Here’s a worrying statistic for you: around 3.8 million people die from exposure to household air pollution every year, according to the World Health Organization. Scary, right?
Fortunately, you can easily protect yourself and your family from all those nasty pollutants with a whole-house air purifier. Whole-house air purifiers filter out contaminants and improve the air quality throughout your entire home so that you only ever breathe fresh, clean air no matter what room you’re in.
In this guide, we’ll share what we think are the best whole house air purifiers on the market and provide an honest review of each of them. We’ll also be telling you everything else you need to know to pick out the best whole house air purifier for your needs.
Whole House Air Purifiers Compared
|Honeywell F300E1019||Depends on AC||Not required||98%||Check Amazon|
|Alen Breathe Smart Classic||1100 sq. ft.||10-12 months||99.97%||Check Alencorp|
|Aprilaire 5000||3750 sq. ft.||12 months||98%||Check Sylvane|
|GT3000||3000 sq. ft||Not required||98%||Check Amazon|
|Aprilaire 2410||Depends on AC||12 months||97%||Check Sylvane|
|Coway Airmega 400||1,560 sq. ft.||HEPA filter – 12 months|
Charcoal filter – 6 months
|Germ Guardian AC4150BLCA||54 sq.ft.||UV-C, HEPA, Pre & Carbon||99.97%||Check Amazon|
Why Invest in Whole House Air Filtration System?
First off, let’s talk about why you might want to buy a whole-house air filtration system. Here are just some of the main benefits you should know about:
- Reduces odors
A good air purifier will make your whole house smell better, provided it has the right kind of filter. Activated carbon filters can help to remove many odors.
- Eliminates pollen, dust, and other allergens
A whole-house air purifier with the right filter can purify the air to remove pollen, spores, dust, and other allergens from your home. This makes them ideal for anyone that has asthma, hay fever, or allergies.
- Protects your health
Some air purifiers can destroy viruses and other microorganisms that cause disease, thus helping you stay healthy.
- Neutralizes smoke, carbon monoxide, and other VOCs
- Increases productivity
Some research has suggested that better indoor air quality correlates with increased workplace productivity. If you have a home office, an air purifier should be a no-brainer
Things to Consider When Buying Whole House Purifiers
Different homeowners have different needs when it comes to whole-house purifiers. The best purifier for you will depend on various factors. Here the main things you’ll want to consider when you’re shopping around.
Filtration Type & Life
Whole-house air purifiers can use different types of filters to remove pollutants from the air. The type of filter used will determine which specific pollutants the purifier will remove.
HEPA filters are generally considered to be the gold standard and are rated to block 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns, but they require an additional fan to filter the air so not all HVAC systems will be compatible with them.
A relatively new type of filter technology called ULPA blocks even more – 99.99% of particles larger than 0.12 microns – but they also restrict more airflow.
You’ll want to look at the filter’s MERV rating too. All filters have a MERV rating between 1 and 20, and this number tells you how effectively it removes particles and allergens from the air. The higher the number, the more effective the filter, but also the higher the air resistance. Greater air resistance can mean reduced airflow through your HVAC system.
Bottom line: we recommend choosing a true HEPA filter if possible with as high a MERV rating as possible, but you need to consider compatibility with your existing ventilation system first.
Particle Removal Capacity
Another factor to consider is the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate). All portable home air purifiers are rated with a CADR, which measures the air movement and purification effectiveness. It’s given in cubic feet per minute and tells you how quickly the purifier will clean the air in any particular room size.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to choose a purifier with a CADR that’s at least two-thirds of the area of the room you plan on putting it in. So, for example, if you’re trying to purify a 300-square ft room, you’ll need a filter with a CADR of 200 or more.
If you’re trying to purify the air in your whole home at once, the same rule applies, except you’ll be going off the size of your whole house and running it with the doors open.
Whole-house air purifiers are capable of covering much larger areas than single-room models. Some whole-house purifiers can cover thousands of square feet. You’ll need to look at the coverage area of the model you plan on buying to make sure it’s sufficient for your home.
Purifiers installed into your existing HVAC ductwork are generally able to cover a much larger area than portable purifiers. Portable purifiers are better suited to individual rooms, but some larger models can still be sufficient for your entire home if you live in a smaller house or apartment.
Don’t forget to think about the noise levels. If you plan on running a purifier in your bedroom or office, a noisy fan will get old quickly. Most manufacturers will list the noise levels of their purifier in dB – you’ll probably want to look for less than 40dB if you’re using it in your bedroom.
Noise levels may change depending on how fast the purifier fan is running. Some manufacturers offset the loud noise output by using sensors to determine when the air is clean and automatically lower the fan setting. You can also just reduce the fan speed or turn the purifier off entirely at night.
Ideally, look for either a fanless unit (no noise) or a unit that offers whisper-quiet operation or a ‘sleep mode.’
If you want to keep costs low, look for a high-efficiency air purifier. High-efficiency units use less energy to purify your home, which helps to keep your electricity bills down and reduces your carbon footprint. Most modern units are energy-efficient and consume very little electricity in comparison to other household appliances.
Build Quality & Durability
The build quality of your air purifier will affect its performance and durability. The last thing you want is to spend hundreds of dollars on a purifier that breaks down after a couple of weeks due to poor build quality. Look at the materials used in the construction and what other users are saying about every unit before you buy it.
Ease of Installation & Maintenance
There are two types of home air purifiers: HVAC units and portable/freestanding units. Freestanding household air cleaning systems are straightforward to install – you usually pretty much just plug it in and let it get to work.
HVAC units are installed into the ductwork of your home. They’re difficult to install yourself, and it can be dangerous to even try. In most cases, you’ll want to employ a certified technician to set it up for you. If you do plan on installing it yourself, try to choose a unit that’s easy to install and do your homework first.
All home air purifiers require some kind of maintenance, but some need more than others. Consider how much maintenance the unit needs before you buy it.
Price Vs. Usage/Overhead Cost
Expect to pay around $500-$1,000 upfront for a good whole-house air purifier. Budget models are available for significantly less than that (around $100), but these are likely to be much less effective.
Overhead costs aren’t all you have to worry about, though. There are a few other ongoing costs associated with running a whole-home air purifier too. We’ve provided a breakdown of these costs further below.
Weigh up the price of the unit with how much use you intend to get out of it and make sure it’s worth the cost – and don’t forget to factor in the price of installation, filters, and electricity too.
Try to choose a unit that’s backed by a good warranty. Most manufacturers will offer some kind of warranty period, but the length and nature of the coverage will vary. It might be a 2-year, 5-year, lifetime warranty, or something else. The better the coverage, the more confidence the manufacturer has in the product.
7 Best Whole House Air Purifiers Reviewed
1. Honeywell F300E1019
Best Whole House Air Purifier
|Coverage Area||Depends on AC|
|Filtration Media||Three-Stage Filtration (electronic)|
|Filtration Life||No replacement required|
|Particle Removal Rate||98%|
Our top pick for the overall best whole house air purifier goes to the Honeywell F300E1019. This is a fantastic, versatile air cleaner that’s suitable for almost all HVAC systems. It can operate with gas, oil, and forced air warm furnaces and AC systems and is compatible with most ducts.
It utilizes a three-stage filtration process that captures 98% of all the particles that pass through. In the first stage, larger particles like pet hair are caught by the prefilter. Next, the air is electrically charged as it passes through a high voltage electric field, and the charged particles are collected on collector plates with the opposite electrical charge. Finally, the air passes through media post-filters to remove even more particles before circulating the air through your home.
This process removes almost all the dust, pollen, and pollutants from the air in your home as well as most airborne bacteria. Electronic filters are also a great solution for removing byproducts of smoking from the air, so if you’re a smoker, this is a great option.
Because it uses an electronic filter, rather than a media filter, you won’t ever need to replace it, making this a low-maintenance and low-cost option. You just need to wash the filter every 6-12 months.
It has a MERV 11 rating, solid-state power supply, and excellent build quality. The rugged zinc-coated cabinet is very durable and built to last.
- No filter replacement
- Excellent particle removal rate
- Great value for money
- Produces trace levels of ozone
2. Alen BreatheSmart Classic
Best Portable Model for Large Home Areas
|Coverage Area||1100 sq. ft.|
|Filtration Media||True HEPA filter|
|Filtration Life||10-12 months|
|Noise Level||41.5 – 56 dB|
|Particle Removal Rate||99.97%|
If you’re looking for a freestanding unit, look no further than the Alen BreatheSmart Classic. This is undoubtedly the best portable model for large home areas. As it’s freestanding, installation is a breeze – you just plug it in.
It also uses a True HEPA filter (remember, that’s the gold-standard in the filter world) with a 99.97% removal rate. It doesn’t get much better than that. The classic option will remove dust, allergens, pollen, pet dander, fur, smoke, VOC fumes, and even odors.
You can also choose between different HEPA filter types based on the particles you’re most concerned about. For example, if you suffer from allergies, select the ‘Allergies & Dust’ option. If you’re sensitive to VOCs or smoke, choose the ‘Smoke/Chemical’ option.
Unlike the Honeywell F300, the ionizer used in the filter is ozone free, which is great. It’s highly energy-efficient, consuming just 105 watts on turbo mode, and will automatically adjust the speed of the fan depending on how dirty the air is. The fan itself is whisper quiet and suitable for the bedroom. The advanced WhisperMax technology creates a ‘pink noise’ that’s conducive to sleep.
Another neat feature that we like is the air quality sensor light. The unit will monitor the air quality and change color to let you know how clean the air is. Blue means it’s excellent, orange is okay, and red is poor.
Because it’s not integrated into your HVAC system, it’s not going to cover your whole home unless you live in a studio apartment, but it does have an impressive 1100 sq. ft coverage area.
To put that into perspective, the average home size in the USA is around 2,000 sq. ft. So, while not quite large enough to cover your whole home at once, it’s not far off. It should be more than sufficient for most large rooms, and you can just move it around depending on which room you’re in.
- Best filter
- Energy efficient
- Easy installation
- Good CADR
- Limited coverage area
3. Aprilaire 5000
Best Furnace Mounted Whole House Air Purifier
|Coverage Area||3750 sq. ft.|
|Filtration Media||Electrostatic and traditional air filters (combo)|
|Filtration Life||12 months|
|Particle Removal Rate||98%|
Next up, we have the Aprilaire 500; probably the best furnace mounted whole house air purifier in this price range.
It claims to be able to remove 98% of airborne particles up to 0.1 microns through a combination of traditional air filters and electrostatic technology. For comparison, a True HEPA (the gold-standard) filter removes 99.97% of particles up to 0.3 microns, so it really isn’t a bad particle removal rate.
It’s especially useful at controlling allergens and works wonders for dust and pollen removal. It removes 94% of asthma-triggering dust and 99% of pollen, mold, and spores, making it one of the best whole house air purifiers for allergies. I’d definitely recommend it this purifier for anyone that suffers from severe allergies, asthma, COPD, or other respiratory problems.
It’s a furnace-mounted unit, which means it needs to be installed on or near your furnace. As the air passes through your HVAC system, the unit filters out particles permanently with 72 sq. ft of microfiber filters. Unlike other HVAC-installed whole house air purifiers, the Aprilaire 5000 can be configured to run independently of your AC system.
Furnace installations are complex, so it’s probably a good idea to hire a professional to install it. It’s possible for novices to do it if you’re very handy and prepared to work but be prepared for sheet metal work and complicated wiring.
Other things we liked about the Aprilaire 500 are the completely silent operation, easy maintenance (filters last around a year), and adjustable energy-saving settings.
- Completely silent
- Covers whole home
- Great for allergies
- Energy efficient
- Great particle removal rate
- Difficult to install
Best Whole House Air Purifier for Mold
|Coverage Area||3000 sq. ft|
|Filtration Media||Electrostatic Filtration|
|Particle Removal Rate||–|
The GT3000 is another excellent freestanding whole-home air purifier. It’s excellent at removing odors and is probably the best whole house air purifier for mold.
It works differently than many other air purifiers in that it uses an ‘active air purification system’ rather than a passive system. This means that it doesn’t just filter out particles that reach the filter. Rather, it utilizes a process called ‘flocculation’ and creates ionization to attract particles in your home together, causing them to clump up and fall down out of breathing space.
The advantage of this kind of purification process is that it can remove very tiny particles even smaller than the 0.3 microns that HEPA filters are capable of removing. We’re talking about particles in the nanometer range.
The main disadvantage is that this process also creates ozone, which has a distinctive odor and can be harmful to breathe in large amounts. That being said, the GT3000 product listing states that it won’t lead to an ozone density of over 0.05 ppm if used correctly, which is generally considered to be safe and less than the maximum recommended output of indoor medical devices under FDA health standards.
The GT3000 uses four advanced filtration technologies that work together to eliminate the harmful mold, bacteria, and viruses in the air and keep your home clean. It also eliminates odors from pets, cooking, and smoking and replaces it with a fresh, outdoor-esque scent.
It’s easy to set up – just plug it in and turn it on. You can also easily adjust it to your preferences by changing the fan speed and coverage area.
- Highly adjustable
- Easy to set up
- Large coverage area
- Great for mold and odors
- Creates ozone
5. Aprilaire 2410
Best Budget Whole House Air Purifier
|Coverage Area||Depends on AC|
|Filtration Media||Extended media filter|
|Filtration Life||12 months|
|Particle Removal Rate||97%|
If you’re looking for something more affordable, check out the Aprilaire 2410. This is our top pick for the best budget whole-house air purifier. It offers excellent value-for-money with a greater performance-per-dollar ratio than any other model on this list.
It’s a furnace-mounted unit, so be sure to check that it’ll fit in your HVAC system before you buy. It uses an extended media filter that’s over 30 times the size of standard 1” furnace filters to remove 98% of visible airborne particles like dust, pet dander, and other large particles. It also captures over 97% of airborne pollen.
It has very low maintenance requirements; all you have to do is replace the filters around once per year. Replacement filters only cost around $40 apiece. You also don’t have to worry about ozone as the unit has no moving parts.
It’s relatively easy to install for a furnace-mounted unit, but I’d still recommend having a professional take care of it. If you want to install it yourself, make sure you do your homework first and use a pair of heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands from the sheet metal.
- Excellent value for money
- Great cost performance
- Easy maintenance
- Great for allergies
- Recommended professional installation
6. Coway Airmega 400
Best Whole House Air Purifier for Pets
|Coverage Area||1,560 sq. ft.|
|Filtration Media||Washable Pre-Filter & Max2 Filter Set (Activated Carbon + Green True HEPA)|
|Filtration Life||HEPA filter – 12 months|
Charcoal filter – 6 months
|Noise Level||43.2 dB|
|Particle Removal Rate||99.97%|
The Coway Airmega 400 is the best whole house air purifier for households with pets. It does a great job of filtering out pet dander as well as pet odors thanks to the combination of activated carbon and True HEPA filter. The HEPA filter captures 99.97% of particles in the air above 0.3 microns, while the activated carbon neutralizes foul odors. There’s also a washable prefilter to capture larger particles.
It’s a freestanding unit designed to cover up to 1,560 square feet, which means it’s more suitable for smaller homes or apartments. If you’re using this in a larger home, be aware that it might only clean the room it’s placed in.
One thing I like about the Conway Airmega 400 is the smart sensors. They test the indoor air quality in real-time and let you know how clean it is through brightly colored LED rings. You can glance at the color to instantly see the quality of the air you’re breathing and adjust the settings accordingly.
Speaking of settings, the Coway Airmega lets you choose between five different fan modes: High, Medium, Low, Sleep, and Smart. The Smart setting is especially neat; it automatically adjusts the fan speeds depending on the current air quality in the room to maximize energy efficiency.
- Great for pets
- True HEPA filter
- Smart sensors
- Adjustable fan settings
- Charcoal filters are expensive
7. GermGuardian AC4150BLCA
Best Small UV Air Purifier
|Coverage Area||54 sq. ft.|
|Filtration Media||UV-C, HEPA, Pre & Carbon|
|Filtration Life||6-8 Months|
|Noise Level||Very Low|
|Particle Removal Rate||99.97%|
Finally, we have the GermGuardian AC4150BLCA, our favorite mini whole house UV air purifier. It uses a recognized winning combiniation of UV-C filter, Hepa & Carbon to eliminate viruses and odors from the air.
UV purifiers like this use UV light to destroy microbial contaminants in the air, which is why they’re a great choice for hospitals and households where germs are the main concern. It also does a great job of getting rid of both pet and cooking odors, as well as chemical vapors. Your home will smell great after running this for a few hours.
As this purifier doesn’t integrate with your HVAC system, you’ll need to see the other models above if that’s what you are after. Users report being easily able to install it themselves as its a simple plug and play system. This particular model is perfect for bedrooms, especially if you ar concerned about germs in the room. It is whisper-quiet, reliable and value for money.
With the GermGuardian AC4150BLCA, you are getting a high-quality product that is suitable for home use in rooms up to about 55 square feet in size.
- Uses UV to eliminate bacteria and viruses
- Great performance
- Good value for money
- Low maintenance
- Only for very small areas
How Whole House Air Purifiers Work
Whole-house air purifiers remove unwanted particles and contaminants from the air in your home by passing it through a filter.
Freestanding units get the air to pass through them via fans that pull in air, filter it, and push it back out again. HVAC-installed units are placed in front of either return or supply air so that as the air passes through, the particles are filtered out.
The mechanism by which the filter itself removes particles from the air varies depending on the type of filter you’re using. For example, electronic filters work via a process of ionization – they electrically charge particles so that they can pull them out onto a collector plate – whereas media filters create a physical barrier that traps tiny particles.
Some air filters combine both of the above methods or add other filtration elements to remove even more particle types. For example, they may also include activated carbon to eliminate odor.
Types of Whole House Air Purifier Filters
Flat filters are the kind that are already included in forced-air furnaces. They’re the standard fiberglass filters found in furnaces and air handlers and are meant to catch large dust particles.
While these filters help to filter out the larger dust particles and keep your home a bit cleaner, they don’t do much against smaller, microscopic particles that cause health issues.
Related: Best Furnace Filters Reviewed
Extended Media Filters
Extended media filters are generally much thicker than flat filters and don’t usually fit into standard furnace filter slots; they require ductwork modifications to be installed. They’re more effective than flat fiberglass filters at capturing small- and medium-sized particles thanks to the accordion-like pile of filtration media.
Electronic filters are high-tech units that are installed directly into the ductwork. They use a high-voltage current to charge particles in the air as it passes through and then collect those particles at the other end of the unit with a charged collector plate.
They’re much more effective than fiberglass filters (around 30 times more) and work exceptionally well on small smoke particles.
One major advantage of electronic filters is that, unlike other types, they never need to be replaced. Probably the biggest disadvantage is that they can produce trace amounts of ozone, a chemical compound that may be harmful to the lungs.
UV filters are built-in components that destroy airborne bacteria and viruses using UV light. They’re commonly used in hospitals in tuberculosis wards, for obvious reasons. If you’re primarily concerned about microorganisms and illness, a UV filter is something you should consider.
The Cost of Clean Air In Your Home
There are several costs involved in purifying the air in your home. It’s not just the cost of the unit itself; you also have to think about installation, maintenance, and electricity costs.
Depending on your budget, you’ll probably be spending around $500-$1,000 for the whole house air purifier unit right off the bat.
If you’ve opted for a unit that ties into your ventilation system, you’ll also have to pay a professional to install it. That is unless you plan on installing it yourself (not recommended). HVAC air purifier installation costs can be anywhere from around $300 to $700 depending on your existing HVAC set up and the type of unit you’re trying to install.
Other overhead costs you’ll have to contend with are filter replacement costs and electricity bills. HEPA filters cost around $40-$100 and may need to be replaced once or more per year. Some units recommend replacing filters every 3 months. Other units that use ionization don’t require filter replacement at all but may produce traces of ozone.
A typical HEPA air purifier will consume around 50-100 watts of energy per hour. Assuming you’re running it around the clock for 24 hours per day, it should cost you under $10 per month in electricity usage, or $120 per year.
Whole House Air Purifier Installation
Whole-house air filtration systems need to be built into your return-air ductwork. The installation is complex, and we don’t recommend attempting it yourself. Get an HVAC contractor to take care of it instead.
While it can be tempting to save money by installing it yourself, this might actually work out more expensive in the long run. Mistakes can be costly and cause problems with your whole HVAC system, leading to costly repairs further down the line.
On the other hand, portable/freestanding units are much more straightforward to set up and can be installed by the homeowner. If you’ve purchased one of these, go ahead and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install it yourself.
You should also be able to take care of the maintenance work on your whole home air purifier by yourself as you’ll only typically need to change the filters every few months.
This should be fairly straightforward as you just need to locate the compartment, remove the old filter, replace it with the new one, and close the access panel. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions or see the video guide below for more detailed instructions.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
What type of maintenance is needed with these air filtration systems?
You’ll need to change the filters periodically. In the case of UV filters, you may also need to replace the bulbs every year or so.
When and how often do I need to change the filters for my whole house air purifiers?
It depends on the type of filter, but usually every 6 or 12 months. HEPA filters only typically need to be changed once per year, whereas carbon filters last 3-6 months.
How do I test air quality at home?
There are various kits and devices that can be used to test the air quality in your home. An air quality monitor will detect and log the air quality in your home over time. You can also look for signs of poor air quality yourself, like mold and musty odors.
Find more information on air quality test kits here.
How long should I run my air purifier?
Most air purifiers are designed to be continuously run – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, if you spend most of your time out of the house and want to save on electricity usage, you can reduce that to 10-12 hours a day.
How does a portable air purifier compare to whole-house air purifiers?
Portable air purifiers are plug-and-play devices that are much simpler to set up. They’re also often more capable of removing the tiniest particles due to the kind of HEPA filters they usually use. However, they’re less effective at purifying large areas across your whole home. You’ll usually have to move them to whatever room you’re currently in for them to be effective. Whole-home air purifiers are more challenging to install but are better at cleaning the air across your home.
What are the best ways of improving the air quality inside the home?
Aside from using an air purifier, some other ways to improve the air quality inside your home are to avoid smoking near your property, cut out aerosols, keep your home scrupulously clean (especially carpets and furniture), keep your home well-ventilated by letting in fresh air through the windows, use eco-friendly cleaning products, and invest in some houseplants.
I hope you found this guide to the best whole-home air purifiers useful. Just to sum up, our favorite unit is definitely the Honeywell F300E1019. It should be suitable for most HVAC systems, is super cost-effective, and is sure to do a great job of cleaning the air in your home. Enjoy!