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, thorough product vetting, and the use of expert sources went into assembling the list of top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: Medify Air MA-40 Air Purifier
- RUNNER-UP: Levoit LV-PUR131S Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Megawise EPI810 Desktop Air Purifier
- BEST SMART TECH: Bissell air320 Max Smart WiFi Air Purifier
- BEST FOR SMALL ROOMS: Honeywell AllergenPlus HEPA Tower Air Purifier
- BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Hathaspace HSP003 Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
- BEST FOR BEDROOMS: Bissell air220 Air Purifier
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: Westinghouse 1804 HEPA Air Purifier
- ALSO CONSIDER: Hathaspace HSP002 Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
How We Chose the Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke
The right air purifier can neutralize wildfire smoke particles and tackle many harmful contaminants 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 as well as area coverage, noise level, number of operating speeds, and other special features.
We chose the above picks keeping effective filtration in mind; they incorporate HEPA filters, prefilters, or multiple filters in one system. Select systems listed above can help to filter out gases, toxins, smoke, allergens, odor, and other fine particles. Plus, many of these above picks cover areas ranging from 100 to over 1,600 square feet, depending upon the size of the space you want to purify.
We also wanted to choose relatively quiet air purifiers that wouldn’t fill your home with noise; luckily, most systems are made to operate at well under 60 decibels. Select options also come with multiple operation speeds 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.
Our Top Picks
The following recommendations are among the best air purifiers for smoke in their respective categories for clearing toxins and fine airborne particles from the air.
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 and remove most airborne particles. An H13 HEPA filter is a higher-grade filter that takes filtration up a small notch over standard true HEPA filters. Plus, this model comes with a prefilter for added convenience and allergen reduction.
This Energy Star–certified unit cycles airflow in a 420-square-foot room four times an hour and once an hour in a 1,680-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 byproduct, 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 California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified, which means it meets CARB’s acceptable ozone emission limits.
- Filtration: Prefilter, HEPA H13 filter, and activated-carbon filters
- Room size recommendation: 420 to 1,680 square feet
- Noise level: 44.6 decibels
- High clean air delivery rate (CADR) provides rapid filtration of medium to large rooms; cycles airflow as it works
- Easy-to-use tempered glass touch screen features timer, speed, sleep mode, and child lock
- Filter life of 3,000 hours means it can last several months between changes
- Comes with a premium price tag, and some have found warranty claims a difficult process
Get the Medify air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon or Walmart.
The Levoit LV-PUR131S smart air purifier 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 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and harmful odors. According to Levoit, this air purifier functions best in rooms up to 360 square feet, making it ideal for living rooms, offices, and bedrooms.
This 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.
- Filtration: Prefilter and true HEPA filter
- Room size recommendation: 360 square feet
- Noise level: 27 to 52 decibels
- Smart connectivity allows monitoring and control via phone, plus the potential for voice control
- The touch-screen panel on the device itself allows real-time air-quality monitoring
- Relatively compact size and sleek design means it fits easily in different rooms
- Quality control seems inconsistent
Get the Levoit air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Target.
A high-performance air cleaner often comes with a premium price tag and may be overkill in some situations. For those who want air filtration that works effectively in small spaces like home offices, bedrooms, and dorms, the compact Megawise is the answer.
Despite the small size and low price, this is a true HEPA filter with both prefiltering and a separate charcoal filter to combat smoke, smells, pet odors, and dander. Coverage is between 250 and 968 square feet, though it is at its most efficient at the lower end of that range. Operation is via a simple push button, and a 12-volt brushless motor keeps energy consumption low. The decorative night-light can be turned off if not required. The light weight and a universal power adapter for 100 to 240 volts make it great for travel, too.
- Filtration: Prefilter, activated-carbon filter, and HEPA filter
- Room size recommendation: 250 to 968 square feet
- Noise level: 32 decibels
- A compact and highly portable air purifier at a budget-friendly price
- Easy push-button operation providing 3 levels of filtration with 360 degree coverage
- Brushless motor minimizes energy consumption and runs at a maximum 32 decibels
- We didn’t find many complaints, but durability can be an issue
Get the Megawise air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon.
The Bissell air purifier uses three-stage filtration, including a cloth prefilter, HEPA filter, and activated-carbon filter to remove smoke, VOCs, odors, dust, and other large contaminants from the air. Bissell states that this model filters 366 square feet at 4.8 times per hour. The smart purifier monitors the air quality to automatically adjust speed when pollutant levels change, maintaining air quality as you sleep.
The Bissell smart air purifier includes five air-cleaning settings, and while a decibel rating isn’t provided, the manufacturer calls it “library quiet.” An automated night mode dims the LEDs on the unit. The Bissell air320 includes elevated legs for easier cleaning beneath the unit, with convenient front panel filter access.
- Filtration: Prefilter, HEPA filter, and activated-carbon filter
- Room size recommendation: 366 square feet
- Noise level: Library quiet (see description)
- Wi-Fi connectivity offers convenient monitoring and control via smartphone app
- 5 speed CirQulate System will adjust itself automatically to manage air quality
- Intuitive top-mounted controls plus easy front panel access for filter changing
- It’s relatively expensive, quite heavy, and the appearance may not suit some decors
- No decibel level listed on manufacturer’s website
Get the Bissell air320 air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Target.
The Honeywell AllergenPlus has been specifically designed to remove pollutants like wildfire smoke in smaller rooms. While coverage might seem low at just 75 square feet, that figure is deceptive because Honeywell uses a filtration rate of 4.8 changes per hour. If we calculate the volume based on a single change per hour, which many competitors do, the equivalent figure would be 360 square feet.
Three fan speeds are provided, accessed from an easy-to-use backlit knob on top of the device. There are also useful LED filter-change indicators. Prefilters should be changed every 3 months, but the HEPA filter can run for a full year. Energy Star qualification ensures minimal impact on utility bills.
- Filtration: Activated-carbon prefilter and HEPA filter
- Room size recommendation: 75 square feet
- Noise level: Not provided
- High-quality device providing very efficient air purification for small rooms
- Compact and portable with straightforward manual controls and clear filter-change indicators
- Energy Star qualified with long-life HEPA filter to further reduce running costs
- No noise level listed on manufacturer website; some owners feel it’s a little noisy at the highest setting
Get the Honeywell air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon or Walmart.
Those wanting to provide clean air for extra-large rooms at home or in business and commercial premises will want to consider this air purifier from Hathaspace, a company that specializes in high-end HEPA filtration. Instead of single filters found on most competitor models, this model uses dual filtration and, as a result, can tackle spaces of up to 2,800 square feet.
Not surprisingly, this is quite a large unit, but wheels make it easy to move around. It’s also straightforward to operate thanks to clear touch panel controls. Among these is a timer, sleep mode, and auto mode that will automatically adjust fan speed for maximum efficiency while also displaying air quality in real time.
- Filtration: A prefilter, dual H13 HEPA filters, and an activated-carbon filter
- Room size recommendation: 2,800 square feet
- Noise level: 38.5 to 65.1 decibels
- Impressive dual-filter model providing clean air for large rooms and commercial spaces
- Auto mode adjusts fan speed automatically and provides real-time readout of air quality
- Certified by Energy Star, Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) for safety, and CARB
- Fault reports are rare, but it is bulky, comparatively loud, and very expensive
Get the Hathaspace HSP003 air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon.
The Bissell air220 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.
This Bissell air purifier is recommended for up to 259 square feet with an air changing rate of 4.8 times per hour, so at peak efficiency it is best suited to modest-size rooms like bedrooms. It could be used in large spaces with a lower filtration rate. Decibels are not provided, though Bissell calls the sound level “Whisper.”
- Filtration: Prefilter, a H13 HEPA filter, and activated-carbon filter
- Room size recommendation: 259 square feet
- Noise level: Whisper (see description)
- High-quality 3-stage filtration from a well-known and trusted brand
- 5 operation speeds with CirQulate System for automatic air-quality management and feedback
- Filter changing is very easy via the fold-out front panel
- Fault reports are negligible, but it is quite a large unit and relatively pricey
Get the Bissell air220 air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Walmart.
Weighing in at only 2 pounds, this compact portable air purifier is well suited for travel. It measures 6.3 inches long by 6.3 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall and has a stylish leather carrying handle. The rechargeable battery lasts for 8 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 nanoconfined catalytic oxidation (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.
- Filtration: Prefilter, HEPA, and NCCO reactor
- Room size recommendation: 100 square feet
- Noise level: 34 decibels (lowest volume)
- Highly portable, personal device uses 3-stage filtration including patented NCCO technology
- Weighs 2 pounds with a leather carrying strap for easy transportation
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides a runtime of up to 8 hours
- There are some breakdown reports, and there are more affordable alternatives, although they are less stylish
Get the Westinghouse air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon or Walmart.
The Hathaspace HSP002 air purifier boasts a five-in-one filtration system that targets pollen, dust, pet pander, mold, bacteria, VOCs, wildfire 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 percent 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 the Air Quality Index (AQI); when the device is on Auto Mode, this monitoring feature will automatically adjust the fan speed to meet air-quality needs.
- Filtration: Washable prefilter, polypropylene filter, H13 true HEPA filter, activated-carbon filter, and cold-catalyst filter
- Room size recommendation: 1,500 square feet
- Noise level: 38.5 to 65.1 decibels
- Class-leading 5-stage filtration including washable prefilter for pet hair and lint
- Easy-to-use touch panel includes real-time particle monitor, timer, and Sleep Mode
- Laser air-quality sensor plus Auto Mode combine to provide optimal performance
- Although well designed, it is quite large and louder than others on high settings
Get the Hathaspace HSP002 air purifier for wildfire smoke at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing an 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 wildfire 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.
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, wildfire smoke, and smoke particles/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 particles and molecules like odors and gases on their surface. People use them to eliminate common home odors like pet 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 they reach and clog 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, 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.
Air purifiers are labeled for specific room sizes, which are described in square feet. You can calculate the 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 CADR. This value is influenced by filter efficiency and airflow 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 VOCs, which are targeted by carbon filters.
Another figure to keep in mind is the number of air changes per hour. 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.
Energy Star is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy. 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 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 can be an important factor when selecting an air purifier. Many large air purifiers operate at about 60 decibels—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 operate as low as 20 to 30 decibels are made for bathrooms, small bedrooms, or even for traveling as they emit very little sound (as much as a muffled hum).
Some air purifiers are designed for travel. When in a new environment, they can help users 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.
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 users 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.
Given all of that information, you still might have some questions about the best air purifier for wildfire smoke for your home. Check out the most common queries and their answers below.
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 EPA. A number of other measures can reduce problems from wildfire smoke, which are discussed in this article.
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.
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