Are you in the market for a new Air Filter? Well you are not alone! With a daughter who has allergy triggered asthma and lots of pets in the house, we will tell you what to look for and provide some suggestions!
Do you need an air filter?
If you are reading this article, you at lease suspect that an air filter may benefit you. So I’ll keep this brief! We live in the Pacific Northwest where we get 9 months of damp, cold and dreary weather. Sometimes, even the dog doesn’t want to go outside. As a result, we keep the windows closed and the heaters on. Everything in the house is off-gassing from the hardwood floors to the furniture. Add in cleaning chemicals (hopefully you are using Vinegar!) and pet dander and I can guarantee the air quality in your home will suffer.
The best option is to open all the windows once a day to air out the house. This is especially beneficial after cooking or taking a shower too. But doing it can be harder than it sounds. For example, we live in a neighborhood where the neighbors love their wood burning fireplaces. During the cold (and sometimes not cold) days, they like to burn up a storm. This means that if we open our windows, our whole house will smell like smoke. Obviously that is worse than keeping it closed up.
In any case, that is a long winded answer to the question. If you have allergies, asthma, a new construction or recently remodeled home (think off gassing), you will definitely benefit from an air filter. In general, I think everyone could benefit from cleaner air in your home, regardless of lifestyle. a goo done can be pricey, but I don’t think it is necessary in a typical house. I’ll show you the best air filters under $200
What to look for in an Air Filter?
We have been using an air filter for over 10 years so we have tried a good variety. I’ve even mistakenly purchased ones that could have been contributing to other health issues in the house. What are you talking about, you ask?
Ionizers are advertised as a way of removing odors from the air by attaching negative ions to the dust and particles in the air and making it fall to the ground. Once on the ground you can vacuum it up. Sounds great, right? – I thought so too, so I purchased one and used it in the baby’s room. I later found out that Ionizers can actually exacerbate asthma by releasing small particles in to the air that can get into the lungs. Also, the byproduct of the Ionizer is Ozone which is known to irritate the lungs. So, is it coincidence that the baby who grew up with the Ionizer has asthma? I won’t blame it completely but it may have played a role.
Plasmawave is a new form of technology which claims to be safer than an Ionizer, but it has it’s own issues. For one, it’s new technology, so no research has been done on it’s safety. It’s also claims to attach to the particles in the air and drop it to the ground, similar to the Ionizer. I’m always hesitant with any new health breakthrough.
Hepa (This is the winner)
Hepa filters have been around for a long time, so their benefits have been proven. They are able to capture tiny particles in the air and trap them within the filter, all without releasing any type of byproduct. The best part is that Hepa filters are cheaper than the fancier ones. Find one with a Hepa and Charcoal filter and you have a winner!
What is the Best Air Filter under $200?
Like I said, we have tried several! I’ll start with my favorite and work my way backwards. Keep in mind that there is a wide range of prices when it comes to air filters. I try to stay around $100-$150, of course lower is better but I want a decent filter. If you are looking for a hospital grade filter, or something larger, you could easily spend $600+.
This is what I based my review on:
Force of the Air
This might sound silly, but if you are buying an air filter to help with allergies or asthma, this is important. Some of the air filters blow air out the side of the unit. If you have it in your bedroom or at head level, it blows directly into your face and dries out your skin, eyes and sinuses. It is uncomfortable (and cold) and would agitate my daughters asthma. I look for a filter than can blow the air directly up so it doesn’t dry us out.
Another one that you wouldn’t think of, but many filters have a blue light that can keep you awake if you are used to a dark room at night. I read several reviews on one of the filters where people complained about the blue light. I ignored the complaints and bought it anyway. Turns out that it is a legitimate complaint. That small light would light up the whole room. In fact, we used it as a night light for the kids! As a side note, blue light waves give you energy and interrupt REM sleep so I’m not sure why they chose blue.
This one is obvious. It better work like it is supposed to! We have 2 cats and a dog…and a child who is allergic to cats when she is sick. So it is important that the filter works. The only way I have of measuring this is looking at the filter when we are cleaning or replacing it and determining whether the air feels clean.
Winix Air Purifier
In my opinion, this I the best air filter (at the moment)! It has a HEPA filter and a carbon filter, which can capture even more particles. This is great for pet allergies and pollen season. What I really love is that it has a built in air quality monitor. When the light is red, air quality is bad. Blue is good! I have one in the hallway and anytime I turn on the gas stove, it turns red, reminding me to crack a window. After 10 minutes the light is typically blue again.
We have one of these filters in each bedroom too. We had another filter that would blow so hard, it would dry out our throat and eyes while we were sleeping. It was especially disruptive to my daughter with asthma, and to the rest of us when we were catching a cold. I had to turn it off at night. On the lowest mode, the Winix blows the air straight up so it doesn’t hit our face and it even has a nighttime mode where the light turns off (so it won’t keep you awake).
It is relatively lightweight and easier to transport room to room than some other ones. This filter has Plasmawave which can be turned off. Be sure to turn it off when you are using it.
This one is my second favorite filter. We have had this one for over 2 years and it is still running strong. We bought three of these to put throughout the house and they do a great job. Every time I replace the prefilter, it is covered in pet hair and file dust. It’s gross, but satisfying to know that it’s not in our house. This filter has a HEPA filter and does not have an Ionizer.
This filter has a blue light on the top that shines bright! It’s a power light and I can’t find a way to successfully cover it. We had it in the bedroom for a while but the blue light would keep me up at night. This filter also blows air out the side of the unit, so it would blow directly into my face while I was sleeping. It dried out my skin and eyes. It was moved to the hallway and I love having it there. This is a powerful filter and definitely worth it if you have the right spot.
It is heavy and awkward so it is difficult to move between rooms. The other downside is that it is very loud. I don’t mind it when I’m sleeping but it can be a bit loud to have on when trying to watch tv or if guests are over. It’s better left on when you aren’t home.
This Levoit is a point of contention in our home! I like it but my husband hates it. First, I love how small it is. It is small enough to move room to room with one hand and it doesn’t have any fancy controllers. There are 3 fan speeds and they are all relatively quiet. Because the unit is smaller, it blows a nice soft amount of air that it not at face level. Therefore it doesn’t dry out our skin and sinuses as we sleep. It also does not agitate my daughters asthma. This is only intended to be used in a small room, so we keep it in the bedroom. My husband hates that it is mostly made out of plastic. He claims that it just feels like a big toy.
Although I do think it keeps the air clean, and it tends to remove smells from the room after we cook, it is obviously less powerful than the other filters. If I move the Winix into the room after a few hours, it sometimes shows poor air quality. So overall, I keep this one in the office or small bedroom. We use the Winix in the kids rooms and living room.
The Allergy Pro air filter is another great one. I can tell it’s working when I clean the filter. It’s disgusting! Covered in cat hair and fine dust. At very least I know we aren’t breathing all of that. Again, this one has an ionizer but it needs to be turned on. These are my favorite ones because you don’t need to remember to turn it off. The filter is easy to clean and it’s lightweight so you can carry it from room to room.
Germ Guardian Air Filter
For a long time I really liked this one. But it was one the first ones we purchased and I didn’t have anything to compare it to. This is the one that was in my daughters room when she was little. It filtered the air and provided white noise that I enjoyed too. The Ionizer needs be turned on, so it’s easy to avoid. My issue with this filter is that it just doesn’t seem powerful enough to clean the air. When I have it in a room, I will sometimes bring in the Winix just to see the air quality. Often times it will show orange meaning the air still contains some particles. Overall I do not recommend this filter.
That’s all for now. I’m sure we will be purchasing more air filters in the future, but for now we are happy with the Winix. We still use the Honeywell, especially when the air outside is smoky. The Levoit is still around but it’s more of a backup filter when we need an extra one.
Have you purchased a new filter? Let me know what you think. Is there one we should try? And pleas don’t suggest the Molekule, I just can’t justify that price at the moment!