The Best Portable Air Filter

portable air filter

The Details

A portable air filter is a device that is used to purify the air in a room of impurities and pollutants. Air filter statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have shown that the air inside your home can be five to ten times dirtier than the air outside, and Americans spend an average of 90% of their lives indoors.

Portable air filters are intended to target specific contaminants, decreasing the levels in which they are detected in the room. In order to do this, the air is passed through one of more filters to remove dust, lint, germs and other pollutants. In a stationary (non-portable) purifier, the filter is inserted into the air return vents in a home. These materials include foam, fiberglass, cotton and synthetic fibers. A portable air filter is more versatile, and the same materials and methods are used in many of the best portable filters.

Some of the most popular air filter types are HEPA air purifiers, air filters that use activated carbon filters and others that use charged media filters. When purchasing a portable air filter with HEPA technology, it is important to look for one with a genuine HEPA filter, or true HEPA filter. Some may be advertised as HEPA-like, but these do not meet the high standards of a true HEPA filter.

Here are three of the best portable air filters on the market today.

The Best Overall Portable Air Filter: Germ Guardian AC4825


The GermGuardian AC482522 is just 22 in height and weighs a tiny 7 pounds, making it easily transportable from room to room. It features three fan speeds, is ultra-quiet and is best suited for medium sized rooms. The CADR rating is 100+, meaning it can clean more than 100 cubic feet of air in one minute.

This tower-like product from Guardian Technologies is the best available portable air filter on the market. The AC4825 uses three different filters that screen out almost all undesirable particles from the air by using multiple filters and systems.

First, the pre-filter uses activated carbon to remove odors and gases from the home. It also captures larger pieces of dust and pollen. The second filter is a True HEPA system that removes pet dander, dust mites, mold spores and pollen. True HEPA filters must meet strict guidelines to be classified as such. Therefore, you can be assured that the HEPA system in the GermGuardian filters out almost 100% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. Lastly, the air is passed through short range UV light, also known as UV-C. This UV light is effective in killing germs and viruses such as E. coli and streptococcus.

The Best Portable Air Filter For Allergies: Honeywell Air Purifier

The Honeywell Portable Filter goes a little further than most portable air filters in terms of filtering out particles in the air. This is one of the few HEPA filters recommended by doctors. Doctors endorse True HEPA filters for allergy sufferers as allergy symptoms can be reduced, and the Honeywell’s circular, stocky design allows 360-degree filtration. This makes it a good portable filtration unit for removing particles from an entire room.

The True HEPA filter is backed up by an activated carbon filter that reduces odors and filters out large particles of dust, hair and lint. Just as a nose has a membrane to screen pollen and other dust mites before they pass to the nasal cavity, this True HEPA filter product attempts to reduce those particles before they get to the allergy sufferer at all. Capturing virtually all particles that are 0.3 microns or larger, the Honeywell Air Purifier with True HEPA filter has three levels of cleaning and a light to show you when to clean or replace your filters.

An additional benefit for allergy sufferers, who are likely to be running their air purifier a lot, is the Honeywell’s long-life filters. You can vacuum and clean the filters, extending their life to 3-5 years. This greatly reduces ongoing costs, not to mention the number of days you will be miserable from a major allergy attack.

Best Value Portable Air Filter: Holmes HEPA Desktop Air Purifier


For the most reasonable, bang-for-your-buck air filter, the Holmes HEPA Type Desktop Air Purifier beats all the competition. With rave reviews on online retailers, a 3-speed setting/Ionizer and a price that’s barely half of its competitors’, it’s easy to see why it is a bestseller.

The desktop air purifier disinfects particles and allergens from an immediate area – only about 110 sq. feet – however, it does so with excellent efficiency and at a low weight. At only 6.7 pounds, the Holmes HEPA Type Air Purifier defines portability.

The purifier can stand upright or lie flat, and is particularly quiet in its operation. Three power settings allow you to choose the amount of work the filter will do to clean your air. Despite being only around $40, the purifier includes an ionizing function that assists in the removal of particles. An activated carbon filter removes much of the larger particles from the air.

For the price, there are some concessions. As the Holmes HEA Type Desktop Air Purifier does not come with a True HEPA filter, it does not purify the air as thoroughly as the above options. It will trap particles as small as 2 microns (for comparison, the above options trap particles as small as 0.3 microns). However, replacement True HEPA filters are available. Filters are not washable and typically only last 4 months. These caveats make the Holmes HEPA Type Desktop Air Purifier the best option is portability and low cost are the highest concerns and you only plan to use the air filter occasionally. Otherwise, one of our other top picks may be a better choice.

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