5 16.5 x 9.75 x 21.75 12.8 x 12.8 x 20.25
Weight 12.7 11.25 11.4 18 12.2
CADR 240 125 135 194 350

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Thursday
November 2, 2017

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Updated November 2017
In our latest round of testing we added the new GermGuardian AC5350B to the review. Its good air cleaning performance and near silent operation earned it one of our Best Buy Awards. Just be aware that the filters do cost more than average, so while you spend less up front, it ends up costing about the same as the Editors' Choice Award winning Coway over its lifetime.

Best Overall Air Purifier


Coway AP-1512HH


Editors' Choice Award

$229.99
at Amazon
See It

Excellent air cleaning performance
Quiet operation
Average lifetime cost
Expensive up front cost
If you're looking to pull out the big guns for your next fight against the pollen invaders, the Coway AP-1512HH is your new best friend. It dominated our air cleaning testing, removing 99.34% of airborne particulates after just 30 minutes, a mark most other models couldn't match over a full hour. It manages to do this while also remaining virtually silent at all but its highest fan settings. Backing that up with an intuitive control panel and comfortable carrying handles that let you transport it from room to room, the Coway will diligently stand beside you as you fight the good fight against the relentless pollen fiends.

Read review: Coway AP-1512HH

What about ionizers?
Some air purifiers use ionizers to produce charged particles that stick to dust and pollen and make them easier to trap in a filter. However, these ionizers are somewhat controversial as there are many claims that these devices can produce ozone, which is a harmful lung irritant. Many manufacturers claim that their ionizers are ozone free, but in cases such as these we take the conservative route. Therefore we only tested models that can be run without an ionizer.

Best Buy on a Tight Budget


GermGuardian AC4825


Best Buy Award

$89.99
at Amazon
See It

Low operating costs
Good air cleaning performance
Relatively loud
The GermGuardian AC4825 will please anybody who is looking for a medium-capacity air purifier at a reasonable price. It performed well in every test, and although not the quietest or most powerful air purifier, the AC 4825 held its own against much more expensive options. Though it took longer than the Conway AP-1512HH, the GermGuardian removed 99% of airborne particles in our air cleaning test. It has a simple dial control with three fan speeds. The main downside of the GermGuardian was its relatively high volume. This was not much of an issue on its low setting, but on medium and high it produced noticeable amounts of white noise.

Read review: GermGuardian AC4825

Best Bang for the Buck


GermGuardian AC5350B


Best Buy Award

$143.99
at Amazon
See It

Good air cleaning performance
Very quiet
Simple to use
Somewhat expensive filters
If you're looking to take home the most performance per dollar, you can't beat the GermGuardian AC5350B. It offers good air cleaning performance (removing 99.5% of airborne particles in our testing) and incredibly quiet operation at a price that is significantly lower than the top end models. It also has all of the bells and whistles you could want, with an automatic off timer and multiple fan settings. The only caveat is that its replacement filters are a bit on the expensive side, so over its lifetime it ends up costing about the same as the Coway AP-1512HH. If you can afford to spend a bit more upfront the Coway is the better long term choice, but the GermGuardian AC5350B is still a great machine if you can't stand the idea of shelling out over $200 for a purifier.

Read review: GermGuardian AC5350B

Top Pick for Small Rooms


GermGuardian AC4100


Top Pick Award

$53.99
at Amazon
See It

Low operating costs
Low list price
Good performance for a compact model
Relatively loud
Slow
For those who need an air purifier for a bedroom or small space, the GermGuardian AC4100 is an excellent choice. With a simple control dial and three speed settings, the AC4100 is easy to use and effective as a low-capacity air purifier. It was louder than most other models, but nearly silent on it's low setting and no more distracting than a small house fan when set to medium or high. This is a great option where a larger air purifier would be overkill.

Read review: GermGuardian AC4100

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
77
$230
Editors' Choice Award
High end performance with an average lifetime cost make this a great choice for almost anyone
71
$180
Best Buy Award
Good air cleaning and very quiet operation at a relatively affordably price
68
$160
A good performer, but but still can't match other models that cost the same to buy and operate
64
$330
A top performer, but cumbersome to move around and controls are poorly designed
63
$300
Excellent performance somewhat offset by high operating costs
60
$300
A high performing model that is held back by a koud fan and relatively high costs
57
$100
Best Buy Award
Balances solid performance with a low lifetime cost to create a great product for budget minded allergy sufferers
57
$40
Below average performance outweigh the potential cost savings
56
$70
Top Pick Award
An inexpensive option for small rooms (less than 100 square feet) and occasional use
51
$500
Only a good buy if you already want a Dyson fan, and like the idea of adding in some air cleaning ability
47
$80
A compact model that performs poorly and costs as much to run as a full sized model

The Editor's Choice Award winning Coway  and our resident feline allergy tester.
The Editor's Choice Award winning Coway, and our resident feline allergy tester.

Analysis and Test Results


When used correctly air purifiers can potentially bring some much needed relief to the everyday symptoms of airborne allergy sufferers and those with sensitive respiratory systems. After conducting extensive research we bought and tested 10 of the best models on the market and put them through a stringent series of tests so that you can decide which will serve you best.

Most of our testing focused on how quickly and effectively each models was able to remove particulate matter from the air. We also looked beyond air cleaning capabilities to the other ways having one of these machines in your home might affect your day to day life, like how easy they are to operate, how noisy they are, and how much they cost to run. If you're not sure whether an air purifier would benefit you, there is some helpful advice in our buying advice article.

We turned out testing room into a smoky haze to evaluate air cleaning performance. The Coway (left) and GermGuardain AC4100 (right) were the best in their respective size ranges at cleaning up that smoke.
We turned out testing room into a smoky haze to evaluate air cleaning performance. The Coway (left) and GermGuardain AC4100 (right) were the best in their respective size ranges at cleaning up that smoke.

Air Cleaning Performance


If an air purifier doesn't significantly reduce airborne particulate concentration, then it is not worth buying. To test the air cleaning performance of our purifiers we sealed off a 150 square foot room and burned incense, paper, and matches to create a smoky environment. We then put each purifier into the haze and ran it on high for one hour, monitoring the particulate concentration with an air quality meter. Most of our score was based on how quickly and by how much each model was able to reduce airborne particulates in the room. We also considered odor elimination, but to a lesser extent as no model really excelled in this regard. In general we found models that use True HEPA filters perform better than those that use HEPA Type filters, with a couple notable exceptions.


Somewhat surprisingly one of the HEPA Type models, the Blueair Pure 211, was one of the best performing models in our test. After 30 minutes it had reduced airborne particulate concentration by nearly 99%, and by the 45 minute mark had the concentration very close to zero. However it does not have a carbon filter, and left a good amount of smoke smell in the room.

Three other models were basically on par with the Blueair. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover, the Coway AP-1512HH, and the Winix 9500 all posted particulate reductions of at least 99% by the half hour mark. They also all had concentrations close to zero by the end of the test, though not quite as close to zero as the Blueair. All of these models do have carbon filters, and were thus slightly better at reducing that smoky odor. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover was slightly better than the others in this regard, but model was good. The room still smelt strongly of smoke, but not overpoweringly so.


The majority of the models we tested fell either at the top or the bottom of the air cleaning performance spectrum, with the Levoit LV-PUR131 and the GermGuardian AC4825 the lonely occupants of the average, middle ground. After running for 30 minutes the Levoit LV-PUR131 had reduced particulate concentration by about 85%, which was far off from what the top scorers achieved in the same time frame. After an hour that figure bumped up to 99%, which feels acceptable, but still wasn't as good as the 99.9% figures the top scorers produced. It also removed more of the smoke odor than most other models, but a strong smell still remained.

All of the models we tested were able to remove the majority of airborne particulates  but some were able to maintain much lower concentrations than others.
All of the models we tested were able to remove the majority of airborne particulates, but some were able to maintain much lower concentrations than others.

Both the GermGuardian AC4825 and the GermGuardian AC5350B performed very similarly to the Levoit. These models were slightly faster out of the gate, both hitting around a 92% reduction in particulates by the half hour mark, and both improving to over 99% by after a full hour. Both these models and the Levoit would be able to remove the vast majority of particulates if you were to run them in your bedroom overnight, but would likely never get the air quite as clean as the top scorers.

The low scorers in our test were models that were not able to achieve a 99% reduction of particulates within a one hour window. The best of these low performing models was the Dyson Pure Cool Link. It was relatively effective at the start of the test, reducing particle by 86% after half an hour. However, at the hour mark it had only achieved a 97% reduction. It was also one of the least effective models when it came to odor reduction. The GermGuardian was slightly worse, hitting an 84% reduction at the half hour mark and only 95% at the hour mark. It was also quite ineffective at reducing odors.

The Blueair has more horsepower than any of the models we tested  and achieved the largest reduction in airborne particles (by a hair).
The Blueair has more horsepower than any of the models we tested, and achieved the largest reduction in airborne particles (by a hair).

At the bottom of the barrel were the Holmes HEPA Type Desktop and the Hamilton Beach TrueAir. These models performed almost identically, hitting reduction in the mid 70's at the half hour mark and only 89% after a full hour. Both models also left behind very very strong smoke odors.

It can be hard to combine high fan power and quiet operation  like the Coway does.
It can be hard to combine high fan power and quiet operation, like the Coway does.

Noise


Perhaps the largest potential downside of bringing an air purifier into your home is the fact that makes noise. Since a purifier is only useful if used in your direct vicinity, you're probably going to notice that noise. Luckily most of the models we tested are relatively quiet. When using a decibel meter we never got a reading higher than 61, which is right around normal conversational volume. However, some models have higher pitch sounds that can be annoying, even at low volumes. We listened to every model at their high, medium, and low setting to determine which ones might disrupt your TV watching, and which ones you'll barely notice.


The GermGuardian AC5350B was the quietest model we tested, earning the top score of 9 out of 10. It was virtually silent when running on its lower settings, and on high it produced a low pitched hum that easily fades into the background. The Coway AP-1512HH also earned a 9 out of 10, but on high it produces just a slightly higher pitch that is thus slightly more noticeable, but is still easily ignored.

A number of models scored just slightly behind the Coway in our noise testing. The Levoit LV-PUR131 emits a low pitched hum when on high that is about even with the Coway in terms of conspicuousness. On low it is much quieter, but not nearly silent like the Coway. The Winix 9500 is a bit more noticeable than the Levoit and Coway when on high (turbo), but is essentially silent when on the low setting. The Blueair Pure 211 is as inconspicuous as the Coway when on high, but but is still noticeable when used in its low mode.

Multiple fan speeds give you more control over noise levels. The Dyson offers 10.
Multiple fan speeds give you more control over noise levels. The Dyson offers 10.

Just behind the four top contenders in our noise testing was the Hamilton Beach TrueAir. On high it emits a fairly low pitched hum that can mostly fade into the background, but not completely. On low it is quiet, but still much more noticeable than the top performers.

The two average performers in our noise testing were the Holmes HEPA Type Desktop and the Dyson Pure Cool Link. The Holmes was fairly average across the board in our testing. At high settings it produced a buzzing sound that was hard to ignore, but not completely annoying. At low settings it creates a medium pitched hum that isn't too loud, but definitely noticeable. The Dyson was almost completely silent on low settings, but at high settings the fan emits a higher pitched roar that is hard not to notice, and may even make you click up the volume a few notches on the TV.

Many models  like the Levoit pictured here  offer a sleep mode that reduces fan noise.
Many models, like the Levoit pictured here, offer a sleep mode that reduces fan noise.

Three different models tied for the bottom slot in our noise testing. Both GermGuardian models that we tested, the AC4825 and the AC4100 both belched out a high pitch when used on their highest setting that is quite hard to ignore. On their low setting the pitch got a bit lower and less grating, but was still very noticeable. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover produced and even louder high pitched noise on its high setting, but was slightly quieter on its low setting.

Purifiers are generally easy to use  but extra touches like of off timer can really improve your experience.
Purifiers are generally easy to use, but extra touches like of off timer can really improve your experience.

Ease of Use


Though air purifiers are generally simple and require no real maintenance beyond replacing the filter periodically. However, there are certain touches that 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 and into the bedroom. Timers keep you from forgetting to turn the purifier off when you leave the house.We evaluated all these aspects of our to purifiers to ascertain how easy they are to operate and incorporate into your daily routine.


The Levoit LV-PUR131 and the Coway AP-1512HH emerged from our testing as the most user friendly models. The Levoit was very easy to setup and has a simple, clear interface. At 11.4 pounds it is also relatively light, and a rail style handle makes it easy to carry around. It has multiple fan speeds and a quiet sleep mode, as well as a timer that goes up to 12 hours. It also has a built in air quality meter, so you can put it in auto modes and the purifier will react to the current air conditions. However, we did not find this meter to be accurate, so we would recommend just running the purifier at the highest setting that doesn't seem too loud to you.

Our other user friendliness favorite, the Coway AP-1512HH, was also very easy to set up. Its carry handles and fairly light weight of 12.7 pounds make it easy to move from room to room. The clear controls let you easily adjust fan speed, set the timer, and turn off the ionizer (which we would recommend). It also has an auto mode that will adjust settings based on its built-in air quality meter. We found such meters to be unreliable on most models but the Coway's meter was quite consistent, always ramping up to high at the same airborne particulate concentration.

The new GermGuardian AC5350B also earned a top score of 8 out of 10 in this metric. Its simple interface make setting the fan level and off timer very easy, and at 11.25 pounds itwon't weight you down if you want to move it from the living room to the bedroom.

Remote controls  like this one included with the Winix 9500  let you change settings without leaving the couch or bed.
Remote controls, like this one included with the Winix 9500, let you change settings without leaving the couch or bed.

Slightly behind the top scorers were three models that we felt were quite easy to use, but did have some minor drawbacks. The Dyson Pure Cool Link is easy to setup, incredibly light, 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 3 fan speeds and does not have an automatic off timer.

Two models that we found to be about average in terms of user friendliness are the GermGuardian AC4825 and the Blueair Pure 211. The GermGuardian AC4825 has a simple dial and switch to control fan speeds and it's UV light. At only 8.4 pounds it is fairly easy to move, though its carry handles feel a bit awkward. It also only has three fan speeds and no off timer. The Blueair Pure 211 has a single button that turns the device on and off and cycles through three fan speeds. We liked this simplicity, but at 12.2 pounds with no carry handles we did not like moving the Blueair around.

Across the board we found replacing filters to be an easy process  thus it did not factor into our ease of use scoring.
Across the board we found replacing filters to be an easy process, thus it did not factor into our ease of use scoring.

The Holmes HEPA Type Desktop was just a bit harder to deal with than the Blueair, but still wasn't frustrating to use. At 4.7 pounds it is very portable and is ready to go out of the box. However, the plastic knobs used to adjust the fan speed and ionizer feel a bit cheap and flimsy, and it only has three fan settings.

The Winix 9500 and the Hamilton Beach TrueAir were both at the bottom of our ease of use scoresheet. Purifiers are quite simple machines, so even these models weren't particularly difficult to operate, but they were a bit less streamlined than the other models. The Winix's controls were comparatively cumbersome to use. We didn't find the odor and air quality meters to be accurate. Accessing full functionality requires the remote control, which is fairly well designed. Also, at 18 pounds and with no carry handles, the Winix was our least favorite model to carry around. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir was 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.

Even small models  like the Hamilton Beach TrueAir  can carry hefty filter and electricity costs.
Even small models, like the Hamilton Beach TrueAir, can carry hefty filter and electricity costs.


Operating Cost


Apart from the upfront cost of buying an air purifier, you'll have to pay for replacement filters and the electricity needed to run the purifier throughout its life. We measured each model's energy usage with a watt meter. We then calculated the estimated lifetime cost of each purifier. For this calculation we assumed electricity costs at the national average ($0.12/kWh), usage of 12 hours a day, that filters would be replaced according to manufacturer recommendations, and a useable lifespan of 5 years.


With a low list price, incredibly energy usage, and inexpensive filters, the Holmes HEPA Type Desktop was the top performer in our operating cost testing. Its estimated lifetime cost is just $143, more than $100 less than the next best model.

A distant second in term of estimated lifetime cost was the GermGuardian AC4100. With average electricity economy and fairly inexpensive filters, we estimated its lifetime cost at $294. Our other GermGuardian model, the AC4825, was also fairly economical in our testing, but more expensive filters and a higher list price pushed its estimated lifetime cost to $455.

The GermGuardian AC4825 provides the best ratio of performance to lifetime cost.
The GermGuardian AC4825 provides the best ratio of performance to lifetime cost.

We saw multiple models falling into the $500-$600 range in terms of estimated lifetime cost. The Levoit LV-PUR131 sips electricity, but an average list price and somewhat expensive filters pushed its lifetime cost to $549. The Coway AP-151HH proves that you have to be willing to pay at least a bit for high performance. It's relatively high list price and filter costs put its lifetime expenditure at $556. The GermGuardian AC5350B costs less up front, but with its expensive filters it ends up costinf around $542 in the long run. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir requires more frequent filter replacements than most models, which pushed its lifetime cost to $573. The Winix 9500 has relatively cheap filters but a higher list price, which pushes its lifetime cost to $591.

Now we get into the really expensive models. The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover's list price is only a bit above average, but it gulps up more electricity than any other model, making its lifetime cost $771. The Dyson Pure Cool Link barely uses any electricity, but its filter are pricey and its list price is higher than any other model, resulting in a lifetime cost of $889. The Blueair Pure 211 uses an average amount of electricity, but expensive filters and a high list price make its lifetime cost $1,105.


Conclusion


If you're an allergy sufferer or have a chronic pulmonary illness an air purifier can go a long way towards alleviating everyday symptoms and annoyances. However, not air purifiers are created equal. Some are more effective at filtering airborne particulates than others, some are quiet while others can be grating, and some come with hidden costs in the form of expensive replacement filters and high energy usage. We hope that our testing results have led you to a model that will fit your needs and budget. If you're still not sure what would work best for you check out our buying advice article. It includes some additional information that may be helpful for finding the right model for you.
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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