The Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke in 2022

Wildfire smoke contains fine particulate matter that is hazardous to our health. Air purifiers filter out harmful smoke particulates for cleaner indoor air.

By Jasmine Harding | Updated Aug 31, 2022 2:58 PM

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The Best Air Purifier for Wildfire Smoke Option

Photo: amazon.com

Wildfire smoke consists of harmful gases and fine particles from burning plants and other materials. These extremely small particles are a health concern because they can penetrate deep into the lungs.

Air purifiers help reduce these airborne particle levels with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to trap fine particulate matter. Keep reading to learn about the key features to consider when shopping, and then explore the picks for the best air purifiers for wildfire smoke. An in-depth review of the market and thorough product vetting went into assembling the list of top picks.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Medify Air MA-40-W V2.0 Air Purifier with HEPA filter
  2. RUNNER UP: Levoit Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier LV-PUR131S
  3. BEST BUDGET: Blueair Blue Pure 411+ Air Purifier for Home
  4. BEST SMART TECH: Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier
  5. BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Medify Air MA-112 V2.0 Air Purifier with HEPA filter
  6. BEST FOR BEDROOMS: Bissell Smart Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters 
  7. BEST FOR TRAVEL: Westinghouse 1804 Portable Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
The Best Air Purifier for Wildfire Smoke Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Air Purifier for Wildfire Smoke

Because of the possible health hazards of wildfire smoke particles, it’s important to choose your air purifier thoughtfully. Air purifiers are nearly essential during smoky seasons, but they are useful year-round to maintain good indoor air quality. Besides smoke, the best air purifiers filter a range of common pollutants and allergens like dust, pet dander, and pollen.

Technical features like air filter type and coverage area are important considerations for an air purifier meant to stand up to wildfire smoke. Many of the best air purifiers also include smart features, air quality monitoring, and energy efficiency. Since air purifiers usually stay in the most lived-in rooms, the look and design might be important aspects, too.

Filtration

The best home air purifiers use mechanical HEPA filtration to remove larger unwanted particles combined with activated carbon filtration, which targets smaller pollutants. HEPA air filters trap 99.97 percent of particles with a size of 0.3 microns or larger. That includes a range of air pollutants and allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust mite waste, mold spores, smoke, and smoke odors.

  • HEPA filters last 6 to 12 months and then need to be replaced. Look for an air purifier that uses “true HEPA” or “HEPA” filters. Purifiers labeled “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” often don’t have a real HEPA filter at all. These types of filters don’t always meet U.S. Department of Energy standards, which requires 99.97 percent filtration of 0.3-micron particles. Keep in mind that HEPA filters trap particles, not odors and gases. For filtering smoke, consider an added activated carbon filter. Activated carbon filters capture and hold airborne molecules like odors and gases on their surface. People use them to eliminate common home odors like pet odors and cooking smells. They may also capture some of the gaseous molecules found in wildfire smoke and reduce the strong odor of it.
  • Prefilters capture large particles in the air before reaching and clogging the filtration system. HEPA filters are more costly to replace than prefilters, so the inclusion of both saves money in the long run. Maintaining the prefilter involves monthly cleaning and replacing it if it gets damaged.
  • Activated carbon filters remove unwanted odors and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are commonly found in household products. These contaminants are removed by absorption and adsorption. The carbon filter chemically attracts the unwanted elements and traps them in interior pores (absorption) or on its textured surface (adsorption). Carbon filters should be replaced every 3 to 6 months, following manufacturer recommendations.

Room Size

Air purifiers are labeled for specific room sizes, which are described in square feet. You can calculate square footage of a room by multiplying the length times the width. If you’d like to buy one air purifier to handle multiple rooms, add up the square footage for each room.

These machines are also labeled with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). This value is influenced by filter efficiency and air flow in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the CADR rating, the faster the unit can deliver clean air. CADR values can reach a maximum of 450 for smoke and pollen, while 400 is the highest score for dust.

While CADR is a standard for air purifier performance in the U.S., the values can be misleading for purifiers that contain filters other than standard HEPA filtration. Some manufacturers design air purifiers to circulate a lot of air at a faster rate, filtering only the larger contaminants. The CADR test does not take into account gases, odors, or volatile organic compounds, which are targeted by carbon filters.

Another figure to keep in mind is the number of air changes per hour (ACH). This number shows how many times per hour the entire air volume of a room will be filtered. The rating may be shown for a different room size than the product’s “filters up to X square feet” statement, so be sure to read the fine print.

EPA Rating

Energy Star is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The program’s goal is to help customers, businesses, and industries save money and protect the environment using energy-efficient products and practices.

An Energy Star certification means that the unit uses less energy than standard products. These certified energy-efficient appliances usually have lower operating costs and create less air pollution than standard equipment. Look for the blue Energy Star logo to find certified products.

Air Quality Indicator 

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a national system managed by the EPA that is used to measure and report the current air quality. AQI is affected by five major pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: particle pollution, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. A benefit of using a home air purifier is that it can improve the AQI inside the home.

AQI ranges from 0 to 500, with high values indicating greater air pollution levels. Good air quality conditions fall in the 0 to 50 range. Unhealthy values start at 100, indicating the air is a moderate health concern for sensitive groups including people with lung or heart disease, older adults, and children. Air is considered unhealthy for everyone if the AQI value is greater than 151, with the risks of adverse health effects increasing until conditions are deemed hazardous between 300 and 500.

If you live in an area associated with higher levels of air pollution, such as a city or town with industrial factories, power plants, or chemical facilities, awareness of AQI is especially important. Certain home air purifiers feature an air quality indicator, which typically uses an infrared beam and sensor to detect particulate matter. Some smart air purifiers are capable of automatically adjusting in response to higher or lower detected air quality levels.

Noise Level 

Noise level can be an important factor when selecting an air purifier. Many large air purifiers operate at about 60 decibels (dB), at about the same noise level as a normal conversation.

Quieter air purifiers operate at a noise level of 40 to 55 decibels, making them a better alternative for bedrooms, living rooms, and home offices. Models that are as low as 20-30 decibels are made for bathrooms, small bedrooms, or even for traveling as they emit very little sound (as much as a muffled hum).

Portability

Some air purifiers are designed for travel. When in a new environment, they can help you sleep better and reduce exposure to pollutants by using a small, portable air purifier.

Handles and caster wheels make it easier to move the machine when needed. These devices perform the same function as larger devices but are sized for smaller rooms. If you need an air purifier for travel, you may want to look for a purifier with a minimum CADR of 217, suitable for an average hotel room size of about 325 square feet.

Additional Features

Different comfort and convenience features can make a good air purifier even better. Popular features include smart technology, remote controls, operating modes, and easy access for filter maintenance.

  • Smart technology: Onboard air quality sensors can automatically adjust the output of the unit in response to the air quality in a home. Bluetooth connectivity, smart device apps, and compatibility with personal digital assistants allow you to monitor air quality conditions and control the unit while away from home.
  • Remote control: Most air purifiers come with a remote control, allowing users to operate the device without accessing the control panel. With smart air purifiers, an app functions as the remote control, allowing users to adjust the device from virtually anywhere.
  • Programs/settings: Many air purifiers offer variable speed settings, allowing you to increase or decrease filtration power in response to changing conditions, like when there’s a fire in the fireplace. Some include sleep mode, which runs the purifier at a lower, quieter setting, with or without a built-in night light. With some smart air purifiers, these operating settings can be programmed to run at specific intervals.
  • Filter replacements: Filters need to be changed periodically, so it helps to have indicator lights that remind you when it’s time for a change. Changing a filter tends to be easier when filter covers and access points are located near the top or front of the machine and are fastened with magnets or sliding latches instead of screws.

Our Top Picks

Now that you know more about air purifiers, it’s time to start shopping. These recommendations are among the best air purifiers for smoke in their respective categories for clearing toxins and fine particles from the air.

Best Overall

Best Air Purifier For Wildfire Smoke Options: Medify Air MA-40-W V2.0 Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

Medify Air’s efficient air purifier has a three-stage, all-in-one filtering system. The prefilter, H13 HEPA filter, and carbon layer are in one easy-to-change piece. An H13 HEPA filter is a higher grade filter that takes filtration up a small notch over standard true HEPA filters.

This Energy Star-certified unit cycles air flow in a 420-square-foot room four times an hour and once an hour in a 1,600-square-foot room. The stylish glass display includes controls for the three fan speeds, night-mode setting, timer, child lock, and the optional ionizer.

The optional ionizer uses electrically charged molecules to remove contaminants from the air, which may create some ozone by-product, a gas that could irritate the lungs. Those who are concerned about ozone can switch the ionizer off. But, bear in mind, this air purifier is CARB (California Air Resources Board) certified, which means it meets CARB’s acceptable ozone emission limits.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: HEPA and activated carbon filters
  • Room Size Recommendation: 420-1,600 square feet
  • Noise Level: 46-66 decibels

Pros

  • Multiple settings included
  • Many certifications
  • Child lock
  • Glass touch screen

Cons

  • Replacement filters sold separately
  • Expensive

Get the Medify Air purifier on Amazon or at Target (2-pack).

Runner Up

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Levoit Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier LV-PUR131S
Photo: amazon.com

The Levoit Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier LV-PUR131S offers proficient filtration capability and several convenient features. A cloth prefilter and HEPA filter remove larger pollutants like pet hair, dust, and pollen, while an activated carbon filter removes VOCs and harmful odors. Operating on Max Mode, this Levoit purifier cycles clean air in a 900-square-foot room once per hour, or every 15 minutes for a 500-square-foot room. For individuals with allergies, the Levoit functions best in rooms up to 350 square feet.

This Levoit purifier has three operating speeds and runs at a quiet 27 decibels on the lowest setting. An air quality sensor automatically adjusts the operating speed in response to higher or lower air particulate content. The Energy Star-rated unit works by voice command with the Vesync app via Alexa or Google Home Assistant. The Vesync app comes with over 10 advanced features including direct control, scheduled air purifying, air quality display, cleaning modes, and filter life.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: Prefilter and HEPA filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 350-900 square feet
  • Noise Level: 27 decibels

Pros

  • Smart home compatible
  • 3 built-in operating speeds
  • Comes with app for monitoring

Cons

  • Not meant for large spaces
  • Replacement filters sold separately
  • Replacement filters are expensive

Get the Levoit air purifier at Amazon, Target, or The Home Depot.

Best Budget

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Blueair Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

While some larger indoor air purifiers are bulky and difficult to move from room to room, this model by Blueair is lightweight and portable, weighing just 7.98 pounds. Despite its small size, it’s extremely effective at filtering clean air in rooms as large as 185 square feet every 12 minutes.

The purifier uses HEPASilent filtration technology, which purports to be quieter and more energy-efficient than true HEPA filters while still filtering 99.97 percent of particles of 0.3 microns or larger. An activated carbon filter also helps to eliminate odors. It’s extremely quiet, operating at 17 dB on its lowest setting and 46 dB on the highest.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: HEPASilent filtration technology
  • Room Size Recommendation: 185 square feet
  • Noise Level: 17-46 decibels

Pros

  • Filters every 12 minutes
  • Energy-efficient
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Filters items 0.3 microns or larger

Cons

  • Not suitable for large spaces

Get the Blueair Blue air purifier at Amazon, Target, or The Home Depot.

Best Smart Tech

Best Air Purifier For Wildfire Smoke: Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

The Bissell air purifier uses three-stage filtration, including a cloth pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter to remove smoke, VOCs, odors, dust, and other large contaminants from the air. This model can filter up to 1,000 square feet in one hour, with features that are particularly well suited for bedrooms. The smart purifier monitors the air quality to automatically adjust speed when pollutant levels change, maintaining air quality as you sleep.

The Bissell Smart Purifier includes five air cleaning settings and a pleasantly quiet operating range of 34 to 51 decibels, and an automated night mode dims the LEDs on the unit. The Bissell air220 includes elevated legs for easier cleaning beneath the unit, with convenient front panel filter access.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 3 layers, including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,000 square feet
  • Noise Level: 34-51 decibels

Pros

  • Adjusts automatically
  • 5 operation speeds
  • Front panel filter access
  • Heavy; limited portability
  • Elevated legs

Cons

  • Heavy; limited portability

Get the Bissell air320 air purifier at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Target.

Best For Large Rooms

Best Air Purifier For Wildfire Smoke Options: Medify Air MA-112 V2.0 Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

Medify Air’s three-stage filtration system uses a prefilter, an H13 HEPA filter, and an activated carbon filter.

The Energy Star-certified unit features powerful fans, dual air intake, and an oversize air chamber. This design allows it to draw in large quantities of air to filter bigger rooms quickly and efficiently. In rooms of up to 1,250 square feet, it will purify the air four times an hour. It can filter the air in a 3,700-square-foot room once an hour.

The touch screen display panel controls four fan speeds, a sleep setting, a timer, and a child lock feature. An optional CARB-certified ionizer meets acceptable ozone emission limits. The powerful and sleek design is ideal for most spaces, from large living rooms to open floor plans. Hidden wheels make it easy to move from room to room.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 3-stage filtration system
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,250-3,000 square feet
  • Noise Level: 70 decibels

Pros

  • 4 operating speeds included
  • 360 degree rotation
  • Multiple certifications
  • Portable

Cons

  • Large unit
  • Activated charcoal filter not included
  • Does not filter VOCs, gases, mold, or small pollutants

Get the Medify Air purifier with HEPA filter at Amazon, Target, or Overstock.

Best for Bedrooms

Best Air Purifier For Wildfire Smoke Options: Bissell Smart Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters
Photo: amazon.com

The Bissell Smart Purifier looks like a stylish furniture piece; its four legs and rounded corners give it a midcentury modern aesthetic. The soft-touch dial is easy to use and doesn’t detract from this machine’s sleek design, so it won’t be an eyesore in a bedroom. The easy-access front filter hatch and discreet cord wrap add function to its attractive form.

A prefilter, true HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter keep the air clean and odor-free. A color-coded air quality indicator monitors and responds to air quality in the room in real time. When the air quality drops, the fan speed adjusts accordingly. This unit has five speeds, including a quiet mode and auto-dimming display for nighttime.

The Smart Purifier is recommended for rooms under 800 square feet. However, since it only circulates air once an hour in a room that size, it will do better in smaller rooms.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 3-stage filtration (prefilter, HEPA filter, activated carbon filter)
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,000 square feet
  • Noise Level: 34-51 decibels

Pros

  • Adjusts air purification automatically
  • 5 operation speeds
  • Convenient front panel filter access
  • Elevated legs under unit for easier cleaning

Cons

  • Heavy; limited portability

Get the Bissell Smart purifier at Amazon, Target, or Best Buy.

Best for Travel

Best Air Purifier For Wildfire Smoke Options: Westinghouse 1804 Portable Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

Weighing in at only two pounds, this compact portable air purifier is well suited for travel. It measures 6.3 inches by 6.3 inches by 3.5 inches and has a stylish leather carrying handle. The rechargeable battery lasts for eight hours on a single charge, so there’s no cord to worry about.

Despite its small size, this purifier has a three-stage filtering system, which includes an oxygen generator, true HEPA filter, and NCCO reactor. The NCCO feature uses active oxygen to destroy pollutants like bacteria and viruses. Two fan speeds provide efficient filtration in spaces under 100 square feet, such as cars, sleeper cars, and hotel rooms.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: HEPA and nanoconfined catalytic oxidation (NCCO) technology
  • Room Size Recommendation: 100-300 square feet
  • Noise Level: 38 decibels

Pros

  • Affordable model
  • Rechargeable; 8 hours of run-time per charge
  • Lightweight at 2 pounds
  • Includes a leather carrying strap for easy transport

Cons

  • Limited coverage

Get the Westinghouse air purifier at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.

Also Consider

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

The Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier boasts a 5-in-1 filtration system that targets pollen, dust, pet pander, mold, bacteria, VOCs, smoke, and odors. This unit includes a washable prefilter, polypropylene prefilter, H13 medical grade HEPA filter, activated carbon filter, and cold catalyst filter that together eliminate over 99% of allergens and pollutants down to 0.1 microns. This powerful Hathaspace purifier cleans air in a 1,500-square-foot room up to 24 times per day, with Energy Star, CARB, and ETL certifications for energy efficiency and safety.

Using the sleek touch panel, users can enable Auto Mode or a quiet Sleep Mode and choose from five operating speeds. The Hathaspace includes an air quality sensor based on AQI; when the device is on Auto Mode, this monitoring feature will automatically adjust the fan speed to meet air quality needs.

Product Specs

  • Filtration: 5-in-1 filtration
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,500 square feet
  • Noise Level: 30 decibels

Pros

  • Purifies 24 times per day
  • Many certifications
  • Touch panel included
  • 5 operating speeds included

Cons

  • Replacement filters are expensive
  • Limited portability
  • Child lock not included

Get the Hathaspace air purifier on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Made for those looking for large area coverage, multiple certifications, and quiet operation, the Medify Air air purifier is our first choice for the best air purifier for wildfire smoke. With a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter, this system is made to filter out many toxins from the air with the added benefit of a child lock, glass touch screen, and many air speed settings to choose from.

Alternatively, the Blueair air purifier is made for those looking for an energy-efficient air purifier that is meant for small spaces. With HEPASilent filtration technology, this purifier is able to run effectively with as little as 17 decibels of sound emitted as it filters your space every 12 minutes.

How We Chose the Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke

The right air purifier can neutralize harmful gases, airborne particles, and chemicals for better air quality in your home. Each of these picks for the best air purifier for wildfire smoke was selected for its filtration efficiency, area coverage, noise level, number of operating speeds, and other special features.

The above picks are made with effective filtration in mind by incorporating HEPA filters, prefilters, or multiple filters in one system. Select systems listed above can help to filter out gasses, toxins, smoke particles, allergens, odor, and more. Plus, many of these above picks cover areas ranging from 100-1,600 square feet depending upon the size of the space you want to purify.

The above selection is also conscious of not filling your home with noise as most systems are made to operate at under 60 decibels. Select options also come with multiple operation speeds depending upon how much purification is needed as well as automatic functionality day and night. Finally, some of these air purifiers are made with LED or glass screens, wheels, or wall-mounting capability to fit in your ideal space.

FAQs

Q: How do air purifiers work?

A typical filtration system includes a HEPA filter for larger airborne particles including dust, pollen, pet odor and dander, and other allergens. Some include an activated carbon filter for VOCs, gases, and odors. Additionally, certain air purifiers also include a fabric prefilter to trap larger particles before reaching and clogging the other filters.

Q: How well do air purifiers work for smoke?

How well an air purifier works is dependent on the type of smoke, which relates to particle size. The best air purifiers can effectively reduce particle concentration of visible smoke. For example, they remove wildfire smoke by up to 85 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Q: Does a HEPA filter remove smoke?

Yes, though only some types of smoke. A HEPA filtration system is the best solution for smoke available in purifiers, but certain forms of smoke contain particles that pass through the filter. Smoke particles can be as small as 0.001 microns, while HEPA filters trap 99.97 percent of airborne particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. HEPA filtration traps visible matter, such as smoke from wildfires, cigarettes, and burning food.