HEPA filter setting
UV sanitizer option
Blue light emits distracting glow at night
If keeping your home’s air clean and free of germs is a top priority, you may have looked at a new cleaning regimen, adding a houseplant to your living space, or using an air purifier. While sweeping and vacuuming can pick up some fur and dirt tracked in by your four-legged friends, there’s not much you can about your air quality without a purifier. Options like the GermGuardian Elite 3-in-1 Pet Pure True HEPA Air Purifier allow you to cut down on common airborne allergens—dander, pollen, dust, and even bacteria—with minimal effort. Keep reading for our full review of the purifier’s performance.
Setup Process: None to speak of
After pulling the GermGuardian Elite out of the box, we were pleased to find that there weren’t any filters to install or settings to adjust. We simply needed to remove the protective plastic coating, plug the air purifier in, and let it get to work.
Performance: Advanced technology for highest air quality
The GermGuardian Elite uses True HEPA technology to clean and purify the air. What is True HEPA technology and why is it important? HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and it’s a standard set by the U.S. Department of Energy. A True HEPA filter, such as the one in the GermGuardian Elite, traps 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns and larger. To get an idea of what that means in everyday life, a typical mold spore is 1 micron or larger, while cat dander ranges from 5 to 10 microns and visible dust is on the larger side at 50 microns. The GermGuardian Elite traps all of these particles (and many even smaller) and prevents them from circulating around your home.
HEPA filters remove these particles by filtering your air through a fine mesh. The best air purifiers also include other means of particle removal so the HEPA filter doesn’t get clogged too quickly. The GermGuardian Elite has a prefilter for the largest particles and a charcoal filter for odors and gas. This should prolong the life of the HEPA filter, which GermGuardian recommends replacing with authentic GermGuardian filters rather than cheaper third-party options.
After a few weeks of purifying, we hosted friends who are sensitive to pet dander. We were happy to see they didn’t have any issues during their stay—even when sitting on the couch our cats love to lounge on.
One aspect of the GermGuardian Elite that we particularly like is the addition of a UV light that targets germs and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the air. Some users are skeptical that the UV light heightens the purifier’s performance, but anyone who has had a young child who’s had a cold knows that it’s worth exploring any method you can to keep your home free from germs. When used in combination with the HEPA filter and pre-filter, the UV light can remove even more harmful airborne bacteria.
Measuring exactly how many particles are removed from the air takes specialized equipment, especially at a microscopic level. Guardian Technologies, the manufacturer of the GermGuardian, ensures full transparency with all of their products and provides testing information as well as links to the independent testing facilities they used. Independent tests recorded how well the GermGuardian could eliminate tobacco, dust, and pollen particles from the air. Results from the test led to the recommended 153 square foot room size.
Keep in mind that these effectiveness indicators and recommendations are based on using the air purifier at its max setting. If you’re running the appliance at a lower setting, it will take longer to filter the air. We used this air purifier on its max setting in our living room, where our two cats spend the majority of their time. We noticed that when we vacuumed with the same frequency, we picked up less fine dust. After a few weeks of purifying, we also hosted friends who are sensitive to pet dander. We were happy to see they didn’t have any issues during their stay—even when sitting on the couch our cats love to lounge on.
Design: A mid-sized appliance
If you’re looking for the sleekest, most sophisticated air purifier, the GermGuardian Elite isn’t for you. If you’re after a nice-looking appliance that can blend in with your decor while delivering top performance, however, this is the perfect model. It comes in black or white, depending on your aesthetic. It looks similar to a tower fan and is easy enough to put in the corner of the room where it will fade into the background.
All of the purifier’s controls are on the top of the unit. There you’ll find a button to select your setting as well as turn the UV light on and off. We found they were easily accessible for adults, but also for the toddlers in our home. This meant that we needed to periodically check to see that the settings had not been altered by little fingers. Air purifiers are a great option for a home that includes small children. But when the unit cannot be placed on a shelf or other out-of-reach location, it may require some additional attention from an adult.
Our only complaint about the purifier’s design is that the blue UV light can be a bit distracting during nighttime use. We tucked it behind a chair in our master bedroom to keep it out of sight, but it still emitted a faint glow. Once we got used to its barely-there glow, it stopped bothering us.
Our only complaint about the purifier’s design is that the blue UV light can be a bit distracting during nighttime use.
One of the drawbacks to using an air purifier is the additional electricity required to run the appliance. While we didn’t run the GermGuardian Elite continuously, we did run it more often than not. We were happy to see that the air purifier was Energy Star certified for efficiency, especially since we were using it so frequently.
The unit has a nice sized base which keeps it sturdy. This was necessary, as we ended up needing to put it on our carpeted floor. Since it’s 22 inches tall, it’s best suited to the floor as it’s a bit obtrusive for a tabletop appliance. If you want a compact air purifier you can tuck away on a shelf, this definitely isn’t the best option, but we appreciated its stability—as we had no issues with it toppling over despite multiple cats and toddlers interacting with it.
Maintenance: Replacement filters required
The GermGuardian Elite does require some maintenance to keep it performing effectively. Replacement HEPA filters and charcoal pre-filters can be purchased for roughly $55. If you buy them on sale or in a bulk pack, the cost of replacement filters does come down significantly. While there are cheaper generic filters on the market, GermGuardian’s warranty is only valid if you use genuine Guardian Technologies replacement filters. Performance wise, it’s also a better practice as the brand’s True HEPA filters have an added antimicrobial agent—known as Pet-Pure Treatment—that keeps mold, mildew, and bacteria from forming on the filter.
Not sure when to replace the filter? The GermGuardian Elite has a filter replacement indicator right on the top, so you never need to track how long the filter has been in or how much you’ve been running your unit. Replacing the filters will depend on both the amount of use and the amount of particles it has trapped.
Noise level: Three settings means three different noise levels
We found the noise of the GermGuardian Elite to be comparable with other air purifiers we’ve used. At its lowest setting, we could barely even hear the appliance running; at the highest setting, it provided background white noise. The middle setting, which is what we kept it on most of the time, allowed us to have a conversation without feeling like we were yelling over the purifier.
Price: Mid-range for top of the line performance
It’s true that there are cheaper models on the market and that they’re also effective at purifying your air. But what sets the GermGuardian Elite apart, and makes it worth the extra cost, is the UV light. The light also reduces harmful VOCs in the air. With young children in our house, this was an important feature for us, as they are the most vulnerable to airborne allergens.
We initially thought the GermGuardian’s $150 retail price was a little steep—especially considering that replacement filters will run you an additional $55 a pop. But then we considered the fact that it has a 5-year warranty and can help prevent our little ones from catching common colds and viruses and that made it worth it.
Competition: Do your research
Hamilton Beach TrueAir Air Purifier: If you’re looking to save a little money, the Hamilton Beach TrueAir is a great option. The reliable $60 purifier doesn’t have a UV light and it only filters out 99 percent of airborne allergens as opposed to GermGuardians 99.97 percent, but it still uses HEPA technology to trap harmful airborne particles. Plus, you don’t have to worry about costly replacement filters; rather, you can just vacuum out the included HEPA filter.
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier, Space Heater, and Fan: If you always have to have the latest and greatest tech, check out Dyson’s Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier. With a blue illuminated ring and remote control, the appliance looks like something straight out of The Jetsons. But, of course, it comes with a hefty price tag to match its futuristic look and advanced technology. For around $400 to $500, the unit can be used as an air purifier, space heater, or tower fan. If you’re looking to replace three separate appliances with one all-in-one machine, it may be worth the cost. But it is a pretty big purchase—especially considering how well budget purifiers can perform.
Worth the modest investment.
If you have pets or small children (or both) the GermGuardian will make a noticeable difference in your quality of sleep and your cleaning routine. We found that running the GermGuardian Elite in our main living area, where our children play and our cats snooze, cut down on pesky allergens and helped us breathe easier.
- Product Name Elite 3-in-1 Pet Pure True HEPA Air Purifier
- Product Brand GermGuardian
- MPN AC4300B
- Price $149.99
- Weight 9.45 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 8.9 x 5.4 x 22 in.
- Color Black and white
- Warranty 5-years warranty for manufacturing defects (only valid when used with authorized GermGuardian replacement parts)