Editor’s note: this article referencing asthma was titled and published prior to recent news events.
Chronic asthma is a nuisance, but it also can be scary, debilitating, and sometimes life-threatening. As an asthmatic, you may walk into a grocery store or your own home and suddenly, without warning, be unable to breathe. Perhaps you forgot your inhaler that day, or maybe you can’t find it as you fumble around in your purse between each lung-splitting wheeze.
Asthma is still largely a condition without a cure. We don’t know exactly what causes it or how to fix it in any real capacity. The best we can do is avoid it by keeping the ambient air as clean and pure as possible. When my trusty Germ Guardian bit the dust (literally), I started looking for a replacement.
The air purifier market had exploded since the last time I’d looked, and the sheer number of options were overwhelming. After extensive research and lots of hand-wringing, I settled on two purifies by Blue Air. The larger went into my open-plan living room and kitchen area, and the smaller was placed in my bedroom.
Blue Air 211+
The 211+ is the second-largest of all of Blue Air’s purifier, and trust me, this thing is a beast. I love the friendly, minimalist exterior, but it takes up quite a bit of space. The unit is 13w x 13l x 20.4h inches. Make sure you measure! It does have a bulky power cord, and so looks best when it is against a wall with an outlet.
The 211+ packs a punch and cleans a massive 540 square feet of air—or more space than my first studio apartment. That power does come with some noise. The lowest setting is a loud whisper, the middle setting is minorly disruptive, and the highest setting is just like an old-school box fan. As my 211+ goes in my living room area, I keep it on the lowest setting during the day and turn it on high when I go to sleep.
Blue Air’s air filtration system captures asthma irritants in three different stages. First, the colorful pre-filter grabs large particles like dust and pet hair. The pre-filters are completely washable and using them extends the life of the inner filter. The second and third stages are particle and actived carbon filters. The particle filter traps viruses, mold, bacteria, and pollen. The extra punch of the carbon filter cleans up smoke, kitchen odors, and VOCs.
My major disappointment with the 211+ is its fragility. When you pull it out of the box, there’s a sticker on top that says, “Hello! Please don’t pick me up by the head!” The 211’s mechanical workings are all in the head, which make it very top-heavy. The head detaches quite easily and will fly off if bumped by a person or a pet. After a near-disastrous incident, I moved the 211+ to a corner.
All air purifiers have replacement costs for filters and pre-filters. The 211+ ranks mid to high in replacement costs compared to other purifiers in its class. The pre-filters retail for $25 and the inner filter retails for $80. Blue Air recommends replacing the inner filter every 6 months, and the pre-filter when it fails to wash clean.
The status light on the 211+ has a built-in replacement timer that turns yellow after 5 months, and red after 6 months. This status is based purely on time, not on the dirtiness of the filter. If your filter doesn’t need replacement yet, just hold the status button down for 15 seconds to reset the ugly yellow light.
Blue Air 411
I chose the much smaller 411 model for my bedroom. Almost cute in its form factor, the petite 411 is an unobtrusive yet powerful air purifier with many of the same features as its big sister model.
A single room fan, the 411 covers up to 161 square feet. The average bedroom size is 132 square feet, so this will provide adequate coverage for most users. For its diminutive size, however, the 411 is noisy! I can’t sleep with the fan on anything higher than the lowest setting. If you like white noise, then this is the perfect fan for you. If you don’t, be prepared to make some scheduling adjustments or live with a lower all-day speed.
Just like its big sister model, the 411 employes 3-stage filtration from pre-filter to particle filter to carbon filter. There is one annoying hangup about the 411’s implementation: there is no outside grill protecting the inner filter. You must use a pre-filter with this model because the particle filter is fully exposed! (For a higher price, you can get the newer 411+ that includes an outer grill and 20 more square feet of coverage.)
The 411 is very light yet also much sturdier than the 211. It resembles a willow tree: lightweight yet bounces back with ease. I have accidentally toppled my 411 plenty of times and it’s no worse for the wear.
Replacements for the 411 are quite affordable! The washable pre-filters retail for $10 and the inner filters are only $25. If you wash the pre-filters regularly, they really shouldn’t ever need replacement. There is no service timer on the 411’s status light, so check your inner filter regularly.