Breathe Easy! These Top-Rated Air Purifiers Will Clean the Air in Your Home
More than 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; hay fever (a.k.a. allergic rhinitis) is particularly common in the spring, affecting about 8% of all American adults.
Hay fever usually hits as the trees begin their annual growth in the spring, since tree pollen is a major trigger for many people. Grass pollen is also a common irritant around this time of year, so on top of the usual indoor triggers—including dust mites, mold, and pet dander—you probably feel pretty lousy from all these allergens.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to safeguard against outdoor spring allergy triggers like pollen—but when it comes to those pesky indoor allergens, air purifiers offer a simple solution that’ll greatly improve your quality of life. The devices eliminate contaminants your home’s air, removing allergens, odors, and even pet hair.
Do air purifiers really work?
In short, yes they do. “Air purifiers are most efficient for allergens that float around for longer periods of time, like pollen, pet dander, and mold spores,” explains Stephen Canfield, M.D., Ph.D., an allergist at ColumbiaDoctors Midtown in New York City. The best air purifiers for such a task, he says, are high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which can pluck out particles that are as small as five micrometers, or one-millionth of a meter. The best place to keep an air purifier is in your bedroom since it’s where you spend most of your time, Dr. Canfield says.
Beyond the obvious benefits of cleaning the air we breathe every day, the devices might also offer protection from illness. In a Yale University study conducted in response to COVID-19 last summer, researchers found that HEPA air purifiers contained over 99% of aerosols in a cramped hospital setting, meaning they could help limit the the spread of COVID-19 within homes and other enclosed spaces. (Of course, air purifiers should by no means replace other safety practices like social distancing, hand-washing, and masking.)
How to choose the best air purifier for your home
Just like air conditioners, air purifiers should vary from room to room—and some even come with bells and whistles like WiFi connectivity and heating. Narrow down your search with these tips.
✔️Calculate operating costs. These days, plenty of high-quality air filters don’t actually cost that much to run. Look for products that have been certified under the Environmental Protection Agency’s EPA Energy Star program. Per the agency, Energy Star-certified air purifiers are 40% more efficient than the standard models, which could save about $30 a year on utility bills.
✔️Measure your room. Because the efficacy of air purifiers depends on the size of their spaces, you should measure the length and width of your room, then multiply those numbers to find the size of the space in square feet. After that, simply choose a purifier rated for that size. If you aren’t able to measure the room, determine whether it’s small, medium or large; home offices and bedrooms are usually on the smaller end, while living and dining rooms are usually on the larger end.
People who are particularly concerned about allergens or pollutants can also determine the clean air delivery rate (CADR), measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), necessary for your room’s size. This figure expresses the volume of air cleaned every minute. Divide your room’s square footage by 1.55 to find the minimum CADR rating for your space; for example, if your bedroom is 130 square feet, your air purifier should have a CADR rating of at least 84 cfm.
✔️Consider your specific needs. First, decide which type of filter is best for you. HEPA models are quite popular because of their proven ability to trap allergens, but standard filter models are also available, usually at a lower price. (“HEPA-like” and “HEPA-type” filters are not true HEPA filters.) One brand, Molekule, also offers proprietary photo electrochemical oxidation (PECO) filters, which claim to neutralize, rather than just trap, common allergens.
Some models also offer advanced features, including WiFi connectivity, air quality monitoring, and heating and cooling—although they may cost more than standard units. And on top of all of that, you should consider aesthetics, too; many models look like hunks of plastic, while others are almost beautiful.
Most of the air purifiers on this list were also independently tested by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which uses the same metrics to determine how effective the devices are. It’s a lot to take in, we know, but the results are worth the extra research. Here are the best air purifiers of 2021:
Invest in one of these devices to filter out dust, mold, smoke, and more.