Best Air Purifiers for the Office

Clearing the air in your workspace is good for your health, and could even boost your productivity

Best air purifiers for the office
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To reap the most benefit from using an air purifier, CR’s experts say you should use it in the room you spend the most time in. Your bedroom makes sense, but if you log quite a few hours in your office, consider using air purifier there, too. 

For the office, you want a top-notch air purifier that runs quietly and is small enough that it won’t get in your way. Below, we've got some great options from our rigorous air purifier tests.

“Air purifier technology has advanced so much that we’re seeing more and more units able to perform well at low, quieter speeds,” says Dave Trezza, CR’s lead test engineer for air purifiers. 

Besides the health benefits of breathing clean air, several studies show a correlation between air quality and cognition and productivity. One study, published in IZA World of Labor, found that high levels of outdoor particulate pollution lead to significant decreases in worker productivity at a call center: Workers handled fewer calls and took more breaks throughout the day. 

“Even if your health isn’t compromised to the point where you need to take a day off from work, small changes in your well-being, like watery eyes, a runny nose, or a scratchy throat, can worsen your productivity,” says Matthew Neidell, the lead researcher of the study and associate professor of health policy and management at Columbia University.

While this study did not test air purifiers in workspaces to clean the air, many studies have found that air purifiers with HEPA filters can reduce indoor air pollution particles by 50 to 80 percent.

“You should certainly see people improving their productivity with drops like that,” says Neidell.

Based on his calculations, a 50 to 80 percent decrease in pollution levels would increase productivity by 1 to 1.6 percent, respectively. That might not sound like much, but using the call center example, it means up to 297 more calls a year per worker. 

Below are compact air purifiers that are great for smaller rooms of around 150 sq. ft. To find out more about air purifiers and how we test them, see our air purifier buying guide. And learn how nearly 50 models perform in our air purifier ratings.

Go to Consumer Reports’ 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider shopping tips, and much more.

3M Filtrete FAP-C03-A2 (Lowes)
3M Filtrete FAP-C03-A2 (Lowes)

    3M Filtrete FAP-C03-A2 (Lowes)

    CR's take: The 3M Filtrete FAP-C03-A2 looks like a paper shredder and will fit nicely underneath your desk. On its low-speed setting, this model garners a Good rating for its ability to remove smoke and dust particles from the air. It’s also whisper-quiet. At high speed, it works even better, earning a Very Good rating for particle reduction. But it is a bit loud. While its purchase price is reasonable, you’ll pay around $30 for filter replacements annually and, if you work from home, $76 a year for electricity to run the machine (we calculate this based on using it 24 hours a day)—that's a relatively high annual cost compared with similar models.

    Honeywell AirGenius 5 HFD-320
    Honeywell AirGenius 5 HFD-320

      Honeywell AirGenius 5 HFD-320

      CR's take: The Honeywell AirGenius 5 HFD-320 looks like a space heater tower so it’ll be right at home in your office. It’s one of the few models we test with a washable main filter, which saves you money because you don’t have to buy replacement HEPA filters. But if your office is at home, expect to pay about $40 a year for the electricity to run it. This model garners a Good rating for removing smoke and dust particles at its low speed and a Very Good rating for noise. It performs better in our particle reduction test at high speed and scores a Good rating for noise—it isn’t especially quiet, but it is among the quietest of the air purifiers we test.

      Winix 5300-2
      Winix 5300-2

        Winix 5300-2

        CR's take: In our tests, the Winix 5300-2, which is the size of a carry-on suitcase, gets an Excellent rating for particle reduction at high speed. Most models that ace this test do so while making a good deal of noise, but not this one. The Winix rates Very Good for noise on both high- and low-speed settings, making it the quietest model in our ratings. It earns only a Fair rating for removing particles at low speed, but because it’s so quiet overall, you can run it on its top-performing high speed without the noise. The annual cost for energy use if you work from home is a very reasonable $10, but filter replacements will run you about $80 a year.

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        Room Air Purifiers Rated
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        Perry Santanachote

        A multidimensional background in lifestyle journalism, recipe development, and anthropology impels me to bring a human element to the coverage of home kitchen appliances. When I'm not researching dishwashers and blenders or poring over market reports, I'm likely immersed in a juicy crossword puzzle or trying (and failing) to love exercise. Find me on Facebook