At quick glance, the appliance above looks like a mainframe computer, circa 1988. But inside the IQAir HealthPro Plus system's industrial case comes the most serious air purification we've ever tested. This past weekend we ran a battery of tests using a laser particle reading device in a real world environment (our apartment), checking if all the hype about this machine was a bit of balderdash or really the mean clean machine promised by IQAir, pitting it against two other consumer grade HEPA air purifiers. Check out how each air purifier performed after the jump...
The IQAir HealthPro Plus comes with a long list of accolades, including top recommendations from Consumer Digest, Discovery Health, Allergy Buyers Club, Consumer Search and Swiss based IQAir is an official partner of the American Lung Association. But although test lab results are a good reference when purchasing an air purification unit, the real proof is using these units in less than ideal conditions, which perfectly describes our 1917 studio 637 sq. ft. apartment in urban Los Angeles. Anyone living in our neighborhood will attest that air quality inside and outside the area is less than ideal, with dirt, dust, allergens and myriad of other pollutants a common irritant.
Out of the (big) box, the unit comes fully assembled, and is ready to operate besides adding on four optional snap-on caster wheels. We had the unit up and running in just a matter of minutes. Once plugged in, we pumped up the unit to it's highest setting, and like almost all HEPA air purifiers, at full speed the IQAir HealthPro Plus is loud. Realistically, most users will likely use the unit at a setting of 3-4 (6 being the highest), which provides sufficient air flow while also only creating minimal sound. It's also worth noting that the sound produced tends to blend away with some time, because the circulation motor has been sandwiched inbetween all the filtering elements, and also engineered to create a full-spectrum sound that flattens in short time (think of the din of a ballpark opposed to a smaller crowd screaming, as an example). The truth of the matter is that a sufficient air flow is required for circulation for optimal filtering, so finding the highest setting within toleration is important. Sleeping with the unit set at its middle setting has proven to be completely acceptable, and the unit may be even quieter in a carpeted environment.
Our Honeywell HFD-130 Germicidal HEPA Air Purifier (cylinder unit) was purchased because of the glowing reviews of it's quiet operation and also it's marketed germicidal properties, and has been in use for the last 2 years (and no longer available). The Honeywell model uses both HEPA and IFD (intense field dielectric) filtration, a model we liked because there was a washable and reusable filtering unit. Unfortunately, when tested, the Honeywell put out a whopping 250,000 cfm at all speeds, resulting in only removing 69% of particulates in our apartment. The low profile and weak fan likely contributed, alongside the washable filter, which doesn't perform as well as filters that need to be replaced.
We also left the IQAir HealthPro Plus operating for 5 hours in our apartment with the windows closed, enjoying an afternoon while the air filter worked it's magic. The figures for before and after, throughout the whole apartment with unit set in the middle of the living room (setting "3"):
- Living room: 800,000/400,000
- Bedroom: 900,000/700,000
- Office: 700,000/650,000
When left in a closed door office for one hour, the IQAir HealthPro Plus reduced a 650,000 reading down to 130,000 at its highest setting, and that was in a room with a window air conditioner that let's in some outside air.
*for reference, our carpet registered 1.5 million cfm when slightly agitated and our closet put over 2 million cfm!
As impressive as all those figures are, what really struck me personally is the notable effect it had on my allergy prone girlfriend. I am not exaggerating when I say Emily goes through several tissues a day, sniffling because of a sensitivity to allergens and pollution that spring up throughout the year. In the matter of a day, she went from regularly hitting the old box of Puffs, to hardly requiring any tissue. Emily's allergies had subsided significantly , if not almost completely disappeared (funny, she didn't notice the change until I pointed it out, since she's accustomed to the sniffling as a regular aspect of her life). Upon stepping outside or inside the unfiltered closet, her allergies returned. As someone who lives with an allergy sufferer, the change was dramatic and immediately noticeable and illustrated how much interior air quality affects immune system health.
Next up, HEPA vacuum cleaners...since we might as well get the most use out of this $2000 laser particle reader that we've got on loan.
- Pros: excellent performance; immediate results; quality construction throughout; medium setting sound is acceptable; full 5 year parts and labor warranty
- Cons: caster wheels could be improved; aesthetically speaking, not a beauty; initial cost is expensive; at highest setting, very loud
More information from IQAir about the IQAir HealthPro Plus here.