Portable Air Purifier Buying Guide

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If you’re still not sure what the specs would be on your ideal portable air purifier, you’re in the right place. There are lots of factors to consider, and some of them are probably totally new concepts, unless you’re already a seasoned appliance consumer. We’ve got your back.

Factors to consider while buying a portable air purifier

  1. HEPA Filter: High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) is a type of air filter that traps 97% of 0.3-micron particles. It works even better on particles that are larger. All the portable air purifiers mentioned on our list come with HEPA filters, which are higher quality than non-HEPA filters.
  2. CARB certification: California Air Resources Board (CARB) issues certifications indicating the electrical safety of air purifiers. It also means that the device meets the ozone emission concentration limit and is 100% safe for use in your home.
  3. ENERGY STAR rating: If you’re buying multiple air purifiers, this is a label to look for. Air purifiers don’t use a huge amount of energy, but it can add up. The ENERGY STAR rating means that the model is 40% more energy efficient as compared to non-certified models.
  4. UV purifier: Air cleaners with HEPA filters might not be as effective at clearing mold or bacteria as UV light. Thus, for a humid/mold-prone environment, you might want to consider options that come with UV light.
  5. Size: Finding the right size is specific to each individual. For some, it’s a slim tower that sits in the corner of the room. For others, it’s a lamp-sized model that can sit on a nightstand. Our list contains both varieties of portable air purifiers so that you can pick a size that best fits your requirements.
  6. Noise: Air purifiers are machines, and you’ll hear them work. However, technology allows manufacturers to hush that noise to avoid disturbance. Especially if you plan on using the air purifier while sleeping, get one that works noise-free even on the highest setting.
  7. Settings: Your air purification needs might not always remain the same. So some degree of control over the type of filter and the degree of strength is essential. But that doesn’t mean more setting options are always better. If you’ll never use the additional settings, they’re just unnecessary. Your ideal pick should have the options that you want or are likely to use.
  8. Cost of replacement filters: Most air purifiers come with filters that need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. The cost of these filters ranges between $50 to $200. Knowing the cost of the replacement filters for your air purifier will better help you understand if it actually fits your budget or not. Some air purifiers have washable permanent filters, but if you prefer the safety of HEPA, you’ll likely need to replace your filters on a regular basis.

Write up your priorities after considering these 8 key elements, and then head over to the guide to pick your favorite of our top 5 portable air purifiers. Here’s to making sure the air around you is perfectly pure!

lazy dog and woman on laptop shopping for an air purifier
Your dog is loving your online shopping time. Trust us, doggy. This time, it’s important. Your dander is raising the air quality index in this room to crisis levels.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.