Which is the best air purifier? The factors that make an air purifier great are well understood; airflow, filtration efficiency, noise level and running costs are some of the things that have to be considered. Figuring out which air purifier performs best in regard to these factors, however, is a real challenge.
At Allergy Cosmos we perform air purifier testing - but as we are only one of many testing companies, we looked into which unit the best testing companies in the world rank as the best air purifier, and why.
There are a number of air purifier brands claiming to offer the best air purifier on the market. IQAir says that it manufactures “the world’s most advanced room air purifiers”1 and that the IQAir HealthPro 250 is “the world’s no. 1 rated air purifier”. Blueair claims that their “air purifiers have been proven to deliver cleaner, healthier air faster than any competing air cleaner”. Honeywell claims to be the best air purifier by saying that “doctors recommend Honeywell air purifiers to their patients more than any other brand”.2 Airfree claims that they are the “world’s safest and most tested air purifier brand".3 Winix go a little further, claiming their “air purifiers are among the best worldwide, with technologies that set the bar for competitors”.4
There are numerous air purifier reviews and companies claiming that they 'tested' units to find the best. But it is difficult to identify whether these reviews are well made or often even genuine. Some air purifier tests and reviews are made by people with good intentions but very limited knowledge about air purifiers and air purification. Other reviews have less good intentions and attempt to appear objective and independent but have a very clear bias, mostly a financial one. So, how can you find out which unit is the best air purifier? We recommend that you look for companies that a) have a strong reputation of carrying out truly independent tests, tests that help (not mislead) customers, and b) companies that do actually understand what to look for when testing for the best air purifier.
There are many air purifier manufacturers that claim their air purifier is the best. However, IQAir is the company that has won more independent best air purifier awards than any other company.
The Evening Standard has been evaluating and ranking air purifiers for a couple of years and their top 5 are:
Consumer Search is an American firm that was founded in 1991 and is located in New York. The company is owned by Ask.com. Consumer Search says that their goal is to make their product reviews “objective and precise” and they promise that “at no point are our editors influenced by advertising or other commercial considerations.”6 Their goal is to “report the truth about what experts & users are saying as well as important developments in each product category we cover".
Consumers Digestis an American company based in Chicago. The company just celebrated its 50th anniversary and provides product reviews, commentary and editorial features on new products, industry trends and general consumer interests. Consumers Digest says that its mission “always has been and always will be about saving you time, saving you money, and educating you about how to become a smarter consumer in a complex and often confusing marketplace”7, so that you can buy the best products (including the best air purifier) with confidence. Consumers Digest strives to provide readers with a “behind-the-scenes perspective, in-depth research and strategic insight”7 on the products they review.
Allergy Consumer Review calls itself an "allergy solutions site" and has a team of consumer testers who “are diligent in their reviews and analysis of the leading and new healthy home products in this industry"8. The company is located in Braintree, Massachusetts, and has a portfolio of healthy living ecommerce websites such as Allergy Buyers Club and Pain Relief.
Apartment Therapy was founded in 2004 and is a lifestyle blog providing information for people on how to improve their home. The focus of Apartment Therapy is on making the home "beautiful, organised and healthy.”9 As part of this, Apartment Therapy tests products on a regular basis.
Stiftung Warentestis a German consumer test company and is probably the most rigorous of the testing companies we have examined. The company was founded in 1964 based on a decision by the German parliament. Its goal is to offer consumers an independent and objective support through comparative testing of products and services. Stiftung Warentest only buys products anonymously in trade and then tests these products by “using scientific methods in independent institutes according to our specifications”.5 Stiftung Warentest evaluates products from "very good" to "poor", "exclusively on the basis of objectified findings".
Parent Trusted, Parent Approved (PTPA) is a Canadian company founded in 2012. It is a community of parents across North America who share feedback regarding various home products. The PTPA seal of approval stands for “quality, reliability and trust.”
IQAir HealthPro 250
The IQAir HealthPro 250 has won more independent number 1 awards than any other air purifier. In 2011 the HealthPro 250 won the ‘Best Air Purifier Overall’ by Consumer Search. The award was based on the air purifier's ability to “remove particles even smaller in size than standard HEPA filters can handle” and the addition of the “V5 filter means the unit is able to filter odours and chemicals”.6
Consumers Digest has awarded the IQAir HealthPro 250 the ‘Best Buy’ award for being the best air purifier in the premium home air purifier category. This was the fourth consecutive year that IQAir won this award. The air purifiers tested were ranked according to their “performance, ease and cost of maintenance, quality of construction and the area the air purifier cleans”.7
Allergy Consumer Review named the IQAir HealthPro 250 the winner for “the all-rounder best air purifier” and the IQAir GC MultiGas was ranked #2 as “the best all-rounder odour and gas air purifier”.8
Apartment Therapy placed the IQAir as #1 best air purifier for achieving the highest rating from the Apartment Therapy test lab and said “it is one of the few products that completely lived up to its claims with immediately noticeable effects in a real-world environment”.9
Parent Trusted, Parent Approved awarded the seal of approval as best air purifier to the IQAir HealthPro 250. They describe the unit as the “world’s most advanced room air purifier” and the only “air purifier to be tested and certified to filter down to 0.003 microns and captures over 99.5% of viruses, bacteria, pet allergens, mould spores, dust and pollen”.10
Stiftung Warentest tested 10 international air purifiers and evaluated the IQAir HealthPro 250 as the only air purifier that was “sehr gut” (very good) - which is their top mark. The company said “after 15 minutes around 85% of all dirt particles of even 0.5 to 1.5 microns in size had already been removed. The [best of the other brands] only removed about half as many particles in comparable conditions”.
Blueair has won several awards for being the best looking/designed air purifier. The Blueair range won, for example, the ‘Excellent Swedish Design Award’, ‘Good Design’, ‘G Mark’ and the ‘Red Dot Award’. However, none of these awards has anything to do with the air purifier’s actual performance and is for that reason not considered when determining the ‘best air purifier’.
In regard to its performance, the Blueair 650E was a runner up for the ‘Best Air Purifier Overall’ by Consumer Search. According to Consumer Search the Blueair “does a great job filtering pollution from the atmosphere” using a combination of a mechanical mesh filter with ionisation. Consumer Search commented, however, that the “Blueair lacks the pre-filter that top-rated purifiers use that extends the main filter life”. Furthermore, the “filter replacement is the biggest expense which requires changing every six months”.11
Blueair was ranked #4 by Allergy Consumer Review for the best air purifier. Allergy Consumer Review said that the Blueair 650E was able to “deliver large amounts of purified air at a very low noise level”.9 The Blueair was also a runner up on the list for top air purifiers by Apartment Therapy. Apartment Therapy states that the “Swedish company … offers premium air purification in a much more stylish package”.10
If you are interested in an in-depth comparison of IQAir and Blueair visit our IQAir vs Blueair air purifier page.
Holmes markets their HAP756-U air purifier as removing “99.97% of airborne allergens as small as 0.3 microns” and says that it includes the “Arm and Hammer-enhanced filter”12 which helps filter common household odours. The Holmes HAP756-U was ranked #3 by Consumers Digest, describing it as being “rare among air purifiers that are in this price range ($140-$150)”8 and making it a ‘Best Buy’ selection. Consumer Report, on the other hand, rated the Holmes HAP1200-U air purifier as only 29/100 – which qualifies it as “not worth buying”.
Overall the Honeywell air purifiers have not been a major contender in the award for the best air purifier. But the Honeywell HEPA air purifier was ranked #5 by Apartment Therapy for the best air purifier. According to Apartment Therapy, the Honeywell air purifiers are tested and regarded to be “dependable, affordable workhorses which do a great job”.
Filtrete air purifier review
Even though Filtrete makes strong claims – for example, that their air purifiers are “better than HEPA at capturing large airborne particles”13 - none of the independent test companies we looked at have awarded Filtrete any best air purifier awards. Only Consumer Reports rated the Filtrete FAP03 air purifier as 54/100.
AirFree air purifier review
AirFree units are often sold as being the “world’s safest and most tested air purifier brand”, but the Airfree unit was not tested by most of the independent testing companies that we found. Only one of the testing sites mentioned the Airfree. Allergy Consumer Review tested the Airfree Onix and ranked it as #3 in the top ten air purifiers. Allergy Consumer Review states that “all AirFree units do not use filters, therefore, there are no maintenance costs”, however, Allergy Consumer Review also says that “Airfree models are not recommended for serious gas and odour removal”.9
LightAir is very recognisable for the unique design of their air cleaners; going on to win various awards for their good look. None of the testing companies, however, were impressed with its performance in cleaning the air. Consumer Report wrote the most critical review by saying that “with no fan to aid airflow, the LightAir IonFlow 50F was about as effective at removing dust smoke in our tests as having no purifier at all”.14
If it is worth getting an air purifier, depends on your personal circumstances. A quality air purifier can be a very worthwhile investment if you suffer with allergies or asthma, live near a busy road or a large city, want to protect yourself or someone in your family from viruses, bacteria, or ultra-fine pollution such as traffic soot, or if you simply want to make sure that the air you breath is as clean as possible.
However, as the air purifier industry in the UK and in most other countries is not regulated, there are many bad / useless air purifiers. These products are often heavily marketed with misleading performance claims, and will likely be a waste of money.
A high-quality leakage-free HEPA air purifier will filter the Covid virus SarsCoV2 completely out of the air that travels through the unit. Proper HEPA has been used in sensitive environments, such as operating theaters and microchip manufacturing for decades. The NHS also deployed thousands of IQAir air purifiers to combat COVID throughout the UK.
How much you should spend on an air purifier depends on how serious your concerns are. If you have relatively mild seasonal allergies, and are only planning to use an air purifiers for a couple of month a year, you might want to look for a good quality midrange domestic air purifier. If you have more serious health concerns a medical grade air purifier may be more suitable.