When we were kids basements were dark and scary places. Who doesn’t remember their imagination running wild after looking down a creepy stairway. As adults they’re less “evil scary,” and more “health risk” scary. Basements can smell musty, trap tons of dust, and most feel damp or humid. That dampness leads to mold and that dust can trigger allergic reactions. A basement air purifier is a great way to alleviate some of those adulthood basement fears. Unfortunately, we don’t have a guide to help kids fear grandma’s basement any less… yet.
In this guide we’ll help you see where a purifier can be helpful and hopefully help you find the best air purifier for your basement. Whether yours is a scary stairs to nowhere kind of space or an epic home theater we’re here to help. After all a basement is a basement, right. They present common problems and challenges.
And, for basements with a bit of a moisture problem we’ve also found some great dehumidifiers. You can see those here.
An Air Purifier for the Basement?
Basements vary from home to home, perhaps more so than any space. but they do have a few key things in common. First, they tend to be cleaned less often. Out of sight… out of mind. Second, they seem to have more water problems. Their location below grade makes drainage away from the space difficult, even in arid climates. Third, they seem to collect their fare share of dust regardless of their state of completion. Even finished basements seem to collect dust faster than the living rooms and bedrooms above them. Fourth, they all have that basement smell. Even daylight basements have that basement funk.
Let’s talk Basement Odor and Purifiers…
Odors vary in a basement. A lot are musty. Others smell like soil. And some have a lot of pet odor problems. We lived in a home with a daylight basement once and the door leading downstairs had hole cut in it and in that hole a cat door was installed. Fixing the door was way easier than fixing 20 plus years of lingering litter box funk. Had we known better back then we would have bought a purifier for our basement. Instead we took the old fashioned approach of sprays, baking soda, and pot pourri. A purifier with activated carbon would have worked much, much better. Here’s why…
A good air purifier with an activated carbon-based filter (paired with a standard HEPA filter) will help reduce odor. Other than addressing the source there’s nothing we know of that pulls odor from the air better than activated carbon. Well, technically if things are really bad a ozone generator would work better, but that’s a short term fix. Purifiers are in it for the long haul. They run day and night with little complaint or upkeep. While they’re running they remove dust, capture mold spores and pull VOC’s from your basement air.
But, to clarify activated carbon will only help with that musty smell and VOCs.
Next, your new purifier needs a HEPA filter (and a prefilter).
So a filter element with activated carbon will help with gases, odors and VOC’s. What about all of the dust, dander, and mold spores? Well for things like that you’ll need mechanical filtration. You need to suck it into a filter where it will be trapped, leaving only clean air to exit the other side. And, if you’re going to go that route you should get a true HEPA filter (here’s why). Nothing beats hepa filtration when you’re trying to capture particles. Especially super small particles.
The down side to HEPA filters is that they’re so fine that clogging them up with “huge” contaminants is a huge waste. That’s why the best air purifiers include a sacrificial pre filter to protect the HEPA filter. The exact location and design of a prefilter varies. Some are inside the case, others wrap around the outside. Some are washable… others are only cleaned with a quick once over from a vacuum. But the one thing they all have in common, pre filters that is, is that they you’ll find them all before the HEPA filter.
Bottom line… in the basement you’ll want a purifier with a HEPA filter and a prefilter to protect it. That way you won’t have to constantly worry about capturing the small stuff as well as the large.
You Need Air Flow
A purifier in the basement will also help keep air moving through the room. This should help a bit with dampness, but you may also want to consider a dehumidifier in the basement. If it’s really, really wet downstairs consult a professional; you probably have serious drainage issues around your foundation. But, no matter what your problems may be… moving air helps. And a purifier with a strong fan is a great way to get things moving in the right direction.
Now, some basements may have air circulating through the vents and ductwork, however, this is not the case in all basements. But, even if you do have central air connected to your basement a purifier could be a great addition because it will trap the dust, spores, and stink before they make it into the rest of your HVAC system and into the rest of your home.
Our Favorite Basement-Dwelling Air Purifiers
Every day new technologies are created, new ideas come into the market and new products are being sold. It’s a wonder how we can even decide on a product with so much going on in the commercial world. There are many great air purifiers on the market today. We found three that we believe are the best air purifiers for a basement.
Alen BreatheSmart – Best Basement Air Purifier
This purifier is outstanding for any basement covering up to 1100 square feet at a time! It comes with a SmartSensor Technology that detects toxins and particles in the air and adjusts its speed accordingly. The Alen BreatheSmart removes airborne particles, dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and pollen.
It’s HEPA filter can remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns or greater, leaving your basement a whole lot fresher. Not only that you can customize your HEPA filter to a HEPA Odor-Cell filter that is designed to remove all the toxins listed above, as well as, heavy odors and smoke! It also comes with an ozone-safe ionizer that clumps together smaller particles to filter that out faster and easier. This air purifying system in whole will truly do wonders for any moldy and musty basement. Make sure to read the detailed Alen BreatheSmart review.
- WhisperMax Technology for powerful yet quiet filtering
- SmartSensor Technology
- HEPA Filters, Customized HEPA Filters
- Energy Certified
- Great air purifier for basement odor
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- At full price, this can be expensive, but we believe it’s worth every penny
- HEPA Filters need to be replaced periodically
Honeywell 50250-S Air Purifier
If the Alen or BlueAir is out of your price range you should consider the Honeywell 50250-s. Actually, you should probably consider it no matter what. It’s a solid choice at a great price. It cleans a medium to large room, up to 390 square feet without drama. This Honeywell comes with huge a carbon pre-filter that helps eliminate musty odors you often find in a basement. This air purifier also removes dust, pollen, dander, smoke, mildew and mold spores from the area. In fact it is quickly becoming our go-to purifier if for a tight budget.
- 3 Speed Fan
- HEPA Filter
- Carbon Prefilter which helps with odors
- Cleans 390 square feet five times in an hour
- Very Affordable
- Lacks a bit of the build quality found in the other two we recommend
- Styling is not the best but in a basement it’s acceptable
AirMega 300s Air Purifier
If you have a large open basement and want the latest purifier tech, check out AirMega. We like it because it’s smart sensors and app allow you to place it in the basement without need for constant in-person monitoring. The 300 model mentioned here handles 1,256 square feet without much drama. If money is not an issue it is the best wat to clean the air in your basement.
Like others in this list it packs plenty of activated carbon as well as a HEPA filter. However, the things that stand out to us are really the purifier’s tech and appearance. AirMega designed some great looking purifiers, with these units available in both white and graphite enclosures. When it comes to tech the AirMega gives you iOS, Android compatible controls and monitoring. It even works with Amazon’s Alexa.
If the tech heavy “s” models are a bit too pricey, you can always go for the standard AirMega 300 or 400. They drop the AirMega app, Alexa, and automatic Sleep mode to keep prices low. However, in a basement we think the “s” models are well worth the higher price tag. It’s pretty amazing that you can eliminate trips to the basement to check on the purifier. Now we just need to convince them to build a smart dehumidifier for the basement.
- Looks great
- Smart Purifier (also works with Amazon Alexa)
- Very, very Powerful (covers more than 1,200 square feet)
- Energy Efficient
- True HEPA and Carbon filters
- Auto fan speed (plus on / off)
- Made by Coway (top tier manufacturer)
- It’s the most expensive purifier on this list
- It is a bit large for some spaces (1,200 square feet is a lot)
BlueAir 650E Digital HEPASilent Air Purifier
If the Blue 650E air purifier’s Swedish sleek design doesn’t impress you, then maybe its smart technology will. This stylish air purifier has an optic laser sensor and a ceramic sensor that can detect, pollutants, odors and even gases in your basement, these sensors then in Auto mode adjust accordingly to the air quality in your home to clean your air at the right level. The BlueAir 650E Digital HEPASilent Air Purifier can clean the air up to 698 square feet five times in one hour! That is absolutely amazing. It removes odors, pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold spores with ease. It also has a
The BlueAir 650E Digital HEPASilent Air Purifier can clean the air up to 698 square feet five times in one hour! That is absolutely amazing. It removes odors, pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold spores with ease. It also has a built-in ionizer that aids in lumping together the tiny particles to filter out faster. The HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of particles 0.1 microns or larger. For heavier smells and odors it is recommended you upgrade to a HEPA Smoke filter that will remove odors more efficiently. This product comes with a higher price tag but when it comes to a healthier environment for your basement and home, the price shouldn’t be a big issue.
- HEPA Filter/Customized HEPA Filters
- Auto Setting
- Handy Remote Control
- Optic Laser Sensor/Ceramic Sensor
- Filters need to be changed every 6 months
We truly like all three of these air purifiers. They come highly recommended and are built to the highest standards. Each one of these air purifiers would be a wonderful addition to any basement. However, if we had to choose our favorite, it would be the Alen BreatheSmart. We haven’t found an Alen purifier that we didn’t like.
Alen builds top quality machines to very high-performance standards. They are a bit pricey, but you pay for what you get. Furthermore, if you want an air purifier that really changes the quality air in your home, you might have to pay a bit more. But, if you’re on a tight budget there are other units that could be a great stand-in as a basement air purifier.