Between the smoke from wildfires burning across North America and increased traffic congestion in cities, our health is dependent on the quality of the air that we breathe. This is particularly important when it comes to our homes, where the concentration of certain pollutants is often two to five times higher than it is outdoors.
Here are our top five things to consider when buying an air purifier for your home, as well as our top two picks for best air purifier overall.
TOP FIVE THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Clear Air Delivery Rate (CADR) matters: Check the CADR rating, which reflects the volume of clean air produced by the purifier on its highest speed setting. Higher ratings mean it can handle larger rooms and make the air cleaner and fresher more quickly.
As a general guide, you want to make sure that the CADR of your air purifier is about two-thirds of your room’s area. For instance, if your room has an area of 120 square feet, you want to select an air purifier with a CADR of at least 80.
- Energy efficiency is key: Some purifiers can use as much energy as a refrigerator. Look out for purifiers with an Energy Star certification, which are 40% more energy-efficient than standard models.
- Look for monitoring capacity: Having real time, accurate information about the levels of air pollutants in your home will help you make informed decisions to stay safe. Look for an air purifier that has this information built in. You can also invest in a standalone air quality monitor, such as the Airthings Wave Mini, which can be installed in rooms throughout your house.
- Learn about filters: Filters can come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials – and serve different purposes. HEPA filters – an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air [filter] – are often the best bet overall. These pleated mechanical filters are made of either plastic or fibreglass and are rated to remove 99.97% or more of large and small pollutants. However, there are some microscopic chemicals – like the ones present in wildfire smoke – that can be too small for a HEPA filter to capture.
In this case, pairing a HEPA filter with an activated carbon filter provides the best protection. Activated carbon (also called activated charcoal) filters are highly porous, resulting in a large amount of surface area. As gases and other microscopic pollutants pass through the filter, they get trapped in this surface area through a process called absorption.
- Look for five cycles per hour: The air in our homes needs to be cycled through filters continually to keep it clean. For the highest air quality, look for a purifier that cycles air five times per hour. For comparison, an open window in your home cycles the air about one time per hour.
OUR TOP PICKS
- Levoit 300S: This Energy Star™ certified purifier cycles the air five times per hour in rooms up to 219 square feet. This makes it ideal for bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens.
It comes with a pre-filter which captures large items like dust and pet hair, an activated carbon filter for smoke, and a HEPA Filter that captures 99.99% of bacteria and mould. It has easy-to-read touch controls on top, and there’s an indicator light that changes colour based on the air quality.
It also pairs with the VeSync companion app, allowing you to easily monitor the indoor air quality and adjust settings accordingly. You can set it to automatic mode, which adjusts the fan speed depending on the air quality – so you can set it and forget it.
Buy it for $149.99 USD or $319.99 CAD
- Blue Pure 311i Max: This model is great for larger spaces. It can clean 387 ft² in 12.5 minutes or up to 929 ft² in 30 minutes. It comes with a washable and customizable pre-filter, as well as a primary HEPA filter with an activated carbon layer.
It includes built-in air quality monitoring, and filter tracking that will alert you when it’s time to replace your filters. You have the option to set up automatic shipping for replacement filters every six months so they’ll arrive at your doorstep when it’s time to change them.
It also pairs with the Blueair app which has great features like voice controls, and automatic settings that put your purifier on standby when you leave the house or turn on as you return.
Buy it for $229.99 USD or $319 CAD
You can use the recommendations above to improve the air quality in your home, and keep yourself and your family safe.
For many of us, the cost of air purifiers is too big for our household budget. If these options are currently out of reach for you, we will be sharing some tips on how to make your own air purifier with just a few items from the hardware store next week. Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to get it in your inbox as soon as it comes out!
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