According to the EPA, emissions from your stovetop or car can pollute the air inside your home, making it potentially as or more polluted than the air outside. Air purifiers can be effective in removing this particulate matter, like pollution from wildfire smoke or pollen from the air, experts say — they also tend to cost about $300 or more. Air purifiers that can cover large spaces are especially pricey, and continually running one might increase your electric bill, too (our guide to the best air purifiers covers everything you need to know before buying one). That said, there are highly-rated, independently-certified affordable air purifiers available for less than $150.
SKIP AHEAD Best affordable air purifiers
These more affordable air purifier options are equipped with HEPA-level filtration, which experts recommend in any purifiers you buy, but generally sacrifice coverage area — none can clear a 300-square-foot room, for example. If you have a smaller space, they can be a good tool for better air quality on a budget. To give you an idea of options worth considering right now, we turned to our existing recommendations, performance certifications and guidance from experts we consulted.
How to pick an affordable air purifier
Whether N95s or air purifiers, filtration is key when searching for any device that filters particulate matter. With air purifiers, you’re ideally looking for one that has high filtration efficiency (i.e., it can remove a high percentage or particles from the air) but also one that processes air quickly enough to effectively clear your room’s air.
HEPA filters (high efficiency particulate air filters) have to remove 99.97% of particulates that are 0.3 microns in size to meet the Department of Energy’s HEPA standard. But Michael Corbat, vice president of engineering for Rensa Filtration, told us there is little enforcement of HEPA — you’re relying on manufacturers and third-party laboratories to verify that their purifiers meet the DOE standard. “For the average consumer,” Corbat said, “there is simply not enough oversight at this point.” He did say that a small filtration difference — a purifier that filters out 99.94% of particles compared to 99.97% — would likely not make much of a difference in air quality. But given that HEPA tests only measure filtration through single pass-throughs, they don’t provide much context on how quickly an air purifier can process air, which is the most important factor for determining if an air purifier is well suited for your square footage.
Corbat said the best way to determine an air purifier’s performance is its clean air delivery rating CADR), given by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). CADR measures the volume of air that a purifier can process in a given period of time and is expressed in cubic feet per minute or cubic meters per hour. AHAM gives air purifiers CADR ratings for different particulates like tobacco smoke, dust and pollen after testing them in independent laboratories across the same metrics. AHAM recommends finding an air purifier with CADR rating (in cubic feet per minute) that is at least two-thirds the square footage area of your room. Their guidance gets trickier if you have higher ceilings, as you’ll need an air purifier with a higher CADR rating (CADR ratings assume a standard, 8-foot ceiling). You can find the CADR ratings of any AHAM-certified air purifier on the AHAM Verifide website.
It’s important to note that lower-priced air purifiers typically cover less square footage, so a more affordable air purifier might not be the best choice for a 1,000 square-foot-room, for example. Keep the two-thirds rule in mind when choosing your air purifier and measure the square footage of your space before purchasing one.
Best affordable air purifiers under $150
We recommend the following affordable air purifiers based on guidance from filtration experts, high ratings from shoppers and AHAM certification. We listed AHAM’s CADR ratings for each purifier and ordered each option by its filtration capacity in square feet.
Toshiba has created a Wi-Fi-capable smart air purifier that boasts Amazon Alexa compatibility and features a UV light sanitizer that helps kill airborne bacteria, according to the brand. The machine emits a low level of noise — just 32dB at its lowest setting, which the company says is similar to that of a white noise machine. It has three filters: a pre-filter, HEPA filter and activated carbon filter. And it's earned a 4.5-star average rating from over 5,900 reviews on Amazon.
- Tobacco Smoke CADR: 143
- Dust CADR: 145
- Pollen CADR: 228
- Capacity: 222 square feet
We recommended a larger version of this Honeywell air purifier in our guide to the best air purifiers, but this more affordable option is better suited to a smaller space. This HEPA purifier has two filters: a pre-filter for reducing odors and volatile organic compounds, and a HEPA filter for removing particles and allergens from the air, Honeywell says. It comes with four speed settings — low, medium, high and turbo — a timer setting and filter change indicator. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 26,000 reviews on Amazon.
- Tobacco Smoke CADR: 100
- Dust CADR: 106
- Pollen CADR: 100
- Capacity: 155 square feet
The GermGuardian AC4825, another recommendation in our air purifier guide, comes equipped with three speed settings and a filter replacement indicator. It uses a pre-filter, HEPA filter to remove particulate matter from the air and a charcoal filter, which the brand notes reduces odors. There’s also an optional UV-C light that you can activate to help kill bacteria, Germ Guardian says. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 50,000 reviews on Amazon.
- Tobacco Smoke CADR: 99
- Dust CADR: 118
- Pollen CADR: 125
- Capacity: 153 square feet
The Instant Air Purifier features a HEPA-13 filter, a carbon filter and an antimicrobial coating for preventing bacterial growth on filters, according to Instant. It’s available in Charcoal and Pearl colors, and also features sensors that monitor air quality and a day-to-night mode. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 1,500 reviews on Amazon. We recommended a larger version of this air purifier in our guide to air purifiers.
- Tobacco Smoke CADR: 81
- Dust CADR: 85
- Pollen CADR: 98
- Capacity: 126 square feet
Bissell’s Myair purifier features a pre-filter, carbon filter and HEPA filter. There are two speed options — high and low — along with a sleep mode for quiet filtration overnight, Bissell says. Its capacity is smaller than other models — just 88 square feet — so if you’re shopping for a larger space, we recommended the Bissell air320 Max Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier, which covers 363 square feet, in our guide to air purifiers. This model has a 4.7-star average rating from over 7,400 reviews on Amazon.
- Tobacco Smoke CADR: 57
- Dust CADR: 69
- Pollen CADR: 67
- Capacity: 88 square feet
Other highly rated air purifiers under $150 to consider
These affordable air purifiers aren’t AHAM-certified, but they come with HEPA filters and have high ratings.
The Levoit LV-H132 removes particles from the air using its pre-filter, HEPA filter and carbon filter. Levoit says it has a cleaning capacity of 129 square feet and it comes with a smart filter replacement reminder and built-in night light. I use this purifier in my own apartment, and I’ve noticed considerably less dust present since I purchased it. It has a 4.6-star average rating from over 43,000 reviews on Amazon.
The Core 300 uses a pre-filter, carbon filter and HEPA filter to clear indoor air of contaminants like smoke, dust and mold. Levoit says that it can clear the air in a 219 square foot room in 12 minutes. The purifier emits just 24dB of noise, according to the brand, which is the noise equivalent to a whisper or rustling leaves. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 57,000 reviews on Amazon.