Best air purifiers in Australia for filtering out smoke
Philips Series 1000
Best purifier overallCheck PriceGreat price and coverageNo app or scheduling
Best for big areasCheck PriceBest coverageExpensive and loud
Dyson Pure Hot Cool
Best fan purifierCheck PriceCools and heatsExpensive
HoMedics True HEPA
Best cheap purifierCheck Price3-year warrantyNoisy for its size
Air Purifiers that offer a PM2.5 readout, plus a HEPA and pre-filter combination are the best for filtering out smoke.
The bushfires scorching Australia’s east coast this Summer have destroyed nearly 700 homes and decimated over 4,900,000 acres of land. The toll has been devastating and experts say the fight could rage on all Summer. With no end in sight, it’s important to prepare for what’s on track to be one of the smokiest seasons on record. This is especially important for people who live with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, or lung and cardiovascular diseases. Younger and elderly Australians should take extra precautionary steps to try and better the quality of their air intake.
Besides offering support to local firefighters, discussing climate change and setting more aggressive renewable energy targets like the Australian Prime Minister is not, there are a few ways you can improve the air quality in your home, such as using an air purifier.
Bushfire smoke measures at 2.5 micrometres – which is smaller than a lot of airborne allergens. Pollen particles, for example, typically measure at roughly 10 to 15 micrometres. Thankfully, most real deal HEPA filters remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles that measure at 0.3 micrometres in diameter and above.
Most domestic air purifiers are kitted out to handle particles far smaller than smoke but the best solutions typically use a pre-filter (such as a carbon filter) to catch larger particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) before filtering finer particles through a HEPA filter.
Let’s take a look at the best air purifiers in Australia that offer PM2.5 readouts, HEPA and pre-filtering, and transparent information on room size coverage and filtering efficiency.
Air purifier Australia buying guide
- Avoid “HEPA-like” or “HEPA-style” filters
- Avoid “Permanent HEPA” or “washable filters”
- Check for room coverage (e.g. square metre coverage)
- Check price and availability of filter replacements
- Check for PM2.5 filtering claims
- Check if it has pre-filtering
- Check for certification and testing by organisations such as AHAM and ECARF
Best air purifier overall
Philips Series 1000 Air Purifier
- Price: $329
- Coverage: Up to 63m2
- Noise: Up to 33 decibels
- HEPA filtering: Yes
- Warranty: 2 years
The Philips Series 1000 is what I use to keep the air clean in my highway-adjacent apartment and I can’t recommend it enough. I first purchased the Series 1000 because it was affordable but it wasn’t until I’d explored other options, and reviewed more air purifiers, that I realised just how good I had it.
Not only is it a generous price at $329 (with HEPA filter replacements costing $59.95 each) but it’s also one of the quietest and covers more ground than some more expensive air purifiers. It might not offer a PM2.5 readout (important for monitoring smoke levels) like some pricier models, and there are no scheduling or app monitoring features but it does offer a general air quality indicator with a simple colour-coded readout (red’s bad, purple is unhealthy but getting better, blue-violet is almost there and blue is fine and dandy).
Find out why we think it’s the best in our full Philips Series 1000 Air Purifier review.
Best fan-purifier hybrid
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Purifying Fan Heater
- Price: $899
- Coverage: Not specified
- Noise: Up to 64 decibels
- HEPA filtering: Yes
- Warranty: 2 years
If you’re already a fan of Dyson’s air convection tech, its latest range of cooling, heating and purifying hybrids might be the best pick for you. As our reviewer Jacqui noted, the Dyson Pure Hot Cool Purifying Fan Heater might be a little too pricey and a little too noisy but it’s one of the few hybrid solutions on the market that will give you a PM2.5 readout (smoke), app monitoring and scheduling and remote control.
The ability to check the air quality of your home while you’re at work or on holiday is invaluable if you have small pets or children at home while you’re away. For many people, that reassurance will be worth the price tag alone.
And to top it all off, you also get the added benefit of both cooling and heating, which is going to be essential as we journey further into Summer.
Best purifier for large areas
Philips PowerCube Series 6000
- Price: $1,349
- Coverage: Up to 169m2
- Noise: Up to 65 decibels
- HEPA filtering: Yes
- Warranty: 2 years
While there are various office solutions when it comes to air purification and conditioning, few off-the-shelf consumer purifiers can match the Philips PowerCube when it comes to coverage. The eye-watering $1,349 price tag is consistent with the vast coverage claims made by Philips: remaining efficient in areas up to 169 metres squared. Sure it’s one of the noisiest consumer solutions out there, hitting 65 decibels on its maximum setting, but that will hardly be an issue in most office setups.
The PowerCube Series 6000 also features live PM2.5 readouts, perfect for monitoring the amount of smoke in the air.
The only big missing feature for an air purifier at this price is scheduling and app monitoring. If you’re intending to use the Series 6000 at home, there’s no way to keep track of the air quality while you’re out of the house.
Best cheap air purifier
HoMedics True HEPA Medium Room Purifier
- Price: $169
- Coverage: Up to 17.6m2
- Noise: Up to 53.3 decibels
- HEPA filtering: Yes
- Warranty: 3 years
This is a case of paying what you get for. The HoMedics True HEPA Medium Room Purifier is light on features in comparison to the picks above and it will only work efficiently in spaces up to 17.6-metres squared but $169 is still a great price for a HEPA filter air purifier.
Users have reported that it can also be a noisy little soldier, clocking in at 53.3 decibels at its highest, and operating in such a small space, that’s to be expected.
But again, $169 is a small price to pay if you’re particularly interested in keeping one room of the house (such as nursery) allergen and smoke-free. The replacement filters are also amongst the cheapest at $44.99 a pop so you won’t have to break the bank when it comes time to replace the filter. Plus, it comes with a generous 3-year warranty in case it ever goes kaput.
We’ve reviewed several air purifiers already but to cover the scope of what’s available out there, we analysed the price, coverage, HEPA filter efficiency, filter replacement cost and availability, alongside less important nice-to-have features, such as app control, and scheduling.
If a manufacturer wasn’t transparent enough with its testing and filtering efficiency, they were removed from the list. We also removed all products that used meaningless marketing jargon, such as “HEPA-type”, “HEPA-like” and any “Permanent HEPA” brand that didn’t require filter replacements. Manufacturers also lost marks if they didn’t specify coverage size like most others. Air purifiers that were transparent about their PM2.5 filtering and CADR (clean air delivery rate) were also given bonus points.
We disregarded any product where there was a conflict of information (e.g. products that make simultaneous claims of “HEPA” and “EPA” filtering or mixed messaging on coverage).
We’ve also removed products that aren’t currently available in Australia e.g. the Rabbit Air MinusA2.
Lastly, we removed manufacturers that didn’t provide enough information about replacement filters. For example, the TruSens range, which is stocked by JB HI-FI doesn’t list any information on filter replacement pricing and when we got in touch with the customer care centre, we were told to get in touch with a local reseller. JB HI-FI also doesn’t stock replacement filters on its website.
Overall, that left us with a small list of options for air purifiers available in Australia.
Do air purifiers work?
Absolutely. As we’ve discussed above, some work better than others, of course. Air purifiers with HEPA-grade filters and pre-filtering do the best job of filtering out small and large particles but most air purifiers (unless they are super dodgy) will improve the quality of the air in your house or apartment somewhat. It’s just important that you buy the right air purifier for your needs (e.g. allergies or respiratory illness) and living space (the square-metre size of your room).
Can air purifiers filter out bushfire smoke?
Yes. An air purifier that uses both HEPA filtering for fine particles and a pre-filter for larger particles might be your best defence against dangerous smoke levels.
HEPA filters can catch particles as small as 0.3 micrometres with 99.97% efficiency, which covers most airborne toxins and allergens and will do a reasonable job of catching larger nasties too. However, for the most efficient filtering of smoke particles (measuring at 2.5 micrometres or PM2.5), a combination of HEPA and pre-filtering is most efficient.
The Philips range of purifiers, for example, use an Active Carbon pre-filter that can catch gases and other TVOCS (Total Volatile Organic Compounds).
Some air purifiers are even specifically designed to give you a PM2.5 readout so you can tell exactly how much smoke’s managed to creep its way into your house.
Air purifiers are not a panacea for all your air pollutant problems and for people living with allergies or respiratory conditions like asthma, the 0.03% of particles that slip through can do some damage. Read on for more tips on keeping your house allergen and smoke-free.
What is a HEPA filter? And what does HEPA stand for?
HEPA, or High-Efficiency Particulate Air, grading is the measurement standard for air filtering. HEPA filters are often used in medical settings to minimise the risk of spreading airborne viruses and bacteria. Usually, medical-grade HEPA filters are used in conjunction with anti-microbial UV (ultraviolet) filters that eliminate bacteria and viruses caught by the HEPA filter.
HEPA filters are also commonly used in high-quality vacuum cleaners for the same purposes, trapping finer particles instead of kicking them into the air.
There are plenty of air purifier solutions that claim to have HEPA-graded filtering. However, since there is no regulatory authority that monitors the claims made by domestic air purifier manufacturers, this makes buying an efficient air purifier difficult as many domestic solutions use “HEPA-like” filters that don’t adhere to the medical grading system.
Others claim to use HEPA grade filtering but fail to offer more crucial information, like the filtering efficiency and coverage. Some simply don’t offer any kind of pre-filtering for larger particles such as smoke.
How to clean a HEPA filter
The short answer? You don’t clean a HEPA filter. While some brands claim to have washable HEPA filters, your best bet will always be to replace your HEPA filter. We realise that sounds incredibly wasteful and expensive but washing HEPA filters disintegrates the ultra-fine fibres that catch all the dust and air pollution so you can’t count on the 99.97% efficiency.
This is especially pertinent if you’re using an air purifier for medical purposes. Washing a filter could put you at risk.
If the indicator on your air purifier is telling you it’s time for a replacement and you don’t have a spare on hand, you can try cleaning the air purity sensor with a cotton tip or, if you must, give the filter a light vacuum with a soft brush head.
Certain brands have set, and publically available, sustainability goals. For example, most Philips air purifiers are made with over 90% recycled materials.
More tips on reducing exposure to bushfire smoke
The insidious bushfire smoke that’s plaguing Australia won’t be letting up anytime soon so it’s time to consider the ways you can shield your home.
Close all windows, reduce outside air exposure
Unfortunately, without sealing your home, fine particles like smoke will always find a way inside. While completely hermetically sealing your home won’t be an option for most Australians (especially renters), there are a few steps you can take to minimise air leakage.
First and most obvious is closing all doors and windows (especially where an air purifier is present). Next, consider using door snakes (or draft stoppers) around the house to minimise the airflow through the gaps. It’s not going to be airtight but it’s a simple, budget solution that’s bound to help.
Next, look for any errant gaps around windows and doors. If it’s product of shoddy craftsmanship, you can always use a silicone sealant (like Sealys from Bunnings) to temporarily plug the gaps (though this probably isn’t recommended in rental properties). There are also more rental-friendly tapes, such as Rust-Oleum available through hardware stores.
It’s also worth checking cat flaps, architraves, fixed vents, floorboards, chimneys and downlights for air leakage (just to name a few).
For a more comprehensive guide on sealing your home, head over to yourhome.gov.au.
Yep. As tough as it sounds, vacuuming more regularly is a must for people living with lung disease or respiratory issues. It’s not going to help with the airborne smoke but when that smoke settles, it’s best to catch it before it embeds itself too deep in your carpet.
Vacuuming more regularly is particularly important for people renting in apartments where the carpet hasn’t been replaced for a long time. Lastly, shoot for a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter if you can manage to track one down.
Minimising exposure outside
Out and about, a face mask could help limit your exposure to bushfire smoke but not just any facemask sold at the chemist or supermarket. To effectively filter out bushfire smoke, you will need a P2-grade face mask (typically sold at hardware stores). You also need to check the packaging and make sure the mask you’re buying is capable of filtering out PM2.5 particles.
You also need to make sure that the mask is fitted correctly. Any gaps will allow toxic bushfire smoke to enter, rendering the mask near useless.