The 5 Best Air Purifiers Under $250

Honeywell AirGenius5 HFD320

61d+AcaTxyL._SL1500_The Honeywell AirGenius5 HFD320 features five purification “settings”: sleep, germ, allergen, general and max. These settings provide great versatility: If you’re using this device overnight in a bedroom, the “sleep” setting is an excellent way to keep the purifier running at “whisper quiet” levels.

If you’re looking to kick things into top gear, the “max” setting is great for quickly handling larger rooms. And for everything in between, you have the middle settings.

HFD320 is great for medium sized rooms; the manufacturer lists its coverage area as 250 square feet, or a room with dimensions of approximately 15 ft. x 17 ft. That estimate seems to be on the money, and the device can likely handle rooms significantly larger, although not as quickly or effectively.

The HFD320 is strongest at fighting allergens; it deals with particles as small as 0.3 microns, which means it can easily handle pollen, pet fur and dander.

On it’s two lowest settings, the HFD320 is extremely quiet; you’ll be able to run it in your bedroom while you sleep without trouble.

One of the best parts of the HFD320 is its energy efficiency. Here’s how the power usage breaks down by setting:

“Sleep”: 20-22 watts

“Germ”: 21 – 23 watts

“Allergen”: 23 – 25 watts

“General”: 26 – 28 watts

“Max”: 32 – 40 watts

That’s some outstanding efficiency for a device that performs as well as the HFD320.

Another good feature: very low long-term maintenance costs. The device’s two main filters – the pre-Filter and the “ifD” filter – are both permanent, so while you’ll need to wash them periodically, you won’t need to buy replacements.

  • Nice coverage area; great for medium-sized rooms
  • Five settings make this a very versatile device from performance, noise and energy standpoints.
  • Very energy efficient

  • Not ideal for large rooms (above 400 square feet)
  • Doesn’t excel at any one thing

Coway AP-1512HH


The Coway AP-1512HH is a wonderfully effective and efficient device. It’s exceptionally quiet, energy efficient, and at times seems psychic; it can automatically detect pollutants and adjust its work pace accordingly.

It’s perfect for medium-large bedrooms and small living rooms, but can work slowly when tackling larger living rooms (albeit still effectively). It specializes in eliminating odors and other hard-to-eliminate particles.

The unit covers 326 square feet, and can produce quite an airflow. It features 3 layers of filters: a washable pre-filter (for dust and hair), a carbon filter (for odors), and a HEPA filter for smaller particles. It’s quiet, too. It achieves true “whisper”-level quiet on lower settings, but you’ll be able to sleep comfortably even when the unit is operating on its highest setting (at its loudest, it still doesn’t exceed 50dB).

  • Extremely “intelligent”
  • Handles odors with ease
  • Very Quiet
  • Energy efficient
  • Smart, sleek design

  • For the price, it should deal with dust better
  • Can work slowly when facing large rooms (over 400 square feet)

Winix PlasmaWave 5300

81TNzkkMcWL._SL1500_The Winix 5300 is the Honda Civic of air purifiers: the device isn’t flashy or packed with high-end features; but it’s affordable, durable, and does its job extremely well.

This unit is one of the most powerful “budget-buy” air purifiers you’ll ever find. It’s very difficult to find a purifier for under $200 that is capable of purifying large rooms efficiently and effectively. But that’s exactly what the Winix 5300 delivers.

With a coverage area of 350 square feet, the 5300 is great for all the medium-large sized rooms in your house. Performance-wise, the 5300 is well rounded and very powerful against a variety of pollutants – although decidedly least effective against odors, relative to its performance against other pollutants.

As with the Winix WAC9500, the Winix 5300 features PlasmaWave technology, which improves upon the ionization process utilized in ionizing air purifiers. Here’s how the manufacturer describes the PlasmaWave tech:

“Other Ionizer type air cleaners produce ions to attach to pollutants so they fall to the floor or stick to walls and furniture and then need to get vacuumed. PlasmaWave however doesn’t merely weigh down the particles – it breaks apart odor, allergens, chemical vapors and other pollutants at the molecular level without producing any harmful ozone.”

The Winix 5300 is exceptionally energy efficient and is Energy Star certified. According to Energy Star, the device draws 60 watts – a number which will be much lower (7-10 watts) when running on lower settings, and higher (90 watts) when running on the “turbo” setting.

  • Outstanding value
  • Great all-around performance
  • Nice coverage area
  • Energy efficient

  • Can struggle against heavy odors
  • Some complaints about high-pitched noise related to PlasmaWave process

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

Honeywell HPA 300

71+sCQNUw6L._SL1500_The HPA 300‘s biggest selling point is its performance and range; it doesn’t try to hide behind cute features or “neat” quirks. This is a no-frills, heavy-duty device that is concerned only with power and efficiency.

The device specializes in removing particulates from the air; it deals extremely well with mold spores, VOCs and all types of allergens – fur, dander, plus all the stuff you can’t see. It handles dust very well, too.

This device boasts a CADR rating of 300 and can circulate a room’s air up to 5 times per hour – even when placed in very large rooms. The manufacturer defined the unit’s maximum coverage as 465 square feet – in other words, a 21′ x 22’-sized room.

That’s a fair number, and the HPA 300 easily lives up to that billing. But I think that number may even be conservative; there are reports of the device working very effectively in spaces up to 750 square feet – which, for a medium-sized purifier, is pretty absurd. You just don’t see that kind of coverage very often.

High-performance air purifiers are typically less energy efficient, but the HPA 300 bucks that trend a bit.

This device is Energy Star certified, and it’s very efficient relative to its performance. This device has four settings, which all draw different amounts of energy. On its lowest setting, it draws about 40 watts. It’s two middle settings will draw between 70 – 100 watts; meanwhile, the highest setting draws about 130 watts.

Obviously, this device becomes less energy efficient as you ramp up the work-rate. But even at it’s highest setting (130W), it’s fairly efficient relative to other units that perform similarly.

Remember, there are units that will draw up to 200 W to clean rooms smaller than what the HPA 300 is built to deal with.

  • Very powerful
  • Extremely fast
  • Won’t kill your electric bill

  • Large and bulky
  • Filter durability is a concern



Photo credit: Susan via Flickr CC License

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