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The by Far Cheapest Air Purifier I Own Seriously Rivals the Second-Cheapest

Most of the important factors are the same.

Air purifier in a room with plants
Photo: Zhubo

When our second child was born, my wife and I decided to get an air purifier for keeping the nursery extra clean. After much research, we finally went with a Molekule, a truly gorgeous cylindrical piece of hardware that left the baby’s room and much of the upstairs beyond it smelling and feeling perceptibly cleaner. If you have ever smelled fresh oxygen, such as you might encounter at an oxygen bar, that’s the scent that permeated several rooms.

Now sold on the benefits of air purifiers, we decided to get another for the main floor, without spending quite as much money. I turned to the brand Blueair and their (then) new 480i Air Purifier. At $525, this thing is still far from cheap, but it costs hundreds less than the Molekule and does a superlative job scrubbing the air clean in a space up to 430 square feet. Then, when it came time to get one more purifier (yes, I know we went overboard, but believe me, it’s pretty damn fresh up in here), with price being one of our top priorities in the shopping process, we landed on the Elechomes UC3101 Air Purifier, which sells for $200. And it turned out to be quite comparable to the one that costs $525.

Both the Blueair 480i and the Elechomes UC3101 are HEPA filter units, and they are both rated to remove 99.97 percent of airborne pollutants from the air. These include mold, pollen, smoke, dust, and bacterial and viral pathogens. Both air purifiers have three different air speed settings, with the lowest being almost completely silent. And both units have an active monitoring mode that uses sensors to adjust their clean air delivery rate accordingly. (Clean air delivery rate is called CADR in industry jargon, but you can also just think of it as … fan speed.)

There are some differences, too, of course. The Blueair is a good deal larger than the Elechomes, weighing 42 pounds versus 19 and being about ten inches longer and eight inches wider — and it also covers nearly 100 more square feet. (The Elechomes is rated for only 350-square-foot spaces — though in our case, that’s perfect for the basement playroom.) And while the Elechomes has many cool features, like a parent-lock setting that deactivates the control panel, the Blueair is ultimately a more technologically advanced unit, being Wi-Fi-enabled and compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, so you can check the air quality and control the air purifier from anywhere, or by talking from across the room.

If that convenience or the extra 90 square feet of coverage are worth about $325 to you, then by all means go with the pricier Blueair 480i. But on the other hand … you could get two Elechomes UC3101 air purifiers and still have $125 left in your pocket. And that could go toward filter replacements, which you should purchase, at least annually anyway.

Elechomes Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter
Elechomes