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5 Best Cheap Air Purifiers We Tested

Last updated June 7, 2023

Danny as been writing about air purifiers for 10+ years. He is a major fan of home technology, which makes him the perfect person to test and evaluate products for HouseFresh

Air purifiers used to be nice gadgets for those who could afford them. But after Covid-19, they are now seen as essential to our fight against airborne diseases. Combined with improved ventilation and masks, air purifiers can help keep rooms clean of the viruses and particles that cause damage to our health. 

We review many different air purifiers here at HouseFresh. We understand many customers want an air purifier that blends into their home decor and cleans the air. They are happy to pay a premium for brands like IQAir or a well-designed unit like the Dyson combo series. 

But we are often asked what air purifiers give the best bang for your buck when just looking at cleaning power to money spent. 

The great news is that we have data to be confident about which air purifiers on the market in Spring 2023 have the best cleaning power for the amount of money spent, both initially and long-term, in electricity costs. 

Pro tip: When you’re on a budget, the best way to get the best cleaning power is to use multiple units instead of just one. If your unit has a CADR of 150 CFM, two units working together will have a CADR of 300 CFM. 

You will still need to replace the filters, but the units on our recommended list still work out much cheaper than the larger units on the market, both in the short and long term. 

This is excellent news for those with vast spaces like school halls that larger units would have trouble cleaning, but six smaller units working together can make light work of it. 

Why You Can Trust Our Recommendations

Our years of experience and real-world testing mean we know exactly what to look for when recommending budget air purifiers. 
Here are the main checkpoints: 

✅ Low-budget — We only included air purifiers for a maximum of $99.
✅ Filtration — All units in our list include HEPA and Activated Carbon filters. These filters are a must, even in budget air purifiers.
✅ CADR — A higher CADR means the air purifier can effectively remove more pollutants from your room, so we picked the budget units with the highest CADR scores. 
✅ Performance over features We recommend units with similar performance as the smart models but at a lower price. Plus, every air purifier on this list has been tested by us in our home lab. 

Here is the three-stage test we perform on all air purifiers we review:

1️⃣ Air Cleaning Test: We record how quickly the air purifier cleans PM1, PM 2.5, and PM10 pollutants from the air inside our 705 ft. sq. testing room. We do this by filling the room with incense smoke, switching on the unit and recording the data on an air quality monitor.

2️⃣ Energy Consumption Test: We measure electricity consumption in watts when running the air purifier at its lowest and highest fan speeds with an energy usage monitor.

3️⃣ Noise Levels Test:
We use a sound level monitor to record noise levels in decibels when the air purifier runs at its top and bottom speeds.
By doing this, we can compare air purifiers against each other and find the best ones for tackling specific issues.

Most websites do not do this. They just give you a rundown of the best-selling units on Amazon. 

If you don’t have time to read our full article, you’ll find our top recommendations in the table below.

The Top 3 Budget Air Purifiers

Levoit Core 300Levoit Core MiniTaoTronics AP003
AIR CLEANING SPEED ⚡40 minutes1 hour and 53 minutes29 minutes
CADR 👩‍🔬145 CFM 32 CFM226 CFM
FILTER TECHNOLOGY 💨Pre-filter, H13 HEPA and Activated Carbon PelletsH13 (Medical) Grade HEPA and Activated CharcoalH13 HEPA with activated carbon pellets
MAX ROOM SIZE 📏up to 219 sq. ft.up to 178 sq. ft.up to 322 sq. ft.
WEIGHT ⚖️7.48 lbs (3.4 kg)2.2 lbs (1 kg)18 lbs (8.16 kg)
OUR REVIEW 🔍Levoit Core 300 reviewLevoit Core Mini reviewTaoTronics AP003 review
PRICE 💵$99.99$42.95Price not available

Last update on 2023-06-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you need more info, read on to find out the full lowdown on why we recommend each air purifier. 

Check out our in-depth review of each unit below: 

1. Best Overall: Levoit Core 300

The Levoit Core 300 changed the budget air purifier game forever when it arrived on the scene. Back then, budget air purifiers were useless or had ionizers that could actually make things worse by adding dangerous ozone to your air.

Levoit brought to market an air purifier capable of 145 CFM for $99.99. Previously you could get 100 CFM with the Honeywell HP100, but now you can get 1 CFM for 68 cents. 

Keeping the air clean no longer needed large, costly devices beyond most American households’ budget. Levoit, we salute you!

What We Really Like:

👍 Second-best value for cleaning power per $ spent
👍 H13 filters combined with activated charcoal pellets are much better than the impregnated fabric you sometimes see at this low price point
👍 Small design that doesn’t have too big a floor footprint
👍 App support and auto-mode with the 300S

What We Think Could Be Better:

👎 The original 300 had a power draw of 45 watts which is now very high for this level of cleaning power


HouseFresh Rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our test room:40 Minutes
Air purifier technology:H13 (Medical) Grade HEPA and Activated Charcoal
Recommended room size:219 ft²
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):145 CFM (246 m3/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):8.7L x 8.7W x 14.2H inches (22L x 22W x 36H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24dB – 50dB
Filter life:6 – 8 months
Manufacturer’s warranty2 years

2. Best for Small Spaces: Levoit Core Mini

At less than $50, it’s one the cheapest air purifiers we have tested and does an excellent job of cleaning the air. It’s still a small unit, so bear in mind that it will not be suitable for rooms bigger than 178 sq. ft., but it’s still powerful enough for a small space like a car, an RV, or a campervan. 

The Core Mini’s power usage stood out in our testing, with only 6.4 watts pulled at its highest speed, equating to less than $20 a year in electricity costs if you used it daily. You will be disappointed if you try to use this small purifier in a larger room — it took one hour and 53 minutes to remove all the pollutants in our relatively small office with large ceilings. But if you are looking for a way to clean the air in your RV or campervan, nothing on the market can provide the level of air cleaning from such low power usage. 

What We Really Like:

👍 Less than $50 and cleaned our test room in 113 minutes, which compared favorably to many other units that cost far more
👍 Super efficient with a max draw of 6.4 watts for 32 CFM, which is 70 cents per CFM which is decent compared to other budget air purifiers
👍  Small enough to bring on travel trips with a small plug, so perfect for use in an RV or campervan
👍  Filter uses HEPA H13 and activated charcoal

What We Think Could Be Better:

👎 Not suitable for any large-sized rooms as it will likely fail to remove pollutants quickly enough
👎 Filter costs can quickly add up if used for very polluted spaces.


HouseFresh Rating:★★★☆☆
Time to clean our test room:1 hour and 53 minutes
Air purifier technology:H13 (Medical) Grade HEPA and Activated Charcoal
Recommended room size:178 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):32 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):10.4H x 6.5D x 6.5W inches (26.4H x 16.4D x 16.4W cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):2.2 lbs (1 kg)
Noise level (low – high):25 dB – 44 dB
Filter life:4 – 6 months
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 years
Estimated energy consumption:$6.31 per year

3. Best for Medium-Sized Rooms: TaoTronics AP003

The TaoTronics AP003 is a game changer in budget air purifiers. Sold directly, it goes for $79.99 and has a CADR of 384 m³/h/226 CFM, similar to the Coway AP-1512 and Winix 5300, which cost nearly $200. 

With a CADR cost of 35 cents per 1 CFM, this is the ultimate budget air purifier as of Spring 2023. When we tested this unit in our home lab, we found that it could remove all pollutants in 29 minutes, matching the manufacturer’s CADR results. 

🔥 The performance of the TaoTronis AP003 is better than the 33 minutes we saw with the Levoit Core 400S, which is $219.

The cherry on top for the budget unit is that it also comes with an onboard sensor that gives the same pollutant levels for PM2.5 and PM10 — we usually see such extras on units that cost upwards of $300. 

I’m not sure how Taotronics made such a great unit at such a low price, but as a consumer, I’m not complaining, and I’m sure the other air purifier manufacturers will need to up their game.

What We Really Like:

👍 Best price per CADR CFM on the market
👍 Filter costs are at the lower end when compared to similar-sized units
👍 Super efficient power usage, we saw a max draw of 29.2 watts
👍 The high-quality screen for the onboard particle sensor that also changes color based on the current level of pollutants

What We Think Could Be Better:

👎 It’s not readily available on Amazon after the parent company was kicked off for paying for reviews


HouseFresh Rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our test room:29 minutes
Air purifier technology:H13 HEPA with activated carbon pellets
Recommended room size:322 sq ft (30 m²)
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):226 CFM (384 m³/h )
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):21.8 x 14.1 x 7.9 inches (55.4 x 35.8 x 20cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):18 lbs (8.16 kg)
Noise level (low – high):32 – 52 dB
Filter life:3 – 6 months
Manufacturer’s warranty:1 year

4. Levoit Core 200S

The Levoit Core 200S is the smallest model in the core series that comes with smart features normally only found in bigger units. Its performance lies between the core mini and the Core 300s and it cleaned our test room in 61 minutes compared to the much larger Core 300S, which did it in 40 minutes. 

this list that has app support. This means the Core 200S is a good choice for those who want to schedule the air purifier before bedtime or when you are out at work. 

As you would expect with a smaller unit, it doesn’t pull too much power, with a max of 28.82 watts at its highest speed. 

If you are looking for a smart air purifier for a small bedroom, the Core 200S is a unit that is well worth considering.

What We Really Like:

👍  Small footprint with a good-looking design
👍  App support that is the same as what we see with the much pricier Core 400S and Core 600S
👍  Light enough to travel with at 6.6 lbs
👍  Max sound level at 48dB is one of the lowest we have tested

What We Think Could Be Better:

👎 As with the Core mini, filter costs can soon add up ‚ it’s worth considering the larger Core 300 S version if you have severe issues with your air quality as it will be similar in filter costs with higher cleaning power
👎 Doesn’t include an auto-mode which is only found on the Core 300S and above


HouseFresh Rating:★★★☆☆
Time to clean our test room:61 Minutes
Air purifier technology:Nylon Pre-Filter, H13 True HEPA Filter, High-Efficiency Activated Carbon Filter
Recommended room size:183 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):118 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):12.6H x 8.07W x 8.07D inches (32H x 20.5W x 20.5D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):6.6 lbs (3 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24dB – 48dB
Filter life:6 – 8 months
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 years
Estimated energy consumption:$30.48 per year

5. TaoTronics AP005

The TatoTronics AP005, is the smaller brother of the AP003 and has a very similar size and shape to our number one budget air purifier, the Levoit Core 300. In our tests, it managed to clean our test room in 36 minutes which is impressive considering it should cost $49.99. 

Energy costs and filter replacements are some of the lowest on the market, but the major downside to this unit is its lack of availability on Amazon. Sadly the company that makes them has been banned from Amazon, but there are a few third-party sellers out there, but they are often more expensive than buying direct. 

What We Really Like:

👍 High cleaning power for a very low price that was in line with what we see for $100 units
👍 Includes an auto-mode that shows the level of particle pollutants and lights up depending on how bad the air is
👍  H13 HEPA filter with activated charcoal-impregnated fabric
👍 Footprint is small so easy to use it around the house

What We Think Could Be Better:

👎 Hard to find it for a good price on Amazon
👎 Would prefer to see pelleted activated carbon used like we see in the AP003


HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:36 minutes
Air purifier technology:Pre-Filter, H13 True HEPA and Activated Carbon Filter
Recommended room size:270 sq ft 
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):147 CFM (250 m³/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):14.9H x 8.8W x 8.8D inches (37.8H x 22.4W x 22.4D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):7.9 lbs (3.58 kg)
Noise level (low – high):25 – 50 dB
Filter life:3 – 6 months
Manufacturer’s warranty:1 year
Estimated energy consumption:$30.48 per year


Another name that I’m not 100% sure how you say, but I’m glad to report that this air purifier from IKEA is the real deal. 

Many manufacturers in the air purifier space like to say how complex air cleaning is. However, this model from IKEA shows that it’s as simple as a good fan combined with a HEPA and activated carbon filter

The HEPA filters can be found for $11.99 and the activated charcoal filters are $21.99. They are all available online, and in-store, so you can pick up some spare air filters the next time you visit for Swedish meatballs. 

As you would expect with a gadget from IKEA, this air purifier has no bells or whistles. The device has one wheel to change speed and no air quality sensor. It doesn’t look like an air purifier, which might be a plus point for many — you could easily hide it in a living room without attracting too much attention. 

Overall, it’s a great budget device, but the lack of features and overall costs means it doesn’t make our top spot.

What We Really Like:

👍 IKEA design means that it doesn’t look like an air purifier
👍 Two separate filters, so less cost if you don’t need odor or VOC cleaning
👍 It’s super efficient with power use; we saw a max draw of 14.7 watts
👍 Great price per CADR CFM

What We Think Could Be Better:

👎 Have to buy either from IKEA online or in-store – no other options
👎 Lack of on-board sensor or any smart features


HouseFresh Rating:★★★☆ ☆
Time to clean our test room:61 minutes
Air purifier technology:Pre-Filter, HEPA Filter and optional Activated Carbon Filter
Recommended room size:85 — 105 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):70 CFM (119 m³/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):18H x 12W x 4D inches (45.7H x 30.5W x 10.2D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):6.7 lbs (3.04 kg)
Noise level (low – high):28dB – 60dB
Filter life:6 months
WarrantyFÖRNUFTIG does not come with a warranty from IKEA

The Two Budget Air Purifiers We Don’t Recommend

We test many air purifiers here at HouseFresh and whilst we are continually looking for units like the Taotronics AP-003 that move the performance needle forward, we also come across a lot of duds. This is especially true at the sub $100 level, and so we felt it our duty to also point out those air purifiers you should avoid in this budget range. 


If you take the 5-star reviews and $59.99 price point at face value, you would be hard-pressed to see a problem with this air purifier. 

I could not find a published CADR for this unit, which would make sense as when we tested it, we found it took 163 minutes* to clean our room according to WHO guidelines

This is a problem we have seen before, but our test room is the smallest in our house, so we can assume that this unit will be underpowered for most home use cases and should be avoided.
The budget doesn’t have to be the thing that holds you back from having clean air in your home. Pay $20 extra and get the TaoTronics.

Why We Suggest You Avoid This Unit:

👎 The size is very small, which means the fan has to work very hard, creating a lot of noise and drawing a lot of power
👎 Only uses a HEPA filter, so does nothing for odors or VOCs and has no option to add an activated carbon filter


HouseFresh Rating:★☆☆☆☆
Time to clean our test room:2 hours and 43 minutes (but was unable to clean the air 100% in less than 5 hours)
Air purifier technology:Fine Preliminary Filter, H13 True HEPA Filter, and Activated Carbon Filter
Recommended room size:161 sq. ft. 
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):25 CFM (estimated)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):6.1L x 6.1W x 9.7H inches (15.5 x 15.5 x 24.6 cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):1.57 lbs (0.71 kg)
Noise level (low – high):22dB – 60dB
Filter life:3 – 6 months
WarrantyAROEVE MK01 does not come with a warranty
Estimated energy consumption:$19.97 per year

2. GermGuardian AC482e

This air purifier on the surface seems awesome. If you do a little Google research you will read glowing reviews from well-respected media organizations.

There is only one problem — it’s not good at all.

It might have been an OK choice a few years back, but the AC4825e failed to perform well in our lab tests with a poor performance of 104 minutes. When the Levoit Core 300 can achieve this in 40, you have to wonder what you are paying for with the GermGuardian AC4825e.

Why We Suggest You Avoid This Unit:

👎 Poor cleaning performance for the money 
👎 The use of UV-C seems gimmicky and only adds electricity costs with no increase in effectiveness


HouseFresh Rating:★★☆☆☆
Time to clean our test room:104 minutes
Air purifier technology:True HEPA with UV-C
Recommended room size:167 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):125 CFM (212m³/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):21.5H x 6.75W x 10.25D inches (54.61H x 17.14W x 26.03D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):8.6 lbs (3.9 kg)
Noise level (low – high):40dB – 55dB
Filter life:6 – 8 months
Warranty3 years
Estimated energy consumption:$52.56

Buying Guide: How to Find a Good Budget Air Purifier

Air purifiers offer an excellent way to remove harmful particles and improve indoor air quality, but many high-end models come with a hefty price tag. 

🤔 How much does a decent air purifier cost?

If you’ve researched the best air purifiers on the market, you may have noticed that most are in the $200 to $300 price range. 

Budget-friendly air purifiers are challenging to find. Even the units advertised as “cheap air purifiers” range somewhere between $100 to $150. But that doesn’t mean you can enjoy clean, fresh air in your home without breaking the bank.

Plenty of bucket picks on the market are just as effective as the pricey models. The Taotronics AP-003 costs $79.99 directly but can be found for a little more with third-party sellers on Amazon. 

You just need to know what to look for in a quality air purifier, and you’ll discover many high-performance units that are affordably priced. And we’re here to help! 

Our guide for the best budget air purifiers outlines the critical things to consider when buying an air purifier.

1. HEPA + Activated Carbon Is a Must

The filtration technology used in an air purifier is the most important thing to consider when buying an air purifier on a budget. Here’s a breakdown of the different filtration technologies on the market.

  • HEPA Filters.

    The “gold standard” in filtration technology is HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filters. HEPA filters are great at trapping microscopic allergens like dust, pollen, dander and mold spores. These filters capture large and small particles down to 0.3 microns that move through them.

  • Activated Carbon Filters

    Where HEPA captures large and small particles from the indoor air, the best budget-friendly air purifiers include Activated Carbon technology. 

    The porous nature of activated carbon helps absorb odor and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. Gases in your home are usually present as cigarette smoke and pet odors. 

    Units with Activated Carbon do a stellar job of removing these odors.

    If you want to remove odor from your home, you’ll need a unit with activated charcoal. We recommend choosing a unit with pellets rather than impregnated fabric often found in cheap air purifiers. 

  • Negative Ion Purifiers
    Ionizers can create chemical byproducts, making them unsafe. Many ionizers from the early 2000s created dangerous ozone levels that can harm your health. For this reason, we don’t recommend these types of air cleaners.

    Also, avoid other technologies like PECO and UV, as these don’t perform as well as HEPA-based systems. Look at a minimum of True HEPA H11 to H13 Medical Grade. 

    These technologies are proven to remove particles as small as viruses.

2. Measure the Room Size and Consider Pollutants

Room size is another critical factor when buying an air purifier. Air purifiers aren’t created equal. Larger units can effectively clean air in larger rooms, like classrooms, while smaller units might not. 

Manufacturers usually provide the recommended room size for each unit, so this information shouldn’t be hard to find. 

See the table below for the recommended room size and CADR rating.

      Room Size (sq. feet)            CADR (CFM)
300 — 500 ft²One air purifier with a CADR of at least 150 
500 — 900 ft²One or two air purifiers with a combined CADR of 300 — 500 
1,000 ft² and over One very large or 2-3 air purifiers with a combined CADR of 600 or higher

CADR, or clean air delivery rate, measures the air volume an air purifier can clean in a given time. A higher CADR means the air purifier can effectively remove more pollutants from your room, so pick the unit with the highest CADR score. 

4. Smart Features = Not a Must

Air purifiers with smart technology, like auto mode and app support, are easier and more convenient to operate. 

However, units with such technology tend to be more expensive and might be above your price range if you’re working on a tight budget. 

Focus more on performance rather than features. You can find units with similar performance as the smart models but at a lower price. 

For example, the Levoit 300 performs as well as the smart Levoit Core 300S but is $50 cheaper.

5. Be Wary of Cheap Air Purifiers

he device’s low price can often be a trap. 

In our many years of experience testing air purifiers, we have yet to find an excellent unit for less than $50, yet Amazon has many units. In our experience, you need to spend at least $80 for something like the TaoTronics AP003 or $99 for the Levoit Core 300 to get a unit capable of cleaning your home air well.

Common Questions About Cheap Air Purifiers

🤔 What is the best budget air purifier?

As of when I’m writing this, the cheapest air purifier for getting the most cleaning power for $ spent is the TaoTronics AP-003 with 35 cents for a CADR of 1 CFM. You can use multiple products for larger spaces and still benefit from the cheap performance. 

🤔 Do air purifiers take smells away?

HEPA alone won’t do anything about odors or VOCs. You must also use an activated charcoal or carbon filter to deal with smells and gasses. Activated charcoal has a proven record of removing odors and gases that get trapped inside. 

If you have severe odors or issues with VOCs, you will want to look at air purifiers with a large amount of activated carbon. Be sure to look at our list of the best air purifiers for VOCs which has a few examples of these types of air purifiers. 

🤔 How do you make a homemade air purifier?

On a basic level, to make an air purifier, you will need to attach a HEPA filter to a fan. The challenge is that the fan needs to be kept safe, so you are better off looking at resources like this guide on how to build a Corsi-Rosenthal Box from UC Davis. 

Instructions in this helpful guide on the Smart Air blog can also be provided.

DIY projects are great when you have to use something today, but if you plan to use it regularly, you will find it better to invest in a cheap air purifier as it will last much longer and require less maintenance.

🤔 Are small air purifiers worth it?

Small air purifiers can be the right choice when you are in a minimal space like a car and traveling by plane. 

Still, for the home, I recommend choosing a unit at least as large as the Levoit Core 300, as otherwise, you will spend a lot on filters and will find it hard to have enough performance for even the smallest rooms. 

🤔 What is the best natural air purifier?

Opening a door or a window is a significant first step to cleaning the air in your home. The challenge is when the air outside is worse; this is when a cheap air purifier can provide a way to clean the air without letting any more pollutants inside.

Wrapping Up

Being on a small budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. Ensure your new unit has HEPA and Activated Carbon filters, and go for as high a CADR as your budget allows. 

Smart features are nice but not essential for the budget buyer. Any units on this list give you quality at a great price, so you won’t go far wrong. Remember, we have tested every unit ourselves, so we know what we’re talking about. 

Last update on 2023-06-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API