Blueair 503 HepaSilent Air Purifier Review by Garth Wernsman
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The Blueair 503 home air purifier is more than very economical, more than highly functional, and more than ultra stylish. It’s all those things, but it’s more than the sum of its parts.
The Blueair 503 features a Scandinavian minimalist case you either love or hate. I love it. For appliances, I always prefer to have a case that doesn’t clash with the home décor and this one would fit in any home environment.
At a very compact 26″ high x 20″ wide x 13″ deep you won’t have to scratch your head over where to put it, either. If you don’t like your first choice you can easily move it; it weighs only 35 lbs. That’s light enough to be transportable without being so light it tips over from the first not-so-gentle swish of a dog’s tail it encounters.
At the same time, under that stylish cover is a bevy of supremely functional features.
Clears A Ton of Air
The ability to clear a 580 square foot area a full five air changes per hour is just the most basic reason why this air purifier gets high marks. At only four changes per hour that number increases to 640 square feet. But if you have a space up to 1190 square feet it will still give you two air changes per hour.
That air-cleansing ability can be quantified in another way, using the industry-standard CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) numbers. They’re usually listed according to how they handle three main home pollutants: Pollen, Dust and Smoke.
- 375 Pollen
- 375 Dust
- 375 Smoke
The technical definition of CADR is a little complicated, but it’s easy to understand the numbers by comparison. Just look at the figures for other models/brands and you’ll see the above CADR ratings are excellent.
The net result is that nearly any home room will be kept pristine, free of allergens of nearly any sort. Among those is a whole laundry list of compounds, including dust, pollen, mold spores, animal dander and even many airborne bacteria and viruses.
3-Stage HEPA Filtration System, Highly Effective
The Blueair proprietary filter system is at the base of that superior room air purifying ability.
Stage 1 starts with a set of “Ion Brushes” as a pre-filter, a distinctive feature of this home air purifier. The fancy name aside, negative ions are generated in a special chamber. That causes many common household allergens to get attracted to the next stage.
Stage 2 consists of Blueair’s proprietary HEPA filter system, a design it calls HEPASilent. The name may be a little silly – all HEPA filters are silent. But whatever they call it, it really works. The honeycomb houses internally three separate filter layers, providing in-depth air cleansing.
The first layer traps larger particles like larger dust grains and pollen. The second and third trap smaller particles like bacteria and some viruses (down to 0.1 micron). Since the HEPA filters are made of water-repellant polypropylene, there’s no need to treat them with bactericides to keep the filter from encouraging growth inside the unit.
Unfortunately, there’s no Carbon Filter in the base model, a drawback that should motivate buyers to look closely before buying. They’re not absolutely necessary in the average home, though. They help capture certain volatile organic compounds like smoke, paint fumes and household cleaning products. Judge according to your circumstances.
For those who really need that, there is an optional SmokeStop filter set that you can use instead of the original particle filter set. It does include 3 activated charcoal filters that trap a range of compounds. It can clear second-hand smoke in minutes. It’s so quick and effective most people probably won’t even sense their introduction into the room.
Those optional filters offer a combined ability to trap both particles and gases. They do that with an unusual material: a coconut-shell activated carbon that’s impregnated with a solution of potassium iodide, potassium hydroxide, and phosphoric acid.
Maintenance, Amazingly Easy
The manufacturer recommends changing the filters every six months. Whether that’s necessary or excessively conservative will really depend on your sensitivity and your particular environment. For some who are truly sensitive, that’s good advice. For others, once per year or longer will be fine.
When it is time to change them the filter swapping procedure is both moderate-cost and very simple. The current average price on Amazon for a set of three replacement particle filters is $80. For a set of three replacement SmokeStop filters you pay about $50 more. You may find them cheaper, of course. You can extend their life and save money by vacuuming them, easy to do thanks to the polypropylene material.
Whatever the price, you won’t struggle changing them. You just flip up the top, pull out the old ones, and insert the new ones. Clean disposal is just a matter of dropping the used ones into a plastic bag to prevent allergens being re-introduced into the air. Of course, if that happens it’s not a disaster; the Blueair 503 will just sweep them right out again.
Noise Levels and Electricity Consumption, Truly Low
The usage-friendly design continues with a set of very welcome low noise levels.
At the lowest speed the Blueair 503 generates only 32 dB while pumping out 88 cfm (cubic feet per minute). Speed 2 is only marginally louder at 37 dB but generates substantially more air at 117 cfm. Speed 3 is noticeable at 49 dB while pumping a whopping 247 cfm. Speed 4 is off the charts in air – 450 cfm – but still a livable 66 dB.
The 503 uses only 120 watts at the highest setting and a negligible amount (35 watts) at the lowest. You won’t have to worry about the electric bill with this model.
There is one minor design weakness: the controls are manual rather than electronic. That’s unlikely to introduce any change to the unit’s MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure). Both methods are highly reliable and long-lived these days. But we’ve all become accustomed to associating electronic controls with superior design. Let your taste be your guide here.
The Blueair 503 home air purifier has fewer filter stages than many competing models. Fortunately, because of its materials, design, and ability to pump tons of air, it doesn’t seem to need them. Tons of clean air very quick and all the time is proof of that.