According to the EPA, emissions from your stovetop or car can pollute the air inside your home, making it potentially as polluted as the air outside. Air purifiers can help in removing pollutant particulate matter, like particles from wildfire smoke or pollen from the air, experts say. But most of the best air purifiers tend to cost $300 or more. Air purifiers for large spaces are especially pricey, and continually running one might increase your electric bill, too, based on our personal experience. That said, there are highly rated, independently certified affordable air purifiers available for less than $150.
Our top picks
- Best overall/editor’s pick: Honeywell HPA100 Air Purifier
- Best staff pick: Instant AP 100 Air Purifier
- Best capacity: Toshiba CAF-W36USW Air Purifier
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 staff favorites, performance certifications and guidance from experts we consulted.
How to pick an air purifier under $150
All of our picks are expert-recommended or highly rated with an average of four stars or higher and in line with our expert guidance. We also kept the following points in mind:
- Room size: “It’s important to ensure the device can accommodate the size of the room it is being placed in or else it will not be as effective,” says Kenneth Mendez, president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Every air purifier we mention is built for rooms between 88 square feet and 222 square feet.
- Certifications: Air purifiers usually have ratings that show the volume of air they can clean. “CADR, or clean air delivery rate, is the performance metric to indicate the effectiveness of an air cleaner to remove smoke, dust and pollen particles,” says Mendez. AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) 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. We listed the CADR for all AHAM-certified air purifiers below.
- Filters: Every air purifier has a HEPA filter which is ideally designed to filter out at least 99.7% of particles of 0.3 microns or larger in diameter, according to our experts.
- Price: Every air purifier we selected is under $150.
The 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 square-foot filtration capacity.
Toshiba has created a Wi-Fi-capable smart air purifier that has Amazon Alexa compatibility and 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, a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. And, it's earned a 4.5-star average rating from over 5,800 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. It has a 4.7-star rating from over 32,000 shoppers and weighs under nine pounds for easy portability. This HEPA purifier has two filters: a pre-filter for reducing odors, and a HEPA filter for removing particles and allergens from the air, according to Honeywell. It can circulate the air in a room five times in an hour, according to the brand, as long as you use it for rooms less than or equal to 155 square feet.
Tobacco Smoke CADR: 100 | Dust CADR: 106 | Pollen CADR: 100 | Capacity: 155 square feet
The GermGuardian AC4825 is another recommendation in our air purifier guide. It uses a pre-filter, HEPA filter to remove particulate matter from the air and a charcoal filter, which reduces odors, according to the brand. There’s also an optional UV-C light that you can activate to help kill bacteria, according to Germ Guardian. It has a 4.7-star average rating from nearly 49,000 reviews on Amazon.
Tobacco Smoke CADR: 99 | Dust CADR: 118 | Pollen CADR: 125 | Capacity: 153 square feet
Apart from the traditional HEPA and carbon filter, the Instant Air Purifier has an antimicrobial coating for preventing bacterial growth on your device, according to Instant. Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin has owned this air purifier for over a year. She “love[s] that it’s totally hands off because it senses the air quality in your room and adjusts settings accordingly.” Malin also likes that this purifier has a light sensor, “so when I turn the lights off before I go to bed, the air purifier’s display turns off and it gets much quieter.” It comes with an eco-friendly mode that automatically toggles the fan on/off every 10 minutes and filters air up to five times in an hour, according to the brand.
It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 2,500 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 has three filters and two speed options — high and low — along with a sleep mode for quiet filtration overnight, according to Bissell. 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. This model has a 4.6-star average rating from over 6,000 reviews on Amazon and is one of the lightest air purifiers on our list, weighing under five pounds.
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. It has a cleaning capacity of 129 square feet and it comes with a smart filter replacement reminder and built-in night light. Former Select reporter Justin Redman used this purifier in his own apartment and noticed that there was considerably less dust present after his purchase. It operates at 25dB at its lowest speed (a little louder than a whisper, according to the brand), which means you can leave it on while you sleep.
The Core 300 uses a pre-filter, carbon filter and HEPA filter to clear indoor air of contaminants like smoke, dust and mold. Select updates editor Mili Godio uses this air purifier and has noticed for the past year that it does a great job at cleaning the air in her apartment. “It's also pretty quiet — I keep it in my bedroom and can barely hear it throughout the day while working,” she says. It can also clear the air in a 219-square-foot-room in 12 minutes, according to Levoit.
How to shop for air purifiers
There are a few things experts recommend to keep in mind while shopping for an air purifier:
HEPA: 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, there is simply not enough oversight at this point,” he says. 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.
CADR rating: The best way to determine an air purifier’s performance is its clean-air delivery rating, given by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, according to Corbat. 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. 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 Verified website.
Asthma and allergy friendly: The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America joined with Allergy Standards Limited to develop strict standards for product certification, according to Mendez. “Look for the asthma & allergy friendly certification mark on products to know the device has been independently tested to ensure it meets AAFA’s high standards,” says Mendez.
Space: 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.
Meet our expert
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Michael Corbat is the vice president of engineering for Rensa Filtration and president of the National Air Filtration Association.
- Kenneth Mendez is the president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Why trust Select?
Justin Redman was formerly a reporter for Select on NBC News.
Niska Dhawan is the associate commerce editor at NBC Select.
For this article, Nishka and Justin interviewed experts on the best air purifiers to buy, as well as what one should look out for when purchasing one. They also considered Select staff recommendations.