Blueair air purifiers are made by Blueair Inc., a company based in Sweden that has been manufacturing room air purifiers for sale in the US since 1996.1 They manufacture a full line of air purification units that vary by technology used, price and amount of clean air delivered. Their US headquarters is in Chicago, IL and sales are mostly through online dealers.2 Blueair has offline dealerships in thirty states, although coverage is sparse, with some states only having one location3.
Their market is primarily high end and their products are good enough to get recommendations as medical devices for those suffering from allergies or asthma. This relates to the very effective filtration available.4
Features and benefits of the blueair air purifiers
Air purifiers are rated on several different dimensions of functionality that all play a role. There are trade-offs between different benefits and each manufacturer has to decide the right balance. For example, the better the filter (finer, catches more particles) the more energy has to be expended pushing air through it. It is harder to move air through a finer filter. If a larger fan is used, the machine will also be louder. On the other hand, if the fan isn’t powerful enough, the unit will not clean a large enough volume of air quickly enough.5
The balance achieved by Blueair is to have their own patented filter for physical removal of particles and pre-charging particles electrostatically so that the “stick” to the filter as they pass through. What this accomplishes is a less-fine filter doing the job that a much finer filter would otherwise have to do.6
A second improvement is what they call a “progressive” filter. The pore size of the filter (the space the air goes through) starts out relatively large and then gets progressively smaller as air works its way deeper. This means that larger particles, like dust, get caught early on and do not clog up the filter where it is finer (smoke particles and bacteria). This extends filter life and improves air flow.
The combination of these two technologies (pre-filter ionization and progressive filtration) gives a unit that is very quiet, cleans a lot of air for the energy used, and doesn’t require too many filter replacements (about every six months).
The benefits listed come at a price. The noise reduction and durability (steel frame construction and shell) cost more to manufacture. This is offset by a longer lifespan (10 year warranty). The filters are also pricier than their competitors.7
Initial prices are higher, but factoring in the amount of air cleaned per dollar in electricity cost, the high customer satisfaction, and the excellent warranty – for those needing almost medical grade air purification, the price works out.
Besides cost, air purifiers that use ionization technology (as Blueair does) have come under criticism. The first is that they tend to generate ozone. Ozone is created when room oxygen is charged by the air system and is considered an environmental pollutant. In fact, it is well known to trigger asthma in those susceptible.8 However, Blueair is well aware of this problem and has added a reactive grill in their units which converts ozone back into the regular, safe form of oxygen. Tests show they generate an insignificant amount. Blueair is listed as ozone safe by the State of California, which has some of the strongest regulations related to air purification systems.9
Models and prices
Blueair numbers their units based on the amount of air they clean. Smallest is the 200 series (175 sqft) up to the 600 series (700 sqft). The numbers fall close to the room size in square feet for rooms with 8ft ceilings and a rate of exchange set at five per hour. That means the entire room’s air volume is cleaned five times. The numbering isn’t exact, so the details for each unit should be consulted.10
One other unit is offered. The Blueair ECO101 is a very high efficiency unit that is advertised as exceeding federal efficiency standards by ten times.11 It is also very expensive, at a $900 purchase price. This unit is marketed as a low carbon footprint model because of the low energy use. Like all of the Blueair products, the filter element is rated highly as a low-impact downstream material (polypropylene) and doesn’t contribute any metals or fiberglass to the waste stream.
Pricing starts at $370 for the 200 series and moves upward as the capacity increases. For example, the 400 series is priced at $600 – $730 and the largest unit (600 series) at up to $900. That is a lot to spend for an air purifier, making Blueair a “premier” entry in the air cleaning market.
They also offer a “home solutions” package with various sizes of air purifiers for different rooms, along with a special furnace filter to be used with central air or home heating.
The online comments for Blueair air purifiers are almost universally positive.12 Customers who could afford the units were pleased, both with the ability to remove allergens, smoke and particulates, but also the extremely quiet operation. Stylishness was also a positive for many.
The negatives had to do with filter cost and initial price paid. Many wondered if the cost savings in energy efficiency were worth the higher price for the filters. (Filter prices range from $70 to over $100 dollars.13)
ACboy’s Buying Advice
If high quality and the best filtration at any price is the objective, it would be hard to beat Blueair. The ideal customer for this company is someone who has a valid medical issue and needs the best air purifier available. A second type of buyer would be someone who can afford, and demands, stylish and quiet operation – without too much concern for cost. Others will find a unit that meets their needs for hundreds of dollars less in another brand.
A combination of one small Blueair air purifier for the bedroom to run overnight is an effective solution (because of the low noise) with another, cheaper type for other areas of the home.