The air quality in the Midwest sucks a lot right now, due to smoke coming from forest fires in Canada. You need an air purifier to clean the air inside your home.
I’ll describe what I personally look for in an air purifier and guide you to a couple of models. I can only recommend the one I have, since it’s one of two that I’ve used, but I would rather have a different model.
I use a Coway Airmega 200S. I bought it for about $180. I bought this model because it can cover a large room (my entire studio is about 550 s.f.), has “auto” and “eco” modes, an air quality sensor, and three filters (a washable screen, a charcoal filter to remove odors, and a HEPA filter).
ComEd customers should look for Energy Star-rated air purifiers because there is a $50 rebate. Even if the manufacturer doesn’t specify or show the blue logo, it may still be rated, including the Coway Airmega 200S!
What I look for in an air purifier
- Auto mode. I want the machine to have a sensor to turn itself on to clean the air when it detects the air is dirty, and to run at the fan speed commensurate with the dirtiness.
- Eco or sleep mode. This runs the fan at an even slower speed and I use this when I’m not home.
- Washable screen or pre-filter. This catches larger objects like dirt and hair and presumably prolongs the life of the other filters. It also satiates the desire to clean and know that things are clean after you’ve cleaned them.
- HEPA filter. This should go without saying. If it doesn’t have this, it shouldn’t be labeled an air purifier.
- Reasonable filter prices, and available. I am skeptical of the proliferation of identical looking air purifiers on Amazon and their ability to consistently stock replacement filters six months and 12 months from now. I don’t want to be in the position where I’m questioning if a given filter is the right one for my air purifier model.
- Filtration rate, expressed as CADR (higher numbers are better). There are many ways that air purifier companies will describe this, the most common or first shown being the floor area of a room. The floor area, however, is not a filtration rate. My favorite way is when the manufacturer has a graphic showing how many air changes per hour the air purifier can manage.
In the graphic below, the air purifier was advertised as being able to cover a living area up to 1,837 s.f., which is the size of a four-bedroom apartment, but it could only change the air once per hour, which is too slow to respond to changes in air quality. On the other hand, in a 527 s.f. space, which is about the size of my studio apartment, the air purifier can manage five air changes per hour – I think that’s more than sufficient.
Which air purifier should you get
Note that many air purifiers have a “smart” option, which means they come with wifi and an app. Sometimes these apps connect to Google or Alexa voice assistants. Rarely will they connect with Siri, due to higher Apple licensing or certification costs. This is unnecessary but could be fun to use to track PM2.5 levels in your home if you don’t have a standalone air quality measuring device.
All models listed are Energy Star rated and are ones I would get my for studio apartment
- Levoit Core 300, or the smart version – smart version on sale at Target for $120
- Coway Airmega 200M – this model is the runner-up on Wirecutter’s review of air purifiers
- Blueair Blue Pure 411i Auto Max and it’s not-smart sibling the 411a – I think these might have the best look of the group
IKEA also sells air purifiers but I haven’t determined if they are Energy Star rated.
ComEd customers can apply for their $50 rebate as soon as they purchase an Energy Star rated air purifier.