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Top Ten Air Purifiers

Shopping for a truly good home appliance can be easy when the product is demonstrated with clearly visible results. Air purifiers perform a task rather invisibly, so results or comparisons are difficult to judge through demonstration or during operation. Therefore, we’ve accumulated vast amounts of manufacturer’s specifications and published performance results to narrow down the top ten air purifiers available to consumers. The table below details the top ten air purifiers ranked within a 70 point scoring system. Keep in mind that the best air purifiers for your individual needs may vary, so it is helpful to note how each of the top ten air purifiers scores in the categories most important to you. To determine how we arrive at each ranking, please see the explanation below the table. The chart documents the top performing air purifiers are made by Blueair, Coway, and Austin Air. The Blueair 603, 650E, and 503 top the chart and rank very high thanks to the brand’s excellent cost per area cleaned ratio, Clean Air Delivery Rate, filter performance, and energy efficiency. Coway and Austin Air also score well, the first because of its low price point and high energy efficiency and the latter because of its excellent gas and odor neutralization capabilities and long filter lifespan. Keep in mind that all of the numbers on the chart refer to points; to see what the points refer to in terms of actual performance, please find the appropriate charts below.


  #1 Rated #2 Rated #3 Rated #4 Rated #5 Rated #6 Rated #7 Rated #8 Rated #9 Rated #10 Tied Rated #10 Tied Rated
  Blueair Air Purifier 603 & 650E Blueair 503 Air Purifier Blueair Pro L 1 Coway Air Purifier Blueair 450E Air Purifier Blueair Pro M Winix Air Purifier Austin Air Healthmate Plus Austin Air BabyBreath Purifier Rabbit Air Purifier Blueair Pro XL
  Blueair 603 / 650E Blueair 503 Blueair Pro L Coway AP-1512HH Blueair 403/450E Blueair Pro M Winix PlasmaWave WAC6300 Austin Air HealthMate Plus Austin Air Baby's Breath Rabbit Air BioGS SPA-625A Blueair Pro XL
Total Score of 70 61 58 55 55 55 54 54 52 51 50 50
Room Size at 4 Air Changes Per Hour (10) 9 7 10 5 5 6 4 4 3 3 10
Value Per sq. ft. at 4 Air Changes Per Hour 10 10 10 10 8 8 10 8 8 7 6
CADR to Marketed Room Size (5) 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 2 2 2 5
Filter Strength (10) 9 9 8 5 9 8 5 8 8 5 8
Energy Efficiency In Watts (10) 8 8 5 10 10 10 10 8 9 10 3
DAF: Watts Delivered Air Flow to Watts (5) 5 4 3 4 4 3 4 3 4 5 4
Noise (10) 9 9 9 10 9 9 9 9 7 10 9
Filter Lifespan (5) 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 5 5 4 2
Odor/Gas Reduction (5) 4 4 4 4 3 3 4 5 5 4 3
  Buy Now Buy Now See Review Buy Now See Review Buy Now Buy Now See Review Buy Now Buy Now Buy Now
*Coway Filter Life Score Based on the 6-Month Lifespan of the Carbon Odor Filter. The HEPA Filter Has a 12-Month Lifespan.

Explanation of Rankings

The following is a brief explanation of how we rank and evaluate Air Purifiers. Each category has either 5 or 10 points possible, for a maximum of 70 possible points. For a more in depth look at how we arrived at our methodology and the justification behind it, visit our extended methodology page on the Best Air Purifier Reviews section of our website.

Data index for Methodolgy air changes per hour value per square feet Filter Effectiveness clean air delivery rate noise energy consumption energy use effectiveness filter lifespan Gas / Oder Options

To effectively evaluate an air purifier's performance relative to its competition, it is necessary to establish a base set of categories which they should be able to achieve. For example, while there is no standard for setting room size for air purifiers, we select room size as the area in which an air purifier can change the air of the room four times per hour, as recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers for those suffering from asthma and allergies. One air change represents the ability of an air purifier to completely clean the air of the room in a given amount of time. So, the size of a room at four air changes per hour is the size of the room in which the air purifier can completely clean the air of a room four times each hour. We find this number by determining the delivered air flow of the fan in cubic feet per minute and multiplying by 60 (minutes per hour). We divide this number by the total air volume of the room and again by the height of the room (we use the number 8 feet, which is the average room height for most North American buildings). The final number gives the area of the room in square feet.

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Optimal Room Size for Four Air Changes Per Hour
Points Room area in square feet
10 > 1,000
9 900 - 999
8 800 - 899
7 700 - 799
6 600 - 699
5 500 - 599
4 400 - 499
3 300 - 399
2 200 - 299
1 0 - 199
Room Size air purifier chart
Cost to Clean One Square Foot of Air at Four Air Changes per Hour
Points Models with No Air Sensor Models With Air Sensor
10 $0.40 to $.90 $0.40 to $1.00
9 $0.91 to $1.00 $1.01 to $1.10
8 $1.01 to $1.10 $1.11 to $1.20
7 $1.11 to $1.20 $1.21 to $1.30
6 $1.21 to $1.30 $1.31 to $1.40
5 $1.31 to $1.40 $1.41 to $1.50
4 $1.41 to $1.50 $1.51 to $1.60
3 $1.51 to $1.60 $1.61 to $1.70
2 $1.61 to $1.70 $1.71 to $1.81
1 Greater than $1.71 Greater than $1.81

To further determine how much performance you are getting out of your air purifier per the amount you spend on the machine. This rating measures how much bang you get for your buck, so to speak.

To arrive at this rating, we take the room size at which it can perform four air changes per hour, and then we divide the total price of the air purifier by this room size to determine how much money you are spending to clean one square foot of that room. In essence, this category seeks to measure cost-effectiveness of each air purifier in terms of total cost per square foot cleaned.

We use a different scale for air purifiers that come equipped with air quality sensors to reflect the performance/price difference. Air sensors will detect particles in the air and automatically adjust the fan speed to provide enhanced cleaning or energy savings depending on the current needs of your room. Because you are getting more performance from these expensive electrical components, we give them a ten cent per square foot "bump" on our rating chart.

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value per square feet charrt

This category measures how well an air purifier can remove particles from the air passing through the filter. The industry standard is High Efficiency Particulate Air filtration, or HEPA. In order to receive a 5 in this category, a filter must have at least HEPA quality air filtration: 99.97% of all airborne particles down to 0.3 micrometers (microns). Performance above this level is awarded more points.

The most difficult particles for an air purifier to capture range between 0.1 and 0.4 microns in diameter, with particles above and below this range being easier to capture. For an examination of the theory behind air particle filtration, including common misconceptions, please refer to our extended methodology page.

Air purifier filters capable of the HEPA standard will be able to capture the most common household air pollutants, including pollen, dust, pet dander, fungal spores, bacteria, and even some viruses. Please be aware that this category rates particle filtration only. There is a separate category that examines gas and odor filtration, which require more advanced methods of filtration than particle filtration.

To get the most benefit from a room air purifier, it is recommended that you purchase an air purifier that has a filtration rating of at least the HEPA standard. Air purifiers incapable of reaching this standard will not adequately remove the most potentially harmful particles from the air of your room.

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Effectiveness of Air Filter
Points Efficiency of Air Particle Capture
10 HEPA standard plus 99.5% of particles down to .003 microns
9 HEPA standard plus 99.97% of particles down to .1 microns
8 HEPA standard plus 95% of particles down to 0.1 microns
7 HEPA standard plus 90% of particles down to 0.1 microns
6 HEPA standard plus 90% of particles down to 0.2 microns
5 HEPA standard plus 99.7% of particles down to 0.3 microns
4 99.9% of particles down to 0.3 microns
3 99.7% of particles down to 0.3 microns
2 99.0% of particles down to 0.3 microns
1 < 98% of particles down to 0.3 microns
filter strength
AHAM Certified CADR Versus Marketed Room Size
Points Clean Air Delivery Rate Relation to Marketed Room Size
5 Maximum CADR for AHAM specified room size, matches marketed room size
4 Two CADR values at AHAM specified room size match marketed room size, one CADR value does not match marketed room size
3 One CADR value at AHAM specified room size matches marketed room size, two CADR values do not match marketed room size
2 Does not list CADR values or lists CADR values, but not independently verified by AHAM
1 CADR values do not match marketed room size

Next, we examine Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) numbers as reported by the independent, third party tester, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). The CADR number reflects an air purifier's ability to filter three types of airborne pollutant particles from a room: dust, pollen, and tobacco smoke. CADR specifies a target room size, so a good CADR score only means effective performance when the air purifier is used in an appropriately sized room. For more information on CADR, please refer to the AHAM website.

If the manufacturer's recommended room size matches the AHAM recommendation, we award the air purifier five points. If it does not match, we award fewer points. If the product is not submitted to AHAM for independent verification, we award only two points. Our extended methodology further discusses our choice to use CADR.

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CADR air purifier chart

In addition to effectively cleaning the air of a room, it is important for an air purifier to operate quietly. Because you may need your air purifier to be in a bedroom or living room, the sound level generated during operation should be considered.

If it is in your bedroom, you do not want the air purifier to wake you up during sleep. If your air purifier is in your living room, you will want to be able to hold a comfortable conversation or perhaps watch television without having to compete with the air purifier. At the same time, some noise in the bedroom is not necessarily a bad thing, as "soft" white noise may drown out sounds from the outside that may otherwise disturb your rest.

We measured the noise generated on the lowest fan speed in order to determine how quietly is capable of operating. When purchasing an air purifier, it is important to also examine the noise it generates when operating at its fastest fan speed. In order to achieve the best performance at all times from your air purifier, you should operate it at the loudest level you can tolerate without it greatly bothering you.

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Decibels at Lowest Speed
Points Decibels Generated
10 0 - 29
9 30 - 39
8 40 - 49
7 50 - 59
6 60 - 64
5 65 - 69
4 70 - 74
3 75 - 80
2 81 - 90
1 > 90
Noise air purifier chart
Energy Consumption on Highest Setting
Points Watts
10 < 50
9 51 -70
8 71 - 90
7 91 - 110
6 111 - 130
5 131 - 150
4 151 - 170
3 171 - 190
2 191 - 210
1 > 210
+2 points up to 10 Energy Star

Because most air purifiers have an expensive initial price point, you do not want them to continue to cost you on your monthly electrical bill.

Because some manufacturers only list energy consumption on the highest setting, we use the highest number when we evaluated Energy Efficiency.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program highlights consumer products that will save you money on your electrical bill and protect the environment by making use of less electricity than similar products on the market. The Energy Star Certification for air purifiers are a product of its ability to save energy while also providing quality air cleaning performance. It is not enough to merely draw low amounts of energy, the air purifier must also achieve a high Clean Air Delivery Rate (please refer to our section on CADR).

If an air purifier is Energy Star Certified to save energy, then it receives two bonus points up to a total of ten.

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Energy efficiency Chart

This category measures how efficiently the air purifier uses energy to move air. The rating is arrived at by dividing the maximum delivered air flow by the maximum Watts consumed on the highest fan speed. Air purifiers that score well in this category will save you money over their operational life time by being able to move greater volumes of air with less energy. If you are concerned with the impact of running an air purifier on your monthly electric bill, those air purifiers scoring well in this category make the most out of each precious watt consumed. Air purifiers with looser filter architecture typically score well in this category, whereas a fan will have to work harder to push air through denser filter architectures.

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Maximum Delivered Air Flow to Maxium Energy Consumption
Points MDA : Watts
5 4.00 - 4.99
4 3.00 - 3.99
3 2.00 - 2.99
2 1.00 - 1.99
1 0.01 - 0.99
watts chart
Length of Filter Life
Points Months
5 >36
4 24 -36
3 12 -23
2 6 -11
1 <6

It can become expensive to have to change filters every few months. We give a higher score for longer filter life. Keep in mind that more frequent filter changes is not indicative of performance. A manufacturer may recommend more frequent filter changes because it is filtering more air through the filter than the fans of other air purifier's. Therefore in some cases shorter filter lifespan may in fact indicate better performance in other categories, but this is not necessarily a rule.

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filter lifespan

Some air purifiers offer gas filtration and odor removal options standard or as upgrades. The most common odor and gaseous particle neutralization comes from some form of a carbon-based filter medium, such as charcoal or an anthracite compound. Those with odor filters coming standard will receive maximum points depending on the quality of their chemical gas filter, and those with no upgrade options will receive only one point. You may wonder why we only award five points for this category as opposed to the ten award to particle filtration. This weighting is due to the fact that most people requiring air purifiers have a need for particle filtration, and those requiring gas filtration are relatively rare. Due to the dangerous nature of gasses in the home, there is probably an underlying problem that cannot be resolved with an air purifier, so you should seek professional advice.

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Gas and Odor Neutralization Options
Points Filtration Options
5 Medical or military grade chemical neutralizer comes standard
4 Chemical and odor option comes standard
3 Upgradable to chemical and odor reduction filter
2 Either chemical or odor reduction options available, but not both together
1 No odor or chemical reduction options available, no option to upgrade
air purifier gas / order chart

Our Top Ten Air Purifiers scored between 47 and 61 out of 70 possible points

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