Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A Review
Tortoise and Hare Revisited
Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A $549.95 MSRP:
Rabbit Air MinusA2 is an electronically automated, premium class style-leading design, a step toward the work-of-art air purifier of the future.
If you are tired of noisy, boxy, manually controlled HEPA air cleaners, or have had enough of plate-washing and wire-sparking from ozone-belching electrostatic machines, check this one out.
MinusA2 SPA-780A is RabittAir's third generation product, based on the Korean-built Coway Ace AP-1004AH, but with filters developed by the RabbitAir engineering team.
It is an improved version of the Minus2A SP-1004, the two have different filter sets.
Going for over $500 in a very soft market, this expensive premium class entry has got to perform well to match class leaders.
Rabbit Air clearly aspires to industry leadership, where a vacuum has developed as early marketing-based models - Oreck and Sharper Image, have faltered.
Today it takes world class engineering and smart marketing to dominate the globalizing air purifier market.
I was skeptical when I first looked at Rabbit Air, expecting the company with the funny-bunny name not to be a long-term player.
By focusing on importing leading-edge technology and first-class customer service, they have proven me wrong.
I long for a company which will lead the air purifier industry, and consumers, out of the early-stage wilderness - hundreds of small-time brands, many selling dangerous ineffective junk to uninformed consumers, with bogus marketing and bad customer service.
Brands which have been long-time quality leaders, the IQAirs and Austin Airs, for example, tend to be conservative, selling well built but boxy, manually-controlled aircleaners.
I call these folks the "tortoises."
With a few changes, both to the machines and the marketing, Rabbit Air might become the "hare"
Bricks-and-mortar retailers picking up the bunnyaires include Fry's Electronics, H.H. Gregg, and Boscov's.
RabbitAirs are available at retail merchants in my home state of Texas, as well as Arizona, Illinois, California, Oregon, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, Kentucky, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
While online sellers of the existing Rabbits are many, web merchants offering the relatively new and premium priced Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A model are scarce.
The company's website and Amazon.com store, and Overstock.com list the new hare-aire.
SPA-780A is Mid-Powered
Though beautiful, this is merely a mid-powered air cleaner.
Sales literature cites Clean Air Delivery Rates (CADR);
The current AHAM page does not list any Rabbit Airs, and the Korean manufacturer, Woongjin Coway, has certified only its Idylis brand. But CADR participation is costly and the companies may have chosen, as many do, to abstain.
Rating a 200 CADR machine for a room-size of 815 sq. ft., which yields just 2 air changes per hour on continuous high-speed, is pure marketing hype.
This is just industry standard marketing, Rabbit Air is not alone in the room-size circus.
The biggest cause of buyer disappointment with an air purifier purchase, beyond "damaged in shipping," is over-installing.
That means putting an aircleaner in too big a room, or in a damp/toxic environment.
The naive user then wonders why their air quality problem persists.
While the MinusA2 model SPA-780A from Rabbit Air is very quiet, it cannot be expected to run on high speed all the time.
To get the minimum 6 air changes needed for noticeable results, a 270 square foot room would be the maximum size.
Pet owners, smoking households, allergy-relief-seekers, and elderly or chronically ill buyers should over-install at my recommended one square foot per CADR.
Rabbits are Automated
The entire Rabbit Air line are modern air purifiers - Japanese and Korean-built with state-of-the-art electronic controls.
MinusA2s have one adjustable air quality sensor which adjusts fan speed to particulate levels in the room.
The air sensor system deployed in the MinusA2 SPA-780s is very sensitive.
An air quality indicator lamp on the right side control panel changes color, from blue (clean) to red (poor air quality).
However, I caution users of automated air cleaners NOT to rely exclusively on Auto Mode.
Be sure to run the air purifier on High for considerable periods whenever noise would not interfere with daily activities.
With user experience in setting the baseline air quality, the panel display is a decent feedback system for air quality in the home.
Here is another source of negative user experience with sensor driven air cleaners. To set baseline air quality, run the machine for 72 hours on high when it first arrives.
This will clear airborne contaminants. When you are sure particulate has been reduced, turn off and unplug the Rabbit Air SPA-780A.
When the machine is plugged back in, immediately select "Auto Mode" and let the computer establish a base-level for comparison.
MinusA2 has only an odor sensor, so automatic operation does not respond to particulate levels.
There is a trend among manufacturers of leading edge automated air cleaners toward dropping one of the sensors on new products - Airgle dropped the particle sensor, Sharp dropped the odor sensors.
But with no particle sensor on the SPA-780, I recommend relying less on auto mode.
I'd run the SPA-780 on high intermittently, and always manually select the highest noise levels compatible with other activities.
The odor sensor, with its propensity to generate humor, is primarily a marketing feature for electronically controlled machines, including all the Rabbits.
There are four modes; Manual, Quiet, Auto, Pollen, and Sleep.
As counterpoint to the missing-particle-sensor dirge, an interesting feature of the Rabbit Air SPA-780A is the light sensor.
When in Auto Mode, the light sensor measures the luminosity in a room and automatically selects Sleep Mode after the room has been dark for three minutes. In Sleep Mode, the Minus2A operates at its quietest, and turns off the air quality indicator and mood light.
When lights come on, Auto Mode returns.
It turns itself back to Auto Mode after the lights are detected.
A frequent user complaint with the earlier Rabbit Airs was the too-bright lights at night.
A full-feature remote control is standard.
Unlike previous Mitsubishi-based models, and several competitors, users are not tied to the remote - all functions can be modulated either from the front panel or with the remote.
Rabbit Air SPA-780A Filters
The new MinusA2 draws air from the periphery of the front cover, forcing it through a stack of 5 filters.
There are no oxidizing functions; no photo catalytic cell, plasma ion generator, or ultraviolet lamp.
First is a nano-silver coated electrostatic pre-filter. This is a screen layered with a very thin film of tiny silver particles. These increase the surface area and adhesiveness of the mesh, causing microorganisms to stick.
Silver is antimicrobial.
Users will need to clean the pre-filter monthly.
The second filtration "stage" is an innovative "medium" filter. This is similar to the blue furnace filter substitute mesh which is widely available in hardware departments, treated with anti-bacterial substances.
RabbitAir's medium filter captures airborne particles above 1 micron diameter, including many pollens and pet dander.
I have been using this stuff for several years in my dust catchers - older air purifiers whose filter replacement costs have made them obsolete.
I replace the HEPA or HEPA-type filter with a carefully fitted chunk of the blue mesh and nylon/polyester prefilter. Dust catcher machines run near a more expensive model, thus extending filter life in the high-dollar HEPA.
I didn't expect purifier builders, many of whom make fatter margins on replacement filter sales, to include this money saving feature on a new machine.
A plus for the hare.
The medium filter is replaced annually if warranty is to be maintained.
Stage 3, the heart of Minus2A, is the antimicrobial "BioGS" HEPA filter.
This HEPA's fibers are coated with anti-viral agents which have been demonstrated to reduce airborne flu virus numbers.
Since HEPA filters tend to accumulate microbes, the main purpose of antimicrobial treatments is to keep the filter from breeding bugs and emitting odors.
However, the company uses the term "Flu Prevention Capability" to describe this process.
More marketing malarkey.
The influenza virus is believed to spread between humans, not through persistent airborne populations, but by direct person-to-person transmission.
Spread of the flu viruses is mainly done through close sneezing - respiratory droplets 5 microns in diameter and larger, too big to remain airborne, are inhaled at distances less than 3 feet from the vector (sneezer).
Secondly, hands touching, which subconsciously then itch or rub the nose or mouth, carry the viral particles.
So flu is not "prevented" by air filtration, the masks and gloves worn by the Chinese during the SARS scare would do far more good.
Air purifiers may actually help prevent tuberculosis, when installed to provide a minimum of 12 air changes per hour.
Company marketing literature misquotes the HEPA filter specification:
"Traps airborne allergens and contaminants down to 0.3 microns in size, 99.97% of the time"Another marketing mistake, common when Asian-language marketing literature gets transplanted to the US and translated into English.
First, I am sure the SPA-780As' HEPA traps particles smaller than .3 microns, to .1 micron.
Next, the 99.97% at .3 micron specification refers to single pass efficiency of the filter media - .3 micron particulate is the most difficult size for HEPAs to capture.
"Filter captures 99.97% of .3 micron particles that pass through it" is better - time has nothing to do with it.
Much more important is the efficiency of the air purifier as a whole - how much dirty air leaks past the filter - overall efficiency rates above 95% are rare.
Premium air appliances are typically tested with a laser particle counter.
It would be easy for Rabbit Air to emulate the class leaders, testing and marketing their attractive new product consistently.
A rough estimate of actual overall efficiency can be obtained from airflow and CADR numbers. (CADR is calculated using efficiency and airflow).
Dividing the dust CADR by the high speed air flow gives us (200/218 = .917) 92 percent, an acceptable value. Since CADR tests are biased toward larger particles, submicron efficiencies are likely lower.
The SPA-780A user guide suggests gentle vacuuming of the HEPA with a soft brush attachment when the prefilter is removed for cleaning.
The non-washable BioGS filter measures 15.75” by 11.75.”
Note that the lesser Rabbit MinusA2, model AP-1004, does not come with the BioGS filter.
However, the $75 filter replacement kit, which fits both MinusA2s, contains the BioGS filter.
The fourth filter is the 780A Rabbits' "Customized Filter."
Three options include;
SPA-780A MinusA2's 5th filter is the honeycomb (as opposed to charcoal bag type) Activated Charcoal Filter, for chemical and odor reduction.
This is not a washable filter - recommended replacement is 12 months to retain warranty coverage.
Consistent with the light 1.5 lb. weight of carbon, users note Rabbit Air SPA-780A is not instantaneous on odors, but does reduce smells within an hour.
Users running this machine 24/7 in high-pollutant situations (pets-tobacco-fresh remodel...) should expect 8-month filter replacements to retain odor reduction.
Last, following the biofilters, air is freshened by a negative ionizer.
Other than "millions" of ions emitted, no specs on ion density, emitter type or construction are given.
However, the Biofresh is marketed as producing zero ozone.
Negative ions without ozone is a favorite here at AirPurifierPower.
Annual filter maintenance costs are a minimum of $75, more in high-load installations.
One very energy-conscious Amazon.com buyer reported:
"no noticeable reduction in system performance at 1 year."
Emissions and Safety
The main ingredient in Rabbit Air MinusA2 series top performance is its motor.
Air purifiers are engineered around the motor.
The current state-of-the-art engine is the Brushless Direct Current Motor (BLDC) motor.
These produce no sparks, no ozone, less heat, low noise, low vapor emissions, weaker electromagnetic fields, and last longer than the older designs prevalent in the industry.
With the ionizer on and the fan on low, there are trace ozone emissions, approximately .002 parts per million.
This is very low ozone, comparable to many other air purifiers which may claim "zero" ozone emissions.
Rabbit marketing is up to date with respect to published specifications - many builders hide noise and other emissions behind vague platitudes.
MinusA2 has roughly the same noise emissions as its predecessor, the near-silent 582A.
Regular readers of this site know that noise must be considered relative to work being done. Historically, effective purifiers were loud, and quiet air cleaners didn't clean air.
The full Air-purifier-power noise to airflow specification for the Rabbit Air SPA-780A (decibels per cubic foot per minute) is;
This is exceptional performance, it allows most users to sleep with the Rabbit SPA780A on third - 37 decibels, and 112 cubic feet per minute.
MinusA2 is among the quietest air purifiers on the market. Experienced air cleaner users know noise is a very important consideration.
Sharp's FP-P60CX is similar, although at 14dB(A) @ 31 cfm, it is near silent on low.
Recently introduced, the $799 Chinese-built Airgle 750 is a bit quieter, and incredibly strong,
Rabbits automatically shut off when the front panel is removed.
Consuming only 8 Watts on low, and 58 Watts on high speed, the hareair is US EPA Energy Star qualified with 3.45 dust CADR per Watt.
Over the life of the MinusA2 low power consumption will offset some of the higher purchase price.
Funny Bunny: Mood Light
Trying to hit on a style theme, Rabbit has incorporated user-switchable alternating mood lighting in both models of the MinusA2s.
On the front of the machine, the mood light panel fluctuates rhythmically between sea blue and pink, when in the silent/low speed mode.
SPA-780A's mood light is bright but can be turned off at night.
Here is another area where the bunny's marketing needs refinement.
Mood light "helps set a calm, soothing ambiance".
Ok, but this puffing -
"Mood light on air purifier helps to normalize blood pressure, pulse, and facilitate deep breathing, which puts a person in a state of long-lasting calm and relaxation.
goes too far.
Then the company implies, but does not directly assert, that MinusA2's pulsating light benefits Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a specific type of depression.
Hey, I dig the lightshow, but this health claim is pure hype.
For treatment of SAD, bright (10,000 LUX) full spectrum light, preferably sunshine, is prescribed. Rabbit's mood light might be too bright for sleeping, but it's nowhere close to 10K LUX.
Consumers, many of whom have owned two or three over-marketed Orecks and Ionic Breezes, are getting harder to fool with such silly claims.
Rabbit Air, which is a veteran of the Sharper Image wars, should already know this.
Measuring 20 inches high by 21.4 wide and only 7 inches deep, the new Rabbit Air weighs just over 19 pounds.
This trim profile combines with attractive styling to make SPA-780A ideal for wall mount installations.
Many illustrations on the web depict MinusA2s on the wall.
A wall mounting kit is available from Rabbit air, for ten bucks extra.
Users who have installed the MinusA2s on walls report the metal mounting plate is thin and narrow.
Do-it-yourselfers should be familiar with stud-finding. (I tend to miss the stud, making numerous wall perforations before getting a hit).
For liability reasons screws are not included in the kit.
Los Angeles-based Rabbit Air was founded in 2001. It was the end result of a patent infringement lawsuit, filed by former air purifier market leader Sharper Image, against a predecessor company.
Before going bankrupt, Sharper Image sued everybody, even Consumer Reports - apparently management at that publicly-traded company did not recognize they were the target of big-money Wall Street short sellers.
Since then, the bunny has built a very good web reputation.
Los Angeles Better Business Bureau gives Rabbit Air an "A+" rating, they have only one complaint, which was addressed satisfactorily.
The RabbitAir eBay store has 469 positive to 2 negative feedbacks, and is 100% positive for the most recent 12 months.
At Amazon.com 1,040 feedback ratings are 98% positive.
I read every one of these (audible groan), and couldn't find one without a good explanation - late orders by customers, damage by carriers, ... - and the company responded to every very rare problem.
It isn't hard to post phony sunny reviews on the web, but companies who do this cannot hide the sour reviews. You won't find legitimate complaints about Rabbit Air or it's products.
Karrie Chan, Rabbit Air CEO, has dedicated the company to professional, courteous, responsive customer service.
Referrals and return customers represent 35% of sales.
This company is a very good communicator.
The call center is in California (not India). A test call to customer service and was answered quickly by a friendly English-fluent support person.
For phone orders, call 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Toll Free from U.S. or Canada 1 (888) 866-8862
Most Rabbits are shipped the same business day, with a no hassle return policy for units sent back in undamaged condition.
Warranty on a visibly quality-built product, is a decent 5 years, longer than the life expectancy of most air cleaners.
For warranty claims, buyers must comply with 12 month filter purchases as recommended in the user guide.
Gift Wrap available from www.rabbitair.com bargain priced at five bucks.
Some have suggested the gift-wrap paper quality might be commensurate with the low charge, but based on what I have read about Rabbit Air Customer Service, this issue is most likely history.
Some users have expressed disappointment in the "Pearl White" color, wanting the "Chrome Silver" RabbitAir has become known for.
MinusA2 SPA-780A comes in black or white only.
RabbitAir SPA-780A is a modern, attractive, automatic, ultra quiet, quality air purifier, suitable for living and sleeping areas up to 270 square feet.
With the (temporary?) discontinuation of the Rabbit BIOGS series due to problems with the overseas manufacturer, the MinusA2 series are carrying the load at Rabbit Air.
Long term low costs of ownership offset initial purchase price premium.
MinusA2 SPA-780A could be improved by doubling the weight of the carbon filter.
Rabbit Air has come a long way, in just a few years, achieving a reputation for good customer service and innovative high quality products.
I would like the company to move completely away from old fashioned air purifier hype marketing. A few improvements are needed.
When you have very competitive products like the Rabbit Air MinusA2s, there is no need for spurious claims.
If the hare can do this, and continue to push the envelope with beautiful, fully automated air cleaners, they might beat the tortoise.
This time it is the tortoise, slow and steady industry leading manually controlled box-styled air cleaners, who are napping.
Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A Review - Rating
Each of ten factors gets up to 10 points, 100 is perfect and very unlikely.
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, too-light weight carbon filter takes time to clear odor from bigger areas.
3. Quality construction; case, gaskets, seals, and precision fitting eliminate bypassing and assure high efficiency at filtering sub-micron particles.
Score: 9 of 10, laser particle counter tests would help here.
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.
5. Unit has long filter life, low maintenance requirements, and reasonable operating costs.
Score: 9 of 10, filters need to be changed annually to stay in warranty.
6. Purifier produces low noise levels and meaningful air flow rates relative to noise.
Score: 10 of 10, among the quietest air purifiers on the planet.
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: 9 of 10, Rabbit Air has great customer service reputation, long warranty.
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: 8 of 10, pricey, but real nice, great gift, be sure not to pay "MSRP".
9. No dirt; unit and manufacturer should be devoid of class-action suits, high returns, recalls, consumer complaints, and legitimate negative consumer reviews.
Score: 9 of 10,
10. Unit is stylish, portable, comfortable, and convenient for consumer use.
Score: 10 of 10, prettiest air purifier, nice automated interface, cool wall mount and mood light.
Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A Numeric Rating; 92
A decent air purifier well suited for the style conscious residence or professional office.
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