Air purifier recommendation: 2 years on

Hitanshu Gandhi    Updated
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TL;DR Device recommendation as per YOUR mindset:

  • Middle class or environmentally conscious person wanting cheapest device with heavy use: Philips AC1215
  • Middle class person wanting cheapest device with limited use: Mi 2s
  • Middle class geek who wants to know the exact extent of the air quality: Mi 3
  • Money no bar: Sharp Plasmacluster series which solves COVID and AQI issues
  • Modest office in non AC premises with constant flow of people coming and going: Mi 2s
  • Someone working in an office or business with Covid19 exposure possibility: TruSens Z-1000

What would I buy again if Covid hadn’t happened? Philips AC1215

As of November 2020, I have not changed any filter till date, but I clean the filters every 30-40 days religiously by tapping them or using old toothbrush or running water for pre filter.

Pre filter is really critical since without it the HEPA filter deals with the Guragon dust, which is simply overwhelming. I wouldn’t recommend any device without it, except the Mi3. Their design excludes a pre filter.

One big issue is that EVERY company, even Philips, does not mention the exact HEPA rating anywhere. XIaomi was the biggest culprit with their initial models being EPA E12 rated but most people bought them blindly because of the CADR.

Ever since the mad winter of 2016 where Gurgaon practically choked on Diwali, we have had a few air purifiers. This is my comparison after a long term usage:

ParameterKent Eternal
Honeywell A5
Philips AC1215Xiaomi Mi 3Trusens Z1000
Price (‘000)
19 (2016 Nov)
9 (Nov 2017)
9 (Nov 2017)10 (Nov 2019)10 (Sep 2020)
Pre-FilterNoYes
YesNoNo
CADR40025027038084
HEPAH13?
E11 (95%)
H14 (99.97%)
H13H13
Silence10/105/108/1010/105/10
Turbo mode
YesNoYesYesYes

Philips AC1215:

Positives:

  • H14 Filter: No one else in this price has one. Do note that Higher filtration efficiency means slower air purification! It is still cost effective – my filter is still so clean after 3 winters of daily use!
  • Very easy to clean design with pre filter
  • Separate HEPA and carbon filters. The activated carbon filter is for volatile organic compounds (VOC is like smoke or tadka). For people in Gurugram or Ghaziabad, the dust and soot is far higher than much VOC
  • Air Quality indicator is very sensitive : on terrible days like today, the AQI indicator turns red as soon as I open the door / windows
  • Super quiet: I can run the Philips quietly all night, but the Honeywell, is a bit discernible.
Such a clean H14 HEPA filter after 3 years!

Negatives / idiosyncrasies:

  • Frequent filter cleaning requests
  • Auto-switch-off LED display (not auto dimming)

Mi Air Purifier 3:

Positives:

  • Real time measurement: Your room AQI is nicely visible
  • Connectivity: Some geeks would love to observe the status via the app but i am happy with the display and do not want another connected device that can be hacked tomorrow. For me, this is unnecessary timepass.
  • Silent with best in class CADR: The air improves quickly without much sound
  • Looks the best by far
Live AQI, temperature and humidity! Gorgeous!

Negatives:

  • Filter life remaining: You can see this statistic upon purifier startup. You can only use filters with RFID thus locking you into high priced filters. I disagree heavily with the assessment which is possibly an hour counter and not a sensor based system evaluation
  • Hard plastic non biodegradable filter: The filter is practically a structural member! Its sturdy and would be a shame to throw away. I doubt this filter will degrade in 100000 years. Xiaomi should be shamed and forced to change their design.
Does this shiny filter look 48% used to you?
So you can’t purchase cheap replacements or use this one forever!
Xiaomi will force a new filter on you!

The Mi 2s doesn’t get a dedicated comparison, which is available at the Mi store. The key differences are that it has no display, a poorer EPA (not HEPA) E12 filter. It works well for offices where people are coming and going regularly so you need quick filtration more than perfect filtration.

I haven’t compared Kent because of being too expensive on VFM side vs the Xiaomi or Philips series. At that time we bought the higher capacity device courtesy a shortage and hoping that it will be more effective in a larger room. But now we know that unless the fans are running (in winter?!) the clean air may not circulate that effectively in large rooms and lead to dead zones!

If you can’t source the Philips, the Honeywell is fairly decent too! I haven’t compared Honeywell in detail because the Philips is clearly better with a nearly similar price for the following reasons:

  • Clearly quieter
  • Better filters H14 vs H13
  • Independent HEPA and carbon filters vs an integrated one for Honeywell A5