When I was asked to review air purifiers, I wasn't really jumping for joy or really all that excited about the topic. Even though they do serve a purpose, they are pretty boring, to say the least. However, when I tested the Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier, I was "blown away" by the performance, structural design, and overall intelligence of the machine.
This has been my favorite air purifier I have ever reviewed or owned in the past and I don't think there will be another to replace it at the same price point. This machine really has all you could want in an air purifier. In this article, I'll show you the results of the tests I ran and how those results compare to the performance of other air purifiers we've tested here at HBS. By the end, you'll understand why I think that for medium to large room sizes and to keep cost to a minimum, the Winix 5500-2 should be your first choice air purifier.
Table of Contents
- What’s in the Box?
- How Does It Look/Feel/Sit?
- How Easy is it to Set Up?
- Test #1: General Air Clean
- Test #2: Purifying Cooking Smoke
- Test #3: Night-Time
- Test #4: Noise Levels
- How Simple is it to Operate?
- Winix 5500-2 Versus... Farts?
- How Easy is it to Move Around?
- How Easy to Clean and Change Filters?
- What is the Plasmawave Function?
- How Would I Improve the Winix 5500-2?
- What’s the Warranty?
- How does it Compare?
What’s in the Box?
The machine came well packaged in a large cardboard box and was supported by thick pieces of styrofoam on the top and bottom. There was not a lot that actually came with the air purifier except for a small ad for other products made by Winix and the user manual.
The user manual was just a small, folded piece of paper that had very little information about the machine. It basically covered the initial setup, how the air purifier works, replacing the filters, the product warranty, safety precautions, and unit specifications. If you needed any other information, they instructed you to go to their website, which can be found here: Winixamerica.com.
Aside from that, the machine also came with a small remote, which allowed you to control the air purifier from a distance. Even though I didn't think this was an accessory I would use, it was nice of them to think of people who may not be able to move around the house so easily. The remote control allows you to power the machine on or off, change the fan speed, switch to turbo mode, and place it on the auto function setting.
How Does It Look/Feel/Sit?
The Winix air purifier was actually pretty sleek-looking. When I was asked to review a few air purifier products, they all came to my house the same day. So I opened them up at the same time to compare them right off the bat. Out of all of them, both my wife and I loved how this model looked over all the others. Since the machine is all black, it is easy to place in a room without being noticed, and the shape and size of the machine—short and flat compared to other models—contribute to that as well.
The machine is lightweight overall, at only 14 pounds. It also has a deep-pocketed handle at the top of the machine of the back, which makes it easy to pick it up and move it around. It is only 2 feet tall, 15 inches long, and a surprisingly short 8 inches in depth. This makes it great to stick in small areas or pockets of the room with ease. Even though the machine is smaller than other models, it will still be able to clean a large room of 350 square feet in under an hour, as you'll shortly see.
One of the features I really liked the most was how the clean air was dispensed from the machine. Most other air purifiers suck air in through the back of the machine and push clean air out the front panel. The Winix 5500-2 air purifier sucks air in from the front and sides of the machine, then pushes the clean air out the top of the machine. This is a huge advantage when it comes to the placement of the machine within the room. Other air purifiers need to be placed away from walls and large furniture to allow them to operate correctly without blocking any airflow patterns. But the Winix air purifier can be placed right up against the wall or the couch with no problem at all. This helps to free up more space in the room and keep the machine hidden as well.
How Easy is it to Set Up?
Since the Winix 5500 air purifier is already fully constructed, there is no assembly required. The only thing you needed to do once it had been removed from the box and plastic wrap covering the machine was get the filter system ready to use.
The filters came with the air purifier, and you just needed to have the protective wrapping removed from them before using the machine. To access the filter system, you needed to remove the front panel by grasping the top edge and gently pulling it forward. Once the front panel is removed, take out the filters, which were all wrapped together in a single plastic bag. Remove the filters from the plastic bag and place them back in the air purifier in the correct order. First, the true HEPA filter, which is the only filter that will ever need to be replaced. Then the washable carbon filter, then the washable pre-filter fine mesh screen. Once the filters are all in, place the front panel back on the unit and plug in the machine to any 110-volt outlet.
Once this was done, the machine was ready to use. The control panel is at the top of the front panel, which is at a slight 45-degree angle. This makes it easy to operate while standing instead of having to kneel or sit down.
Test #1: General Air Clean
To start with the testing of the air purifier, I decided to go with a pretty basic room in our house. My wife has a small craft room of about 120 square feet in which she creates arts and crafts, but mainly just crochet work. There is an ungodly amount of yarn, thread, fabric, and craft supplies in this room. I'm talking like jam-packed, full to the ceiling. Because of those art supplies, the room attracts a lot of dust and microscopic particles in the air, making it the perfect room to test the Winix air purifier against.
Before I ran the test in the room, I used a small air quality monitor to get a baseline reading for the air in the room.
When I ran the air quality monitor in the room, there were a few categories that ran high, like dust particles, glue, paint, and carbon dioxide. The monitor will give a rating of either good, mildly polluted, moderately polluted, or severely polluted. The reading from this room gave me a mildly polluted to moderately polluted level. So I plugged the machine in and set it to auto to see what the room needed.
The air purifier turned the fan to a high fan speed and detected the room at a mildly polluted level, which was the orange color indicator. I started a timer and waited to see when the room would come down to acceptable air quality levels.
After almost 40 minutes, the machine was still running but it had the blue indicator light on to tell me that the air was clean. The air quality monitor also let me know that the air quality had dropped down to good levels as well. All of the pollutant levels had also dropped drastically. Even though this was a small room, the air quality does get pretty bad in there and there is no air ventilation. I think it is safe to say that the Winix air purifier did a great job of cleaning the air in the room.
Test #2: Purifying Cooking Smoke
The second test I wanted to run was to see how well the air purifier would be able to clear a room of smoke from cooking. I really wanted to push the boundaries of filling a room with smoke so I went a little overboard. I didn't just cook food in my 250 square foot kitchen, I burned it, on purpose.
I have a glass cooktop stove in my kitchen. I turned off all of the smoke detectors in the room and placed a single flour tortilla on the burner. I burned the tortilla until it was black and had filled the room with white smoke. The smoke was incredibly thick and very hard to breathe while in the room. I turned on the air purifier to auto and it set the fan to the highest setting, which was turbo. It also had the red indicator light on to say the environment was highly polluted. The individual air quality monitor gave me the same result, not surprisingly. I set the timer and stepped away.
I checked the air purifier every ten minutes to see how it was doing, and while it cleared the room of all the smoke within about 15 minutes, it was still polluted. The room took about 50 minutes to get the air quality levels back to normal and acceptable by the air quality monitor's standards as well.
This machine really did a great job of clearing the room of smoke fast, and then removing all the pollutants in the air. If you live in a fire-prone area, this air purifier would be especially valuable. It will also help to keep the air fresh and clean while you're cooking.
Test #3: Night-Time
I decided to run the air purifier in our bedroom while we were sleeping at night to see if it would bother us from the sounds it made or the lights that shone from the control panel. I placed the air purifier at the foot of our bed in our room, which is 150 square feet.
First, I just wanted to take a picture of it running at low speed with the normal lights on and indicator sensors. It really was not that big of a deal since the lights were not very bright.
Before we went to sleep, I turned on the air purifier in auto mode. While we were just in bed reading and glancing at our phone with the nightstand lights on, the light indicators stayed on and the air purifier ran at the lowest speed. Once we turned the lights off, the light sensor could tell almost immediately that there was no light present in the room and automatically went into sleep mode.
When the machine was in sleep mode, it set the fan to the lowest speed, which was super quiet and almost difficult to hear. Since the lights were out in the room, the air purifier turned all the indicator lights off on the machine but kept running. If you need to have complete darkness and no sound while sleeping, then this machine will do that for you. If you are someone who needs to fall asleep with a fan on for some white noise in the background, it will do that as well. It will also run at high speed and still turn all the indicator lights off on the machine as well.
Test #4: Noise Levels
Most air purifiers just sound like a fan running. So in terms of noise, there are no other sounds aside from the fan. Not all fans are created equal and we wanted to run a test to see how loud the fan really is when compared to other models. To do this, I used a decibel monitor that I downloaded onto my tablet. The decibel monitor was able to tell me how loud the air purifier was when operating at low speed and turbo speeds. The Winix 5500-2 air purifier is equipped with four different speeds just to give you some insight.
For the first test, I set my tablet about one foot in front of the machine. Since this model expels air out the top of the machine, I held the tablet about 2 feet above the machine as well to gain the most accurate noise level possible while it was operating.
When the air purifier is on a low speed I was able to get a reading of 45 decibels, which is very low. The average noise a home makes at night when nothing is running is about 40 decibels. Whereas something as low as 10 decibels is someone breathing normally. So 45 decibels is barely a whisper. I could hardly hear the machine at this low speed. Unless someone would have told me it was on, I would have never known. It was that quiet.
I decided to run the same test and from the same position when the air purifier was running on turbo speed. I was able to gain a reading of 67 decibels which is still relatively quiet. In comparison to other noises, 70 decibels is what it sounds like when you are driving your car at 60 miles per hour with the windows rolled up. At 80 decibels, the noise level is similar to a hairdryer or washing machine running at low speed.
Even though it does make a little more noise, this is to be expected because it is technically a fan. All in all, it is still relatively quiet when running at high speeds.
The only other noise the machine makes is when you are using the control panel. When you turn the machine on or plug it in, it will make a short but quiet chime sound. When you press any of the buttons on the control panel, the same sound is made.
How Simple is it to Operate?
The Winix 5500-2 air purifier is really simple to operate. There are only a few controls, but there are several indicator lights to alert you when something is wrong or needs to be changed. Let's go over the indicator lights first.
There are a total of nine different sensors and indicator lights on the air purifier to either keep you informed about the quality of your air or to allow the machine to control itself without you having to do anything. The most basic indicator lights are just to show you how the machine is operating. The fan speed indicator shows you the current fan speed. The timer indicator shows you the amount of time set on the timer function. The sleep indicator, auto indicator, and Plasmawave indicator tell you whether any of these modes have been turned on and are active.
The other indicators and sensors are a little bit more involved and so much cooler. The check filter indicator lights up when the filter needs to be changed or replaced. The air quality indicator is color-coded in three levels to tell you the air quality of the room. Blue means good, orange means mildly polluted, and red means severely polluted.
As a side note, the in-built air quality indicator is pretty on point when comparing the readings on my handheld air quality monitor.
The odor sensor works when the machine is in auto mode and will detect the amount of odor in the environment to adjust the fan speeds accordingly. The light sensor works when the sleep mode is activated and will detect the amount of ambient light in the environment. If it is dark, the machine will automatically go into sleep mode and turn all of the lights on the machine off while still running.
Aside from these sensors and indicator lights, the controls are very basic and very easy to use. The machine can be changed to 4 different speeds: Low, Medium, High, and Turbo. The timer function can be set to 1 hour, 4 hours, or 8 hours. The power button will toggle the machine on or off.
The advanced controls which are still activated by the touch of a single button are the auto mode, sleep mode, and Plasmawave function. The auto mode controls the machine based on the quality of the air it detects and the amount of odor in the environment. Once the air quality and odors have been detected, the machine decides what speed to set the fan at. As the quality of the air improves, the machine will automatically decrease the fan speed. When the air quality worsens, it will raise the speed higher to clean the air.
The sleep mode allows the machine to still operate normally but at lower speeds. When the machine detects no ambient light within the room, it will shut off all the indicator lights as to not disturb anyone sleeping in the room. This mode also is active when the machine is set to the auto function.
Winix 5500-2 Versus... Farts?
Don't giggle (even though I did). The following, I admit, is gross, yet I still feel it's worth mentioning.
One night, while evaluating this machine, we had eaten white bean chicken chili for dinner. The next day, I was using the air purifier in the kitchen. I was not running a test, just using the machine in the room. I was a little gassy and happened to pass some gas about three feet from the air purifier while it was on.
Before that, the pollution indicator was blue, so the air quality was good. I didn't even realize it, but all of a sudden the light turned red about 5 seconds later. At first, I thought it was pretty funny, but then I realized how quickly it picked up the smell and detected gas in the room. The indicator went from red to orange to blue in a few minutes, meaning it had cleared the room for me. Yes, funny. Yes, gross. But I hope you agree; it is worth mentioning.
If you have kids in diapers, older dogs that smell, or just a husband that thinks passing gas is funny, then this may be the perfect air purifier for you!
How Easy is it to Move Around?
The air purifier is really very lightweight, at only 14 pounds, and the actual size of it is really not that big, so it is pretty easy to move around from room to room. You also won't need to move the air purifier around within the room you are cleaning too much because of how large a room it will be able to clean. The Winix air purifier can keep a 350 square foot room clean with 4 air changes per hour, no matter what level of air pollution the environment contains.
The machine is also equipped with a large and deep handle at the top of the unit, which makes it easy to grasp while moving it around. Even if you did not want to use the handle, the shape of the machine is rectangular and is only 8 inches in depth, so you could easily wrap your arms around it. This also makes the machine easy to store in smaller houses since it will not take up much space.
How Easy to Clean and Change Filters?
The filter system on this machine was a little different when compared to other machines I have used and reviewed over the years. Many other machines have one single filter that is removed from the machine and needs to be replaced every so often. Winix decided to take that same filter that is in many other machines and break it down into separate filters. In the end, this makes it cheaper for the consumer when it comes time to replace the filter.
The filter system contains three separate filters within the machine, yet only one of them will need to be bought from the store and replaced. The other two filters can be cleaned at home with ease. It is recommended to first vacuum the filters to remove any large debris or hair that is stuck on the filter. If the filters are excessively soiled and dirty, then you can wash them with room temperature water or spray them off with the garden hose outside. You will need to allow them to air dry for at least 24 hours before placing them back in the air purifier.
After the filters are cleaned and purchased, it is recommended to vacuum out the inside cavity of the machine then use a damp cloth to wipe down the interior and exterior of the machine gently to remove any hair, dust, and dirt. Once that is done you can place the filters back in the machine starting with the replaceable filter which is called the True HEPA filter. Then followed by the AOC filter that looks like it has rocks in it then the pre-filter with the fine mesh screen. Once the filters are on, just place the front panel back on the machine and you are ready to go! It is recommended to clean out the machine every couple of months or when the filter indicator light is lit. This light means the True HEPA filter needs to be replaced.
What is the Plasmawave Function?
Winix created the Plasmawave button as an improved version of the ionizer. When this mode is turned on, the machine can reduce airborne bacteria and viruses. This mode is kind of a game-changer right now with the pandemic happening in the world. Even if it could help just a little bit, it would be worth it to anyone worried about spreading germs, bacteria, and viruses to their loved ones.
When the Plasmawave function is on, the air purifier creates Hydroxyls that can help reduce the presence of unwanted and harmful bacteria floating in the air. This is similar to the way an ionizer works, producing negatively charged ions in the air to rid the room of microscopic dust particles. They do say that when the Plasmawave function is on, you may occasionally hear a chirping or buzzing sound coming from the air purifier. This is normal and is just larger particles passing through the Plasmawave. It does not indicate a malfunction or failure of the product.
How Would I Improve the Winix 5500-2?
There really is not much I would change about this air purifier since Winix really did cover all my concerns when it comes to the air quality. When I compare it to some other air purifier models, some are pretty fancy and will go the extra mile for you. For example, if the filter needs to be replaced, some machines are Wifi-enabled, and will automatically order it off of Amazon for you! Some can be controlled by an app on your phone or via Bluetooth.
But I really don't need an air purifier to order products for me or hook up to the Wifi. Nor will I need to control it from hundreds of miles away. If I had to pick out anything this machine is missing from other air purifiers, it would have to be the ionizer. Even though ionizers do such a minimal job that is almost unidentifiable without an air quality monitor, it would still be nice to know the machine was taking care of every aspect of air pollution in every way possible.
What’s the Warranty?
The Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier comes protected by a 2-year limited warranty. The warranty protects the machine from any defects or damages that occur while in use or during the shipping process. The air purifier has to be used according to the user manual instructions, and the filter has to be replaced every 1-2 months for the warranty to be redeemed.
If a defect occurs while in use, customer support will need to run the machine through a series of troubleshooting tasks to see if the air purifier is truly defective and needs to be fixed or returned. To redeem the warranty, the consumer needs to be the original purchaser of the product and still have possession of the original receipt. The warranty is only good for up to two years from the original purchase date.
If you would like to see more information about the warranty or the terms and conditions that apply to the product, you can visit the Winix website here.
This air purifier really does work extremely well and exceeded all my expectations. If you are someone who does not have much room in your house or apartment, this air purifier will be able to solve all your problems. Even if you still have a larger house, the air purifier can handle large rooms up to 350 square feet within a short amount of time.
I really liked this air purifier because of the overall design, which was vastly different from other air purifiers on the market. It had plenty of easy-to-use functions and plenty of sensors and light indicators that made it easy to operate the machine. I highly recommend this air purifier to anyone looking for a quality machine to clean the air in their house.
How does it Compare?
|45 - 70 dB
|Annual Energy Use (kWh/year)
|296 kilowatts per year
|Low, Medium, High, Turbo
|1 hour, 4 hours, 8 hours
|3-year limited warranty
|Check Price on Amazon
|Check Price on Amazon
|Check Price on Amazon
|Check Price on Amazon
The Blueair Blue Pure 411 air purifier is a great little machine that is perfect for someone who does not have a lot of space in their house. If you have smaller rooms that need good air cleaning, this air purifier will be able to clean the air environment within a room up to 175 square feet.
While the Winix air purifier is great for smaller spaces, the Blueair Blue Pure air purifier is even smaller. The Winix air purifier is about two feet tall and 8 inches in depth, while the Blue air purifier is still 8 inches in depth but only 16 inches in height. This makes it perfect to fit in small spaces without being noticed. It is also much lighter in weight than the Winix air purifier, at only 6.35 pounds, which is a fraction of what the Winix air purifier weighs.
The air purifier is also very easy to use and is easy to clean, as all filters are washable. The Winix air purifier does have a couple of washable filters but still has the main filter that needs to be changed every couple of months. This air purifier can clean the air of the same pollutants by using two filters that can be easily cleaned by washing them. The pre-filter is also available in several stylish colors to fit the color scheme of the room.
Even though it may not be able to clean as large of a room as the Winix and may not have all the cool features and sensors, it will still get the air quality to an acceptable rating in a small bedroom or kitchen in no time. This air purifier would be perfect for a small dorm room, a small apartment, or someone who has smaller spaces that need to be cleaned.
This air purifier is almost identical to the Winix air purifier in terms of the air pollutants it will rid the room of and how the filtration system works. The Winix is just for big rooms, while the GG is for small ones. The difference in coverage area is more than 150sq ft.
Other than that, there are only a couple of small details that separate the two air purifiers.
As far as the look and design of this air purifier go, the GGaC4825 is a completely different model from the Winix air purifier. This air purifier is a tower design and is just a bit shorter at 22 inches in height. But it is also shorter in width, at only 8 inches, and shorter in depth as well, at only 6 inches. This means it will be able to be tucked away in a corner or behind a couch without being noticed at all.
The air filtration system is the same as the Winix air purifier, but the filter only needs to be replaced every 6 months where the Winix air purifier needs to be replaced every two months. It also comes with a 3-year limited warranty, whereas the Winix air purifier comes with a 2-year limited warranty to protect the machine.
This air purifier is not too different from the Winix air purifier and will really depend on if you want a box-styled air purifier or a tower-style air purifier. They will both get the job done and clean the air of all the same pollutants; it just a matter of what you want your air purifier to look like at this point.
This air purifier is so similar to the Winix air purifier that it seems that one of these companies ripped the other one off and created their own version of an air purifier modeled after the other one. They are literally identical in so many ways. They are both able to clean the air of all the same pollutants. They both have a four-stage filtration system with a HEPA filter that needs to be replaced every couple of months. And they both have all the same sensors, indicators, and functions on the air purifier. They even have the same design where they suck air in the front of the machine and blow the clean air out of the top of the unit.
It was pretty difficult to find any differences, but there were a couple of very small differences that may matter to some people. While they both have the same design, the Coway air purifier is more box-shaped at 18 inches in height, 17 inches in length, and 8 inches in depth. The Winix air purifier is rectangle-shaped at 24 inches in height, 12 inches in length, and 8 inches in depth. The Coway air purifier is also about two pounds lighter than the Winix air purifier.
While the Winix air purifier can clean a large room of 350 square feet, the Coway air purifier takes it a bit further and can clean a large room up to 361 square feet in the same amount of time. It is also a bit quieter than the Winix air purifier. The Winix ranges from 45 to 70 decibels of noise at any given time and speed, while the Coway ranges anywhere between 25 and 55 decibels. Although the Winix does have one extra speed, which is the turbo mode that the Coway air purifier does not have.
The only other small differences between the two air purifiers are the warranty and the color of the machines. The Winix air purifier comes in jet black, and the Coway comes in glossy white. The Coway air purifier also has a 3-year limited warranty to protect it, while the Winix only has a 2-year limited warranty.
Last but not least, the Winix is usually cheaper than the Coway, which is meaningful given the similarity of their performance.