Welcome to Vacuum Wars’ best air purifier competition for 2023. This year, we bought over 30 air purifiers and put them through all kinds of tests. In this article, we’ll go over the results of those tests and pick our favorites in three different categories.
After testing more than 30 air purifiers from several top brands, here our our picks for best budget, value and air purifier overall.
Best Budget Air Purifier
In the budget category, it was almost a tie between the Levoit Core 300 and the Kenmore PM1005 (Amazon). In the end, the Levoit air purifier won out by just a few points.
Levoit Core 300
Both are priced very competitively and perform exceptionally well for smaller spaces. Although they lack many advanced features and aren’t the best for smoke or odor reduction (which makes sense when you take their low price into account), they excel in particle filtration in small spaces.
The Levoit Core 300 is one of the best selling air purifier models online. It’s a trusted model that’s been around forever and it has a ton of happy customers. The Kenmore is a newer mode, but early reviews look very promising.
Tip: For those looking for smart features including the ability to control their air purifier from an app, give the Levoit Core 300S (Amazon) a look. It is a slightly more advanced version of the Core 300 model.
Best Value Air Purifier
If you need an air purifier that has good smoke and odor reduction capabilities, you should consider our next pick.
The Winix 5500-2 won our best value category. In many ways this Winix model is the biggest story in this competition. Despite being relatively affordable, it performed like a much more expensive air purifier.
How much more expensive? It scored eighth overall in this year’s competition, but is by far the cheapest on that top eight list.
|Air Purifier Ranking
|#8 (Winix 5500-2)
Its high-quality carbon filter for gases and VOCs is uncommon for its price range. And, it boasts several features, such as a particle counter and air quality indicator light.
Additionally, it performed above average in our filtration tests, scoring much better than average. Winix air purifiers in general, and the 5500-2 model specifically are quite popular online. Reviews for the 5500-2 are very positive.
Best Air Purifier Overall
For the best overall air purifier of 2023 the winner was a big surprise. the Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde took top honors.
Up until recently, the IQAir GC MultiGas and IQAir HealthPro Plus had dominated our tests. And, if you had asked us a few weeks ago, we would have told you that no air purifier would beat those IQAir models in the premium air purifier category.
Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde
However, the recently released Dyson Big+Quiet model changed the game. Though the IQAir units still slightly outperformed the Dyson in filtration, the Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde had impressive features that boosted its overall score.
The Dyson actually received our best scores ever in the features category. In contrast, the IQAir models were the two worst scoring air purifiers in this year’s competition.
This competition was close in many ways. For example, the Dyson Big+Quiet was basically tied with the IQAir HealthPro Plus in our TVOC smoke tests and it was pretty close to them IQAir models in our particle test, too.
From a real-time particle display, VOC display, nitrogen, and formaldehyde sensors, to an app with data history, adjustable fan, lower filter replacement costs, and a modern design, it was the clear winner.
Downsides? The Dyson Big+Quite is not only Dyson’s most advanced air purifier, it’s also their most expensive.
Best Air Purifiers for 2023
To summarize, for our budget pick, either the Kenmore or the Levoit Core 300 would suffice. The Winix 5500-2 is the best value, and the Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde is our top pick for best overall in 2023.
Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde
Levoit Core 300
Air Purifier Basics
Almost all air purifiers have a HEPA filter connected to a fan, which processes the dirty air through the HEPA filter. This catches most of the small particles people want to filter out.
But, HEPA filters cannot filter smoke or gases. For that, you need some kind of carbon filter, which often takes the form of a filter with small charcoal pieces that absorb smoke and gases.
Adding a good carbon filter can be pricey, so you typically only find really good smoke and odor reduction with more expensive air purifiers.
How we Test Air Purifiers
We do a number of independent tests and scoring methodologies to evaluate air purifiers. Here’s some of what goes into selecting our picks for 2023’s best air purifiers.
Airflow and Noise
We start by measuring their airflow to see how fast they can process air on each of their power settings, as well as their noise level to see how loud they are (quieter is always better).
RELATED: See our comparison of the Levoit Core 300 and a best-selling GermGuardian model.
Filtration and VOC Tests
We then conduct a fog test, releasing a set amount of fog into a ventless room and observing how quickly the air purifier can reduce the particles in the room on max power, as measured by a particle counter.
Additionally, we do a VOC smoke test by releasing exact amounts of incense smoke into a sealed refrigerator and measuring the reduction of smoke and other volatile organic compounds in a 5-minute test on max power. This effectively tests the efficiency of their carbon filters.
Did you know Formaldehyde can be found in homes? To learn more, check out this article from the EPA.
Features and Cost of Ownership
Furthermore, we have an extensive checklist that accounts for their special features, assigning weighted scores for each. For instance, some models have built-in particle sensors to adjust the fan speed based on the air’s dirtiness, while others have lights that change color according to air quality.
Some even have real-time graphs on their displays showing alerts and levels. We factor in the cost of replacing filters, cord length, warranty length, and compile all this information into a spreadsheet, which then helps us determine the best options according to our algorithm.
Some of the features incorporated into our Best Air Purifier scoring algorithm:
- Auto Mode
- Power Levels
- Sleep Mode
- Ozone Filter
- UV Purification
- HEPA Filtration
- Photocatalytic Ionization
- Wifi / App (Smart Features)
- Remote Control
- Air Quality Indicator
- PM2.5 Particle Sensor
- Alexa Compatibility
- Google Home Compatibilty
- Formaldehyde Detection
- No2 Detection
- Aroma Therapy
However, this is still our opinion, and we haven’t tested every single air purifier out there. Please take our winners with a grain of salt.