Winix Plasmawave 5300 Air Purifier ReviewWinix, a leading Korean corporation, copied a successful Japanese product, the Sharp Plasmacluster, with quality better than the Chinese, at a very competitive price.
5300 discarded the 5000b's inferior HEPA-type filter, sporting a true-HEPA instead.
The new Winix hit a quality and power-to-price target that few could match, but remember this is still an economy air cleaner.
Winix Plasmawave 5300 achieved significant market penetration which initially included Fry's, Target, Best Buy, Costco, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Amazon.com.
Amazon has 147 customer reviews averaging 4.5 stars.
30 reviews at costco.com average 4 stars.
Sears sells Winixes, rebranding them as "Kenmore Plasma Waves" and adding a hefty brand price premium.
Also notice the strong similarity of the inexpensive Electrolux EL490A Oxygen3 air cleaner to the Winix 5300.
Allergybuyersclub.com, which carries only better quality air cleaners, has picked up Winix and put a 4 star rating on the PlasmaWaves.
As part of my 2010 test group, I bought a Winix Plasmawave 5300.
I paid $149.95 at big box retailer Fry's Electronics in Austin.
Every air purifier builder is facing creeping price inflation.
Nearly everyone is cutting corners where they hope cash-short consumers won't notice.
So, after the 5300 had been a hit, Winix introduced the $200 Winix 5500, essentially the 5300 with a new "washable" HEPA filter.
This was a price increase disguised as a new model.
To hold price target, 5300 was stripped of the remote and the infrared sensor that reads it.
The problem came when buyers of the new 5300 received their product, advertised as having a remote, in a box depicting a remote, with literature describing remote operation.
The Plasmawave ion streamer was operated solely through the remote, so buyers can no longer shut off the ion stream.
If you want the remote and a controllable plasma-ion streamer, you must buy the 5500, NOT the 5300.
Winix is an Asian company, I have yet to see one that "gets it" as far as US marketing is concerned.
I can see that they were forced to downgrade their product, as many others are doing the same, but Winix handled it poorly.
AHAM certified Power
5300 is a mid-powered air cleaner, with good airflow for the price.
AHAM certified CADRs (Clean Air Delivery Rates) for the 5300;
248 Dust,equal to leaders in the price class.
AHAM room size rating, too large as usual, is 350 square feet.
I recommend Winix 5300 for a maximum room size of 280 square feet, with the room size slightly larger than average CADR due to the plasma-ion function's capabilities.
Four fan speeds provide a range of air delivery rates and perhaps the quietest noise-to-output ratio in the price class.
5300 FiltersWinix dropped the dropped the filter cassette tray system and the permanent mesh pre-filter from the higher-priced 5000 model, leaving just two filters on the fifty-three-hundred.
The carbon mesh filter is very thin - you can see through it - and the weight of carbon too light, even for the short 3-month recommended change interval.
Winix is obviously relying on the PlasmaWave ion system to deal with gases and odors
But a bigger problem exists with this filter.
My 5300 had a very strong and totally unacceptable insecticide-like odor from the new "carbon" filter.
There is a fad, especially prominent in post-SARS Asia, centered around anti-microbial devices.
In 2009, near hysteria evolved around a supposed killer flu, the H1N1 variant.
It looks like Winix took the anti-H1N1 bait real hard, adding too many chemicals to this filter.
It could also be a quality control issue, since many buyers seem not to notice any odor.
Some users have noticed this smell and reported it lasting just a few days.
I discarded the filter and replaced it. Where the thicker 5000 series cassette tray would have gone, there is plenty of space for filter modifications.
I replaced the smelly filter with a rectangle of air conditioner filter cloth, roughly $4, from Lowes Home Improvement.
A carbon filter bag, constructed for a Sharp Plasmacluster, was added ahead of the two filters.
See Homemade $15 Carbon Filter for exhaustive detail on the carbon filter bag.
I stuffed the do-it-yourself fiberglass bag about 80% full with fresh carbon from E.L. Foust Co., and put it in the Winix.
The 5300 ships with a Bonus Carbon Filter Pack with 3 extra carbon pre-filters - a year's supply with 3 month change intervals. The other filters did not have the strong odor, but will never be used regardless.
Users who do not feel confident about dealing with issues like this should avoid the Winix.
But realize this is common with economy brands.
The 5300's plastic case does not seem to outgass.
But now I have an odor-free, 3-pound carbon, true-HEPA air cleaner for a total investment of $190, including tax. With the mods installed, the exhaust air is sweet and clean.
The Winix now runs in my office, by my side as I write.
Winix 5300s have a True HEPA filter (99.97% capture rate for 0.3 micron particles), replacing the 5000B's inferior HEPA-like filter.
HEPA filter replacements are frequent - 12 months is recommended - and not real cheap relative to the initial purchase price of the air purifier.
Numerous reviews report HEPA replacements in less than 1 year.
Winix filter kit #115115 includes the True HEPA and 4 carbon pre-filters, at around $70.
An alternative is to use the 4-stage Winix 9000 series filter which costs about $100.
Plasmawave 5300 is Automatic
A digital odor sensor modulates the speed of a low voltage fan automatically, keeping sound levels and electricity costs down.
There is a wide range of user feedback on these cheap ($5?) odor sensors.
For $150 bucks, you are not getting a military-spec explosive sniffing electronic nose.
Gas molecules vary greatly in size, polarity, and ability to trigger both electronic odor sensors and human olfactory senses.
At this price compromises are required.
The Winix 5300 will definitely detect strong odors at short range, but many users note that lingering odors throughout the house may not speed up the air purifier
One smoker, reporting in an Amazon.com user review, tested a 5300 by lighting up across the room, at a distance of 12 feet.
It took a couple minutes buildup for the Winix to detect the smoke, turn on the red light, and go to Turbo mode.
The display panel shows a replace filter indicator, fan speed level, mode (Auto/Manual/Sleep), and three color air quality level.
A handy remote control is NO LONGER standard.
Sleep mode operates the fan on the quietest speed and dims the lights in darkened rooms.
I have not used the Winix in the bedroom, but numerous users report too-bright lights even on "dim."
This is extremely common in all purifiers with displays.
Winix PlasmaWave's ionizer, like its mentor the Plasmacluster, creates hydroxyl radicals from water molecules in the air.
These are strong oxidizers, capable of destroying airborne microorganisms and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).
Manufacturers assert the safety of plasma-ion technology, using "oxidizers mimic nature" marketing. This same terminology was used with the ozonators now being phased out of the air cleaner market.
I say users of all oxidative air cleaning machines, including the Plasmawaves, should avoid being too close to the air cleaner while plasma-ion mode is running.
But, as this plasma-ion oxidizer is not controllable, I no longer recommend Winix 5300 for the chemically sensitive or highly allergic.
I still think it is a bargain.
No technical noise spec is available, but 5300 is quiet on all but Turbo, which itself is relatively noiseless relative to the near-250 CADR.
Mine shows three lights out of five right now, and the noise is unobtrusive while I work.
Like the Plasmacluster machines, Plasmawaves make a subtle clicking sound in plasma-ion mode as the ionizer cycles.
UtilityPlasmaWave 5300 is EPA EnergyStar certified, a DC Motor burns just 6 watts on low speed.
Measuring 16.3 by 8.5 by 21.7 inches, Winix PlasmaWave 5300 is compact without being tiny.
At 15 lbs, it is portable for carry to adjacent rooms, but lack of a handle makes moving awkward.
Winix Corporate and Warranty
Stateside PlasmaWave customer service is handled from suburban Chicago;
Winix offers a one year limited warranty.
An Amazon.com user review reports a positive customer service experience with the Chicago Winix folks.
After the initial disappointment, my modified Winix 5300 is working well.
I run the plasma ions without noticing any irritation.
This is a bargain air cleaner, successfully designed for a big-box retail market niche.
I consider it a very viable alternative to the department store brands - Hunter, Holmes, Bionaire, and most Honeywells
While it is not a Sharp Plasmacluster, it offers similar power at a very low price.
I continue to like the Winix brand and its value proposition, but I would have to buy the more expensive Winix 5500 today.
Be sure not to pay more than $170 for Winix 5300, some advertise it at much higher prices due to confusion with the new 5500 model.
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: 5 of 10, smelly pre-filter hasta go - Winix are you listening?
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, light carbon filter combines with plasma ion-oxidation, but no $150 air cleaner has much real carbon.
3. Quality construction; case, gaskets, seals, and precision fitting eliminate bypassing and assure high efficiency at filtering sub-micron particles.
Score: 7 of 10, efficiency probably below 80%, while the HEPA fits the chamber tightly, there are no lips or seals to prevent bypassing. This is normal for the price range.
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, separate filters, but frequent changes.
5. Unit has long filter life, low maintenance requirements, and reasonable operating costs.
Score: 8 of 10, low purchase price is offset some by annual filter costs.
6. Purifier produces low noise levels and meaningful air flow rates relative to noise.
Score: 10 of 10, good noise-to-power ratio, quiet for sleeping.
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: 8 of 10, warranty is short, growing Korean brand has established itself in a difficult market.
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, value brand, be sure not to 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: 7 of 10, Winix remote-removal gaffe cost a point here.
10. Unit is stylish, portable, comfortable, and convenient for consumer use.
Score: 10 of 10,
Air-Purifier-Power Numeric Rating; 82.
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