Sick of sneezing, sniffling and feeling bunged up while indoors? Relieve your symptoms with our pick of the best air purifiers.
The best air purifiers can help to ease the symptoms of asthma, hayfever or other allergies by cleaning the air in your home, removing pollutants and irritants such as pollen, dust, pet dander and smoke. With good-quality air purifiers available from a couple hundred dollars to well over $1000, there are plenty of great choices for every budget.
But with machines ranging from downright useless to ultra-effective, it’s essential you do your homework before you choose which one to buy. To help out, we’ve tested a selection of machines to pick out the best air purifiers you can buy – that is, the ones that quickly and efficiently clear the air and are easy to both set up and use. Not sure what to look out for? Have a read of our buying guide below, where we’ve summed up the key factors you need to consider before parting with your hard-earned dosh.
How to choose the best air purifier for you
How much do I need to spend?
Air purifiers can cost as little as $200 or well over $1000, but it’s not simply a case of the more you spend, the better the machine. Indeed, we found the Bionaire Air Purifier, which retails at under $300, has features that are usually only found in much more expensive machines. But that’s not to say that a pricy air purifier is inevitably overpriced, with the Blue Air Pro L providing a high-tech way of easing allergy symptoms for larger areas. Also remember it’s not just the initial financial outlay you need to think about, with operational costs ranging from a few dollars a year up to over $100 per annum.
How do air purifiers actually clean the air?
Air purifiers use different kinds of filters to do their job – usually, a large washable, reusable pre-filter to collect the large particles, plus a finer filter, which is usually a disposable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. The length of time this lasts varies, but on average expect it to need replacing every six months (or fewer if you use the machine less). It’s the HEPA filter that catches all the tiny airborne nasties, and these are capable of catching particles as small as 0.3 microns – which is more than three times smaller than a cigarette smoke particle.
What is the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)?
The CADR aims to provide an objective measure of the effectiveness of a portable air purifier at dealing with different types of allergen. A purifier with a score of 250 for dust particles is as effective as adding 250 cubic feet of clean air per minute. Buyers should focus on the results of the specific pollutant they’re aiming to eradicate, whether that’s pollen, smoke or dust, and many manufacturers will supply CADR figures for the most common.
Generally speaking, the higher the CADR, the larger the room it can purify effectively. It’s also worth comparing manufacturer figures for the maximum size of room as these can vary enormously, sometimes when the CADR does not.
What other factors should I consider?
- Filtration performance should be your priority. Your symptoms will only be eased to a noticeable extent with an air purifier that works quickly to clean the air.
- Noise is another factor – you don’t want to replace one irritation (allergies) with another (the sound of a jet plane in your room). For many, the hum is something that doesn’t bother them, but some purifiers can get very noisy. It’s also worth remembering that, while some machines are quiet on their lowest setting (where they’re often at their least effective), they might be loud on the fastest (where they’re working at their best).
- Speed settings. Most air purifiers have a choice of speeds so you can keep it lower for sleeping and turn it up when the pollen count is high. A night mode can also help if you want a quiet setting and dimmer lights while you sleep – although we found this doesn’t always work as well as you’d hope.
- An air-quality sensor, which enables the machine to switch itself on when the air quality becomes poorer, can be useful. After all, you can’t see when the air quality dips, for example, as the result of a high pollen count.
- A few high-end units double as humidifiers, managing the moisture in the air to prevent dry air causing irritation to the nose, throat, lips and skin.
- What about a carry handle? These are handy if you need to move it from room to room. Wheels, a compact design and a low weight won’t go amiss here either.
- Easy-to-use controls are always a plus, with a good remote control a must-have when you’re using a purifier in a larger room. Some purifiers are even packing in Wi-Fi connectivity and apps, so you can set the purifier going before you get home from the office or control it from your phone.
- Filter replacement indicators aren’t crucial and not all air purifiers have them, but this is a helpful feature as a clogged air cleaner won’t work properly.
- Should you consider getting a timer? If you want your machine to come on a few hours before you’ll be using the room, or if you want to be able to turn it off automatically, this is a good option.
The best air purifiers for small rooms
HoMedics Air Purifier AP25: The best budget air purifier
Price: $275 | Buy now from Catch.com.au
Hay fever sufferers and asthmatics, rejoice. This clears pollutants – especially cat and dog allergens, house dust mites and pollen – from the air at the kind of speed you’d expect from much more expensive machines. You don’t get all the bells and whistles you would with pricier machines (although you do get some, such as night mode, a timer and a filter indicator) and it’s quite loud on the fastest of the three speeds. But it’s endorsed by the National Asthma Council Australia, looks smart, doesn’t take up too much room and is easy to move from room to room.
Key specs: CADR: Not stated; Max room size: 72m²; Power settings: 3; Dimensions (HWD): 54 x 53 x 29 cm; Weight: 5.33kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 12 months
Dyson Pure Cool Me: High-tech air purifier
Price: $399 | Buy now from Catch.com.au
Need a personal purifier for your bedroom or office? The Dyson Pure Cool Me could be the answer. Using technology borrowed from the Harrier Jump Jet, it sucks air in through the base and forces it out, purified, through two small openings and across the smooth domed surface. There they combine into a powerful single jet of air, ready to cool you down while in bed or at your desk.
It’s surprisingly effective for such a compact unit, dishing out plenty of air. At power levels one to three it’s practically silent, and noise levels aren’t even bothersome at the highest of its ten speeds. Meanwhile, the HEPA and active carbon filters do an impressive job of filtering out particulates down to 0.1um in size. Obviously, it won’t deal with larger rooms, but you’ll struggle to find anything better for personal cooling and air purification.
Key specs: CADR: Not stated: Max room size: Not stated; Power settings: 10; Dimensions (HWD): 40.1 x 24.7 x 25.4cm; Weight: 2.7kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 12 months
Sharp UA-HD40U-L: The best for smaller rooms
Price: $589 | Buy now from Amazon
This compact unit packs in three ways to improve your air quality. It uses a triple air-filtration system to remove microscopic irritants and pollutants – not to mention odours – and can also humidify your air, adding tiny droplets of moisture from the 2.5L water tank to maintain a constant level. Finally, it features what Sharp calls “Plasmacluster ion technology” to emit positive and negative ions, which, Sharp claims, can eliminate bacteria and viruses, odours and static electricity.
We’re not sure how well that works in practice, but the UA-HD40U-L is impressively efficient at filtering out impurities and very quiet at its automatic and low-power settings. A strip on the top turns from red to orange to green to indicate the current air quality, and there’s a humidity readout so you can monitor humidity levels, although both this and the ‘ion shower’ feature can be turned off if you just want air purification. Well designed and easy to use, this is a great air purifier for smaller rooms.
Key specs – CADR: 216m³/h; Max room size: 26m²; Power settings: 6; Dimensions: 39.9 x 23 x 61.5cm; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year
The best air purifiers for mid-size rooms
Philips AC3829/60: Brilliant for removing dust, pollen and smoke
Price: $921 | Buy now from Amazon
The Philips AC3829/60 easily justifies its steep price tag, thanks both to its excellence at purifying the air in your home and its abundance of bells and whistles. In terms of the main job in hand, it’s easy to set up and use and, crucially, it removes dust, pollen and smoke at a rate of knots. The purifier is also energy-efficient and quiet on the low speed, and although it’s louder on the highest of its four fan speeds, it has a night mode to quieten it down when you’re trying to get some shut-eye.
The AC3829/60 can be controlled using a smartphone app where you can set it to “general,” “allergen on” or “sleep mode”; you can also find real-time pollution data both inside and outside, and get weekly forecasts, among other things. There’s a timer and an automatic mode, and this model even acts as a humidifier
All in all, it’s hard to fault, but be warned that it’s big – even if it does have wheels. Our one complaint would be that replacing filters could be easier. If you’re not fussed about dehumidification, you can save a little cash by going for the similar – and cheaper – AC2889/60.
Key specs – CADR: 310m³/h; Max room size: 95m²; Power settings: 8; Dimensions (HWD): 80 x 49 x 39cm; Weight: 13.6kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 12 months
Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link: Purifier, heater and a fan
Price: $799 | Buy now from Catch.com.au
Like previous versions of the Pure Hot+Cool, this purifier crams in three useful functions. In the summer, it will keep you cool while filtering the air for pollen, dust, smoke and other impurities and allergens. Get to winter, however, and you can still keep it going thanks to the built-in heater. This will give you a warming blast of air once the temperatures drop, and you can set the Pure Hot+Cool to maintain a specific room temperature automatically. It even oscillates to heat or cool a wider area.
On the purification front, it’s something of a powerhouse, with a 360-degree glass HEPA filter. What’s more, you can monitor levels of pollutants using the Dyson Link app on your phone. And it comes with aseperate remote control.
It’s a big purifier, heavy and, almost needless to say, expensive, but then it does so much more than its rivals and it does it all so well.
Key specs – CADR: Not stated; Max room size: Not stated; Power settings: 10; Dimensions (HWD): 69.1 x 26 x 26.1cm; Weight: 4kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 2 years
The best air purifiers for larger rooms
Philips AC3256/70: The best air purifier under $800
Price: $799 | Buy now from Catch.com.au
While it launched at over $1000, you can now find this Philips purifier for around $800, which makes it even better value. It gives you all you need to treat the air in larger rooms, covering spaces of up to 95m², and makes doing so an absolute no-brainer, with automatic purification settings protecting against pollutants and allergens or keeping things quiet while you sleep. The allergen mode keeps the purifier on constant alert for risks, and you can monitor air quality at any point either the display.
It’s an effective unit, removing pollen, dust and smoke from the air at a rate that cheaper machines can’t compete with, and though the higher speeds make a fair old racket, the lower speeds are practically silent, with one of the quietest night modes around.
Key specs – CADR: 393m³/h; Max room size: 95m²; Power settings: 5; Dimensions (WDH): 25.1 x 36.6 x 69.8cm; Weight: 9.8kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 12 months
Boneco H680 Hybrid Air Purifier and Humidifier: The best high-end air purifier
Price: $1899 | Buy now from Fruugo
This is the most expensive machine in our roundup, but it doubles up as a humidifier and will easily manage humidity in areas up to 100m². It has an extra hybrid filter (HEPA and active carbon filter), which makes it a star performer, and we found it easy to set up and use.
It’s particularly low maintenance as well, while we love the sleep mode, which lowers the overall noise level, as well as the intuitive remote control and sensors for both humidity and air quality. It’s neat and compact and well worth the extra dosh.
Key specs – CADR: 205m³/h: Max room size: 150m²; Dimensions (HWD): 34.7 x 43.5 x 49cm; Weight: 10.4kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 12 months