An air purifier can improve the indoor air quality in your home by removing airborne allergens and pollutants, but does clean air have to come at the cost of your peace and quiet? When choosing an air purifier, especially one that will be running in the bedroom overnight, noise levels are certainly a concern—especially when it comes to fan volume. In these regards, not all air purifiers are created equally. There are a few things you should know about how and where to look for a bedroom-friendly air purifier that does not sacrifice quality for quietness.
Searching for the best quiet air purifier
When searching for the best air purifier for your bedroom or office, a unit’s noise level is one of the most important considerations. The perceived volume of an air purifier depends on a few different factors, including the model’s fan size and speed, as well as your noise tolerance.
You can look at the decibel (dB) ratings for an air purifier to determine the general noise level that you can expect from a specific model. The quietest air purifiers will have a dB rating of 20-40 at the lowest fan speed, while moderate ones will be in the 40 to 60 range and the loudest models will be rated 50 to 70 dB and above. The following is a list of these different decibel ranges in the context of noise levels produced by every-day objects and situations:
- 30dB* — Whispered conversation
- 40dB — Hushed conversation, a quiet library
- 50dB — Normal conversation, moderate rainfall
- 60dB — Louder conversation, a dishwasher
- 70dB — Traffic, a vacuum
*Some manufacturers list product noise level ratings in dBa, meaning that the numbers have been weighted to portray the relative loudness of the sound as perceived by the human ear.
There are some other factors to consider when searching for the best quiet air purifier, including:
- An air purifier’s clean air delivery rate (CADR) represents how quickly it can completely remove a specific pollutant from the air (measured in cubic feet per minute). Keep in mind that the listed CADR of a unit typically corresponds to its highest fan setting. Lower settings, though quieter, are less effective at removing pollutants from the air.
- Manufacturers may not list the dB level on the packaging or product website. If this is the case, customer reviews may help you determine the noise level of a specific air purifier model.
- Everyone has different expectations when it comes to indoor noise levels. Products that list lower decibel ratings and are marketed as “quiet” may still seem loud to some people. Additionally, certain noises that do not affect a unit’s decibel rating, such as a mechanical “whir,” may be hard for some people to get used to.
- Air purifiers that are made for bigger room sizes are typically louder than air purifiers made for small spaces.
The best quiet air purifiers
Noise level: 30dBa in “Silent” mode
Room coverage: 600 square feet
Product features: The Molekule air purifier contains a dual-phase filtration system with a 360-degree air intake at the bottom of the unit. Air passes up through a pre-filter, which traps large particles, and then through a proprietary PECO-Filter, where pollutants are destroyed through a chemical reaction on the surface of the filter. Plus, the Molekule app allows you to change the fan speed or turn the unit off remotely.
Why you should consider: An excellent choice for shoppers who want the best of both worlds, Molekule air purifiers use PECO technology to effectively clean the air while producing minimal noise. Because Molekule does not rely on big, high-powered fans, it is significantly quieter than conventional air purifiers. In “Silent” mode, this model can be quiet enough to use in the bedroom while sleeping, even for those sensitive to sound.
Other “quiet” air purifiers
Noise levels: 32dBa to 52dBa
Room coverage: 434 square feet
Product features: This air purifier uses proprietary “HEPASilent” technology and has a CADR of 280 for smoke and 300 for dust and pollen. At its lowest speed, it has a noise level of 32 dB, which should seem relatively quiet to most consumers. However, readers may want to look into Blueair Classic reviews to see other people’s perceptions.
Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A/N
Noise levels: 25.6dBa to 51.3dBa
Room coverage: 408 square feet (at four complete air changes per hour)
Product features: This Rabbit air purifier uses a combination of HEPA, carbon and customizable filters with a negative ion generator, meaning that users have to replace four separate filters each year. This is one of the quieter models on the market if the unit is on its lowest speed. However, customer reviews suggest that this unit can be noisy when set to “Turbo” mode.
Moderate noise level (40dB to 50dB) air purifiers
Noise level: 41.5dB to 56dB
Room coverage: 690 square feet when set on “Quiet” mode
Product features: Designed for open-concept rooms, the Alen BreatheSmart HEPA air purifier uses a HEPA filter and ionizer to remove pollutants from the air. The model is compatible with four different types of HEPA filters, all of which should be changed every eight to nine months. However, even at its quietest setting, this air purifier may be too loud for some individuals.
Noise level: Though this air purifier is marketed as a “quiet” model, the manufacturers do not include noise level information on the product page. However, Honeywell reviews on the Amazon product page suggest that this unit may be significantly noisier than customers expect.
Room coverage: 465 square feet
Product features: Based on the CADR values for this unit—320 for dust and 300 for tobacco smoke and pollen—we can deduce that the Honeywell HPA300 is moderately loud. This air purifier primarily uses HEPA filters to clean the air, meaning that it must work hard to pump a high volume of air through the filters to reach those CADR values. When an air purifier’s fan has to work harder, there is a higher potential for noise.
High noise level (50dB to 70dB) air purifiers to avoid
Oransi ERIK 650A
Noise level: 69.8dB on the highest speed
Room coverage: 1,560 square feet
Product features: This model is intended for use in larger rooms. Most air purifiers for large rooms have a bigger fan to compensate for the intended room size, which means a higher dB rating even at lower speed settings. The Oransi ERIK 650A uses two filters—a true HEPA filter to trap airborne particulate matter and a proprietary gas filter to handle gases, odors and smoke.
IQAir HealthPro Plus
Noise level: 69dB on the highest speed
Room Coverage: Information not provided by the manufacturer
Product features: The HealthPro Plus air purifier uses three separate filters: a pre-filter for larger particulate matter, an activated carbon filter for gases and odors, and a true HEPA filter for ultrafine particles. Replacement filters range from $55.00 to $199.00 each. IQAir reviews on the Amazon product page mention a tiny, mechanical noise that accompanies the whir of the fan and may be loud enough to bother some individuals.
Low-noise, poor-quality air purifiers to avoid
If you are going to buy an air purifier, you want one that is going to do its job, and do it well. Unfortunately, many “quiet” air purifiers on the market are not as effective as manufacturers would like you to believe. Below are two examples of air purifiers that sacrifice power for quietness.
Envion Therapure Ionic Pro Compact
Noise Level: Marketed as “totally silent,” dB ratings not listed by the manufacturer
Room Coverage: 200 square feet
Product features: This compact air purifier is made for small rooms and features “Ionic Pro” technology and one reusable filter. It has only two settings, meaning that you do not have many choices when it comes to sound control. As an ionizer, this air purifier has the potential to release harmful ozone into the air inside your home.
Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Pet Air Purifier
Noise Level: Marketed as “ultra-quiet,” dB ratings not listed by the manufacturer
Room Coverage: 140 square feet
Product features: This air purifier features a permanent pre-filter and HEPA grade filter for particulate matter and two replaceable carbon filters for gases and odors. The HEPA grade filter never needs to be replaced, but it cannot offer the same air purification performance as a true-HEPA filter. Additionally, this model is likely too small to make a big difference in indoor air quality, especially on the lower settings.
When it comes to finding the best quiet air purifier for your home, decibel ratings can be useful guidelines, but they do not have to be the deciding factor. Noise level is subjective, and some air purifiers may operate with distinctive sounds that can make them seem louder than they actually are. By reading manufacturer specifications, focusing on an air purifier’s quality and utilizing customer reviews, you will have the best chance of finding the right air purifier for your home.