Winix 5500-2 Review
Pros: Exceptional air cleaning performance, very quiet operation, simple user experience
Cons: Expensive operating cost
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|Pros||Exceptional air cleaning performance, very quiet operation, simple user experience||Excellent air cleaning performance, quiet operation, average lifetime cost||Small footprint, minimalist design, good performance for its size||Budget friendly, compact, great performance||Quiet, low operating costs|
|Cons||Expensive operating cost||Expensive operating cost||No timed settings, lacks air quality sensor||Loud, doesn't have an automatic air sensor||Mediocre power, few settings|
|Bottom Line||Excellent, high quality air cleaning performance from a quiet and convenient appliance||A top performing model that combines average lifetime costs to create a great value||Small, powerful, and inexpensive — a great pick for those wishing to filter air in a smaller space||A budget-friendly and space-efficient model that gets the job done but is a little underpowered for large spaces||An inexpensive, decent overall machine with few notable qualities|
|Rating Categories||Winix 5500-2||Coway Airmega 1512HH||Blueair Blue Pure 411||Levoit Core 300||Pure Enrichment Pur...|
|Air Cleaning Performance (40%)|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Operating Cost (10%)|
|Specs||Winix 5500-2||Coway Airmega 1512HH||Blueair Blue Pure 411||Levoit Core 300||Pure Enrichment Pur...|
|Dimensions||8.2" × 15" × 23.6"||16.5 x 9.5 x 18.5||16.7" x 8" x 8"||8.7" x 8.7" x 14.2"||10.8" x 6.9" x 12.1"|
|Weight||15.4 lbs||12.7 lbs||5.3 lbs||7.5 Ibs||6.5 lbs|
|CADR||246 CFM||240 CFM||120 CFM||135 CFM||80 CFM|
|True HEPA (99.97%)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Estimated Lifetime Cost (5 years)||$660||$556||$337||$455||$279|
|Airborn Particulate Reduction After 1 Hour (%)||99.99%||99.84%||99.72%||96.33%||93.58%|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Air Cleaning Performance
Whether you live in a smoggy city or in the wildland-urban interface where fires are bound to be a problem — you're going to want a device that filters your air quickly while purifying any room of your home, no matter the size. We know the importance of clean air, which is why Air Cleaning is the most heavily weighted metric at 40% of each product's final score. In order to test this, we filled a room in our testing facility entirely with smoke by burning incest, candles, and paper scraps. We then used a Dylos air quality meter to measure particles in the air and then our noses to sus out any remaining odors.
The 5500-2 is one of the most powerful purifiers we've ever tested. It consistently displayed impressive air cleaning performance in all of our tests. When we put this unit into our smoke-filled, 150-square-foot testing room, it removed 99.5% of the measured airborne particulates in just 30 minutes. After a full hour, that mark had increased to a whopping 99.99%. For context, most models struggled to ever get beyond the 99.5% mark even after a full hour. The 5500-2 achieved that in half the time and then went well above and beyond. It also managed to remove more odors than most models on the market. We've yet to find a consumer air purifier that can completely eliminate odors, but the 5500-2 did a respectable job. We could still clearly smell smoke when it was done cleaning our testing room, but it was substantially less pungent.
The 5500-2 boasts a certified clean air delivery rate of 246 cubic feet per minute, meaning it had enough power for rooms of up to 363 square feet. This purifier also has a built-in air quality meter. This allows you to set the purifier on its auto mode, and it will turn itself on and off based on the reading of its air quality meter. While this meter doesn't provide a precise readout --it only displays a blue, yellow, or red light for good, medium, and bad air quality-- we found the auto mode to be quite reactive to changes in air quality as measured by our calibrated air quality meter.
The white noise that comes from an air purifier is not always welcome and can be somewhat of a disturbance. Some models can be downright loud and burdensome — which is why we tested the amount of noise coming from each unit. In order to test the sound, we measured the dB's (decibels) of each purifier. Noise accounts for 25% of each model's final score.
The 5500-2 was one of the quietest air purifiers we tested. On its low setting, the noise it emits is barely perceptible; it remains fairly quiet even when ramped up to its highest setting. It is certainly noticeable when running on the high setting, but the low-pitched hum doesn't feel annoying. We had no trouble watching Netflix at a reasonable volume with this purifier running right next to us.
Ease of Use
In order to test how easy the Winix was to use, we tested the amount of time the model took to set up in our testing facility, its interface, and how easy it was to transport from place to place. These ease of use tests account for up to 25% of each unit's final score.
The 5500-2 presents very few challenges to even those that don't like dealing with appliances. This earned it one of our top performances for user-friendliness. The unit itself has dedicated buttons for setting the fan speed, setting an off timer, and selecting a specific mode. It also includes a remote control that makes it easy to do the same things without getting out of bed or off the couch. The off timer can be set for one, four, or eight hours. At 15.4 pounds, it is at the heavier end of the spectrum, but a convenient carrying handle makes it relatively easy to move it from room to room. Our research analysts said that this model does not feel too cumbersome to carry and appreciated the nifty handle that is not always included on all air purifiers.
Plugging a machine into a wall all day is not cheap, which is why we decided to measure the operating cost of each air purifier in our lineup. To do this, we calculated kilowatt-hours, HEPA/Carbon filter lifespan and costs, list price, and sale price to get an overall cost estimate. This metric accounts for a total of 10% of each product's overall score.
The 5500-2 uses very little electricity and incurs relatively low annual filter costs of $79. However, its higher price point is a bit steep, putting its expected lifetime cost at an above-average $660. Luckily this model is often available online for significantly less than its list price, which pushes its estimated lifetime cost down into the average range.
If you find it on sale, the 5500-2 offers exceptional performance at a middle-of-the-road price, making it a great value. Even if you have to purchase it at its list price, we believe the 5500-2's stellar performance makes that higher price worthwhile.
The Winix 5500-2 offers top-tier, quiet air cleaning performance, making it perfect for anyone that wants to wield a powerful weapon against allergens and other airborne lung irritants. Overall, we could not recommend the Winix enough.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell
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