Sat. May 18th, 2024

Best Budget Air Purifiers: 3 Affordable Options for Allergies, Pet Hair & More – Starting at $48

By Michael Apr 30, 2024

All products and services featured are independently chosen by editors. However, Billboard may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

Springtime means cooler weather, and for some, overbearing allergies.

Luckily, air purifiers can help the allergy-stricken find some relief. But regardless of whether you have allergies, it’s good to have an air purifier on deck. It’ll help get rid of dust, mold, pet dander, smoke and more.

To get you on the right track, we commissioned the help of Anna Chan, Billboard’s deputy editor on the digital side — and resident cat lover — to test out a few budget air purifiers that you can buy on Amazon and have delivered overnight, if you’re a Prime member (click here to launch your 30-day free trial).

Below, find our review of the three best air purifiers under $200. The list below includes options that are perfectly giftable for Mother’s Day.

LEVOIT Core Mini Air Purifier

If you’re looking for a smaller, no-frills, plug-and-play air purifier for a cozier room, this could be the winner. Setup takes mere minutes, and the unit – which has three stages of filtration — is streamlined with just one button: The power button.

It turns the unit on/off and control fan speed, which has low, medium and high options. It also has to displays: fan speed and the “check filter” indicator, which turns red when attention is needed. 

BEST AIR PURIFIER UNDER $50

LEVOIT Core Mini Air Purifier for Bedroom Home, 3-in-1 Filter Cleaner with Fragrance

Size: 6.5” x 6.5” x 10.4”, 2.2 lbs 
Smart Controls: No 
Setup Time: Less than 5 minutes 
Filter Refill Cost: $24.99 


The fan is also pretty quiet, and is practically silent when on the lowest setting. The medium setting is pretty soft and nearly unnoticeable, even for this very light sleeper. The highest setting – for when your air quality isn’t great – is noticeable, but not distracting. 

One nice little bonus is the built-in aromatherapy tray. Simply pop it open, and add your essential oils to the little pad as needed. Don’t want or need to use this feature? Pretend it’s not there!  

Pros: This small unit fits great on a nightstand or dresser, and barely takes up any space. It’s also very light at barely two pounds, so it’s easy to move around too. 

It’s so quiet you won’t know it’s on, making this a great air purifier for bedrooms. It comes with a little aromatherapy drawer/pad built in, so you won’t need a separate aromatherapy machine in the room. 

Cons: The lack of smart controls means you can’t turn it on/off, adjust the fan speed or check the air quality of the room remotely. And it’s pretty small, so probably may not be as efficient for anything bigger than a medium-sized bedroom.

Coway Airmega True HEPA Air Purifier

Conway’s Airmega True HEPA Air Purifier not only boasts the ability to help purify the air in your home, but does so while looking sleek. (Think super large iPod Shuffle in black or white.) The unit and its three fan speed, four-stage filtration system isn’t huge – though it feels a tad large for a tiny New York City apartment – but it does seem to get the job done with minimal user effort. The control panel features an air-quality indicator (blue = good, purple = moderate, red = unhealthy) and five buttons – power, fan speed, filter change reset, timer and ionizer, though the ionizer isn’t explained in the user manual, so its purpose is unclear to this basic tester. 

BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

Coway Airmega AP-1512HH(W) True HEPA Purifier with Air Quality Monitoring

$159.99 $229.99 30% off

Buy Now On Amazon

Size: 16.8” x 18.3” x 9.6”, 12.3 lbs. 
Smart Controls: No 
Setup Time: Less than 10 minutes
Filter Refill Cost: $59.79  


The air-quality sensor seems pretty sensitive, and for me, the unit automatically kicked into high gear after a minute of sautéing food in a cast-iron pan, even when the fan in the range hood was on high. Speaking of cooking, the unit boasts the ability to deodorize thanks to the carbon filter, and while it does so a little, it’s no match for someone like me who uses a cast-iron pan daily. Just a little oil and some eggs and hash browns is enough to leave a lingering scent all day in this small apartment despite the unit running the entire time, though it is a little less noticeable than when I didn’t have the Airmega. 

To further prove its sensitivity, the Airmega’s fan speed also went from low to medium immediately after I applied some spray hair wax in a nearby room, and completely skipped the medium setting for high alert/max fan speed when I barely cracked my living room window open on the first nice day of spring

While the max fan speed is quite loud (roughly 53 dB(A), according to Coway), it does have the added bonus of seemingly cooling down the air temperature too, which could be a bonus in the summer months. 

Pros: For those of us trying to be cognizant of our electrical use, the unit’s Eco Mode is a great feature. After 30 minutes of the air quality being “good,” the Airmega’s fan switches off automatically to conserve energy. And as soon as it senses a drop in air quality drops, it’s back on. 

The air-quality sensor appears to be pretty sensitive, so this could be a good unit for anyone suffering from allergies or other respiratory issues. And it’s pretty! 

Cons:  The biggest bummer for me was the unit’s lack of smart controls. My apartment may be small, but I’m still sometimes too engrossed in my TV shows (read: lazy) to get up and turn the air purifier down, or off. It’d also be nice to be able to turn the unit on/off from my phone while I’m away from home. 

With con No. 1 noted, I should also point out that on max speed, the air purifier gets loud, like, crank the TV volume waaaaaaaay up loud. (It also woke me up one night when the air quality apparently became bad for some unknown reason, and the unit kicked in on max speed. Alas, without smart controls on my phone, I could not turn it back down without getting out of bed. Spoiler alert: I did not get up.) 

This unit sure does attract cat hair! While unboxing the Airmega and putting it together, it seemed to summon all of my little black cat’s fur from the living room to its casing, as if it were Magneto grabbing all of my silverware with a wave of his fingers. Unluckily for me, my Airmega is white, and my beloved feline is black. 

The user manual is really bare bones, causing minor confusion with the filters during setup, and doesn’t explain how the eco mode or ionizer work. Also, the filter replacement cost is pretty darn high.  

LEVOIT Vital 100S Air Purifier

Good things do come in smaller packages! The Vital 100S is a nice little unit that not only takes up just a small amount of floor space and is quite light, it seems to do a pretty good job of detecting air quality and improving it with its three-stage filtration system while keeping fan noise pretty low. The 100S detects four levels of air quality and is color-coded on the sleek display on top: very good (blue), good (green), moderate (orange) and bad (red). In terms of sensitivity, this unit kicks in quickly when I start cooking on the stovetop with a cast-iron skillet, and within minutes of me turning on my aromatherapy machine.

AIR PURIFIER FOR LARGE ROOMS

LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room Bedroom Up to 1110 Ft²

Size: 12.6” x 6.3” x 16”, 7.26 lbs. 
Smart Controls: Yes 
Setup Time: Less than 10 minutes 
Filter Refill Cost: $31.99 


The Vital 100S is also marketed for homes with furry little friends running around. It boasts a Pet mode, which, according to Levoit, “alternates between fan speeds to keep your air clean and virtually odor-free with energy efficiency.” The U-shaped air inlet is also supposed to help capture fur and other larger particles (perhaps human hairs?).  

Another highlight is the unit’s VeSync app, which is pretty handy and incredibly easy to set up. Once on your phone, the app allows users to turn the unit on/off remotely, displays the current air quality of your home, and also alerts you when air quality drops and fan speed increases, and vice versa. It also shows you the history of your indoor air quality, as well as filter life, lets you create a schedule and more. 

Pros: It’s quite compact, attractive and easy to tuck into homes with limited space. The app is super easy to use and adds a level of convenience that’s worth the extra cost. 

It’s a very quiet unit, and when in Sleep Mode, you won’t even know it’s on while you snooze! 

Cons: Like the Coway Airmega, the Vital 100S boasts odor control, but neither unit was able to eliminate basic stovetop cooking scents. And while neither was great at this, the Airmega did outperform the Levoit on odor elimination by a smidge. 

The app may show you the filter life left, but that can also be a downside. After three weeks of testing, the filter life had already gone down by 5%. 

For more product recommendation, see our roundup of sustainable tech gadgets to shop beyond Earth Day.

By Michael

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