I own two IQ Air "Plus" models.
Many inferior products reviewed here are referred to as "air cleaners."
But the Health-Pro Plus will always be called an "air purifier."
That IQ Air builds the finest quality air purifiers is not in question.
But many consumers note the large price tag and wonder if IQAirs are right for them.
The short answer is that two groups of buyers should consider the IQAir HealthPro Plus HEPA;
1. those with health issues requiring absolutely clean air,
2. those who routinely buy top quality goods because they can afford them, with the expectation of "getting what you pay for."
I fall squarely in group one, but still dislike low quality goods, especially when falsely marketed to the unwary.
Let's take a closer look at IQAir, the premium-class leader.
Here is a brief summary.
Consumer's Digest chose the IQAir cleaner as a best buy in 2004, 2007, 2011, and 2014.
Newsweek Magazine ran a HealthPro Plus in a moldy basement, noting that a musty smell disappeared.
Air Purifiers America and Allergy Buyers Club, web vendors who test the products they sell, rate the Health Pro the best.
Discovery Health TV series measured HealthPro Plus exhaust stream particulate with a laser particle scanner, getting a zero particle reading just like everybody else.
ABC TV's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition installs IQAirs in the homes they redo.
Apartmenttherapy.com, a popular review site, granted the HealthPro a Best Product Award, after testing with a particle scanner.
IQAir air purifiers were selected by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority during the SARS outbreak.
Test Magazine, a prominent German consumer journal, also rates HealthPro highest.
IQAir is chosen by the American Lung Association as their educational partner.
The 2007 Consumer Reports (CR) air cleaner rankings, titled "Filtering the Claims," did little to mollify critics of CR's testing methods and evaluation criteria.
Consumer Reports ranked the IQAir HealthPro Plus number 20, about the same as in 2005, again relying entirely on a heavily criticized 20 minute large diameter particle filtering test.
CR's test is a virtual copy of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) CADR tests, also criticized here as inadequate and self-serving.
These tests are designed to promote leaky sieves with strong cheap fans - the kind AHAM sells in big-box retail outlets.
There is zero chemical and odor testing, no health-critical fine particle filtering test.
Let's take a look at some of the air cleaners CR ranked above IQs.
First, they chose the strong fan in the AP45030S from Whirlpool.
While this particle-only machine was an adequate performer, the Whirlpool air purifiers were discontinued soon after the recommendation from Consumer Reports.
When the Whirlpools returned to the marketplace, they had been redesigned for Chinese manufacture.
Second, CR chose another Whirlpool, the AP510, rebranded as the Sears Kenmore Progressive 83202.
AP510 is a pretty good particle remover, but has little chemical, gas, and odor filtration.
Any machine which receives CR's blessing will experience a surge in market popularity.
But Sears.com soon discontinued the 83202, part of a string of "Kenmore" air cleaners which are thinly remarketed versions of other brands.
Then CR ranked the NON-HEPA (filters .5-micron particles and above), Styrofoam-bodied, made-in-China, Hunter Permalife 30547 third overall.
Yes, it did have a strong fan, but the "permanent" Permalife filters developed significant problems within 18 months, mainly mold growth.
Intrigued by the permanent filter concept, I bought one of the last Hunter 30547's at Lowes.
When I got it home, the filter was missing - Lowes employees had pirated it to mollify an irate customer.
Lowes could not find another Hunter Permalife filter anywhere in Texas.
Hunter simply discontinued the 30547 when replacement demand for the "permanent" filter depleted inventories.
User reviews frequently mention Hunter Fan's abject failure to support this product.
Hunter 30547 was refitted with a HEPA filter and resold as Hunter 30525.
And Lowe's quickly dropped the Hunter line.
Well done, Consumer Reports, what part of "only filters particles half a micron and above" didn't you notice?
Then there was 3M's inexpensive, Filterete electret filtered, also sub-HEPA performing FAP03-RS.
This machine is furnace filter based - designed to collect medium sized particulate in the large 1-micron size range.
It is an "air cleaner," not an "Air Purifier" like the IQAir.
Of 65 air purifiers reviewed in detail here, I rank the 3M Filtrete, whose furnace filters requiring replacement every 90 days or less, 37th - merely acceptable.
I recommend it solely for consumers with mild seasonal pollen allergies or large particle road dust intrusion.
Without supporting documentation, CR saw fit to summarily anoint it with a 5th place ranking.
Another market failure, the FAP03 went for as little as $29 at BigLots, although it is still available on amazon and eBay.
Consumer Reports continues to rank AHAM's cheap, short life expectancy, big box retailer models and questionable multi-level marketing (Amway's Atmosphere) above allergy-store-quality premium class gear.
Lookin' like 'ol Brer Fox done took over da hen house.
Well, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but everybody else should completely disregard Consumer Reports on air purifiers.
The HealthPro's four key touch pad and liquid crystal display (LCD) shows users programmable timer status, filter life and status, and fan speed.
IQAir's LED indicators change from green to orange to red as filter elements age.
A handy and trim remote allows stepping through the IQAir's six speeds.
Missing from the HealthPro series are dust and odor sensors and automated fan controls.
IQAIr steadfastly refused to follow the automation trend, as less expensive builders adorned their air cleaners with bells and whistles, which lulled consumers into a false confidence but failed to deliver clean air throughout a room.
After believing in the hype myself, I discovered that IQAir was right all along.
In my opinion, sensor driven residential air cleaning is neither safe nor effective, given the current level of technology.
IQAirs are tough, built of 3 mm (0.125 inch) impact resistant ABS plastic.
The housing is ultraviolet-stabilized to eliminate off-gasing, and is heavy metal and halogen-free.
IQAir filters are tightly sealed to the housing, held by pressure on three sides.
A set of air tight flanges eliminate bypassing - no dirty air leaks past the IQAir filter element as is so common in lesser air purifiers.
IQAirs allow independently changing the filters - no need to buy a whole set when only one is full.
While getting the jaws open the first couple times is a learning experience, it becomes easy and requires no tools.
Healthpros inhale dirty air at the bottom, where much of the pollutants reside, and exhaust particle-free air gently all around the top.
A balanced backwards curved centrifugal fan rolls on maintenance-free steel ball bearings.
Fan motors are also individually balanced.
When the Plus is running on high, there is considerable noise.
Even on my eleven-year-old HealthPro Plus, nearly all the noise is rushing air - no vibration, knocking, or transmitting sound to other rooms.
The fan, part of the 2012 IQAir upgrade, is now even more advanced.
Air delivery with fresh filters is approximately;
Speed 1 - 40 cfm,
Speed 2 - 70 cfm,
Speed 3 - 110 cfm,
Speed 4 - 140 cfm,
Speed 5 - 170 cfm,
Speed 6 - 240 cfm.
The actual speed of every IQAir is measured at the factory and certified by the quality control engineer who tested it.
Generally the certified numbers are a bit lower, and will decline as filters accumulate resistance with particle loading.
Many cheaper air purifiers, considered as a whole, have less filtering ability than the IQAir running only the prefilter.
The Health Pro prefilter collects over 90% of the particulate load by weight, and is the first to need replacement. This prefilter needs a prefilter of its own!
IQAir offers an option, the IQAir PF40 Coarse Dust Pre-Filtration Kit, for $139.00.
In homes with elevated levels of coarse dust, the kit mounts under the Health-Pro.
A washable half-inch filter pad is sandwiched between two rigid retainers which attach to the frame.
Replacement pads average about 10 bucks a piece, and extend the life of the $60 prefilter.
Both of my IQAirs, seven and ten years old, are running modified do-it-yourself prefilter trains, and I have never replaced either IQAir HEPA.
With the older HEPAs, air velocity has slowed some, but both IQs still blow zero particle exhaust and lower ambient particle counts quite well.
Standard HealthPros and HealthPro Compact do not carry the IQAir V5-Cell Gas & Odor cartridge.
A Standard HealthPro can always be upgraded with a V5 cell at any time.
The V-5 has 5 pounds of activated carbon and alumina based potassium permanganate mix.
Potassium Permanganate is an oxidizer, but unlike many oxidizing air purifiers, the Plus' oxidation is passive - it occurs within the IQAir unit, not in users breathing space.
User reviews note a slight chemical smell being emitted from the V5-cell filter during initial break-in.
Some severe MCS victims may find a heavier carbon filter, such as the IQAir Multigas series, a better fit.
In my experience, the $100 V5 cell is the principal user cost center in an IQAir purifier.
Those installing the IQAir V5 odor cell in smoking, painting, pesticide applications, or other heavy chemical load environments should expect very frequent filter replacements to retain effectiveness.
In 2012, IQAir upgraded HealthPros to the "New Edition" standards, tested and certified to filter 99.5 percent of microscopic ultrafine particles, down to 0.003 microns in size.
Projected filter life is; 6 to 18 months for the prefilter - my first one lasted over 2 years, and was replaced when the lamp went orange, not red.
Main HEPAs are expected to last 2 to 4 years depending on particle load - my first IQAir, purchased in 2005, still runs the original HEPA media.
V5 Gas and Odor cells are projected to last 1 to 2 years.
Although my MCS is mostly gone, I keep zero chemicals in my home as I urge readers to do.
My 2005 Health Pro Plus ran in a contaminated Houston apartment for three years.
The original V5 odor cell began to emit subtle offgassing, so I removed it in 2009.
I also have a 2008 IQAir HealthPro Plus model, its original V5 cell lasted 4 years in my zero-VOC rural cabin.
Filter replacement costs are consistent with the IQAir's premium price, but have held steady as air purifier prices have risen.
Using 9 months as prefilter life, estimated HEPA replacement at 3 years, and a year and a half for the V5 cell, a typical user with a relatively clean home could expect $209 annually in filter costs.
Users who will work to improve their home environment to eliminate VOCs, and add prefiltering for particulate, can lower their IQAir's long-term cost of ownership below those associated with many "less expensive" air cleaners.
Filter replacement lights are driven by an on-board computer algorithm based on hours of run-time and fan speed.
I recommend changing prefilters and main HEPAs when they are restricted rather than at a time/usage limit.
Here is where the inexpensive Dylos particle counter can pay for itself.
Replacing V5 cells is a subjective matter, our sense of smell is the only way to decide.
V5 cells, like most carbon filters, will quickly develop a "sweet" odor where aldehydes are prevalent.
Users of perfume or chemical "air fresheners," as well as owners of new furnishings or carpets, may foul the carbon faster than others.
When the IQAir is used in remodeling/painting and other toxic situations, early carbon cell replacement is recommended.
Of course, smoking/pet households will have very high filter costs, possibly a complete $400 set annually.
Reviewboard Magazine awarded the HealthPro Plus from IQAir its 2004 Editor’s Choice Award for Best Air Filtration System.
In 2005 the editors had this to say:
“We have had a first here at Reviewboard.
In the 8 years that we have been doing this no product in any category has ever won an Editor’s Choice Award two years in a row.”
Reviewboard took a Health Pro Plus and a top of the line laser particle counter to a dusty farm house where a barn had been converted into a bedroom.
They took a reading and found 1.8 MILLION airborne particles per cubic foot.
The IQAir HEPA Air purifier reduced the reading from 1.4 million to 150,000 in 3.5 hours.
After leaving the air cleaner running overnight, the next day the reading was 67,000.
A Blueair 603 or other high-CADR machine would have lowered particle counts in the barn faster, and might even have been a valid competitor for the HealthPro over the 24 hour particle cleaning test.
But few top-CADR air purification machines offer the degree of toxic VOC gas removal that the Health Pro Plus does.
“Using our Met One Laser
Particle Counter, the IQ Air tested at zero particle exhaust
at .3 micron. That's 100% efficiency!”
Reviewboard's March 2009 review gives the HealthPro Plus HEPA five of five stars.
Air-purifiers-america.com tests the products it sells, and ranked IQAirs at the top, citing "99% of particles removed."
User reviews of the New Edition HealthPro have started to accumulate, and average 4.3 stars.
Consumer Reports and AHAM, the leading organizations involved, appear to be compromised.
Others testing air purifiers are vendors, and may have reason to puff.
Testing with a laser particle counter (very expensive - loaned by IQAir for 30 days), we can attempt to replicate actual household conditions in extended tests.
And hey, I gotta barn too.
Well, it's actually the 16 by 22, (350 square foot) living room in my country cabin.
It has a 16 foot cathedral ceiling for summer chimney-effect cooling, with plenty of convection currents to lift dust up there.
The open floor plan loft cabin has interconnecting kitchen and office areas totaling another 350 square feet.
The handy particle scanner, visible in the photograph on a small glass end table to the right of the IQAir, measures particulate equal to or larger than .3 micron.
Readings are in particles per cubic foot.
After leaving all purifiers off for 2 weeks, measurements in different areas of the open cabin yield a baseline average reading of about 200,000 p/cu ft - the device gives high and low range readings which fluctuate and are therefore averaged.
It makes a considerable difference where the reading is taken, measurements right on the floor ran in the low 400,000 area.
I jump on the pretty flowered dust-magnet couch my wife can't part with.
I bang a few throw pillows together, and run a cheap big-box-department-store vacuum across the rug.
I shake the 31-year old family heirloom stuffed toy bunny rabbit - he sheds dust.
Now we got a barn: short term readings rise to 460,000 p/cu ft., but subside to the baseline 200k in a few minutes.
Next we center the HealthPro Plus in the room and turn it on full power.
Within 15 minutes, to my surprise, particulate readings fall to well under 50k.
After one hour, it's 27K.
Here are the results of the initial 24 hour full power (level 6) test;
Start: 200,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 1: 27,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 2: 20,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 3: 16,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 6: 5,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 7: 6,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 8: 5,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 11: 5,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 12: 5,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 22: 5,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 23: 4,000 p/cu ft,
Hour 24: 4,000 p/cu ft.
After 24 hours, power was reduced to level 3, as most users would do.
The surprise came when particle counts fell in other parts of the house, the adjoining kitchen and office.
Before returning the borrowed particle counter I decided to perform another experiment.
By now everybody has seen the photos of IQAir air purifiers with the particle counter measuring zero right at the exhaust outlet.
I did the same on the other air cleaners sitting around my home.
Both IQAir HealthPros, with their original HEPAs still in use, amazed me with continuing zero emissions.
But some cheaper equipment didn't measure up to my expectations.
My Honeywell 50250 emitted 25,000 p/cu ft.
A brand new Hunter 30748, a smaller version of the Permalife 30547 ranked number 3 at Consumer Reports, spewed 120,000 particles per cubic foot!
And my cheap Holmes HAP-242 desktop air cleaner, a notorious particle by-passer, blasted over 200,000 particles when background levels were 250,000.
This is what is meant by "getting what you paid for."
So many builders quote noise specs measured some distance away, while others just assert "whisper quiet" without evidence.
The "IQ" company provides noise spec quotes;
Speed 1: 35 dB(A);
Speed 2: 46 dB(A);
Speed 3: 54 dB(A);
Speed 4: 60 dB(A);
Speed 5: 64 dB(A);
Speed 6: 69 dB(A).
While 69 dB(A) on high is pretty loud, the noise is a whooshing sound, there is no vibration.
Speeds to 3 are quiet enough for the bedroom.
It is not easy to move up stairs, but I routinely drag mine from room to room.
One perennial weak area for IQAir is the wheels, which insert into the plastic case, and tend to break off or bend.
IQAir has made some wheel improvements, but I just leave mine off from the start.
Energy use on high is considerable even in New Edition models.
An IQAir running on low uses more electrical energy than many BLDC motor designs now coming from Asia burn on high.
The IQAir HealthPro Plus is certified by the IAACM (International Association of Air Cleaner Manufacturers) to be 100% ozone-free.
IQ Air Purifier is a sharp contrast to many producers of room air purifiers who may be reaching up from a manufacturing base of non-purifier consumer goods.
Lacking filtration engineering experience, customer support depth, and marketing connections, they may also lack staying power in a competitive air purifier market.
I strongly identify with the IQ Air company holding the high ground in this moral minefield (internet marketing of health devices).
With the uninformed lining up like sheep to pay up to $700 for useless and dangerous frauds, their product is an obvious choice.
IQ Air products are sold and serviced through a network of authorized purifier dealers at retail locations nationwide.
Made in Switzerland, IQAirs are individually tested and certified, and covered by a 5-year warranty.
IQAirs last much longer than typical department store air cleaners.
After eleven years continuous operation I have a few complaints.
But no product is perfect.
Here is what I have found not to like.
2. Filters are quite expensive when run in unclean spaces.
I run cheaper air cleaners alongside the IQs, using multiple prefilters to collect coarse dust.
3. High speed operation is not quiet, I use lower speeds at night.
4. While there are few real complaints, no lawsuits, and almost no returns, I finally found a little dirt on IQAir.
In 2010-2011 the company experimented with a new adhesive in the filters, it turned out to be smelly, a disappointment for many buyers.
The filter glue gaffe is strictly IQAir history now.
5. IQAir Plus is a premium quality HEPA air cleaner, but it is NOT superman.
If HealthPro were CADR certified, I estimate it would do about 235, about midway in the pack.
Many people misunderstand this.
They expect the large price and large size to equate to the power to sweep through their entire 2000 sq ft house faster than a bottle of "Mr. Clean."
IQAirs have airflow rates comparable to many much cheaper machines, many of which score in the low 200 CADR area.
Installing any 234 cubic foot per minute air cleaner in 2000 square feet of tobacco residue, pet fur, dander and droppings, formaldehyde vapors, and fresh shellac will lead to disappointment.
I recommend the Plus HealthPros for a 300 square feet maximum room size, a downgrade from my previous suggestion.
Then there is the expectation of immediate health benefits.
Many allergy victims will notice immediate benefits, often within hours.
But most health conditions are caused by complex lifestyle factors of which indoor air quality is only one.
IQAirs excel at fine particle removal - by fine I mean .1 micron and below.
The particulate tested by AHAM and presumably Consumer Reports generally larger.
Many users main problem is pollen allergy, provoked by relatively large sized grains in the 0.35-250 micron range.
Seasonal pollen allergy sufferers may not need the IQ's superior filtration to get relief since pollen grains are large enough for many cheaper high-CADR air cleaners to handle well.
Mold spores are also relatively large (1 to 75 microns).
Mold allergy and seasonal pollen problems do not warrant the higher price of IQ Airs.
Particles this big will collect in an IQAir's prefilter.
But pet dander and saliva proteins can be very small, to .1 micron, dust mite droppings can be sub-micron sized, as can suspended house dust.
Increasingly, super fine particles are being implicated as a main threat to health.
Users with mild chemical sensitivity could benefit from IQAir Plus' chemical filtering.
There are several premium class competitors, but an important part of IQAir's success comes from it's established distribution and support system and very conservative design philosophy.
A dozen authorized internet dealers lead a pack of hundreds.
Buyers can deal direct with the company.
Many internet orders are drop-shipped from the factory.
IQAir is not going to vanish, as numerous air cleaner builders have, and has not outsourced production to Asia.
A standard filtering architecture throughout the product line means consumers will not be searching for filters or parts in the internet closeout bin.
Tech support is widely regarded as courteous and knowledgeable.
In a very soft air cleaner market since 2009, IQAir has held price flat on the New Edition, but watch vendors for hidden shipping charges.
Standard builder pricing, unchanged for many years;
IQAir HealthPro Plus with V-5 Gas and Odor Filter: $899,
Replacement Pre-Filter: $69.00,
Replacement V-5 Gas & Odor Filter: $99.00,
Replacement HEPA filter: $199.00.
IQAir PreMax Pre-filter Kit: $79,
IQAir V5 Cell Gas and Odor Filter: $100,
Read my reviews; I am very picky and critical of most products, companies, and institutions in this business.
HealthPros ship well packaged and fully documented, shipping damage claims are very rare.
My recommended vendor for the IQAirs is Amazon.com, where the HealthPro Plus is $899 with free standard shipping;