Air quality is in the news a lot at the moment, and air purifiers, which promise to remove toxins of all sorts from your home, are becoming increasingly popular. Awareness of the harmful effects of particulate matter on everything from respiratory illness to more long-term health issues is growing all the time, and air purifiers can help to dissipate these issues – as well as alleviate more modest air-related problems such as hayfever.
Our indoor air is around five times more polluted than outdoors, and we spend about 90% of our time inside, so it’s important to ensure that air quality is as good as possible.
We put through a top-of-the-range model from Blueair, the Swedish company which claims to offer the world’s best. Next, we tried out the Classic 480i, which cleans the air in rooms up to 40m2 – more than enough to see how it worked over a couple of months in alleviating my son’s severe hayfever. At the height of the hayfever season. Would it help? And they say you shouldn’t experiment on kids…
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Blueair Classic 480i: how does it work?
Air purifiers rely on passing the air in a room through a filter which removes the particulate matter. The bigger and better the purifier, the more air can be changed (the Classic 480i can handle a room up to 40m2, but Blueair does offer smaller models for the typical British bedroom), and the better the motor, the quicker it can do it – this is measured by ACH (air changes per hour).
Positioning the purifier at least 1m away from walls is key to ensuring good airflow, and Blueair recommends constantly leaving the purifier on (on a low setting). We’d worried a bit about this being a significant drain on energy consumption, but on the lowest setting, the 480i uses 15w – the equivalent of having 4 LED lightbulbs on all day. The purifier constantly monitors air quality and modulates its filtration accordingly.
The Classic 480i needs to be set up through an app. This allows you to control and, more impressively, monitor the results of the purifier. The app was updated with a new UX halfway through our trial and was a significant improvement, with added features and data feeds. For example, the app shows the in-room particulate matter, VOC level, temperature, and humidity, with long historical views.
Checking these figures out certainly provided an interesting few evenings and showed significant benefits. The app also monitors outdoor air quality and gives a condition report on the filter, which you must change frequently. After two months of solid use, we’re showing a reading of ‘68% lifetime left’.
Blueair Classic 480i: how easy is it to use?
First things first – this isn’t a small piece of kit. It weighs 15kg and is 59cm high and 50cm wide. It takes up a decent chunk of space. Set up is straightforward – physically, it’s a plug and play, and the installation and integration with the app take another 10 minutes or so. The app allows you to set up automated on/off settings and reductions in filtration levels as you wish - as with any piece of smart home kit, the more you put into learning the app, the more you benefit.
It’s essential to place the cleaner away from the walls. While the purifier comes with standard casters, it isn’t the most beautiful thing to have in the middle of your bedroom – so you’ll need to think about the position where it can both do its job well and not get in the way.
Post-installation, the purifier hasn’t needed any intervention. We have run it on the lowest setting consistently, which seems to regulate the air quality with sufficient power.
Blueair Classic 480i: Our verdict
Ultimately the acid test for this purifier was going to be in two different measures – firstly, the impact on the data, of course, and the less tangible benefits on our son’s hayfever.
We have had over two months of results on the data, and PM2.5 (the smallest particles typically caused by car fumes and so on) have consistently measured below 10 (DEFRA considers anything below 35 to be low, with over 71 being classed as dangerously high). We live in a rural area and did notice that when the occasional big lorry drove past the house, we did get a spike up to the 20s, but this was almost instantly nullified back down to sub-10 levels by the Classic 480i.
The purifier also filters out VOCs, which measure car emissions and include the total sum of other pollutants. VOCs are best known for being emitted by items such as new furniture. However, we also noticed spikes when deodorants were sprayed in the room. VOC results showed a significant peak/trough cycle, but the purifier quickly filtered out anything of note.
Regarding hayfever and the impact of the 480i on our sniffly son, we positioned the purifier around 2m from his bed with the outlet (filtered air) breezing onto him during the night. While it didn’t totally eliminate his sneezes, it significantly impacted his (usually miserable) experiences of late Spring/early Summer. He felt almost instant relief in the room and woke up having slept better than in previous years’ high pollen seasons.
So – on both counts, a big success. Of course, it’s an expensive piece of kit, and it’s now competing against other products that can offer to cool as well. But as a top-of-the-range air purification solution, it’s difficult to fault the Classic 480i. It makes a big difference to air quality in homes – and as we increasingly recognize how important that is, this should be a strong consideration for households looking for a serious solution.