There are many ways to fight indoor pollutants, from cleaning out your air ducts to spraying Febreze all over the house. Sometimes, the battle against airborne particles seems overwhelming. However, for the sake of your health, you should never surrender to allergens, dust or other pollutants. Every year, more people are diagnosed with asthma and other breathing-related issues. Both indoors and outdoors, particles bombard you, weakening or damaging your lungs. Odor and smoke from cigarettes can also worsen breathing problems. Fortunately, there is a great tool for the battle against indoor air pollution: air purifiers.
By placing an air purifier in bedrooms or living rooms, you can capture bad air in the places where your family spends most of its time. These devices come in many shapes and sizes and offer several types of cleaning methods, so we've provided ratings to help you in your choice. After comparing the different room air purifiers, we found that the Alen BreatheSmart, Coway and RabbitAir MinusA2 models offer the best protection for your family. To learn more about your choices for battling indoor pollution, see our articles about air purification.
The best air purifiers quietly and effectively lower the airborne particle count in your home. We looked for the best air purifiers, evaluating them according to pollutant removal, coverage area, noise levels, safety, energy use, features and customer support.
Aesthetics and features are nice, but the most important rating covers an air purifier's basic ability to clean the air. While many air purifiers claim to accomplish this, these claims don't hold the weight of actual certifications and documented research. Many independent tests and certifications are available to help you objectively evaluate purifiers by their performance numbers and official certifications.
In addition, check for the purifier's Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). This number defines how efficiently the air purifier eliminates tobacco smoke, dust and pollen from the air. The higher the CADR rating, the better, but look for an air purifier with a rating of at least 125 cubic feet per minute (CFM) in all categories. In general, you can use purifiers with lower CADR numbers in smaller rooms, while larger rooms require higher CADR numbers for maximum effectiveness. In rating the various types of air filters, we also show you how well the air purifier will handle specific pollutants such as odors and pollen.
To make sure your purifier will actually work on the room in which you use it, check that it has the right coverage area. We determined the effective room size based on the size of the purifier and its adjusted area coverage, a measurement that compared the airflow against four air changes per hour in a room. Typically, a small-room unit has an area coverage of under 350 square feet, and a large-room unit covers over 500 square feet.
Finally, in choosing an air purifier, you need to balance the appeal of a quiet machine with the functionality of a noisier one. A quiet system may not always move a lot of air, so you'll want the quietest air purifier with the highest air-movement volume. To evaluate this aspect, we looked at the noise level at the highest setting. Check this rating alongside the air-volume ratings to find a good balance.
Several independent certifications can attest to the safety of your purifier. We recommend that you buy a product that's certified by Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Most of the purifiers we reviewed meet one or both of these certifications. The ETL and UL marks assure that your purifier meets North American safety standards.
In many purifiers, the process of removing odors creates ozone up to 10 times the acceptable standard for an indoor appliance. Besides hurting the environment, this can harm your respiratory health. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the EPA strongly discourage the use of an ozone generator in your home because ozone can actually worsen respiratory diseases and cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. We recommend you avoid air purifiers that produce ozone.
To ensure you purchase an efficient machine, check that your air purifier is Energy Star verified.
Convenience is key when selecting an air purifier, so you'll want one that monitors your filter for you. Also check for purifiers that have a timer or sleep mode. With this feature, you can set the air filter to run two, four or eight hours in the future, making it easy to program the filter to shut off or to run when you are unable to adjust the settings. Many purifiers also come with a remote control, another handy feature.
All of the purifiers have removable filters, so you should look for a unit with a filter monitor. This will tell you when to replace or clean the filter. Some also use an air quality sensor, which will adjust the fan speed based on the number of particles the sensor detects.
Help & Support
Operating an air purifier shouldn't be too difficult, but it is still ideal to have support from the manufacturer in case something goes wrong. The best manufacturers offer at least a one-year warranty and online technical support, including FAQs, downloadable user manuals, online chat and direct contact information.
Although keeping your home clean and free from dust is the best way to keep air pollutants at a minimum, an air purifier can help ensure your family's protection against airborne irritants.
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