In recent years, people have been getting more conscious about the quality of the air inside our homes. This has happened at the same time as we get more energy conscious, hermetically sealing our homes to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Unfortunately, that trend has only served to exacerbate our indoor air quality problems. Without a constant flow of fresh air, dust, animal dander, mold spores, and other irritating particulates that can trigger allergies, asthma attacks, and other health problem. Worse yet, toxic chemicals can outgas from upholstery, furniture finishes, cleaning products, and other everyday objects. Without anywhere to go, these chemicals can build up in the air, causing health problems even for people with very minor chemical sensitivities.
With all of these new first world problems affecting our health, it’s no surprise that HEPA filters have been growing in popularity for the last generation. Today, we’ll be looking at one of those filters, the Bulex HEPA Air Purifier. This purifier has a 4-stage filtration system that’s designed to filter out everything from large particulates to carcinogenic fumes. While that sounds great on paper, every company talks up their own products. We dug deeper, and took an in-depth look at this machine. Here’s what we found.
Design and Construction
To begin with, let’s look at the basics: the durability, the design, and the aesthetics. The Bulex itself is relatively compact, a cylinder that’s 8 inches in diameter and a height of 13.6 inches. The outer shell is black in color, with the exception of a gray Bulex logo on the front and a control panel with white outflow vents on the top. And the total weight is only 5.57 pounds, so it’s easy to move from room to room as needed.
Now, we’re not suggesting that you should buy an air purifier based on aesthetics alone. But this device is going to be sitting out in the open in your home. It’s not like a whole house filter, which is hidden away in a corner of your basement. Since you – and your guests – will have to look at it every day, appearance is still an important consideration.
The lower half of the body features 355 oval air inlets that are arranged in an attractive, staggered pattern. This allows for a large amount of air flow, without the need for large, ugly vents or a flimsy grille. In addition, the controls on top are also low-key. The power button has a simple blue LED light that indicates whether the unit has been turned on. The light isn’t very bright, so you won’t have any trouble sleeping if you’re sensitive to blue LEDs. Honestly, the only ugly thing about the Bulex is the bright red filter replacement light, and we’re okay with that. Replacing the filters will cause the light to go away, and there’s really no point in owning a HEPA filter if you’re not keeping your filters up to date.
The other two buttons on top of the Bulex control the fan and timer settings. In total, there are four different speed settings, so you can run the filter on low for continuous use, or crank it up to clear a smoky room or eliminate harsh fumes. The timer has three different settings: 2 hours, 4 hours, or 8 hours. Alternatively, you can just use your filter constantly, but as with any machine it’s generally best to give it some rest from time to time.
Finally, this air purifier is very quiet. On the lowest setting, the noise is rated at 32 decibels. This is literally “whisper quiet”, so you and your family will be able to sleep just fine with the filter turned on. Keep in mind, though, that it’s significantly louder on higher settings.
We’ve already mentioned that the Bulex has a 4-stage filtration system. That’s a bit of a vague term, so we’ll explain it in more detail. The first stage is the outer pre-filter, which will be familiar to anyone who’s used a HEPA filter in the past. This outer layer is designed to keep you from gumming up the inner filters, and will capture larger particles. This includes materials like dust, pet dander, and anything that’s visible to the naked eye. This layer is constructed from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which makes it a lot tougher than the pre-filters you’ll find on some cheaper filters.
After that, the air flows through the inner HEPA filter, which will also be familiar if you’ve owned another HEPA air purifier. This is the main reason people buy HEPA systems, and it will filter out 99.97 percent of particulates. This is an extra-dense Korean design, and captures particles as small as 0.01 mil. This includes irritants like mold spores, pollen, and smoke from tobacco, cooking, and other sources. Part of the reason it’s able to perform so well is that the filter is folded over on itself in an accordion pattern. In this way, the surface area is tripled, so it has a total surface area of 12.92 square feet. That’s a lot of filter surface area for such a small machine!
What really makes the Bulex shine is the inner, 2-layer set of activated carbon filters. These are designed to remove harmful chemicals from the air. Formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, and other carcinogens will cling to the activated charcoal and significantly reduce their presence in your home’s air. These filters will also eliminate annoying odors, which isn’t necessarily a health benefit, but it’s certainly good for your sanity. In decades past, neither of these features would be a serious benefit for most people. But in today’s heavily-insulated homes, with sealed, double-pane windows and a layer of Tyvek around the frame, chemicals can build up over time. As a result, many people will benefit from removing these chemicals out of the air.
The Bulex’s inflow and outflow vents are oriented 320 degrees around the unit. This allows for a spiral air flow pattern, which takes in air from all directions and disperses it all around the room. This is important in an air filter, because a one-directional filter can oftentimes pull from only one side of the room, leaving your air partially un-filtered.
In terms of coverage, the Bulex will filter air for 202 square feet of space, assuming standard 8-foot ceilings. This is enough for a 10-foot by 20-foot room, larger than the average American bedroom. That said, it’s a bit small for filtering a large space like a living room, especially where you can’t close off the room to keep the filtered air somewhat contained. Then again, no portable air filter is going to purify all the air in your house. For that, you would need a whole house purifier, which is beyond the scope of this review. 202 square feet is going to be more than enough for pretty much any reasonable application.
Before we wrap up, let’s take a look at the Bulex filter’s other features. These provide a lot of added value, and are a big part of what puts the Bulex HEPA Air Purifier a step ahead of much of the competition.
To begin with, the motor is exceptionally well designed. It uses what Bulex calles a “Pure Copper Motor”, which is engineered primarily for efficiency. Most electric motors fall into one of two categories: standard or brushless. Standard electric motors are powerful and efficient, but they utilize magnetic brushes for inducing a current between the outer coils and the inner shaft. However, these brushes require periodic replacement, which means a standard electric motor requires maintenance. A brushless motor is more expensive, but packs the wires tighter to the inner shaft. These motors require no maintenance, but the wires need to be insulated, which means that a brushless motor needs more electricity to do the same work, reducing efficiency.
A pure copper motor is constructed from un-insulated wires, without the need for brushes. Because of the lack of insulation, this design is only feasible in a smaller machine. You won’t find them on power drills or electric pressure washers any time soon, but they’re an efficient design for a low-powered machine like an air filter that’s going to run at the same power level for a long period of time.
Another nice extra is the built-in night light. It can be switched on or off, but it’s an attractive feature, particularly for kids. It was designed by a trio of color and sleep experts, and is designed to provide a relaxing, pale blue light that won’t keep you awake at night. Obviously, if you need a night light, there are plenty of options available, but considering that the Bulex will be occupying one of your power outlets, it’s good to have the opportunity to save one.
Finally, Bulex offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products. The only stipulation is that you need to use Bulex replacement filters. As long as you do that, you’re covered for life. And Bulex offers a 24/7 customer service line, so you won’t have to worry about calling during business hours to make your warranty claim.
The Bulex is clearly a quality air filter. But is the juice worth the squeeze? In most respects, it’s comparable to many filters on the market, complete with the outer pre-filter and the inner HEPA filter. Don’t get us wrong. Filtering 99.97 percent of particulates is about as good as it gets. It’s just that the Bulex doesn’t exceed that standard. That said, the main attraction here is the odor and chemical filter. This is a fantastic feature, making this machine an excellent choice for anyone with chemical sensitivities.
The Bulex HEPA Air Purifier also comes with some nice extras. The low-maintenance pure copper motor is very efficient, making this filter very inexpensive to operate. The night light is another nice touch, assuming that you want to use it. And the unit is also very attractive, with a small profile and clean design that will go well with just about any décor. It’s a well designed purifier from tip to tail, and Bulex should be proud of this one.