Your guide to the best air purifier
How we conducted this review
The air purifier industry is one of the most overpriced in the world. You find countless brands that claim to have the best air purifier and market their machines with “unique patents” and the newest technology. The truth is: air purifiers are simple and consist of little more than a fan and a filter. That’s all – and both components are not expensive.
Since big tech companies don’t make profits with simplicity they usually rely on flashy marketing and unnecessary gimmicks to trick people into spending way too much on showy machines. Pointless add-ons such as LED lights, touch displays or even ionizers which, according to scientific findings, have little to no effect, may look impressive but are actually just gizmos that make you spend more, but don’t bring you more clean air.
It’s all about clean air, not gimmicks
WE DO AIR won’t recommend any air purifiers just because they’re from a popular manufacturer, look particularly chic, or have fancy gimmicks. We think air purifiers have only one essential mision: provide clean air. Everything else, in our opinion, is secondary.
That’s why we first and foremost analyze the price-performance ratio and check how much clean air you get for your money. Apart from that, we consider filter life-spans and replacement costs. Factors such as energy consumption and noise level are included in the evaluation as well.
Smart Air – The Sqair
Strong performance, beautiful design
Social enterprise Smart Air is known for producing highly effective air purifiers for decent prices. Last year, they released the Sqair calling it the most cost-effective air purifier in the world. Indeed, The Sqair is a strong, yet affordable air purifier: A remarkable CADR of 315 m³/hr cleans the air in rooms up to 40 sqm within 20 minutes. Many people may especially like its Scandinavian design that visually enhances any home. As a social enterprise, Smart Air is particularly paying attention to sustainability: The wood legs come from sustainable forestry in Europe, the packaging is made from cardboard and plastic-free. Moreover, Smart Air spends 100% percent of their profits into their clean air mission which involves free workshops, and product testing.
Easy to handle, perfect for parents
The Sqair is set up within seconds and pretty easy to handle. A speed dial allows you to choose between three different power settings. Unlike other air purifiers, The Sqair doesn’t make any annoying ‘beep-sounds’ when adjusting the settings, thus whoever operates the device at night will not wake anybody up. Furthermore, the Sqair may be especially suitable for parents with small children: unlike other air purifiers it’s difficult to tip the Sqair over.
Long-lasting replacement filters
The Sqair is equipped with a HEPA filter that lasts 6-12 months and captures PM2.5, viruses, and bacteria. An upgraded version of the Sqair with an additional Carbon filter is available as well. Replacement filters are affordable costing THB 590 for the HEPA and 490 for the Carbon filter.
One flaw we found is the lack of a pre-filter. Pre-filters help capture large particles like pet hair which may clog the fibers of the HEPA filter. Knocking out the filter on a regular basis helps to get rid of them. Moreover, Smart Air is apparently working on a pre-filter solution but haven’t made any announcements yet in terms of future availability.
23 - 52
33 x 33 x 37
Xiaomi – 3H
Strong upgrade of the 2s model
In recent years, Chinese tech giant Xiaomi entered the air purifier market with powerful machines at decent prices. Their newest 3H model is an upgrade of the highly popular 2S version which has sold like hot cakes during the last pollution seasons. Now, the successor promises some improvements.
Xiaomi has installed a stronger fan, increasing CADR from 310 to 380 m³/hr. Users can now choose between six different speed modes to adjust the performance according to air quality. In addition, everything can now be easily controlled via touchscreen – you won’t find buttons anymore like on the 2S model.
PM2.5 sensor inaccurate, noise level high
Despite these upgrades, the Xiaomi 3H model, unfortunately, is as tricky as its predecessors. Firstly, its built-in PM2.5 sensors are made of mediocre technology. Secondly, since their sensors are installed in the machine they only measure air quality right next to the air purifier but not at the end of the room. Hence, the Xiaomi reader remains widely inaccurate and unreliable. Many people also don’t know that it’s based on the “generous” Chinese AQI and not the much stricter American AQI. Read here, what’s the difference between both standards.
Another drawback is its enormous noise level. With 62 dB at the highest level, Xiaomi 3H is one of the loudest devices on the market. That’s why many people prefer using it on silent auto-mode. Auto-mode, however, corresponds to the faulty information of the built-in PM2.5 reader. If the machine thinks that the air around the machine is clean, it reduces the fan speed. The air at the other end of the room may still be polluted.
32 - 64
24 x 24 x 52
Toshiba – CAF-H20
Solid air purifier for rooms up to 25 sqm
Tech allrounder Toshiba has sensed the growing trend for clean air and accordingly now also has air purifiers in its range. The CAF-H20 model is a solid air purifier for rooms up to 25 sqm. The CADR of 200 isn’t outstanding but rather average, the price, however, is fair considering dozens of overpriced air purifiers in the market.
Like all other air purifiers that have a built-in sensor, also the one which is integrated in the CAF-H20 is of inferior quality. Furthermore, it only measures air quality directly at the device but not in the entire room, thus it is unreliable.
Of note: whoever buys this device should be prepared not to find replacement filters easily. Only a few shops on Lazada and Shopee offer replacement filters that might be sold out quickly when air pollution peaks.
32.x 50 x 17
Mitsuta – MAP450
Fair price, but noisy
Thailand based electronic company Mitsuta offers with its MAP450 model a well-working air purifier for a reasonable price. Although the Sqair and Xiaomi 3H are a more cost-effective deal, MAP450 still belongs to those machines that don’t rip people off for clean air. Moreover, replacement filters last a year which is great.
A solid CADR of 218 m³/hr ensures sufficient air purification for rooms up to 30 sqm. Three speed modes allow users to adjust the fan settings according to air quality. It’s noteworthy though that the machine is quite loud on the highest level: 60 dB is definitely noisy and not everyone may get along with it.
Furthermore, this air purifier is equipped with an ioniser which is supposed to bind particulates in the air and drop them down. Whether this function works is questionable. Studies like this one have shown that regular ionizers are too weak to have a proper effect. Moreover, Ionizers produce ozone that is harmful for our health. That’s why air purifiers with ionizers are not necessarily beneficial.
45 x 34 x 20
Philips – AC1215
Strong performance, tricky filter conditions
This air purifier is almost considered a classic in the market and has been available for several years now. Philips AC1215 has an attractive design and a CADR of 270 m³/hr. This is neat, although not spectacular compared to The Sqair and Xiaomi 3H that are more powerful and cost-effective. Philips AC1215, however, is still relatively affordable as opposed to overpriced machines from Sharp, Blue Air, and IQAir.
Like many other air purifiers these days, Philips AC1215 has a built-in air quality sensor whose reliability is questionable as it only measures the air right around the device. In this respect, the same applies here as for Xiaomi 3H: PM2.5 sensor and auto mode should be used with caution.
What we definitely don’t like is how Philips runs its filter business. The device can’t be switched on once the filter display indicates a change. Here, the freedom of choice is severely curtailed. In addition, the prices for replacement filters are expensive. Furthermore, 60 dB on the highest setting is noisy!