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Hands-on Gear Review
Coway AP-1512HH Review
Price: $300 List | $229.99 at Amazon
Pros: Excellent air cleaning performance, quiet operation, average lifetime cost
Cons: Expensive up front cost
Bottom line: A top performing model that combines average lifetime costs to create a great value
With high end air cleaning performance and a whisper quiet fan, the Coway AP-1512HH is the perfect combination of power and finesse. It cleared airborne particulates out of our smokey testing room faster than any other model. Its fan noise ranged from practically imperceptible on low to a medium pitched, almost pleasant white noise style hum on high. Over its lifetime the Coway costs are just above average. Overall this is a machine that provides high end performance with little sacrifice. If you want to make sure your living space is free of everything from tiny smoke particles to large hunks of floating pollen, this is the air purifier for you.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Coway AP-1512HH is a top performer in all categories, yet lifetime costs work out to be about average. It is a rare product that is both at the front of the field, but doesn't require that you pay a premium for that high end performance.
Bolstered by high end air cleaning and a quiet fan, the Coway AP-1512HH was the best overall performer in our testing, as you can see in the table above.
We calculate our overall scores based on a number of tests that we divide into separate testing metrics. The sections that follow discuss how the Coway AP-1512HH performed in each of those metrics.
Air Cleaning Performance
The Coway AP-1512HH was one of 4 top models that scored an 8 out of 10 in our air cleaning performance testing. All of these models were able to eliminate almost 100% of the airborne particulates in our smoky testing room.
When we put the Coway AP-1512HH into the haze of our dirty air testing room, it removed 99.32% of the airborne particles within half an hour. This was one of the fastest cleaning times we saw in our testing, with only the Honeywell True Allergen Remover doing slightly better. After an hour it achieved a 99.84% reduction, the most of any of our purifiers.
The CADR (clean air delivery rate) of 240 is on the higher end, and provides enough power for most rooms up to 360 square feet. No model that we tested was effective at removing odors, and the Coway was in the middle of the pack in that regard. It did put a dent in the smoky smell of our testing room, but it was still very noticeable.
As if top notch cleaning wasn't enough, the Coway was also the quietest operator amongst our testing models. It earned a lofty 9 out of 10 in a test that saw scores as low as 4.
When on its high setting the Coway produces a medium-high hum that is somewhat loud, but somehow the pitch tends to fade into the background, and we didn't feel it would disrupt any audio based enjoyments like listening to the radio or watching TV. If you're using it in your bedroom it may actually double as a pleasant white noise machine. Other models that sounded similarly innocuous in their high settings were the Blueair Pure 211 and the Levoit LV-PUR131.
Pulling the Coway back down to medium ratchets both the pitch and the volume down. This deep purr gets close to silent, but is still noticeable. Kind of like the quiet hum always emanating from a refrigerator. If you click it down to low the Coway is virtually silent. You'll likely forget that it is on, even if you're just sitting quietly and reading a book.
Ease of Use
The Coway was one of the most user friendly models we tested, losing out in that regard only to the Blueair Pure 211. Still, its score of 8 out of 10 put it solidly amongst the frontrunners.
The Coway has a no frills, clean interface. A number of buttons on the top of the unit let you cycle through fan speeds, turn the ionizer on and off, and set a 1, 4, or 8 hour off timer. Its fan settings include low, medium, high, and eco. It also includes a built-in air quality meter, so you can set the fan speed to auto and let the purifier ramp up and down as the surrounding air quality changes. We found this air quality monitor to be the most accurate of any in our selection. Where other models with built-in air quality meters often failed to react to increases in air pollutant, the Coway always increased its fan noise at predictable intervals, according to our own air quality meters. At 12.7 pounds the Coway isn't particularly light, but it has some nice carrying handles that make it fairly easy to move around.
The Coway received an average score of 5 out of 10 in our operating cost testing. Given its high performance we still feel this cost is worth it, but there are definitely more economical models out there.
The Coway was actually one of the most efficient models in our testing, using only 0.01 kWh of electricity per hour of operation. This factors out to about $5.26 per year in most homes. However, its replacement filters are somewhat pricey at $60, and they need to be changed every 6 months. It's list price of $230 is also a bit above average, so you have to pay a little more upfront.
Given that the Coway is a top performer in every category, we feel that its average estimated lifetime cost represents a great value. Generally we would expect a product of this caliber to ask a premium price for its performance, but all told the Coway's costs are middle of the road. Sure, the $230 list price is somewhat high so a lot of those costs are upfront. However, if you can make the initial investment you'll know that in the long run you'll be getting high end performance for a reasonable price.
The Coway AP-1512HH offers great air cleaning performance and quiet operation while only requiring an average lifetime expenditure. If you're looking for a great air purifier and don't mind spending a little more up front the Coway will serve you well.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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