IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

NBC Select staff-favorite quiet air purifiers for small and large spaces

These air purifiers emit noise within the CDC’s decibel threshold for adverse effects.
“Air purifier noise should easily fade into the background sounds and not be noticed,” says Poppy Szkiler, CEO and founder of Quiet Mark.
“Air purifier noise should easily fade into the background sounds and not be noticed,” says Poppy Szkiler, CEO and founder of Quiet Mark.Becca Delman / NBC News

Air purifiers can be an effective way to clean your indoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And while we all love the idea of drifting off to sleep, breathing clean indoor air, some air purifiers can be as noisy as an air conditioner.

An air purifier’s internal fans can make a fair amount of noise as they push air through their filters, says Poppy Szkiler, CEO and founder of Quiet Mark, a UK-based independent global certification program that works to identify the quietest products.

To find the best quiet air purifiers, we spoke with filtration and noise experts, and tried out different top-rated models to find ones that work quietly and effectively.

SKIP AHEAD Staff-favorite quiet air purifiers in 2024 | How to shop for a quiet air purifier

Selected.Our top picks

How we picked the best quiet air purifiers

We spoke with filtration and noise experts to learn more about how air purifiers work. Combining their advice with our personal experience using air purifiers, we selected products keeping the following criteria in mind:

  • Sound level: According to the CDC, prolonged exposure to sound levels above 70 dbA can annoy you or damage your hearing over time. We only selected air purifiers with a maximum sound level under 60 decibels, the sound of a normal conversation. According to our experts, however, air purifier decibel levels are self-reported by the manufacturers. Therefore, we choose our top picks based on low decibel ranges, personal use and an average consumer rating above 4.3 stars on Amazon.
  • Filtration: Per expert guidance, we looked for purifiers with a clean air delivery rating (CADR, learn more in our FAQ section) equal to about two-thirds of their room size recommendations.
  • Independent testing: We noted if the product had been independently tested by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). AHAM certifies the performance of air purifiers through its AHAM Verifide program.
  • Smart features: We considered air purifiers with smart features like Wi-Fi connectivity and auto air quality detection — if those features didn’t drastically increase pricing.

NBC Select-staff favorite quiet air purifiers in 2024

Our top picks come from large air purifier brands like Blueair and Coway. All of our top picks were used in our households for at least two months, and emit less than 60 decibels of sound, even on their highest setting.

Best budget: Blueair Pure 511 Air Purifier

NBC Select commerce editor Lindsay Schneider received one of these air purifiers from the brand when it launched in 2023 and promptly bought a second one after seeing all the dust it collected. It pulls unfiltered air from all directions around the base, and pushes clean air out through the top. It also has a removable, machine-washable pre-filter — a mesh fabric cover over the base that catches larger clumps of dust, lint and hair.

Noise-wise, it is “definitely noticeable” on its highest setting, but it sounds more like white noise than anything else — you get used to it quickly, says Schneider. The low and medium settings are much quieter.

It’s one of the smallest and lightest purifiers on our list at under five pounds, making it easy to fit in any sized space.

Room Size: 180 sq. ft. | Decibels: 24 — 49 dB | CADR (CFM): smoke: 112, dust: 112, pollen: 112 | Connectivity: n/a | Speeds: 3 | AHAM verified: Yes | Weight: 4.2 lbs

Best for small spaces: Levoit Core 300 Air Purifier

NBC Select updates editor Mili Godio keeps this affordable air purifier in her bedroom — she can barely hear it throughout the day and night. Like most of our top picks, it has three filtration speeds and a sleep mode that runs at the quietest speed possible. If you are sensitive to lights, especially while sleeping, you can turn the top screen and lights off while keeping the purifier on.

It has a compact circular design that makes it easy to place in most small spaces, in our experience.

Room Size: 219 sq. ft. | Decibels: 24 — 50 dB(A) | CADR (CFM): smoke: 141, dust: 140, pollen: 145 | Connectivity: n/a | Speeds: 3 | AHAM verified: No | Weight: 7.5 lbs

Best for medium spaces: Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty

NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin uses this air purifier in her main living space. Most of the time, she forgets it’s there — it is not very noisy or noticeable.

Malin, who has two cats, is sensitive to dust and allergens, and has used air purifiers for years. She put this one in auto mode, where it automatically changes speeds depending on the air quality detected in your space. It usually stays at the lowest setting, says Malin, but if she is cooking a large meal, it will change to a higher setting, acting as a good reminder to consider turning on a vent or opening the windows, says Malin.

While it is compact, this air purifier is heavier than our other recommendations at 12.3 pounds.

Room Size: 330 sq. ft. | Decibels: 24 — 53 dB | CADR (CFM): smoke: 234, dust: 248, pollen: 232 | Connectivity: n/a | Speeds: 3 | AHAM verified: No | Weight: 12.3 lbs

Best for large spaces: Blueair Blue 311i+ Max

I have used this air purifier in my main living space for years, including during 2023’s Canadian wildfire season. It is very quiet, never more noticeable than daily indoor and outdoor noise.

Similar to our budget pick, it pulls in unfiltered air from all directions into the base, and pushes clean air out of the top. It also has a pre-filter: a large, machine-washable fabric mesh cover that catches larger clumps of lint and hair. You can control the purifier through your phone via the Blueair app, which also shows stats like indoor air quality and if you need to replace your filter. I use the app to put my purifier on a schedule — it changes to night mode, the lowest and quietest setting, every evening around 9PM.

Room Size: 465 sq. ft. | Decibels: 23 — 50 dB(A) | CADR (CFM): smoke: 300, dust: 300, pollen: 300 | Connectivity: Yes, Blueair app | Speeds: 4 | AHAM verified: Yes | Weight: 7.9 lbs

How to shop for a quiet air purifier

Decibel levels on air purifiers are largely self-reported by the manufacturer — there is no official outside body verifying decibel claims. Cross-referencing decibel numbers with consumer and professional reviews can help, in addition to reviews from outside groups like QuietMark.

A quiet air purifier shouldn’t just be quiet, it should also effectively clean the air in your space, says Szkiler. The trick is finding a small, effective air purifier well-suited to the square footage of your space. “You don’t want one more suited for a conference hall than your kitchen,” says Szkiler. 

You should look for HEPA-level filtration and a CADR that’s roughly two-thirds the area of your room, according to AHAM. “It sounds very scientific, but what that works out to is about four air changes per hour,” says William Bahnfleth, a presidential member of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers).

Meet our experts

At NBC 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.

  • Poppy Szkiler is the CEO of QuietMark, a UK-based independent accreditation firm that collaborates with the Noise Abatement Society to identify quiet products and reduce excessive noise in society.
  • William Bahnfleth is a president member of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and vice chair of its environmental health committee.

Why trust Select?

Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter at NBC Select who covers technology and has used air purifiers in his home for over four years. For this piece, he spoke with noise and filtration experts to learn more about air purifier certifications and sound levels. He and the NBC Select team tried different top-rated air purifiers in their homes, paying special attention to sound levels.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.