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Air purifiers are all the rage. Everyone's a little more cognizant about what invisible enemies are hovering in the air, and air purifiers afford peace of mind against allergens, odors and, yes, viruses (the CDC confirmed their effectiveness in 2020). Though Coway doesn't have the name pull, it could be viewed as the air purifier equivalent Dyson and its world-beating vacuum cleaners.
Coway revolutionized at-home clean living in South Korea when the brand launched in 1989. Coway made drinking clean water accessible with its line of water purifiers, and it turned air purifiers and bidets into everyday essentials. Launched in 2007, Coway USA has brought the same award-winning technology stateside, with its air purifiers as its most-recognized products. A number of organizations, like CES and Red Dot, have recognized Coway as a best-in-class brand for air purifiers. Dubbed the Airmega line, its air purifiers come in a number of shapes and sizes, making picking a model somewhat of a crapshoot. If you don't know what you're looking for, here's a handy guide to picking the right Airmega for you.
Need to Knows
Activated carbon: A type of porous material that is good for absorbing unpleasant odors for the air. It is not apt at removing VOCs from the air.
Air quality: The extent to which the air is free of pollutants, which is usually expressed as an average concentration during a given time period.
Air quality index (AQI): A scale from 0 to 500 that reports air quality and the amount of pollutants in the air. The lower the number, the cleaner the air. For ranges on AQI, see AirNow's chart for more.
Allergen: In short, any substance that can cause an allergic reaction. Potential allergens include pollen, pet dander and mold spores. Allergens can have a reactionary effect through touch or inhalation.
AHAM-Verified mark: Products tested and approved for the Energy Star program by The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Air purifiers with this certification ensure that the device's "energy consumption rating is consistent with the measured energy consumption," per the Aham Verifide website.
Clean-air delivery (CADR) rating: Established by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, clean-air delivery ratings measures an air purifier's effectiveness by noting the volume of clean air produced per minute based on the space of a room. Devices will be given a rating for smoke, pollen and dust, with the higher the number, the better the efficacy.
Pollutant: Any substance that, when in large concentrations, can degrade health conditions.
True HEPA filters: High-efficiency particulate air filters that must remove 99.97 percent of particulates measuring .3 micron in diameter. These have become the baseline for all air purifiers. If you find a filter rated as HEPA-type, don't buy it as it's trying to sell you an inferior product — by using the HEPA buzzword — with weaker filtering capabilities.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Compounds with high vapor pressure and low water solubility that are emitted as gases from solids or liquids. These can come from things such as paints and pesticides. VOCs, a common type of indoor pollution, can accumulate easily, especially if you rarely open a window. Inhaling VOCs can lead to adverse health reactions and may cause cancer.
Coway Air Purifiers
Coway Airmega AP-1216L
Coverage: 180 square feet
CADR: 213 (Smoke), 235 (Dust), 262 (Pollen)
Best For: Bedrooms, small spaces
The AP-1216L's tower design gives the unit a smaller footprint, making it a good pick for those in tiny spaces. Despite its compact size, the unit is decked out with four-stage filtration — a washable pre-filter, odor filter, true HEPA filter and ionizer — plus four timer settings, and three fan speeds. The unit doesn't sync up to any app, so the unit itself offers a general air quality update, which lets you know if your air is clean, medium polluted or highly polluted. Kick the machine to auto mode so you can be sure you're always on the cleaner side of the spectrum.
Price (Coway): $230 | Price (Amazon): $186
Coway Airmega AP-1512HHS
Coverage: 325 square feet
CADR: 233 (smoke), 246 (dust), 240 (pollen)
Best For: Small and large rooms, smokers, light sleepers
Coway's AP-1512HHS is a smart phone-compatible version of the AP-1512HH ($230). Users can pair their air purifier to the IoCare, which offers remote control devices as well as air quality updates (both indoors and outdoors) and filter status. The AP-1512HHS has a similar filter configuration as the AP-1216L albeit with an updated odor filter, which resembles a honeycomb to better trap smells. Toggle between three fan speeds and an auto and eco mode. A dimmable display means you can run the air purifier through the night without having an impromptu night light, and for such a powerful device, the motor is surprisingly quiet. This compact unit offers a lot of power in a tiny package, and that's what pushed this to be our Just Get This pick for air purifiers.
Price (Coway): $299 | Price (Amazon): $223
Coway Airmega 150
Coverage: 214 square feet
CADR: 138 (smoke), 161 (dust), 219 (pollen)
Best For: Design-conscious buyers, small rooms, bedrooms
Air purifiers' default look seems to be "sterile," with a design that fits better in a hospital rather than a home. At least the Airmega 150, released in 2020, made aesthetics a priority. The air purifier is equipped with three-stage filtration: a washable pre-filter, deodorization filter and true HEPA filter. Notice it's a "deodorization" filter and not an "odor" filter — it's still good at capturing food smells, cigarette fumes and pet odors, but lacks the ability to capture VOCs and harmful gasses. The washable pre-filter is easier to take out than other models (just slide it out from the top of the unit) making it convenient to clean it more regularly. Its CADR is slightly lacking in terms of smoke and dust, but hey, at least it looks pretty.
Price (Coway): $190 | Price (Amazon): $142
Coway Airmega 200M
CADR: 233 (Smoke), 246 (Dust), 240 (Pollen)
Best For: Budget shoppers, small and large rooms
In terms of looks, the Airmega 200M is almost identical to the Airmega AP-1512HHS, with just a slightly different faceplate. The filtration system is slightly different, with four-stage filtration as opposed to the AP-1512HHS' three stages. The 200M adds an ionizer, but ionizers' aren't proven to improve air purification, so the addition is neither pro nor con. Also, the 200M's odor filter doesn't feature the Airmega AP-1512HHS' honeycomb design, which in theory should increase the efficacy of trapping odors — though any perceived improvement attributed to the honeycomb design is probably not worth very much. Because of the strong similarities between this unit and the AP-1512HHS, one should buy one over the other purely based on whichever is cheaper at the moment, or if one prefers one faceplate design over the other.
Price (Coway): $230 | Price (Walmart): $200
Tested: Our Favorite Air Purifiers
Coway Airmega 300
Coverage: up to 1,256 square feet
CADR: 285 (smoke), 306 (dust), 339 (pollen)
Best For: Large rooms, small- to mid-sized homes
The box-like Airmega 300 is one of Coway's large-room air purifiers with a huge coverage area, up to 1,256 square feet. The unit completes four air changes an hour in rooms up to 628 square feet and two air changes an hour in rooms up to 1,256 square feet. The Airmega 300 draws in air from two sides, and releases purified air from the top. Because of the dual air intake, the unit uses two washable pre-filters and two Max2 filters, which combines a HEPA filter and deodorization filter into one. The unit has three smart modes, but don't confuse that for app capabilities (the $552 Airmega 300S is the Wi-Fi-enabled version of this model). Its base smart mode is essential an auto function that dictates the fan speed depending on air quality; eco mode will shut off the fan when the air in the room is clean for 10 minutes; and sleep mode uses its built-in light and pollution sensors to detect when the room is dark and the air's been clean for three, after which the unit will reduce noise and power usage.
Price (Coway): $467 | Price (Amazon): $423
Coway Airmega 400
Coverage: up to 1,560 square feet
CADR: 328 (smoke), 328 (dust), 400 (pollen)
Best For: Large rooms, small- to mid-sized homes
The Airmega 40o is a beefed-up version of the Airmega 300, with essentially all of the same features. The only difference is a wider coverage area, with four air changes an hour in rooms up to 780 square feet and two air changes an hour in rooms up to 1,560 square feet. Unlike the Airmega 300, this model is available in both white and graphite, and for app compatibility look to the Airmega 400S ($637).
Price (Coway): $552 | Price (Amazon): $495