HEPA-filtered air cleaners are noisy and have recurring filter costs.
So there is plenty of consumer demand for alternative technology air purifiers.
Kaz, Inc's Honeywell line has included electronic-filtered "HFD" models, which sell well, for several years.
Honeywell HFD's have been quiet-running air cleaners without main filter replacement costs, but never delivered efficient HEPA-grade performance.
In April, 2012, a new batch of make-over HFD models was released, the AirGenius series.
The revised permanent electrostatic grid and slim tower design has sold well enough to gain retail shelf space.
A recent visit to a Target store found both AirGenuis Three (white) and AirGenius Five (black) models on display.
The series is named for the number of fan speeds on each model.
AirGenius 3 (HFD-300), has Sleep, General, and Max speeds, and a $179.99 MSRP.
AirGenius 4 (HFD-310) adds a pollen mode ("Allergen mode") for ten to twenty bucks extra.
HFD323-TGT is the Target Stores version of the Airgenius 5.
There is also another product using the name "Air-Genius," it's a small travel model unrelated to the Honeywell AirGeniuses.
There are a few online user reviews, with some negative feedback (common with electronic air cleaners).
This is mildly misleading Kaz marketing, since none of the AirGeniuses is an automated air cleaner, there are NO sensors or automatic "intelligent" modes.
Airgeniuses Three and Four lack the Touch Screen Controls.
The Five has, you guessed it, five fan speeds: Sleep, Germ, General, Allergen, and Max.
There is an auto shut-off timer on AirGeniuses Four and Five, which shuts down the air cleaner after a given interval.
Five has six available intervals: two, four, six, eight, ten, and twelve hours.
Genius Four has four timer intervals
Air Genius Three has no timer.
There is a filter gauge which depicts dirt build-up on the grid, and a filter indicator light to suggest cleaning.
AirGenius Four and Five have the same AHAM-certified Clean Air Delivery Rates:
For the Genius Three, AHAM-certified CADRs are:
Note that most experts, myself, and Consumer Reports, do not recommend air cleaners under 150 CADR, so the AirGenius family is just borderline.
I would lower this room size substantially, to 170 sq. ft., or even less if the user does not scrupulously maintain the electronic filter.
HFD300, AirGenius Three, is AHAM-certified for rooms up to 225 square feet.
Again, a better max room size for AirGenius Three is 160 square feet.
Contrary to incorrect lableing displayed on several vendor sites, Honeywell HFD is NOT a HEPA filter or a HEPA-type filter.
"HEPA" is a performance standard (retrains 99.97% of .3 micron sized particles), rather than, as is very commonly believed, a type of filter.
Intense Field Dielectric ("IFD") electrostatic filters use strong 8,000 volt fields to attract particles to a honeycomb grid.
Kaz Inc, which owns the Honeywell brand for air purifiers only, trademarks their IFD as "HFD."
Kaz redesigned the honeycomb for the Air Genius series, making it larger and reducing airflow restriction.
In high-quality commercial applications, IFD gets rid of design issues which hurt earlier electrostatic air cleaners (arcing, frequent cleaning, and ozone) by placing a thin layer of non-conducting (dielectric) materials over the grid surface.
In the AirGenius, a standard polyurethane prefilter catches larger particles ahead of the charging gate.
Charged particles then stick to the collection grid's honeycombed cells.
Honeywell's older HFD filters have been acceptably efficient only at larger size ranges, 2.0 microns and above.
AirGenius filters "capture up to 99.9% of particles as small as 0.3 microns."
Astute readers will notice this is NOT the same as "capture 99.9% of .3 micron particles."
So the improved HFD grid is still not up to HEPA standards, but Kaz has avoided telling us just how improved the AirGeniuses filtration actually is.
Sub-HEPA air cleaners tend to accumulate fine particulate internally, necessitating frequent cleaning of the inside of the air cleaner to prevent it from becoming a pollutant source.
There is an optional or replacement prefilter with some carbon to reduce household odors.
To retain effectiveness, the optional odor-reducing pre-filter should be replaced once every 3 months (Honeywell Odor & Gas Reducing Pre-Filter - 2 Pack HRF-K2 $21).
The last item in the filter train is an always-on electronic ionizer, but few details are offered in Honeywell literature.
This is a marketing gimmick, seriously misrepresented.
I don't doubt that a significant percentage of Honeywell air cleaner buyers are confused between tower style room cooling fans and current tower air cleaners.
Many user reviews laud this feature, until it breaks.
"Oscillation" adds very little to air cleaning performance.
But cheap design, especially the plastic gear train that drives the oscillator, makes this feature undesirable.
Many user reviews of oscillating Honeywells mention noises emanating from the base before the gears fail.
Fortunately, Honeywell has included a button to turn off this gimmick.
I recommend the "off" position, at least in cool weather.
I say clean the entire air purifier when this is done, and wipe/vacuum the HFD grid at least once a month.
Particles sized below 2.0 microns may accumulate inside the AirGenius.
I would vacuum and wipe the interior to reduce lower fine particle residual exhaust.
Honeywell recommends washing the grid more often if needed, but not more than once a month.
This represents a big improvement over older electrostatic designs, some of which needed nearly daily washes.
Kaz says to soak the grid for 2-3 minutes, but not longer.
And warns that HFDs are NOT dishwasher safe.
Smokers should expect MUCH more maintenance, and users should not apply solvents, harsh detergents, or flammable liquids to the HFD.
Although discolored grids may still perform well, user reviews of similar HFD Honeywells say baking soda may help remove tobacco stains from HFD grids.
It is very important to completely dry the grid, overnight is best, before replacing it inside the AirGenius.
Wet grids were the downfall of previous generation electronic models, some of which arced and pitted at the contact points.
AirGenius pre-filters should be rinsed by hand with warm water, and dried completely before reinsertion.
Previous HFD Honeywells have had some emissions issues, generally break-in plastic odors and scents from antimicrobial additives on the prefilters.
AirGenius is ARB Certified to comply with the federal ozone emissions limit (50 parts per billion - PPB).
But user remarks suggest noticeable ozone is produced ("fresh smell").
And 50 ppb is a very loose standard, high enough to admit several air cleaners that were driven off the market by negative publicity on ozone emissions.
As with many previous electrostatic air cleaner reviews, in my opinion, much of AirGenius' odor removal capacity derives from ozone.
A strong point for the AirGenius family is the low noise output.
However, some buyer reviewers mention annoying electric crackling/popping noises from Air Geniuses.
8,000 volts is lots of energy, and fine dirt or moisture can create bypass circuits
In the dark, user reviewers say they see electric arcing.
High voltage EMFs are obviously present, making the AirGenuis series (and all other electrostatic air cleaners) unsuitable for the chronically ill or environmentally sensitive.
Like many manufacturers, Honeywell has included a blue accent light, but has wisely kept the on/off switch so many cut to save costs.
However, Honeywell recommends a three foot clearance from light colored walls and furniture, anticipating a black wall effect in the electric field.
This will be important in homes with lots of soot (candles, incense, fireplace, freeway close...).
User reviews suggest putting a dark colored throw rug under the AirGenius if the carpet is light hued.
Kaz, Inc offers a five-year limited warranty with AirGenius.
But, contrary to most buyer's expectations, normal wear and tear, and filters including the HFD grid, are NOT covered.
Kaz requires proof of purchase, and users pay shipping charges, including $10 for return shipping. or money order for
Quality control on the hectic Asian mainland is spotty, I suggest inspecting the AirGenius immediately.
There are numerous reviews reporting packaging and cosmetic issues with "new" AirGeniuses.
I didn't think I had any allergies, but I've had a persistent congested and runny nose that is alleviated by the filtered air.
It is reasonably quiet, and the washable filters are nice, but has a number of negatives including a plastic smell from the washable and carbon prefilters, leaking seals around the iFD filter that coat the inside of the unit with dust powder, non-defeatable ionizing that coats everything in the room with a gray layer of dust, and horizontal output that is drafty.
I am thinking about returning it."
Smokers, MCS, and asthma folks may be dissapointed.
After a year on the market, price appears to be softening to just under $200 for the AirGenius Five.
I like the AirGenius better at lower prices, it is an under-$200 model to me.
1. First do no harm; minimal out gassing, no ozone.
Score: 6 of 10, AirGenius can generate low level ozone, has break-in out gassing and possible electromagnetic emissions.
2. Serious gas and odor removal is a requirement if health benefits are expected: Units with real carbon VOC capability rank higher.
Score: 7 of 10, IFD is designed for particle capture only, many reviewers say odors are gone, I say the reason is ozone.
3. Quality construction; case, gaskets, seals, and precision fitting eliminate bypassing and assure high efficiency at filtering sub-micron particles.
Score: 7 of 10, original IFD design is genius, inexpensive Honeywell "HFD" implementation has compromises.
4. The design maximizes the lifespan of each filter stage by allowing independent filter replacement. Ideally this is combined with electronic filter monitoring.
Score: 10 of 10, a fasdidiously-maintained AirGenius may never need filter replacements.
5. Unit has long filter life, low maintenance requirements, and reasonable operating costs.
Score:10 of 10, cheap to own.
6. Purifier produces low noise levels and meaningful air flow rates relative to noise.
Score: 8 of 10, very quiet when working properly, but electric faults and oscillation make noise.
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: 7 of 10, Kaz is well known, long warranty helps little.
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: 6 of 10, do not pay full suggested retail.
9. No dirt; unit and manufacturer should be devoid of class-action suits, high returns, recalls, consumer complaints, and legitimate negative consumer reviews.
Score: 8 of 10, Honeywell brand leads the big box retail (cheap) air cleaner market.
10. Unit is stylish, portable, comfortable, and convenient for consumer use.
Score: 9 of 10, nice attractiv4e tower, no remote, manually operated interface.
Honeywell AirGenius Air Cleaner Review
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