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Best Air Purifier Guide: 30+ Air Purifiers Tested.

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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.

Results

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.

Best Budget Air Purifier

Levoit Core 300

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 barely beat the Kenmore PM1005 for Best Budget Air Purifier
The Levoit Core 300 (right) barely beat the Kenmore PM1005 for Best Budget Air Purifier. © Vacuum Wars

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.

Best Value Air Purifier

Winix 5500-2

Winix 5500-2

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 RankingPrice
#1$1,099
#2$1,369
#3$750
#4$899
#5$650
#6$769
#7$750
#8 (Winix 5500-2)$250
Prices of the best air purifiers at the time of publishing. © Vacuum Wars

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.

Best Air Purifier Overall

Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde

Dyson Purifier 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.

Best Air Purifier Overall - Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde
Winner for Best Air Purifier Overall: the Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde/ © Vacuum Wars

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 Purifier Big+Quiet Formaldehyde
Best Air Purifier Overall

Dyson Big+Quiet Formaldehyde

Winix 5500-2
Best Air Purifier Value

Winix 5500-2

Levoit Core 300
Best Air Purifier On a Budget

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.

The Winix 5500-2s Carbo Filter - Best Air Purifier
Surprising for a value-priced air purifier, the Winix 5500-2 has acarbon filter. © Vacuum Wars

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.

Best Air Purifier 2023 - 30 Models Tested
The 30 (plus) models we purchased and tested to find the top air purifier for 2023. © Vacuum Wars

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.

Recording Airflow for the Best Air Purifier 2023 Competition
We record airflow for each air purifier we review. © Vacuum Wars

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.

Examples of our Air Purifier Smoke Tests in Progress
Examples of our air purifier smoke (filtration) tests in progress. © Vacuum Wars

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.

VOC Testing - Best Air Purifier 2023
VOC testing an air purifier for this competition. © Vacuum Wars

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.

Features

Some of the features incorporated into our Best Air Purifier scoring algorithm:

  • Auto Mode
  • Power Levels
  • Sleep Mode
  • Timer
  • 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
  • Oscillation
  • 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.

 

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