Since the HEPA standard was invented, air cleaner manufacturers have sought methods to circumvent the extra costs and/or performance impediments inherent in the high internal pressures required to drive a true-HEPA setup.
The majority have sought to offer cheaper HEPA-type (not qualifying as True-HEPA) filters in lower quality equipment.
Others have used real HEPA filters in loose fitting housings, allowing bypassing of uncleaned air.
Both of these methods have allowed cheaper components to be substituted, lowering price.
There have also been electrostatic (often erroneously labeled "ionic") air purifiers, and photocatalytics.
But so far every attempt to match true-HEPA particle capturing performance with a non-HEPA setup has failed.
Blueair's hybrid filter design uses electrostatics and charged polyethylene media to achieve HEPA-like performance - capturing 99.97% of particles at .1 micron.
An open flowing design reduces noise and energy costs. Increased throughput gives awesome CADRs on particulate pollutants - Blueair 650 is very powerful.
But whether Blueair 650E can match premium true-HEPA performance over the entire 6-month life of the hybrid electrostatic filters remains, in my opinion, yet to be demonstrated.
650E is a premium air purifier, among the world's best. Built to last in Sweden, Blueairs are made of stainless steel.
Most premium allergy shop websites will carry Blueairs, though not always the $799.95 top-of-the-line 650E.
For 2009, Blueair has upgraded its entire line with new fans, motors, filters, and numbering.
The 402 is replaced by 403 and 450E. 501 by 503 and 550E. Blueair 601 is superseded by 603 and 650E.
"E" stands for electronic automatic controls.
Asian competition in the premium space - think Lexus cars - is gaining fast on US and Euro-based air cleaner builders.
One aspect of the Japanese-led air cleaner engineering challenge is automation.
650E is a Blueair 603 (upgraded 601) with some real spiffy automated electronic controls and digital displays added.
Blueair's dust and odor sensors control the air purifier in Auto Mode, matching performance to measured chemical/odor/particulate pollutant loads.
650e's electronic sensors work and display air quality levels, even in manual mode.
Asian air purifier builders, encumbered by communication barriers, have taken to putting the goofy "happy face" on sensor readouts, so why shouldn't Blueair have one?
When contaminant levels are acceptable, it grins, if not, a frown.
Fortunately 650E also has dual four level pollutant bar-graph displays, quantifying particle and odor/chemical contaminants separately from the happy face.
When Auto Mode is selected, 650E runs on high for five minutes, then settles into the automatic, energy saving, quiet watching-and-waiting game.
Additional communications include a filter change indicator - just a six-month countdown timer - which illuminates a red light-emitting diode.
A timer and 20-foot remote round out the electronic interface.
Blueair 650es are intended to run 24/7 year-around.
Buyers are cautioned against total reliance on Auto Mode operation.
Particle counter tests have convinced me that cleanest air is achieved only with higher speed manual operation for extended periods.
I recommend running the 650e on the highest manual speed consistent with noise tolerance, using Auto Mode when conversation of company dictate lower noise levels.
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) rankings are >400 Dust, >450 Smoke, >450 Pollen - the highest possible scores.
Airflow rates are 88 to 490 cubic feet per minute.
AHAM rates the 650E for it's maximum room size - 698 square feet.
I'd try 500 sq. feet, depending on other factors and contaminant level.
Note that CADR ratings say nothing about chemical and odor reduction.
If you look at a Blueair with nearly expired filters, you'll see heavy coarse dust accumulation. These visible size fragments would be best collected in a separate washable prefilter.
I'd prefer a slightly lower CADR to the shorter filter life and internal contamination that Blueair's design implies.
Semi-annual cleaning of the 650e's interior is advised, a somewhat difficult task.
Users are advised to vacuum the air intake grille, with a soft brush attachment, from the inside when replacing filters.
Blueairs combine aspects of electrostatic and mechanical technologies in a progressive three-stage filter.
Particulates are ionized in a metal chamber by a clever set of ozone-free electrostatic brushes.
This allows them to be collected efficiently by looser-than-HEPA polypropylene media.
The Blueair design is similar to formerly popular charged-grid electrostatic models, which were plagued by efficiency losses when frequent cleaning was neglected.
Blueair's design, which does not charge the filter media itself, requires attention only twice a year.
The filter design has progressively smaller fiber spacing to collect decreasing sizes as particle laden air penetrates the filter.
The 650's filter is advertised to capture 99.97% of the tiniest 0.1 micron particles on power level one.
While this is very good, I'd like to see efficiency quoted at .3 microns, the HEPA "most penetrating particle size."
At higher power settings I suspect efficiency falls significantly, but not nearly as far as the more primitive electrostatics (Oreck, Frederick C90b,.....).
I'd also like to see Blueairs' efficiency numbers for the entire 6-month maximum life of the filter.
I suspect there will be some efficiency deterioration as the media is coated and electrostatic forces weaken.
The main weakness of Blueair 650e's design is the electrostatic filter replacement interval.
To maintain warranty coverage, Blueair owners must buy filters, for around $80, at least twice a year.
Users with health issues, or with contaminated living spaces (pets, tobacco...), may need tri-annual filter replacements.
But some user reviews report keeping the filters as long as one year without issues.
Others say careful monthly vacuuming prolongs media life.
Blueair 650e's three filters are easily replaced without tools.
I recommend all top filters on Blueairs be taped or held down, as the factory installation uses just the weight of the filter to seal it.
On some Blueairs this allows a bit of unnecessary bypassing around the top filter.
But gas phase pollutants still require the optional (means "expensive") $150 SmokeStop filter.
SmokeStops have activated carbon and Potassium Iodide for better gas adsorption and oxidation.
But since the 650e can now tell us how much gas phase pollution is in our breathing space, we won't need to blindly buy and replace high-dollar filters we don't need.
User reviews report break-in carbon odors from new SmokeStops, but say the extra carbon is excellent for removing odors and fumes.
I formerly advised Blueair buyers to routinely order the SmokeStop filter option - now only smokers, artists, shops, wood stove users, or multi-pet households should choose it.
If after 6 months using the standard HEPASilent filters you are seeing consistent gas pollutants indicated, then replace filters with optional SmokeStops.
650e uses only genuine Blueair filters.
650e makes 32dB(A) @88cubic feet/min on low, which is fairly quiet.
But 68 dB(A) on high, blowing an incredible 490 cfm, will be loud.
But if your home air contains enough pollutant to keep a 650 running on high, I advise relocating.
Blueair's ionization brushes use low voltage, which does not create corona discharge (blue arc around electrical fields), and is nearly ozone-free.
Tests in sealed test chambers have verified Blueairs no-ozone claim.
Blueair 650e's powder coated finish emits no chemical outgassing.
Blueairs have a blue LED which some cover with tape for bedroom use.
Power usage is 35 watts on low to 120 watts on high, quite reasonable for the brawny power output.
A bit boxy at 23 inches high by 20 wide and 11 deep, 650e weighs 35 pounds and has casters to roll around on. Elderly folks may need help getting it upstairs.
The 650e's detachable cord, at just 5 feet, could be longer in this premium class.
17 N. State, Suite 1830
Chicago, IL 60602
Blueairs warranty has been an incredible 10 years since the company was founded. It appears that there has been some reappraisal, as the current company webpage lists 650e as warranted for 5 years.
The Filter Subscription Program, calling for new filters from the company every 6 months, is required for warranty participation.
Blueair customer service has a good reputation when there are issues.
Blueair is targeted at affluent buyers, but I think many who have paid $200-300 repeatedly for Chinese-built department store models with short life expectancies could have come out ahead going premium at the outset.
Euro-Zone engineering innovator Blueair has matched the Asian tigers in a key area - automation.
The $150 premium for the 650e's electronic interface is a stiffer price than I had hoped for.
But those with serious health issues really need the feedback.
As an alternative, buyers with serious concerns about indoor air quality could consider the purchase of a particle counter, like the Dylos DC1100, starting around $200.
A Blueair 603 or 503 could complement the particle counter for the best possible feedback.
1. First do no harm; minimal out gassing, no ozone.
Score: 10 of 10.
2. Serious gas and odor removal is a requirement if health benefits are expected: Units with real carbon VOC capability rank higher.
Score: 8 of 10, 9 of 10 with SmokeStop Filter option.
3. Quality construction; case, gaskets, seals, and precision fitting eliminate bypassing and assure high efficiency at filtering sub-micron particles.
Score: 8 of 10, although three filter design is not as tight on top filter, this can easily be remedied.
4. The design maximizes the lifespan of each filter stage by allowing independent filter replacement. Ideally this is combined with electronic filter monitoring.
Score: 8 of 10, combined chemical/particle filters are replaced as one.
5. Unit has long filter life, low maintenance requirements, and reasonable operating costs.
Score: 9 of 10, not the cheapest to own.
6. Purifier produces low noise levels and meaningful air flow rates relative to noise.
Score: 10 of 10, automatic operation keeps noise down.
7. Manufacturer has a track record, with many units in the field and a reputation for supporting what they sell. Warranty period and average service life are long.
Score: 10 of 10, warranty is now shorter, but company widely respected.
8. Purifier is a value in terms of price/performance ratio. Every price range should be included, “models above $1,200 are best”, while true, is not useful to most consumers.
Score: 10 of 10, premium price, premium performance.
9. No dirt; unit and manufacturer should be devoid of class-action suits, high returns, recalls, consumer complaints, and legitimate negative consumer reviews.
Score: 10 of 10.
10. Unit is stylish, portable, comfortable, and convenient for consumer use.
Score: 10 of 10, Automated with dual display :), handy remote, easy interface.
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standard manufacturer's pricing adhered to,
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