We’re pretty hard on filterless air purifiers. They typically fail to do much other than collect dust and produce unacceptable amounts of ozone. Maybe the Sharper Image scandal left a bad impression… or maybe too many focus on gimmicks instead of results. Either way, we haven’t been overly impressed by what’s available. That is until we found Airocide… arguably the best filterless air purifier ever.
The Airocide is the byproduct of 12 years of research. And, not just any research… NASA research. As if that’s not enough, the purifier is also FDA approved. Oh and it was even featured on “Ellen.”
Now don’t jump the gun… we said this is the best filterless air purifier. Not the best air purifier. You can still get a great HEPA filter with activated carbon purifier; and it will perform as well if not better. And, chances are… it will cost a lot less. However, if you want to avoid replacing filters this is probably your best option.
How does it work?
Short tech-heavy science answer… it uses a Photo-catalytic Reaction chamber (PRC). Now for those of you who, like us, have never worked on building a space station or launching a satellite here’s how it works. First, lets cover the PRC. It’s basically a matrix of hollow glass tubes. This glass tube matrix is coated in Titanium Dioxide (TiO2). And, when a high intensity light (UV 254 nanometer) hits the matrix the TiO2 a 3.2 volt charge creates a bunch of little hydroxyl radicals. Imagine thousands of little Venus Flytraps inside each tube. As organic compounds and such pass through the tubes the little fly traps catch them and break them down. The process is called oxidation, but it’s easier to just imagine trapped molecules being broken into pieces. This includes VOC’s, mold, and bacteria.
So why was NASA building a PCR based purifier. Well, they weren’t exactly. NASA uses HEPA filtration on most of their missions. The PCR technology was actually developed to remove ethylene gas from the air. If that sounds familiar, it should, ethylene is the gas that causes fruits to ripen. Through thier research, they found that PCR also eradicated a wide range of compounds and organics.
What we like
First and foremost, the design is incredible. When we first saw this purifier we thought it would look great in a high end home or apartment. It looks a lot like an expensive speaker.
Another big win for the Airocide is that it produces zero ozone. And, that’s huge for people with pets or children. Ozone is a pretty hazardous substance. Granted, in the right hands Ozone works very, very well. But, you really have to be careful when using it.
Another thing that we really like is that the Airocide is surprisingly energy efficient. There fans in the unit are calibrated to move just the right amount of air to effectively remove contaminants. That means that it draws only as much energy as it actually needs. This is a completely different process compared to other filterless air purifiers. Those typically rely on electrostatic plates to attract and trap dust and contaminants. Electrostatic precipitators kind of work, but some also produce ozone.
Bottom line… we like that this purifier works. It’s a great alternative to other purifiers on the market, but don’t count them out without thorough comparison. HEPA and activated carbon are still incredibly effective. In fact, Airocide recently released a premium version that also includes HEPA.
What we don’t like
Well, the elephant in the room on this one is that you have to replace the PCR tubes annually. It’s very straightforward, and takes well under a minute to complete. However, replacement tubes are not cheap. If there’s one thing that makes us think twice about recommending this purifier its the long term cost of ownership. In five or six year the replacement tubes will cost as much as the machine itself.
The Airocide also sounds kind of strange. Not necessarily in a bad way… but a little different pitch than the purifiers we’re used to. But, if you’re an allergy sufferer it’s well worth the noise. Which in our opinion is about as loud as a fan on a desktop computer.
The other thing to consider is that the Airocide really shines where a HEPA filter does not. Basically on things measuring smaller than .3 microns. However, at .3 microns or larger a HEPA filter will actually perform a bit better. It’s similar to the way that activated carbon assists higher end HEPA filters by adsorbing things HEPA can’t capture.
If you smoke cigarettes or have pets, it’s probably not the absolute best option. We’ go with a traditional style if you’re looking for heavy purification. But, if you’re more worried about tiny pollutants like bacteria, mold, viruses, and VOC’s you should include the Airocide in your search.
Well there are a lot of pros on this model, but the price of replacement tubes might be a deal breaker for some users. However, the Airocide has a really impressive resume. It was developed b NASA. And now it works at more than 100 Napa Valley Wineries to fight mold. It’s also employed by companies such as Whole Foods, Del-Monte, and Coca-Cola. Pretty impressive, right. Oh, and some hospitals even use this technology in their operating rooms and ICU’s.
Are there better or other purifiers that perform as well. Yes, but few are as attractive and technologically advanced as the Airocide. So if you live in a trendy urban loft, or a really nice modern farmhouse in a posh neighborhood – this purifier is perfect. But, if you’re on a budget… there might be better options that don’t cost as much in the long run.
Is it the best air purifier? No, not even close in many scenarios. Is it the best filterless air purifier? We think it is.