Air Purifier Buying Guide - Intermediate

Once you know that air purifiers work and that you need one, you may have some more questions regarding the differences between the various types of air purifiers and the differences that come with various prices.

Topics included

Beginner's Guide Intermediate Guide
What do air purifiers do? Should I choose HEPA, Ionic, or something else?
What air purifiers don't do. $50 vs $500 Air Purifiers: What's the difference?
Do air purifiers work? Will a cheap air purifier work?
How can they help me?
Getting the best results.


1. Should I choose a HEPA air purifier, Ionic air purifier or something else?

HEPA Air Purifiers

HEPA air purifiers rely on a HEPA filter as their primary source of filtration.


  • Provides the highest levels of particle filtration of any air purifier technology available by utilizing tightly woven filters to capture airborne particles.
  • Filters often includes supplemental technologies such as activated carbon to remove chemicals & antimicrobial coatings to kill bacteria.


  • Some models can be noisy. (Check our noise ratings if this is a concern for you.)
  • Filters get clogged and must be replaced to maintain your unit’s performance.

Common Brands: Alen, Blueair, IQAir, Whirlpool, Honeywell.

Ionic Air Purifiers

Ionic air purifiers do not use a filter, but instead use charged metal plates to attract and capture airborne particles.


  • Units are often very quiet
  • Metal collection plates are permanent, so there is no filter to change.


  • Does not provide good levels of particle filtration. (50% removal vs 99+% for HEPA units)
  • Metal collection plates must be cleaned regularly (usually weekly) or performance will quickly decline.
  • Can also produce Ozone as a byproduct

Common Brands: Sharper Image, Oreck, Brookstone Pure Ion Pro, Ionic Pro  

Ozone generators

Ozone generators are commonly sold on Ebay and have a very distinctive box look to them, often with a wood finish. This is because a few manufacturers in China make the same unit that a number of different companies resell with their own name on it.


Some less reputable companies sell ozone generators as air purifiers. These units produce “after a rainstorm” type of smell in the air. Any unit that claims to “clean with the power of nature” or utilize “active oxygen” is an ozone generator. 


  • Ozone is very powerful at removing odors and bacteria.
  • It also produces a fresh scent that many find appealing.
  • It can be effective if used commercially and by professionals. 


  • Ozone is a dangerous irritant that can irritate your eyes, lungs and skin.  
  • Ozone generators will not remove airborne particles such as dust & allergens that cause allergies, asthma, & other respiratory problems.
  • Banned in California due to potential health risks.
  • May worsen respiratory problems.
  • It should not be used as a room air purifier or when people are present in the home.

Common Brands: Edenpure, Ecoquest, Vollara, FreshAir, LivingAir, AlpineAir

Consumer Alert: Due to the ineffectiveness of Ionic Units, and the safety risks of Ozone Generators, Air Purifiers America only recommends and only carriers HEPA air purifiers. 

 Shop our Top 10 Rated HEPA Air Purifiers.


2. What’s the difference between a $50 air purifier and a $500 air purifier?

Well, what’s difference between a $5,000 car and a $50,000 car?

The more expensive car is likely going to:

  • Be more powerful
  • Have more capacity
  • Be more versatile
  • Come with more features
  • Have a nicer fit/finish

Just like cars, when it comes to air purifiers: you get what you pay for.  

A cheap air purifier will ($50-199)

  • Be noisier
  • Have less coverage area
  • Have lower filtration efficiency
  • Have fewer features
  • Have limited filter options
  • Not remove chemicals, odors or bacteria
  • Have Poorer construction quality
  • Have Poorer warranties (1 year or less)
Mid-tier air purifiers ($200-400)
  • These units will have improvements in all of the areas listed above.

Premium air purifiers ($400+).  Premium units will provide the best performance in all categories. These units will:

  • Be the quietest models
  • Be easier to use (easier filter change, or automatic operation)
  • Address the most concerns
  • Have the most filter options
  • Have advanced features such as
  • Timers
  • Particle Sensors
  • Filter Life indicators
  • Remote controls
  • Have better warranties (5+ years to lifetime warranties)


3. Does this mean cheap air purifiers are junk?


Absolutely not!  There are a lot of decent units under $200.

But, will a cheap air purifier be just as effective as an expensive one?

This is where it really depends on what you're using it for.

Everyone needs an air purifier just like everyone needs a car.  Just because you can't afford a Ford F-350 Pickup with 500 hp that can carry 8 people and haul an RV, doesn't mean you won't get any benefit from driving a Ford Fiesta. 

This means you will just have to be more diligent in your air purifier search.   When you start looking at units under $200, there is a lot of junk out on the market.  

You can find a quality air purifier for under $200 that will provide significant relief from allergies and dust. Though it may not have the added features and functions to remove odors, chemicals, or germs.  It also might be a little noisier or harder to work with than a $500 unit.  But if that is all that your budget allows, you should get the best unit possible under $200.

The bottom line: Cheap air purifiers will simply be made more cheaply. Parts fail, pieces break, and warranties are shorter, so you may end up replacing the entire unit sooner than you would a premium model.

Shop the best air purifiers under $199. 

Shop the best of the best, units over $400.


Still have questions? Talk to an Expert!

We're confident that we can answer your questions and help you find the perfect unit for your needs and your budget. And we can probably point you in the right direction faster than you can dig through all these buying guides.  
Experts are available Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm CST

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By Phone:  Call (800)-334-1494 to talk an expert directly over the phone.

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