Over the past couple of decades, more and more people have become concerned about indoor air quality. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is the development of new and better technology. Outside of ordinary furnace filters, high quality indoor air filters haven’t been available for long. This has come at the same time as increased awareness of indoor contaminants. Pollen, mold, dust, and other allergens can cause issues for everyone, even more so if you have allergies or asthma.
Another reason is that indoor air quality has actually been getting worse. Better-insulated homes, as well as tighter window and door seals, means air doesn’t circulate freely. And most people spend most of the year running their heating or air conditioning. This means your windows are closed, so mold and other contaminants can continue to build up. The same goes for cooking and tobacco smoke, which has nowhere to go. Instead, it circulates around your home for days or weeks, further irritating your lungs.
We’ve reviewed several air purifiers, including the Levoit Vital 100, the TaoTronics HEPA Air Purifier, and the Levoit Core 300. In the course of these reviews, we’ve seen everything from large, powerful purifiers to small mini units. Now, we’re about to review the Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier. This is a compact purifier that’s designed to be exceptionally easy to use. With a convenient carrying handle and one-button operation, it’s about as basic as an air filter can get. But is it effective enough to be worth your hard-earned money? Or would you be better off choosing another option? Let’s take a closer look, and find out!
Design & Construction
The Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier is built to be easily portable. It’s shaped like a slightly squished orange, with a round profile that’s just a bit short of spherical. The diameter is 10.83 inches, but the height is only 9.45 inches. It looks a bit like a curling stone, complete with a handle that extends halfway across the top. Thankfully, it’s a bit lighter than a curling stone. At only 5.51 pounds, it’s about the weight of a brick, so you can easily carry it in one hand.
This design is a bit unorthodox, but it’s both attractive and effective. The bulk of the case is a white ABS plastic, which provides a very clean look. With a matte finish, it won’t show fingerprints, and it’s easy to keep clean. The air intake is on the top, and is the only part of the case that isn’t white. It’s black, with slits radiating outwards from the center. This placement makes the intake very efficient. You can position the filter anywhere in the room, and it will have plenty of access to air. The one exception is a shelf or other location where the top might be partially blocked. To get the best results, put the filter out in the open, where the intakes will be unobstructed.
The outflow vent is located on the bottom of the unit. It consists of a row of vertical slits, located along one side of the filter. How well this works will depend on the filter’s orientation. The vents are located directly behind the handle, so make sure this area is clear. If it’s pointed towards the center of the room, you’re going to get the best possible performance.
The controls are fairly straightforward. There’s a single, rubbery power button located at the top of the handle. This makes it easy to operate with a single finger, or with your thumb while you’re gripping the handle. Beneath the button, there’s a row of three LED lights that indicate the current fan speed.
Along with the air purifier itself, you get an Air Choice warranty registration card. Make sure to fill this card out and mail it in at your first opportunity. It guarantees coverage for the 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, which protects you from any defects. This is one of the better air purifier warranties in the industry, and provides a great added value.
When it comes to everyday operation, it doesn’t get much simpler than the Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier. With a single button, it’s pretty straightforward. Tap the button once to activate the lowest fan speed. Tap it again to turn the fan up to medium. Tap it a third time, and it will be running at full blast. A fourth tap will turn the filter off entirely. This is both a benefit and a drawback. On the one hand, you won’t have to navigate a complex control panel. On the other hand, you don’t get to take advantage of any bonus features. There’s no timer, no automated filtration, and no child lock. The filter is either on or off, and it won’t do anything unless you press the button.
The lowest fan mode doubles as a sleep mode. On this speed, the fan will produce only 25 decibels of sound. This is exceptionally quiet, even softer than a whisper. Unless it’s right next to your head, you won’t even realize that it’s on. Keep in mind, though, is that this speed won’t do a ton of purifying. Your best bet is to run the filter on high for an hour or two before going to bed. Then, when you go to bed, turn the speed down to minimum. The air will already be clean, so you’ll just be maintaining the air quality. Unfortunately, there will still be an LED on the handle. It’s not very big or bright, so it shouldn’t be an issue for most people. But if you need pitch darkness to sleep, you may want to cover it with a piece of tape.
The Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier can treat up to 215 square feet of space. This is a moderate amount of space for an indoor filter, but is quite impressive given the size. You can keep any conceivable bedroom clean and clear. Not only that, but you can even treat a mid-sized living room, kitchen, or basement. As with any air purifier rating, this assumes that you have standard, 8-foot ceilings. If you have extra tall ceilings, your total coverage will be proportionately less. Keep this in mind if you’re dealing with cathedral ceilings or a loft. Another thing to keep in mind is that the inner filter is in a bag when the unit first arrives. Before powering it up for the first time, open up the filter case and remove the bag.
The Air Choice purifier’s filter will require replacement every 3 to 6 months. Exactly how often will depend on how often you run the filter and how dirty your air is. This can be tough to gauge, since there’s no alert light for a dirty filter. Your best bet is to simply open the filter and check it from time to time. Regardless of how often you change it, replacement filters are relatively affordable. Just make sure to buy one or two of them so you’ll have one on hand when it’s needed.
The Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier sports a three-stage filtration system that’s fairly standard for home air purifiers. The first layer is a pre-filter for large particles. This consists of a wide mesh that covers the top of the main filter. It captures dust and pet hair, preventing these contaminants from clogging the main HEPA filter.
Beneath the pre-filter is the True HEPA filter. This is where the action is at. It’s built to the exact specification for True HEPA filters. This means it captures 99.97 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns. At this size, you’re removing virtually all airborne particulates. Pretty much everything you might be allergic to, or that might irritate your lungs, gets removed.
After the True HEPA filter, your air flows through an ionizing layer. This layer polarizes the oxygen molecules in the air, removing additional contaminants. It helps to remove odors and other chemical contaminants.
What Does the Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier Remove?
As you can see, the filter system on the Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier is fairly comprehensive. The True HEPA filter does the bulk of the work. It will eliminate pet dander, mold spores, large bacteria, dust, and pollen. These form the bulk of allergens for the majority of people. In addition, the filter will remove the majority of smoke particles, both from tobacco and from cooking. This can be a huge relief to individuals with asthma, or even if you just don’t like the smell.
Speaking of smells, the ionizer layer removes a variety of odors. Pet smells and tobacco smells in particular are easily removed as the air passes through. That said, we would have preferred a standard activated charcoal filter. They just work better. The ionizer technology is an attractive marketing pitch, but sometimes old school tech is still more effective.
The Air Choice HEPA Air Purifier is one of the most effective small purifiers on today’s market. To be fair, you can get better performance from a bigger, beefier air purifier. But if you want something you can move around with one hand, you’re looking at an excellent choice. The compact size allows you to position it just about anywhere, and the handle makes it easy to move around.
In terms of operation, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the one-button operation is undeniably convenient. It’s tough to get any simpler than that. On the other hand, you don’t get a lot of the bells and whistles you’ll see from other filters. There’s no timer, no child lock, and no automatic speed adjustment. The filter itself performs reasonably well. With 215 square feet of coverage, it’s a top performer for the size. We would have preferred a charcoal filter to the ionizer, but it still works reasonably well. At the end of the day, the Air Choice purifier is a great value for the size and price.