There are only a few decent options out there, but hopefully, we can help you choose the best option.
We didn’t include any portable cup holder style purifiers in this article because they just don’t work very well, and they’re not specifically designed for use in vehicles anyways.
Comparing Car Air Purifiers
I’d like to show you a few graphs that will hopefully help you make a decision.
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)
When it comes to filtering the air effectively, you really want a high CADR or clear air delivery rate.
This is a standardized measurement of how much air a device can effectively clean per hour.
We’ve put together a graph comparing the cost and CADR for 6 popular air purifiers normally suggested for in-vehicle use:
We included two popular “cup holder” style air purifiers so you could see how they stack up. As you can see, they’re not very powerful.
While the IQAir Atem is clearly the most expensive option, you’re also getting the peace of mind that it will clean the absolute crap out of your car’s air.
What about if we compare the CADR directly to the price? In other words, how much filtration do we get per dollar spent?
Check out the graph below!
As you can see, as far as price for performance goes, Medify is the best option, and Pure Enrichment’s PureZone is clearly the worst.
The IQAIr Atem is an interesting one because even though it’s the best you’re also paying a bit more for its performance. (it’s worth it though)
Let’s go over ACH next.
Air Changes Per Hour
Now, the reason the CADR is essential, is we can use that value to estimate our ACH or air changes per hour.
It’s recommended that an air purifier be able to filter through your air at least 4.8 times per hour according to the AHAM.
You can use our calculator below to see how well each of these air purifiers will do in your vehicle, you’ll just need the cubic footage!
Here’s a sample search, notice the EPA interior volume number.
Vehicle Filtration Time Calculator
Find the interior volume of your vehicle and use our calculator to determine how well each air purifier will work!
Hopefully this helps!
The Best Car Air Purifiers
Let’s go over our picks in more detail.
1. IQAir Atem
The Atem boasts a 66 m3/h CADR which is far beyond any other car air purifier.
Not to mention it’s made by IQAir who are well known for their high-quality air filtration products.
It also utilizes a HEPA H13 filter with a combined gas-phase filtration media and offers a larger filter area than the other two options on this list.
It does not have an auto-on feature, but it makes up for this by being Bluetooth capable so if you can’t reach it you can just turn it on and adjust the fan speed with your phone.
The Atem is expensive, that’s for sure, but it’s easily the best option out there, and if you spend any significant amount of time on the road, it’s a very worthwhile investment into your health to pick one of these up.
2. Medify MA-CAR
The MA-CAR by Medify is the best bang for your buck if you’re on a budget.
It’s got a 20 m3/h CADR which is less than 1/3 the Atem, but it’s also over 4 times cheaper…
The filter it uses is H13 HEPA grade with activated charcoal pellets which is actually quite impressive for a filter this size, so it should handle gas adsorption well.
You operate this with the three buttons on the front panel:
- Negative Ions
- Fan Speed (1-2-3)
The negative ion generator is cool but it’s unclear how effective it is.
The only issue I ran into with this model is that the tolerances around the fan aren’t great.
Meaning on very sharp turns it will rattle, and if placed horizontally on the dashboard it likes to rattle a lot too. And on the high setting, this is pretty loud.
However, if you strap it vertically around a headrest, it will hardly ever do that, so I personally don’t think it’s that big of a problem.
3. Luftrum C401
If you’re looking for a better air purifier than the MA-CAR, but don’t feel comfortable shelling out $400 for the Atem, the Luftrum is your best bet.
The filters are HEPA H13, and incorporate a similar design as the Atem in that there are gas adsorption materials dispersed throughout the filter media.
According to Luftrum, filters should be replaced every 6-9 months and will run you about $40 each time.
This is quite a bit more than the MA-CAR’s replacements so that’s something to keep in mind.
This bad boy does come equipped with auto-on, meaning it will turn itself on and off with the car, making it far more user-friendly than the Medify MA-CAR.
It also has a built-in air quality monitor that automatically detects and responds to pollution levels!
You can check out our Atmotube PRO review for a much better air quality monitor than can be used in your vehicle!
The Luftrum can be mounted on the dash (comes with suction cup feet) or another flat surface. Unlike the Atem and MA-CAR it doesn’t come with the option to mount it against a vertical surface like a neck rest.
All in all it’s a great air purifier with some awesome features that even the Atem is missing.