Review of: Whirlpool Whispure Tower Air Purifier- HEPA Air Cleaner, APT40010R
It's been about a week since this arrived, so I've had time to evaluate it properly. The first thing to understand is this is not an 800 dollar air cleaner. I am rating and reviewing this against other units in its price range. Actually, this is the third unit in this class that I have reviewed. The other two were from Honeywell and Hoover.
I can't say any one of them is "better" than the other. I like all of them.
The Whirlpool Whispure Tower Air Purifier- HEPA Air Cleaner, APT40010R is a "room air purifier," not a whole house air purifier. However, it is a "medium room" unit. On the box, it says it will filter a 197 sq ft room up to 4.8 times per hour. I turned it on its max setting, and find that claim completely believable.
Be careful when comparing these numbers among units. Filtering 197 sq ft 4.8 times per hour isn't inferior to filtering 230 sq ft 2.2 times per hour. You'll need to look at total CFM per hour if max filtering is your concern (it really should not be, unless you happen to enjoy the sound of fans running full blast).
There is a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate), but does the AHAM seal from cadr.org get awarded after rigorous independent testing (as with UL), or is this just self-reported? On its Website, the organization says nothing about a standard testing protocol, independent testing, or anything else that permits a reliably valid comparison. My advice here is to use this number as a general indication for the area size. If one unit has a CADR of 125 and another has a CADR of 150, I would consider that an insignificant difference among units produced by different manufacturers.
In this price range, you're not going to get a whole house HEPA filter. And floor units aren't meant for that; given the amount of air such a unit would require, you aren't going to power it from your 15A or 20A outlet. All of the units I've tested perform as advertised and do a great job when placed in a room they were designed for.
If your concern is for your whole house, you could put one of these in the room in which you spend the most time and another one in another part of the house. Together, these will give you something close to whole-house air purification if left to run long enough and if your home isn't subject to massive air changes.
I've found that in an area of a larger room, these units keep that area clean even though the air is moving through the area. The trend in home design today is to have fewer rooms, in favor of a single larger space. You can place a unit like one of these in that large room and it would handle things pretty well. I've also experimented with sticking the Whirlpool in the hallway (three bedrooms and a bathroom off that hall) that runs from my living room.
The Hoover unit that I reviewed previously came in a box that Hoover had designed almost as a sort of product manual. Just packed with info. That wasn't the case with the Honeywell unit, nor was that the case with this Whirlpool.
What was great about the Whirlpool box is how easily the product came out of it. Granted, the other two didn't require a team of mules as is the case with many products these days. I inverted the box and pulled up, and it came right off the product. Great packaging!
It's also a good-looking unit. It probably fits with any decor. Like the Hoover, it's easy to pick up and move. There's a handle integrated to the back of the tower, on each of those products (on the Honeywell, there's a handle integrated to the lid and it's also easy to move).
Now, what really impressed me is what didn't happen when I turned it on. The traditional burnt chemical smell that comes off HEPA air cleaners wasn't there. Huge points to Whirlpool!
Most people buy these because they have allergy problems, not because they are immune to harsh chemical smells. Whirlpool gets this. Why every portable air cleaner manufacturer doesn't get this, I can't explain. Designing an air cleaner that emits noxious fumes is like designing a wheelchair with foot pedals. This is not a small point, so again I commend Whirlpool on getting this right.
This unit uses HEPA media. Access is easy. I compared this Whirlpool to the Hoover and found an odd thing. At first glance, it appears the filter media are identical. The Hoover one fits right over the Whirlpool one and they are the same thickness. Except the Whirlpool "one" is actually two smaller filters. So these are not interchangeable.
As with the other units I've examined, this one has a pre-filter. You can choose to wash the prefilter, but it is much better to clean it with a standard household vacuum cleaner. My experience is that you should always vacuum and never wash these. Washing them damages the material without getting it clean. Anyone with basic measuring and scissoring ability can make a replacement from a sheet of the same material (available at any hardware store), but why wreck something if you can avoid doing so?
The HEPA filters are not washable; washing will destroy it. Whirlpool sells replacements, and talks about replacing the filters. My recommendation would be to vacuum them rather than replace them, until vacuuming proves insufficient. These filters should, I think, last for several years without needing replacement.
This unit also has a charcoal filter (as does the Hoover). Charcoal absorbs gases, so in the case of excess burrito consumption this could be a very useful feature. However, charcoal has a limited absorption capacity and then it's used up. To reduce replacement costs, avoid putting odors into the air. For example, if you are going to pop popcorn then shut the filter off and open the windows. To dispose of the fumes from excess burrito consumption, run the bathroom fan or go outside.
The unit has a three-speed fan plus plus an automatic setting.
On the lowest fan setting, you can still hear this unit. So the "Whispure" part is about right. It's about as loud as a whisper. I can't fall asleep if someone's whispering at me so this is not, at least for me, a bedroom air cleaner. I have yet to find one, actually.
A bedroom unit needs an ultra-low fan speed. A variable speed motor runs my whole house fan, and that really is quiet in low mode. You almost cannot feel it, much less hear it. Maybe someone will take a clue from Trane, Carrier, etc., and make a bedroom air cleaner with an ultra-low fan speed. Another option is to take a clue from the computer aftermarket and just use a larger fan at a lower speed to get the same desired CFM through the filters.
If a little noise doesn't bother you, there's one more issue to overcome. The unit has a lighted control panel on its top/front. While this looks great and is convenient, it's a significant light source in a darkened bedroom. One solution would be to drop a towel over the panel.
It's interesting that the Hoover unit makes a big deal about its ionizer and other "beyond a filter" features while Whirlpool turns that around and makes a selling point of NOT having an ionizer. It does have a VOC sensor, however (there's an alarm LED on the control panel).
It also has a timer, alarm LED for the prefilter, and alarm LED for the HEPA filter.
As with the Hoover, it has an automatic setting. This gives you the best balance between economy and indoor air quality. And, it tends to preserve the life of the motor that runs the fan.
A little insight, here. To prolong motor life (I've written hundreds of motor-related articles for trade magazines). Let it run on the max setting for a few minutes when you first turn it on. Then put it on auto. That will keep the motor windings cool. With any motor-operated device, don't turn it on and off and on; that's called short-cycling. In addition to hitting your other connected loads with voltage spikes, this wastes electricity due to the inrush current you get from each start.
A great thing about the automatic setting is people can put the unit on auto rather than short-cycling the unit while trying to guess the air quality.
This is a great portable HEPA filter unit, and it's priced competitively.
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