Air quality is on everyone’s mind these days. 2020 and the global Covid-19 pandemic put indoor air quality under a harsh spotlight. In addition to concerns about viruses potentially circulating through your home, there have been other factors that are becoming problematic. Where I live in southwestern Ontario (Canada), the government was releasing air quality alerts last summer due to the smoke from forest fires burning in the northern part of the province. It was a tough year for pollen allergies as well. The IQAir HealthPro Plus air purifier is a solution that can help to address all of these issues in your home.
I’ve been testing one for the past several months — along with the company’s AirVisual Pro air quality monitor — and the results have been extremely impressive.
About the Company
Before getting started, I think it’s important to say a few words about the company. There have been a lot of startups in this space as a result of the pandemic. I’m not diminishing their products at all, but that can raise questions such as long-term testing results and availability of consumables — primarily replacement filters.
IQAir is not a startup. The Swiss company was founded nearly six decades ago. It has a long history of producing advanced air purifiers, including hospital-grade equipment. The company’s HyperHEPA filtration technology that’s the heart of the HealthPro Plus air purifier I tested was deployed in Hong Kong hospitals to protect staff and patients during the 2003 SARS epidemic and again during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is proven technology.
IQAir says every HealthPro Plus air purifier is tested at its Swiss production facility before shipping. A hand-signed Certificate of Performance guarantees the unit being shipped was verified to deliver air that is 99.97% cleaner, or better. The model that I tested is also backed by a 10-year limited warranty.
HealthPro Plus Offers Multiple Levels of Filtration, Large Room Coverage
IQAir makes a wide range of air purifiers ranging from desktop units to whole home systems. My review unit was the HealthPro Plus. This is a fairly large device (28 inches tall and roughly 15 inches square, weighing 35 pounds). It is mounted on swivel wheels making it convenient to wheel around, and there’s a handle integrated into the top making it easy enough to pick up and carry around as needed. I had no trouble bringing it up and down stairs.
The HealthPro Plus is classified as a large room air purifier, able to effectively cover up to 1,125 square feet. It has six different fan speeds that can filter up to 300 cfm (cubic feet per minute). The air goes through three different levels of filtration before being dispersed in 320-degrees through the top of the unit:
- PreMax filter captures coarse and fine particulate matter including spores, pollen, and pet dander
- V5-Cell filter MG (with activated carbon and alumina) controls chemical contaminants, volatile organic compounds, and odors
- HyperHEPA filter captures fine and ultra-fine material including bacteria and viruses
HyperHEPA Filtration Protects Against Biologicals, Including Covid-19
The company says the filtration in the HealthPro Plus is certified by independent third party testing to filter 99.5% of ultrafine particles down to 0.003 microns in size. For point of comparison, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 measures about 0.125 microns in size. The air purifier has been proven effective at removing airborne viruses including aspergillosis, MRSA, and SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19).
Easy Setup and Use
The IQAir HealthPro Plus air purifier is quite simple to use. Wheel it into place (installing the wheels is about the only work you need to do after unboxing), making sure to leave at least a foot of space in all directions to ensure proper airflow. It plugs into a wall outlet with no power brick or adapter required.
These’s a small control panel on the top of the unit with an LCD display that you use to turn it on and set fan speed. The panel can also be used to check the remaining life of the various filters, and to program the air filter if you wish it to run automatically. There are also colored LEDs that give a quick glance at the health of the different filters — for example, green means they still have at least 80% of their useful life remaining, while blinking red means they need to be replaced immediately.
A remote control is also included in the box.
What the air purifier does not provide is any indicator of air quality — that’s where the optional AirVisual Pro air quality monitor comes into play. More on that shortly.
Hands-On: Defeats Allergens and Smoke, Quickly Eliminates Odors
How do you test an air purifier when you are not a lab? That’s a tough one and something I struggled with when first asked to evaluate the HealthPro Plus.
I can’t verify metrics like the cfm airflow, or whether airborne Covid-19 is indeed removed. However, IQAir provided an AirVisual Pro air monitor so I could do some basic measurements and comparisons. In addition, I had plenty of examples of real-life challenges including hay fever, pet allergies, teenagers cooking, and a wood-burning fireplace.
The first big test was having friends over who are severely allergic to cats and dogs. We have two cats and a pair of large, long-haired dogs. Because of the pets, even with the use of antihistamines, our house has been a no-go zone. I set up the HealthPro Plus air purifier on the floor where we were eating dinner, ran it at a fan setting of 3 for the day (quiet enough for conversations), then turned it down to 2 when the guests arrived. There were no adverse reactions to the animals.
I have severe hay fever in the spring. Sleeping can be miserable because we love to have the windows open at night to take advantage of the cool breezes, but that brings in pollen. Which means sneezing, a runny nose, and waking up completely congested. During the height of allergy season, I brought the HealthPro Plus up to our bedroom, left it running on 3 overnight and left the windows open. It was amazing — no runny nose and no congestion.
I burned a fake log in the fireplace. The chimney is pretty effective at routing smoke out (I have it cleaned and tested regularly), but with the windows open, some of it make its way back in. The chemical smell of the fake log was obvious. The AirVisual Pro air quality monitor quickly went red, indicating some major indoor air quality issues.
Another test had a similar result. The kids were panfrying hamburger patties and had the oven on as well. The air quality monitor went from green to red in a matter of minutes and the smell of something burning quickly reached up to my office.
In both cases, I fired up the HealthPro Plus air purifier, setting the fan to the maximum speed of 6. It does get a little loud at that setting (around 69 dB), but the results are worth it. In both examples, the air quality readings began to improve immediately. Even in my office (which is one floor above where the air purifier was positioned), after about 30 minutes I was back in the green. In addition, the strong odors were effectively neutralized by the air purifier’s V5-Cell filter MG.
In short, the IQAir HealthPro Plus air purifier proved to be extremely capable. If someone in our house had come down with Covid-19 during the testing, I would have felt much better knowing they could isolate in their room with the air purifier in there with them and scrubbing the airborne virus before it had a chance to circulate through the house.
AirVisual Pro Provides Valuable Air Quality Info
While the HealthPro Plus Air air purifier was the star of this show, IQAir’s AirVisual Pro was also very useful.
The device monitors and displays a number of important air quality measurements, including the American AQI (Air Quality Index), and carbon dioxide levels. Connect it to your Wi-Fi network and create an account, and the display also shows AQI readings for your local area along with weather forecasts and related data. When used in connected mode, the monitor can send alerts to your mobile devices, as well as displaying suggestions like opening your windows.
The monitor plugs into power, but also has a rechargeable battery that lets you move it around the house to take readings in other rooms.
One unexpected benefit of having the AirVisual Pro set up in my office was the discovery of just how high carbon dioxide readings got in here when the window was closed and the furnace fan was off. I’d found I was in a bit of a slump by mid-mornings, and it turned out that the CO2 levels in my office were building up past the 1,500 ppm mark. That’s a level known to cause fatigue and a loss of concentration. I checked the furnace and hot water heater, but they were working efficiently and the high levels were limited to my office — which apparently has very poor air circulation. I also end up with the dogs in here crashed on may couch most days, adding to the CO2 production…
Opening the window a few inches in the morning has done wonders toward addressing that problem.
What About Replacement Filters?
Going back to the IQAir HealthPro Plus, what about replacement filters? There are three areas of concern there when it comes to air purifiers and consumables. The first is availability, the second is the frequency that changes are required, and the third is cost.
The first was addressed at the start of this review: IQAir has been in this business for a very long time, and the HealthPro Plus is its most popular model. Replacement filters are readily available both directly from the company and from a wide range of third party retailers.
Frequency of changes and cost are related. A replacement HyperHEPA filter for the HealthPro Plus isn’t cheap. But on the other hand, it won’t need to be replaced for a long time. According to IQAir, the $199 filter is rated for over four years of use when the air purifier is run for 10 hours a day on speed 3. The V5-Cell costs $99 and is rated for two years under the same operating conditions. The PreMax filter cost $69 and is rated for 18 months of use.
In other words, filter changes are very infrequent and it will be years before most people ever have to replace the most expensive one.
The IQAir HealthPro Plus retails for $899 — is this air purifier worth it?
It’s not an impulse purchase. However, if your home would benefit from an air purifier — because someone suffers from asthma or allergies, for example — I found the HealthPro Plus to be very effective. The ability to filter odors is an added bonus. If you are concerned about smoke from wildfires, an air purifier like this one will help to ensure you’re not breathing the pollution in.
And with its HyperHEPA filter providing hospital-grade protection from airborne bacteria and viruses, the IQAir HealthPro Plus can provide a critical defense against Covid-19. If you are concerned about Covid-19 or someone in your home is at greater risk should they catch it, an air purifier like this one would provide real peace of mind.
The $269 AirVisual Pro is a good companion to the HealthPro Plus, but even on its own offers a great way to visualize your home air quality — and compare it to conditions in your city. It doesn’t include radon detection, but covers off the factors that would impact breathing.
Disclosure: IQAir provided an air purifier and air quality monitor for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.