Here we will review two different indoor air purifiers for allergies because they represent two very different paths that you can take to remove allergens from the air.
Table of Contents
IQAir HealthPro Plus
First up we have the IQAir HealthPro Plus and this unit retails for about $900, so it is a very expensive room air purifier. That is a lot of money to spend on an air purifier.
But maybe you are sick and tired of allergies, they caused you a lot of problems and you are really willing to spend whatever it takes as long as you can remove those allergens from the air.
So you may be asking us is it worth it for me to spend $900 on what many consider to be one of the best air purifiers on the market at any price. Is it worth it for me to spend all that money as long as I’m going to be assured that I’m going to be able to remove allergens from the air that I’m breathing.
And our answer to that question is no!
The HealthPro Plus is a very good indoor air purifier for allergies. The unit outputs at approximately 300 CFM, that is substantial output. That is substantial air processing power.
CFM represents the cubic feet per minute of air that the unit is able to take in.
The unit actually takes in air through the arches at the bottom of the unit. The unit is able to take in 300 cubic feet of air and output 300 cubic feet of air that has been cleaned every minute on its maximum fan speed. That unit does have substantial output.
The unit also features very high quality filters.
There is a very high quality pre-filter, very high quality gas filter and there’s also a very high quality particle filter installed on the IQAir.
This is a very good high quality air purifier. It’s made in Switzerland, it comes with a 10 year warranty. The list goes on and on.
When it comes to evaluating air purifiers, the number one priority here is how well do they actually purify air. That is what you are buying an air purifier for.
You are buying it to take a quantity of unclean air, in this case air that contains certain allergens, and you are buying it to take that quantity of unclean air to take it into the air purifier, to process that air and for clean air that no longer contains those allergens to come up and out of the air purifier.
That is what you are buying an air purifier for.
If that is in fact your primary concern, you are mostly concerned just with how well the air purifier can actually process air and output clean air, then you can get the same type of performance as the IQAir provides in a much cheaper package, in a much less expensive air purifier.
The example of that type of air purifier is the Winix 5500-2.
It represents an air purifier you can buy for a much lower price that is going to give you similar performance to the IQAir.
This is quite a bold statement to make, to say that these two units (the Winix retails for approximately $180) have similar performance when it comes to filtering allergens.
Let’s go over why we can actually say that.
To do that let’s go over each filter that each of these units contains. To go through the process as the air containing the allergens is moving through these units.
First up we have the pre-filter.
The pre-filter on both units is the first filter that the air is going to travel through.
On the Winix, there’s the front grille, but right behind that front grille, there is a mesh, washable pre-filter. It’s very thin, it’s a very thin material and its only function there is to capture larger particles.
On the IQAir unit, it also has a pre-filter. However the pre-filter is very thick, it almost resembles a true HEPA filter in terms of the filter media involved. It’s not just a mesh grille. There’s actual filtration media in there that resembles a true HEPA filter and that filtration media is installed there to filter out large particles as well.
So the bottom line is that the IQAir’s pre-filter is much more substantial. It contains better filter media than the pre-filter on the Winx.
However it does so at a much higher price. The pre-filter on the IQAir is not washable. It has to be replaced and it has to be replaced at a cost.
The pre-filter on the Winix unit can be washed and be clean. It can be vacuumed and it doesn’t cost you anything to clean off that filter.
Is the pre-filter important for you to get a very good pre-filter where it is actually going to be able to capture more particles, as is the case for the IQAir?
The answer there is no!
The pre-filter is primarily installed on these units to increase the life of the HEPA filter.
The HEPA filter, as we will talk about in just a minute, is the final filter that is installed in each of these units. That HEPA filter captures all particles. It doesn’t matter if they are large particles, it doesn’t matter if they’re small particles, that HEPA filter is going to capture all sizes of particles.
So the HEPA filter is going to catch and capture everything that the pre-filter does not catch and capture.
The HEPA filter is the last line of defense and those particles will not make it through the HEPA filter, if it is operating properly and if it is a true HEPA filter.
The mesh pre-filter on the Winix does extend the life of that true HEPA filter. The much more substantial pre-filter on the IQAir does increase the life of the true HEPA filter installed on the IQAir.
However that is the primary function, only to extend the life of the true HEPA filter. That first pre-filter doesn’t really contribute to the air purifier filtering air any better.
Next up we have the gas filter installed in each of these units.
The Winix features an activated carbon filter. The activated carbon pellets are inside of a honeycomb-like plastic frame and those pellets are sitting in there. There is about 1 pound or so of activated carbon in the Winix’s gas filter. In the IQAir’s gas filter, there is 5 pounds of activated carbon and aluminum.
With the IQAir you get a much more substantial filter, when it comes to gas filtration. However if you have most allergies, and here we’re talking about hay fever, we’re talking about pet allergies, things like that, the allergens themselves, the particles that those allergens associate with, those are all solid particles and so the gas filter is not going to do anything with those types of allergens.
If you do have certain chemical sensitivities, if you have a chemical allergy of some sort, then the gas filter will definitely make a difference. The IQAir is definitely the better option.
However most allergens are solid and the gas filter is going to do absolutely nothing to filter those types of allergens.
Last but certainly not least is the actual particle filter installed in each of these units and each of them is equipped with a true HEPA filter.
The true HEPA filter on the Winix is the last filter. The true HEPA filter on the IQAir is the last filter as the air is traveling up and out of the unit.
The true HEPA filter that is installed on the IQAir does come with its own special name. IQAir calls it a hyper HEPA filter. However it is still a true HEPA filter.
If you look at the actual manufacturer specified efficiency of that IQAir HEPA filter, it is 99.97% for a particle of 0.3 microns and larger. That is the exact same specification for the HEPA filter on this Winix unit.
The true HEPA filter that is installed on each of these units is effectively the same type of filter. It’s going to have the same level of efficiency for the vast majority of particles.
When comparing the particle filter on each of these units, there is essentially a tie in terms of performance.
The IQAir’s HEPA filter does contain a lot more filter media. There’s a lot more HEPA filter to go around on the IQAir. What that means is that that filter is going to take much longer to saturate, because there is so much more filtration media there. So you are going to need to replace the filter on the IQAir much less frequently than you do on the Winix.
However the actual performance of that true HEPA filter, how well it actually filters out allergens and particles associated with allergens, how well each of those filters perform, you have essentially a tie between the two units.
Lastly we should also mention the actual output of each unit.
Like we talked about earlier, the IQAir outputs at approximately 300 CFM. The Winix outputs at approximately 250 CFM. The discrepancy is not too great.
However the IQAir does output at a slightly higher maximum CFM than the Winix unit.
What is the bottom line when you compare these two units?
The bottom line here is that the IQAir is a very high quality, made in Switzerland, ten year warranty air purifier with very high quality filters.
However when it comes to actually filtering out allergens, if you are somebody that suffers from allergies and you are looking for an air purifier, you’re looking for the best air purifier for your allergy issue, these units are essentially equal in terms of their performance for filtering the vast majority of allergens.
The Winix is going to have that true HEPA filter that is going to take care of those allergens just the same way as the true HEPA filter on the IQAir is going to take care of those allergens and associated particles.
In looking at these two units, which unit would we recommend, which path would we recommend that you take in buying an air purifier.
Would we recommend a much more expensive path, that is the IQAir or would we recommend the much more value-driven path- that is the Winix?
Our recommendation has been and will continue to be that you go with a more value-driven path with the Winix.
Again, it has that 250 CFM, which compares very favorably to the 300 CFM of the IQAir.
It comes equipped with a true HEPA filter, just like the IQAir.
It comes with an activated carbon filter. It doesn’t have as much filtration media as the IQAir, but it still has that gas filtration media in there.
And it does have that pre-filter, which you can wash, which you can vacuum. The same as the IQAir has a pre-filter. Maybe they are not of the same quality, but they both have a pre-filter.
When you compare these two units, in terms of allergen performance, in terms of filtering allergens, they have very similar performance.
The real big difference here is the price and for most consumers, because of that large price difference, because of this unit is so much less expensive, because it is so much of a better value, we would recommend the Winix over the IQAir.
We are constantly testing new units. At the time of writing this review, the Winix 5500-2 is one of the best air purifiers in this price range.