Breeva A2, A3
- Powerful filtration removes almost all airborne contamination.
- Humidifier and UV sanitizer options available.
- Control via top panel, smartphone app, or voice assistant.
- Quiet operation.
- Relatively small coverage area.
- Ionizer produces ozone.
These days, you can’t be too careful about the quality of your home’s indoor air. To begin with, allergens have always been a concern. But many people assume that allergens are an “old house” problem. And while it’s true that old homes can be more prone to mold, new houses tend to be worse over all. The reason is that newer houses are built to higher energy-efficiency standards. Windows and doors are better sealed, and other drafts are nigh-nonexistent. This has been good news for our energy bills and for the environment. However, the lack of air exchange can trap allergens indoors, making you miserable.
Along the same lines, many people have been looking into UV air purifiers recently. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re all taking cleanliness a little more seriously. For many of us, that includes scrubbing the very air we breathe. And with the cost of UV air purifiers continuing to go down, they’re becoming more accessible to the average consumer.
Today, we’re going to review two similar air purifiers, one of which has a built-in UV sanitizer. The manufacturer, TCL, is mostly known for household electronics such as smart TVs. However, other electronics manufacturers like LG make some excellent air filters. So we were excited to have a look at what TCL is offering.
The TCL breeva A2 and A3 are two variants of the same basic air purifier. The main difference is that the A2 is shorter, and equipped with a humidifier. The A3 has slightly more capacity, and sports a UV sanitizer instead. Other than that, both breeva models are more or less identical, so it made sense to review them both together.
Before we begin, we should mention that they’re just now becoming available to the general public. The Indiegogo campaign only wrapped up this month, and they’re still backlogged with shipments to early backers. According to their latest update, TCL expects to be all caught up by the end of June, 2021. But if you need an air purifier right this second, you might want to look elsewhere. Now, let’s take a closer look at both of the breeva purifiers!
Design & Construction
Both the breeva A2 and the breeva A3 have a roughly cylindrical design, with upper and lower segments. The lower segments on both contain the filter element itself, but the A3’s is bigger. The A2 has a diameter of 8.19 inches, while the A3 measures 9.84 inches in diameter. The top segments look a bit different. The A2’s is flared, and looks like the head of a flashlight. It measures 10.3 inches in diameter at the top, with a total height of 13.7 inches. The A3, on the other hand, has the same 9.84 inch diameter from top to bottom. It’s about half again as tall, though, with a height of 18.9 inches.
The air intakes on both variants are located on the outer surface of the lower segment. The grilles are very fine, which makes them look like a decorative texture from a distance. The outflow vents are located on the top. These occupy roughly the back top of the top surface, with the rest occupied by the controls. The breeva is available only in black, with an easy-to-clean matte finish.
The controls are easy to understand, and consist of a row of LED backlit soft touch buttons. This makes operation a breeze, and provides a gentle learning curve. The first button acts as a power button, and cycles through fan settings. Press it once to turn the purifier on low. Press it again to go to the next setting, and so on. In all, there are five speed settings, indicated by four LEDs next to the power button. Yes, we said four lights for five settings. The lowest setting has no light, since it’s the setting you use when you’re sleeping. The timer button works similarly, and cycles through four timer settings with four LEDs.
The third button is a filter warning light. When it illuminates, you know it’s time to change your filter. Once your filter is replaced, simply press the button to clear the warning and reset the filter timer. The next button isn’t actually a button, just an indicator light. This is an air quality gauge that changes color based on how dirty your air is. Green indicates clean air, yellow indicates marginal air, and red indicates very dirty air.
The fifth button is for the ionizer function. Press it once to activate the ionizer and a second time to deactivate it. When the ionizer is activated, the button will be illuminated. Moving on down the line, we come to the child lock button. Hold it down until it beeps, and the control panel will lock. Hold it down again, and the controls will be unlocked. This helps keep kids and pets from changing any of your settings. The final light is found only on the A3 variant of the breeva. It toggles the decorative LED ring light on the side of the housing. Since the A2 has no ring light, there’s no need for this button.
There are plenty of other well-designed, affordable air filters on the market. The Air Choice AP-528 is a good example, and has a small form factor to boot. On the downside, it’s just a HEPA filter, not an ionizer or a sanitizer.
The breeva air purifiers are meant for cleaning the air in small areas, one to two rooms at most. The A2 has a maximum coverage area of 182 square feet, while the A3 can handle 246. Either way, you’re not talking about a very large area. But you’ll have more than enough coverage for a bedroom, or even for most living rooms. Since most people spend more time in bed than in any other single room, this is often more than enough. On the lowest speed setting, the Breeva’s fan will run at a quiet 26dB. It’s just a soft whir that you’ll barely notice, even if you’re sleeping.
That said, you might want an air purifier that can treat a larger area. In that case, consider the Afloia Air Purifier. It’s a more powerful unit that can treat up to a 620 square foot area. But it’s a standard HEPA filter, with no extra bonus features.
In addition to the control panel, you can also control the Breeva purifier with the companion smartphone app. TCL’s app is free on Apple and Android, and installs in about a minute on a modern phone. From the app, you can set the timer, change the fan setting, and also view your air quality remotely. The fan can be set for 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours, the same as with the timer button. You can also set the purifier to auto mode. In auto mode, the filter will change speeds based on the air quality. The dirtier your air, the faster the fan will try to cycle it through.
The filter cartridge itself is rated for 2,160 hours of use. That’s 90 days of continuous, round-the-clock operation. Breeva bases their estimate of six months on using the purifier for 12 hours a day. For some people, this may be way more than you actually run it. For others, you may run it constantly. Not only that, but time ratings are just an estimation. The more important consideration is how dirty your air is. Regardless, the filter is easy to change when the time comes. You just unscrew the bottom of the housing, and the old canister lifts out. Drop the new one in, reinstall the bottom plate, and you’re all set.
Both breeva filters make use of a similar four-stage filter. The only real difference is the size of the cartridge and housing. The outer layer is a simple mesh pre-filter, which removes larger particles. It’s meant to filter out dust, animal dander, and other larger items that could jam the main filter. Inside that, there’s an accordion-style HEPA filter. This is an H13 filter, which is slightly more powerful than a True HEPA filter. It will trap up to 99.97 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns. That’s just shy of medical grade, and better than you’ll find in many home HEPA filters. Inside of that, there’s a charcoal filter, which removes odors and many chemical vapors.
After this, the air passes into the upper part of the housing. As it does, it passes through an ionizer, which causes remaining particles to drop out. However, ionizers also produce ozone, which can exacerbate some breathing issues. If you’re concerned about the effects of ozone on your health, just turn the ionizer off.
After this, the two breeva variants vary. The A3 finishes off with ultraviolet sterilization. This can be turned on to kill viruses and bacteria, or turned off to save electricity. The A2 houses a cool mist humidifier, which you fill by flipping open the top panel. This can be operated along with the filter, or on its own as a standalone humidifier. It can also be turned off like the A3’s UV sterilizer in order to save power.
The TCL breeva A2 and A3 Air Purifiers are both excellent choices for treating the air in smaller spaces. The design is well thought-out, with an easy-to-access filter and straightforward controls. The filtration, while limited in volume, is powerful, with a better-than-average HEPA filter. In addition to that, you get convenient app controls and auto mode.
All things being equal, we’d order the A3 over the A2. The increased coverage is well worth the extra cost, and the UV sanitizer is a great extra feature. That said, the A2’s humidifier has a lot to recommend it. If you’re dealing with contaminated air that’s also too dry, the A2 will kill two birds with one stone.