The 4 Best Air Purifiers Under $160

Honeywell QuietAir 17000-S

61qtgZMjVDL._SL1280_There’s nothing remarkable about the Honeywell QuietAir 17000-S, but the device doesn’t have any major flaws either. With a CADR of 130, this isn’t the most powerful purifier you’ll see. For less than $100, that’s exactly what you should expect. It’s a device best suited for small and medium bedrooms, but not any space much larger.

The manufacturer says the area coverage of the device is 168 square feet; TrueBreeze thinks the device can be used effectively in rooms up to 225 square feet, but anything past that and you may want to invest in a different purifier.

The QuietAir utilized HEPA filters, so the unit deals well with even the smallest particulates and allergens. But it also has a charcoal pre-filter to deal with odors and other stuff like pet hair. The pre-filter is very effective in small rooms, and the HEPA is as reliable as ever.

Design-wise, this device is fairly old-fashioned and simple – white and clunky, but small and portable. It has a nifty handle on the top for easy carrying, and at 11 pounds this purifier is pretty light.

This purifier won’t kill your electric bill, but it’s not especially energy efficient. At its lowest setting, expect the 17000-S to draw about 50 W of power. It can draw up to 170W on its highest setting – not an unreasonable rate of energy usage, but the costs will add up if you run the device often.

As far as maintenance, the device is fairly simple. You’ll have to clean the pre-filter every few weeks or months, depending on how often you run the purifier. Likewise, you’ll be best served replacing the HEPA filter every year or so.

  • Inexpensive; strong value
  • Works well for small to medium bedrooms
  • No major pitfalls

  • Not all that powerful
  • Not equipped to handle larger spaces
  • Not particularly stylish or energy efficient

Honeywell HFD-120-Q

4175VZRPX3LThe Honeywell HFD-120-Q is a great air purifier for small and medium-sized rooms; it delivers strong performance for the price, you won’t spend a penny on long-term maintenance/filter replacement and it boasts strong energy efficiency.

The HFD-120-Q has an optimal coverage area of between 170 – 190 square feet, so the unit is designed specifically for small or medium-sized rooms. If you’re placing this unit in a small-ish bedroom or dining room, you can expect the device to work very quickly, efficiently and quietly.

And the device works quickly in medium-sized rooms as well, circulating air up to 5 times per hour in rooms up to 170 square feet.

This purifier’s specialty is allergens. It’s CADR rating for pollen is 132, and the device boasts multi-filtration process that includes:

1) a washable pre-filter which captures larger particles (pet hair dust, lint)

2) a permanent IFD filter that captures smaller particles like pet dander, pollen, smoke, etc.

3) an ionizer (I will touch on this aspect in a minute)

The HFD-120-Q is Energy Star® certified and draws about 43 watts. Generally, the device is very energy efficient given its performance in small spaces. The device becomes less efficient as its abilities are stretched (say, if you use it in a 400 square foot room). But overall, this is the type of air purifier you can run all day without worry about crazy spikes in your electric bill.

It’s a very quiet device, as well. It has to be, considering it’s designed largely for bedrooms. At its lowest setting, the device is “whisper quiet” – you can barely hear anything. You will certainly be able to sleep with this device running in your room at night.

  • Great for bedrooms and medium-sized living rooms
  • Very quiet; you can run it while you sleep
  • Energy efficient
  • Good purifier for allergies

  • Less effective for larger areas (anything over 250 square feet is a stretch)
  • If the unit has one relative weakness, it’s handling dust

Mammoth Classic

8159C8YixML._SL1500_The Mammoth Classic is equipped with a HEPA filter, a carbon filter and an ionizer, plus a pre-filter. As far as particulates are concerned, this device is pretty well rounded: it can handle allergies, odors and dust with pretty equal proficiency.

The unit has decent range – 150 to 200 square feet – that makes it ideal for medium-sized bedrooms, small-ish kitchens or other small-medium rooms. In those conditions, the device works efficiently and fairly quickly.

This unit is an exceptionally beautiful device. It has a cherry wood exterior with a very artisanal flavor: these units are hand-made and they feel like it.

Design-wise, the Classic is simple and minimalist. The front interface boasts two buttons: one for controlling ozone levels, and the other for controlling fan speed. The second button serves as an on/off switch, as well.

The Classic doesn’t have many “extra” features – no built-in air quality gauges, etc. One feature it does include is a digital timer, which allows the owner to schedule times for the unit to turn on and off.

The Classic’s noise levels are reasonable: on lower settings, the device is very quiet. Noise levels jump significantly when the device is operating on its highest settings, and that could bother people who want to run the purifier in their room overnight.

The long-term maintenance costs are fairly low; the filters aren’t washable, and will need to be replaced every 6-12 months, depending on how often you run the purifier.

In terms of energy efficiency, the device is about average relative to its performance. It will draw between 34 watts and 44 watts on higher settings, so it won’t kill your electric bill, but its efficiency still isn’t a major bonus.

All in all, the Mammoth Classic is a well-rounded, entry-level air purifier that is ideal for people looking for reasonable improvements to air quality in small-medium rooms.

  • Nice value
  • Great design, very stylish
  • Fine device for small-medium bedrooms

  • Coverage area is only average
  • Not a particularly powerful device

Sylvane GermGuardian AC4825

51PHf2kZQhLThe GermGuardian AC4825, at one point in 2015, was the best-selling HEPA air purifier on Amazon. It’s easy to see why: the device is inexpensive, exceptionally quiet and provides strong value at its price point – which for many people, will be enough. The device tackles all kinds of odors with great efficiency, and effectively neutralizes dust, mold and allergens in small spaces.

This unit is on the smaller side, so it’s not a surprise that it works pretty slowly and isn’t a behemoth when it comes to power or efficiency (CADR rating of 100-125). But it works pretty well, and that’s the bigger takeaway. The AC4825 handles smells and odors with great efficiency – smoke, kitchen smells, you name it.

Allergens, molds and dust are also toast with this device in small rooms. I’m extremely impressed with how well the unit works given its size and price. I’ll say it again: it works slowly, and it’s made primarily for your smallest rooms, but it does what it’s supposed to.

This device has two big selling points, aside from price and performance: it’s very quiet, and it’s small and sleek.

Its official dimensions are listed at 7 x 10.2 x 21.5 inches; in other words, you can stick it in a corner and let it work, and you probably won’t notice it’s there.

The quiet factor plays into that, too. This device is wonderfully quiet – it’s great for using in rooms you’ll be sleeping in. The device will get louder as time goes on; but 80 percent of that excess noise can be mitigated by cleaning the filters every so often. I’d recommend water-cleaning or vacuuming the filter once every week or two to maintain peak performance.

The design is pretty chic, as well. The unit is covered by a sleek black plastic that makes it look like a more expensive purifier than it really is. The top of the unit is covered in a soft UV light.

  • Great price
  • Extremely quiet
  • Thin and unobtrusive

  • Works slowly
  • Not powerful; designed for small rooms
  • Some questions about durability


Photo credit:  Jukka Zitting via Flickr CC License

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