When it comes to air purifiers, CADR is king. CADR, a rating assigned because of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, tells you what size room an air purifier can, well, purify. We tested out nine that clean near to 360 square feet and looked over ease of replacing filters and features like quality of air sensors and Auto settings. We then spoke with air quality specialists and physicians about the significance of True HEPA filters and secondary filters before landing on our two top picks.
The way we Chose the Best Air Purifiers
High CADR ratings
- The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) performs independent tests on home air cleaners to see how quickly they could remove particles through the air — the clean air delivery rate, or CADR. The higher the CADR numbers, the greater. Consumer Reports judges a CADR score to be “excellent” if it is 350 and above and “poor” if it is 100 or below. A higher number means the units have more powerful fans and bigger HEPA filters to “clean more air each hour.”
- Making it easier for you to get the right amount of coverage for your space, the AHAM uses CADR ratings to calculate the utmost square footage a unit can purify. This square footage is linked with air exchanges per hour (ACH), or how frequently the system will cycle through all of the air into the room. Most portable, at-home units have an ACH between four and six, the amount recommended by allergists. “The more the better,” says Dr. Marie Petrizzo, a unique York physician, “but at minimum four.”
- In order to cover nearly all rooms, we centered on units that offered the highest CADR ratings and ACH rates we could find (which averaged around 200 to 300 and four to six, respectively). These units are powerful adequate to clean near to 360 square feet, that is ideal for most homeowners. That said, we left off one model, the Airgle AG500, which had an exorbitant price tag along with mediocre specs.
- AHAM CADR rating labels are listed directly on the box of any AHAM-verified air cleanser; this one is from the Coway 4-Stage Filtration System, certainly one of our top picks.
True HEPA filters
- For air purifiers, a True High Efficiency Particulate Air (True HEPA) filter is the gold standard. True HEPA filters are recommended by organizations like the EPA, the American Lung Association, together with American Academy of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.
- These filters force air through a sticky membrane and that can capture as much as 99.97 percent of particles no more than 0.3 microns. Dr. Petrizzo says that she “always recommends HEPA air purifiers because they’re best at trapping small particles such as pollens, dander from pets, mold spores, et cetera.”
- For testing purposes, we required a True HEPA filter. Three brands fell out from the running here. SheerAIRE and Idylis both offered models that advertised HEPA filtration but proved to own only HEPA-type filters upon inspection. Blueair, meanwhile, uses a proprietary filter that promises to be much better than a genuine HEPA, but we couldn’t find any research to guide these claims. Because of the lawsuits over misleading air cleaner claims in past times, we opted for models with transparent, proven-effective technology.
Pre-filters and secondary filters
- To ensure that the True HEPA filter would last as long as possible, we also looked for two additional components in all of our finalists:
- A pre-filter is sort of bodyguard for your primary filter. These screens work as the first type of defense, capturing large airborne particles like dust and pet hair that could gunk up the main HEPA filter, that will be what actually “purifies” the air. “Basically, pre-filters increase the lifespan associated with HEPA filter,” Ray Wu, CEO of Wynd and quality of air expert, told us. Pre-filters continue for about three months. Then they’ll need to be either replaced or, with a lot of models, washed or vacuumed.
- Secondary filters add to a unit’s efficacy and may improve the lifespan of this HEPA filter — the HEPA doesn’t need to work so difficult if this has some help. We preferred charcoal as a secondary filter, which absorbs gases and odors too small for a HEPA filter to catch.
Simplicity of use-air purifiers
- Using this base criteria in place, we brought in every nine remaining contenders for testing. During testing, we looked for a few specific metrics: ease of use (air filter replacement, convenient design), features offered (user-friendly control panels, auto settings), and general cost effectiveness as time passes (power conserving modes, cheap replacement filters). Our two top picks excelled, meeting or exceeding our expectations in each area. The other seven systems we considered sometimes had slightly better technical specs, however these tiny increases in coverage equalled hundreds of additional dollars upfront, often for machines that have been bulky or counterintuitive to use.
Why we chose it-air purifiers
Intuitive controls and sensors
- Most importantly of all, Winix stands out because of its lineup of features. Its completely digital panel allows you to control the purifier’s speed or enable PlasmaWave Technology (which, when activated, claims to “instantly neutralize airborne viruses, bacteria, chemical vapors, odors, and gases”). The simplicity of the digital panel also includes its sensors: The Winix’s glowing LED lights shift from blue to red the more polluted the atmosphere.
- It’s not only looks, though; the Winix can be packed with features which make life simpler if you don’t desire to constantly monitor your machine. Specifically, an integrated quality of air sensor automatically runs the fan at its lowest if the quality of air is great — a great touch for your peace of mind and for saving power. Other models just like the Blueair air cleanser was included with some controls and sensors, however they weren’t nearly as robust as those in the Winix. Simple digital design and the full breadth of automatic features won us over.
Hassle-free filter replacement
- Popping the hood of the Winix was easy. The cover uses magnets to snap inside and out of place, and every filter locks within the next — there’s no question where each piece should be when replacing the filters. By comparison, the Coway is much flimsier, and it takes a couple of tries to place the front and pre-filter back on after you remove them.
More cost-effective than similar models
- Air purifiers could possibly get expensive, often topping the $600 mark. That’s why the Winix, at lower than $200, is really impressive: It’s powerful enough to pay for 360 square feet and comes with features like quality of air sensors and Auto settings which are available on more high-end home air cleaners. If you’re looking for a powerful air cleanser that comes with all the bells and whistles (although not with a top price tag), the Winix will probably be worth considering.
Points to consider-air purifiers
Not quite as powerful as some competitors
- Admittedly, there are more powerful home air cleaners on the market. The Winix U450, as an example, has higher CADR ratings, covering an additional 100 square feet. However, this 100 square feet comes at a price: The U450 model is double the price of this 5500-2. The Winix 5500-2 may not cut it for those who have an unusually large room, but its features and affordability still push it to your top of the lineup. If you’re concerned with that additional 100 feet of coverage, maybe you are better off purchasing two 5500-2 units for features and cost-savings alone.
Why we chose it-air purifiers
Cheap replacement filters
- A major bonus regarding the Coway is its cheap replacement filters. Just one replacement filter for the Coway costs about $15 not as much as a filter for the Winix, meaning the Coway averages off to be cheaper than the Winix in a few years’ time. This can be a massive win if you’re concerned with savings and want to get the maximum benefit out of your air cleanser.
High CADR ratings
- The Coway ranks three points greater than the Winix when it comes to CADR ratings for dust (even though it is slightly worse at capturing pollen, coming six points below the Winix). It also notably excels in quantity of air exchanges per hour. At the max setting, the Coway averages five air exchanges for a 360-square-foot room with a nine-foot ceiling — the average ceiling height of a house. The Winix only averages four and a half air exchanges. While both numbers exceed the minimum recommendation by our experts, the Coway could be a far better choice if you’re looking to really make the the majority of a sizable room.
- Unlike bigger electronic home air cleaners, that may stick out like a sore thumb at home, the Coway is sleek and compact. It’s a bit wider than the Winix, but overall shorter. Due to this, it is an easy task to put the Coway under a window without it feeling obtrusive. Plus, the black design with gray accents feels sleek and well-aligned with most contemporary decor. If you’d prefer aesthetics, you’ll likely desire to choose the Coway within the Winix.
Points to consider-air purifiers
Difficult to change filters
- Despite its otherwise-sleek design, the Coway is notably flimsier compared to Winix. Within our testing, it took a few tries to replace the leading and pre-filter after removing them. It is largely simply because that the Coway doesn’t have magnets to snap inside and out of place; additionally, the filters don’t lock into each other because they do using the Winix. It’s not a deal breaker, however, if you’re taking it apart every two weeks to rinse out the pre-filter (which is recommended for both units), the Coway is much more of a hassle.
Guide to Electronic Home Air Purifiers
How to locate the proper air cleanser for your needs
Element in replacement filters and energy use
- Home air cleaners aren’t a one-and-done purchase — replacement filters and energy use will affect your important thing, especially due to the fact air purifiers are usually left on all the time. To predict your electric bill, you need to know how many kilowatt-hours your purifier uses per day, multiplied by the average electricity rate where you live.
Consider size and placement
- When looking for an air cleaner, make sure it fits your space. Air purifiers must not be flush against walls or furniture, as most units perform best when they can take in air from all sides. If you have a little room, make sure that your air purifier is compact adequate to meet basic requirements.
Think of additional features
- Electronic home air cleaners come with an increase of features than you may think. The Winix, for example, comes with features like timers, sensors, and a power-saving fan that automatically slows down when quality of air is good. When researching air purifiers, think beyond simply purifying the air in your house and consider additional features you might need. If you’re seeking techniques to keep your energy bill low, as an example, you may elect to search for a purifier with an Auto setting.