Air purifiers come in two main styles. Individual machines that clean the air in each room or whole house air purifier machines that work with your air system. We show you our top picks for the best whole house air purifier to help you find the best one for you.
As you’ll discover, the best whole home air purifier systems and filters can remove the widest range of pollutants from the air so your entire house has cleaner air to breathe.
|Aprilaire 5000 Series Air Purifier||Check Price|
|Aprilaire 2000 Series Air Purifier||Check Price|
|Aprilaire 1000 Series Air Purifier||Check Price|
|Honeywell F300 Series Air Purifier||Check Price|
|Honeywell F200 Series Air Purifier||Check Price|
|Honeywell F100 Series Air Purifier||Check Price|
About Whole House Air Purifier Machines
A whole house air purifier is installed on an HVAC system to clean the air throughout the entire house. It differs from a portable air purifier in the fact that purifies the air in every room of the home and not just one.
Whole house air purifiers are used to sanitize the air and remove particles that can be harmful to your health. Some examples of the particulates include allergens, pet dander, bacteria, mold spores, smoke and dust.
Whole house air purifiers work by trapping particles that travel through the central heating and cooling system.
A whole house air purifier includes a high-quality HEPA filter with a MERV rating of 11 to 16. This MERV filter removes pollutants from the indoor air so that only clean, fresh air is supplied to the rooms of the home.
Some whole house air purifiers run through the duct systems of a house while others are installed directly on the HVAC furnace filter system.
It’s up to your personal preference and how your home is laid out to determine which type of whole house air purifier you opt for.
Furnace Filter Systems
A furnace filter system is the most common type of whole home air purifier. It’s installed in the return part of the system where the air returns to the furnace before the air is heated or cooled.
These units consist of a thick HEPA air filter (4 inches or bigger) with a MERV rating of 11 or higher.
A duct-based whole house air purifier is less common. It is installed on the supply side of the HVAC system that connects to the ductwork.
With a duct-based home air purifier, the air is purified after it has been heated or cooled but before it travels to the other rooms in the house.
Types of Whole House Filters
There are four main types of filters for whole house air purifiers. These all have different benefits and drawbacks. Some are more effective than others, and the more effective the filter is, the more expensive it is likely to be.
Below we have detailed these four types of whole house filters to indicate what you might be looking for.
A forced air furnace will already come with a rudimentary air-filtration system that uses a flat filter. Flat filters should be replaced every one to three months.
Leaving a flat filter inside the system for too long will cause it to get clogged up with dust and other pollutants. This can then make the furnace work harder.
Traditional flat filters are designed to only keep large particles of dust out rather than the small ones. The smaller pollutants tend to be the ones that are the most irritating to your health.
Pleated filters do a slightly better job than standard flat filters, but they’re still not ideal when it comes to preventing allergens.
Extended Media Filters
An extended media filter looks like multiple furnace filters stacked on top of each other.
They’re about 8 to 10 inches thick and have filtration media stacked in between. This makes them much more effective than flat filters as there is more material to stop particles.
These large filters need to be plumbed into the ductwork and therefore might cost more in the short term. However, they only need to be replaced once a year.
Electronic filters are much more high tech than the previous media filters, and they are also plumbed into the ductwork.
Air passes through the filter which is then charged with a high-voltage current. Electricity charges the particles as they pass through and an oppositely charged collector latches onto the particles like a magnet.
Research shows that electronic filters can be 30 times more efficient than flat filters and better trap tiny particles.
Another advantage to electronic filters is that they never need to be replaced. Only the collector needs to be washed and cleaned every few months with soap and water to remove the collected pollutants.
An ultraviolet filter is best for removing germs, bacteria and viruses from the air by zapping them with ultraviolet light.
Many hospitals use ultraviolet filters to prevent illnesses from spreading through the ducts.
Ultraviolet filters are usually built-in components that can be added to whole house electronic precipitators.
Air Filter MERV Ratings
MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This measures how effective an air filter works to prevent dust and other particles from passing through into the air stream.
The MERV rating was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Ratings report a filter’s ability to capture particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm).
These MERV ratings are helpful when comparing the performance of different filters. A higher MERV value indicates that the filter will trap small particles more effectively than filters with a lower MERV value.
MERV ratings 1 to 16 are fit for residential use as well as commercial and general hospital use. Filters with a higher rating than 17 are reserved for use in surgical operating rooms and other areas where cleanliness is a must.
MERV Filter Rating Chart
Below is a table focusing on MERV ratings 1 through 16 that displays the percentage and size of particles that will pass through each filter value.
No filter is 100% guaranteed to stop every single particle from escaping, so we have the percentages of particles that will be stopped.
|MERV Value||Particle Size (microns)|
|0.3 – 1.0||1.0 – 3.0||3.0 – 10.0|
|MERV 1||/||/||Less than 20%|
|MERV 2||/||/||Less than 20%|
|MERV 3||/||/||Less than 20%|
|MERV 4||/||/||Less than 20%|
|MERV 5||/||/||20 – 34%|
|MERV 6||/||/||35 – 49%|
|MERV 7||/||/||50 – 69%|
|MERV 8||/||/||70 – 85%|
|MERV 9||/||Less than 50%||85% or better|
|MERV 10||/||50 – 64%||85% or better|
|MERV 11||/||65 – 79%||85% or better|
|MERV 12||/||80 – 89%||85% or better|
|MERV 13||Less than 75%||90% or better||85% or better|
|MERV 14||75 – 84 %||90% or better||85% or better|
|MERV 15||85 – 94%||90% or better||85% or better|
|MERV 16||95% or better||90% or better||85% or better|
MERV 1 – 4
A minimal filtration system will have a MERV rating of 1 to 4, and it’ll be mainly used in residential properties and buildings. They are not effective enough to be used in areas that need to be clean such as hospitals and commercial areas.
These filters will trap particles such as pollen particles, spray paint toxins, carpet fibers, standing dust, and dust mites. However, these are are often not suitable for people with allergies or asthma.
MERV 5 – 8
Filters with these ratings are marginally better than MERV 1 to 4 filters and can be used in commercial buildings. Some residential houses choose to have these filters fitted to get better air quality. Again, they’re not effective enough to trap the smallest particles.
MERV 5 to 8 filters can trap particles such as hair spray, cement dust, fabric protectors, and mold spores.
MERV 9 – 12
MERV 9 to 12 filters can stop smaller particles from traveling through your house, but they still can’t trap the smallest particles that exist.
These filters can be found in high-quality commercial buildings and residential properties.
They can trap an impressive amount of particulate matter but might still struggle with the smallest particles.
These filters can prevent particles such as dust, lead particles, miller flour, and auto emissions from being dispersed through your house.
MERV 13 – 16
This level of filters are more likely to be found in general surgeries and hospital inpatient wards, but they can also be used in other commercial and residential buildings.
These filters are the most efficient MERV value you can buy for your home as they can trap a large percentage of particles as small as 0.3 microns.
A few examples of these particles are tobacco smoke, bacteria, mold spores, dust, pet dander, and droplet nuclei (which are particles from sneezes).
Whole House Air Purifier vs Portable Air Purifiers
Other than whole house air purifiers, you can also opt for a portable air purifier instead. Both have pros and cons and the one you choose will depend on what you want out of your air purifier.
Whole House Air Purifiers
Pros of Whole House Air Purifiers:
- The air is purified without large equipment being seen as the system is tucked away inside the HVAC system.
- You don’t need to maintain the system much once it’s been installed.
- Whole house air purifiers are silent.
- Pollutants and particulates are trapped before the air is sent around, so every room is full of clean air.
Cons of Whole House Air Purifiers:
- Whole house air purifiers often need to be installed by a professional.
- They have a higher starting price point than portable air purifiers.
- You can’t take the unit with you if you move as it has to be properly sized for the HVAC system.
Portable Air Purifiers
Pros of Portable Air Purifiers:
- These purifiers are easy to use by plugging into an outlet and pressing a button.
- They cost less money to buy.
- You can focus the air purifier on one room to clean the air rather than the entire house.
Cons of Portable Air Purifiers:
- Only cleans the air in one room at a time.
- Can be difficult to move around if you buy a larger size unit.
- Might take space away from your living situation.
- Requires more routine maintenance.
- Louder than whole house air purifiers.
- Often have a lower MERV rating and therefore they’re less effective.
Best Whole House Air Purifier: Our Top Picks
It uses electrostatic filtration along with a HEPA filter to clean the air well before then distributing it to the different rooms of the house. The HEPA filter is MERV rated at 16, giving it a 98% average success rate at capturing harmful pollutants in the air.
With a MERV 16 filter, the Aprilaire 5000 can remove up to 98% of mold spores, pollen, bacteria, dust, and pet hair; 95% of smoke size particles; and 89% of virus-sized particles down to 0.3 microns.
The Aprilaire 5000 works with the rest of the HVAC system and can also handle an airflow rate of 2,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM). It can withhold up to 400 pounds of air at once.
As for furnace size options, the 5000 series only comes in one size. It measures 18.4 x 12 x 31 inches and weighs 38 pounds, making it one of the largest whole house air purifiers available today.
And although this central air purifier system does need to be plugged in, we like how you won’t hear anything from it because it’s ultra quiet.
The power consumption is as impressive as all the other features on the Aprilaire 5000 with a low electricity use of 60 watts. If you were to use this whole home air purifier continuously for 24 hours a day, then it would only cost around $70 a year.
Additional stand out features include auto-cleaning to reduce energy consumption even more, event-based cleaning, and allergy-cleaning.
With a 5 year warranty and a great deal on the price for such a powerful whole house air purifier, you can’t go wrong with this unit if it fits your current furnace.View on Amazon
Below are the three sizes of purifiers in the 2000 series.
- 20” x 25” Aprilaire 2210
- 20” x 20” Aprilaire 2310
- 16” x 25” Aprilaire 2410
All of these Aprilaire whole house air purifiers have maximum coverage of 2,000 square feet, which is the same as the Aprilaire 5000. So you’re not getting any less coverage by choosing a 2000 series filtering system.
However, these units contain a HEPA filter rated at MERV 13, and not a MERV 16 filter. So this does reduce efficiency a bit.
You can expect the MERV 13 filter on this to remove 90% of dust, pollen, and mold spores measuring 0.3 to 10 microns. As well as 76% of virus-size particles measuring 0.3 to 1 micron.
For many people, the Aprilaire 2000 offers the best balance between air filtration and price.
Additionally, this system runs silently alongside your HVAC system as it’s just a furnace filter. There is no electrical cable to plug in or worry about extra power consumption. Simply install it into your existing HVAC system and enjoy purified air.
Similar to the Aprilaire 5000, the whole house air purifier filters available in the 2000 series also have a solid 5-year warranty.
Overall, the 2000 series are a great choice if you’d prefer a cheaper option or need a better size for a seamless fit.
The Aprilaire 1000 series offers five different sizes for you to find the right size for your HVAC system:
- 20” x 25” Aprilaire 1210
- 20” x 20” Aprilaire 1310
- 16” x 25” Aprilaire 1410
- 16” x 25” Aprilaire 1610
- 25” x 20” Aprilaire 1910
Its HEPA filter is rated at MERV 11. MERV This traps 85% of pollen particles, 80% of mold spore particles, and 50% of adust particles. All of which can help reduce allergies and other breathing problems at home.
Additionally, if you like what you’re experiencing with this unit, you can upgrade to a MERV 13 filter at a later date if you feel like you need improved efficiency.
Finally, each model is made with galvanized steel making them incredibly durable and reliable. The premium materials used to make these air purifiers allow you to reap the benefits with no worries.
One thing to note is that the 1610 model is made for upflow HVAC systems with left or right returns.
As for central air purifier sizes, the Honeywell F300 series includes:
- 16” x 25” Honeywell F300E1019
- 16” x 20” Honeywell F300E1001
- 20” x 20” Honeywell F300E1027
A pre-filter works to capture larger particulate matter such as pet dander and dust. The second stage is a HEPA filter rated MERV 13 which is the same level of efficiency as the Aprilaire 2000 series reviewed above. Its last air filtration stage is the electrostatic technology that can increase the efficiency of the air purifier filter to a MERV 16 equivalent; the same as the Aprilaire 5000.
The electrostatic filtering system is optional so you can turn it on and off, but this will force the effectiveness of the unit to fluctuate.
When the electrostatic filter is turned on, it only uses 36 watts of power. Using the Honeywell F300 series for 24 hours a day will only cost you $40 a year versus $60 for the Aprilaire 5000.
A few other things worth pointing out is that you can use this house air purifier with all types of furnaces. It can mount in any position within the return air duct, usually next to the furnace blower compartment, but the arrow on the cartridge must point in the same direction as the airflow.
Honeywell offers a 5-year warranty on this system along with a 10 year UltraClean Coil Guarantee that will pay 50% of the cost to have the coil professionally cleaned by a qualified heating/cooling contractor, up to $100.
The Honeywell F200 series is a step down from the F300 series but it’s a good alternative to the Aprilaire 2000 series due to its impressive room coverage and the MERV 13 filter that comes with it.
You also may find that this Honeywell F200 series has a better fit for your HVAC system.
The F200 series comes in these three sizes:
- 16” x 25” Honeywell F200F2002
- 20” x 25” Honeywell F200F2010
- 16” x 20” Honeywell F200F2028
These F200 series of whole home air purifiers have no electrical parts. Each unit consists of only a cabinet and one air filter. Therefore, there’s nothing to plug in or to make noises during usage.
With a MERV 13 filter, these whole home air purifiers capture a significant amount of airborne particles in the air that’s circulated. Expect about a 90% efficiency rating for dust, pollen, and mold spores measuring 0.3 to 10 microns. As well as 76% of virus-size particles measuring 0.3 to 1 micron.
This has the same HEPA rated MERV 11 filter and offers the same efficiency as the the Aprilaire 1000 series, too.
But where this system stands out is the fact that it offers you the widest variety of sizes to choose from.
The Honeywell F100 series can fit almost every HVAC system because it comes in these six sizes:
- 16” x 25” Honeywell F100F2002
- 20” x 25” Honeywell F100F2010
- 16” x 20” Honeywell F100F2028
- 20” x 20” Honeywell F100F2036
- 25” x 20” Honeywell F100F2044
- 25” x 22” Honeywell F100F2051
There’s not much more to say about this aside from the fact that it’s easy to install, works great, and also filter replacements are simple to do.
If you’re having trouble finding a good fit for your current air system, or just want the best bang for your buck, then this is a good choice.
We hope you enjoyed this complete guide on choosing the best whole house air purifier.
As you learned, there are several different types of whole home air purifiers and these systems come equipped with various grades of MERV filters.
Hopefully, these whole house air purifier reviews helped you find the best whole home air purifier for your needs and budget. Now it’s up to you to pick the system that works best with your furnace.