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Cheap Air Purifiers Buying Guide

The biggest factor affecting the price of an air purifier is the amount of square footage it's designed to cover. An air purifier meant for 150 square feet will always be cheaper than an air purifier meant for 550 square feet, regardless of features or performance.

Larger air purifiers require a bigger motor, a bigger filter, bigger everything. Cheap small-room air cleaners range in price from $35 to $130 while high-end purifiers for small rooms cost more than $225. Our top picks in the budget range are the Holmes HAP242-UC (starting at $35) and the Hunter 30057 (starting at $56). Cheap large-room air purifiers start at $225 and top out at $300. In that segment we chose the Whirlpool Whispure 450 (starting at $224) and the AirFree Onix 3000 (starting at $269). Up-market models starting at about $500 are more powerful and easier to clean. High-end air purifiers also feature technologically advanced filters and conveniences like remote control and LED displays.

If you're just beginning your search for a cheap air purifier, the first step is identifying the air quality issue you want to address. Common irritants include smoke, dust, pet dander, pollen, mold, cooking and perfume odors, and chemicals and gases. Some cheap air purifiers focus more on particulates than on odors or gases, or vice versa. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dedicates an entire section of its website to the topic of indoor air quality and discusses the performance characteristics of different types of air purifiers. Note that the EPA does not endorse any brand or any type of air purifier, and bluntly advises that air purifiers be only part of an air treatment plan that includes controlling the source of the pollutants and improving the ventilation.

In fact, unless you live next to an incinerator, the air outside is probably cleaner than the air inside. And if you or anyone in the household has allergies or trouble breathing, even the best air purifier is unlikely to solve your problems. No air purifier currently on the market makes any health claims whatsoever; promotional materials only refer to the quality of the air. So if you see a claim along the lines of, "Improves lung capacity by 50 percent," you should automatically rule out that product.

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Once you identify what's causing the poor air quality in your home or office and have done your best to control the source of the problem and increase the ventilation, you have to decide which type of cheap air purifier will complement your overall line of attack. Our list of top picks includes air cleaners with HEPA filters, carbon filters, ionizers, and ceramic cores, all of which deal with different types of contaminants in different ways.

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