If you or someone in your home has allergies, a home air filtering system can make a big difference in how well they breathe and feel. Whether the allergy is to dust, pollen, pet hair, or something else, a HEPA filter air purifier is likely to be worth using. My own worst allergy is to smoke, such as smoke coming from faraway forest fires, and you can read my post about how an indoor air filter helped me. Here, I’ll start with my recommendations for five air purifiers after a quick bit of advice on how to evaluate these things.
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Consider Price, Brand, Capacity, Reviews
If you take into account these four factors, you’ll be in a good spot to choose the best home air filter for your needs.
- Price: You can find a good purifier for $300 and under, and that’s the price range I’m looking at here. If you want something that will filter your whole house, it will be more, up to several times more, but certainly could be worth it. For any purifier, consider the cost of replacement filters.
- Brand: Air filtration is a topic where brand is less important than it is in, say, sewing machines where Singer and Brother dominate. If an air purifier of a brand you’ve never heard of has good reviews, it’s worth considering. (We did that with our Winix and we’ve been pleased.)
- Capacity: Read up on how much space a filter you are interested in is expected to keep clean. With HEPA filters this will be related to the actual size of the filtering part. It’s usually in product descriptions.
- Reviews: I love reviews! All kinds of details that you may not have thought of can come up in reviews. For example, how loud is the unit? Of course the reviews at Amazon.com are legendary but I also go looking for review sites where you can sometimes find long articles.
Five of the Best HEPA Filter Air Purifiers
Here are five units to consider. I’d be happy with any of them, and they are in no particular order.
Starting out with the one we have are and are still very pleased with, the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 Air Cleaner Model adjusts its speed automatically and that’s very convenient.
We’ve used it in two different houses and we’ve pushed the space recommendations a bit and it still makes me breathe better. We got it when distant forest fire smoke was a big problem for me, and it really helped with that, perhaps because of the carbon pre-filters, which are good for smoke, as much as the actual HEPA filter.
There are other units from Winix you might want to consider as well. I’m mentioning this one because I know it and because it has a lot of very positive reviews.
 One of the units with the most reviews in this category, the GermGuardian AC4825, 3-in-1 Air Cleaning System with True HEPA, UV-C and Odor Reduction, 22-Inch is surprisingly low in cost.
From reading the reviews, it seems to me that it compares with units that cost 2 or 3 times as much. If I were getting myself a new one now, I’d go with this one.
The reviews are fun to read as people are so enthusiastic about this.They can breathe better! The room smells better… etc. Of course, with so many reviews, some people don’t like it as well as the others, but overall it’s got great reviews. Seems to be quiet enough for sleeping too.
 The Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover, 465 Sq Ft, HPA300 is rated for a larger area than some of the others.
The manufacturer says, among other things:
A fan pulls the particle-filled air into the unit and forces that air through a HEPA filter, effectively cleaning and circulating the air in a room up to 5 times an hour.
 And here is a well-reviewed one I came across in other places around the web as well: the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier with True HEPA and Eco Mode. It’s more expensive but very highly regarded.
 The Holmes HEPA Type Desktop Air Purifier, 3 Speeds plus Optional Ionizer, HAP242-NUC is by far the least expensive unit I mention here. It’s not true HEPA but it does help a lot of people with its “HEPA type” filter.
What’s a HEPA Filter?
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. The filter forces air (by using a fan) to go through a fine mesh that traps particles so you end up with cleaner air.
By the way, there is a whole world out there of HEPA air purifiers for factories, large office buildings, and the like. In my research, I came across that world here and there but didn’t get into it. If you’re looking for that, here is a page for engineers that lost me at
But I couldn’t resist putting that pretty formula on this page! I think it reminds me of my grandfather. I’ve got some great stories about him but I’ll save them for my memoirs! Want more explanation without the science? Another site explains air filtering units with tons of detail here.
What if You have a Whole-House Furnace or Air Conditioner?
You might not need to run it all the time but if you do have a whole-house system you can get some relief.
You might need to read measurements that use MERV. Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is another measurement for air filters. The higher the MERV score, the better, within the range of 1 to 20. Home systems tend to be in the range of 8 to 13, while scores above that are more likely in hospitals.
Here are some comments on filters from Wikipedia… Wearing my librarian’s hat here, I do have to say that so many different people write for that site that it isn’t a totally reliable source. Still, it’s useful if you know that.
Although the capture rate of a MERV filter is lower than that of a HEPA filter, a central air system can move significantly more air in the same period of time. Using a high-grade MERV filter can be more effective than using a high-powered HEPA machine at a fraction of the initial capital expenditure.
If you are using a filter in your whole-house air conditioner, be sure to replace it as often as the manufacturer advises. This could save on your energy bill as well as providing you with cleaner air.
Inexpensive: House Plants and a Homemade HEPA Filter
House plants have been researched, by NASA and others, for their effects at filtering air in homes. Spider plants are famous for this, and we have a big one in our office. We also have air filters aloe vera, philodendron (that’s on top of a tall bookcase as it can be poisonous), and more. I do wipe down their leaves with a damp rag now and then, to remove the dust that collects.
I saw several very technical homemade air filters at Youtube, but this is the most useful for anyone:
If you can’t afford a regular air filter or want to try something cheap first, this video shows a simple method that requires no DIY skills. Buy a box fan like the one shown and buy a HEPA filter of the same size. Tape the filter to the side of the fan where the air comes out, and you have something thatthe video claims should help with your indoor air quality. Dr. Jeffrey E. Terrell, director of the Michigan Sinus Center, demonstrates how to do it. There are numerous comments on the page at YouTube, including some discussion of whether this should be set up with the filter on that side or the other side. My takeaway is that this would be most useful if you can’t afford a regular air filter.
So What’s Best for YOU?
You might think about where you are going to put the device. It’s good to have it where the cleaned air is pointed towards where you will be spending the most time. That’s pretty obvious in a home office or in a bedroom, for example. Also, put the unit where it’s out of the way and can be plugged in without the cord being a tripping hazard. Unlike cooling devices (fans, swamp coolers) the air filter doesn’t need to be near an open window.
We are all different and I hope this gives you some ideas about what the best HEPA air filter would be for your needs.