IQAir vs Blueair - which one is the best air purifier? IQAir and Blueair are the two biggest brands in standalone air filtration, and both brands like to take the claim for having the best air purifiers. The two brands are, however, very different - not only in price, size and looks but also in performance. Many retailers – including many specialty retailers – unfortunately, do not properly test and validate the actual performance of the air purifiers they sell and simply tell you what the manufacturers would like you to know. So we thought it is about time to do an in-depth comparison to show you what to expect from both brands.
Blueair is a Swedish company that was founded in 1996 and the units and filters are primarily manufactured in China. The company was acquired by the consumer goods company Unilever in 2016. IQAir is a Swiss family-owned company that has been making air purifiers in Switzerland for more than 40 years. All IQAir units and filters are manufactured by IQAir in Switzerland. We took the most recent and most popular IQAir vs. Blueair air purifier models and compared them. The two ranges are quite different. Blueair offers a greater variety in size of units and a lower price point, whereas IQAir offers filtration for any type of contamination and a greater variety of filtration media. Some of the IQAir vs Blueair units do not lend themselves well to being compared – such as the IQAir HealthPro 100 vs Blueair 205. The Blueair 205 is less than half the price of the IQAir, uses a very different filtration technology, is significantly smaller and moves much less air. Nevertheless, they are both specifically designed to move particle contamination.
The size of an air purifier might be important when floor space is at a premium, for the actual performance, however, the size of the unit matters less than the size of the room it can clean. Furthermore, the size of the room the IQAir vs Blueair air purifiers can clean is not simply determined by the airflow of the unit but needs to take the actual filtration efficiency into consideration. This means that simply saying that you can achieve a given number of air changes is misleading if you do not know the actual filtration efficiency at the same time. A unit with two air changes and near-perfect filtration efficiency is going to give you better performance than a unit that gives you five air changes but only has a 50% filtration efficiency at 0.3 microns. For this reason, we will discuss filtration efficiency and airflow in more detail below.
IQAir offers a standard 3-year warranty on all their domestic air purifiers, and Blueair offers a generous 5-year warranty. That being said, the IQAir air purifiers are manufactured in Switzerland and are individually tested and certified for their high performance. This kind of quality-control means that warranty issues are very, very uncommon. Blueair units – as many other electric items - are made in China and are not individually certified. They are well made, and Blueair is generous with their warranty repairs, but the chance of requiring a warranty repair is also much higher.
Both, the IQAir and the Blueair air cleaners utilise a timer. The IQAir units let you set a fixed time of day for the unit to go on and off, and lets you specify which settings you would like the unit to run during the on and ‘off’ setting. Furthermore, you can determine which days of the week you would like the timer to be active. This is helpful as you could set the unit up for different daytime and night-time use for example, or weekday and weekend usage, i.e. have the unit be on during a certain time Monday to Friday but not during the weekend.
The Blueair timer function is controlled through the ‘Blueair Friend App’ to be used with a compatible smartphone. If you use the Blueair Friend app, you have the option to select which days the timer is active, what time the unit turns on/off and your desired speed setting. In addition, you can adjust the speed setting of these Blueair units while out and about by using your phone’s network signal. But the timer settings can not be set on the unit itself and you will have to register and provide a certain amount of personal information to Blueair in order to use the app.
Regarding the IQAir vs Blueair air quality monitor, some of the Blueair units come with integrated air quality sensors, such as the 280i, 480i and 680i models. This would be the same monitor as the Blueair Aware, which can also be bought as a separate product. IQAir does not offer an integrated air quality monitor in its air purifiers but offers the IQAir AirVisual Pro, which has to be to be purchased separately.
There are a couple of issues in regard to integrating an air quality monitor in an air purifier. For ease of use, it is nice to have an air quality monitor integrated into an air purifier. However, a good air quality monitor is pricy, which adds to the overall cost of the air purifier. If an air quality monitor is not of interest for you, then you end up paying for something you do not need. A separate air quality monitor is also likely to have more features and a larger display than what an integrated monitor might provide.
Measuring the air quality in or on an air purifier is, however, not the best place to measure it in the first place. If you are concerned about the air quality in the room as such, you might want to use a separate monitor to measure the air quality on the other side of the room, not in or on the air purifier itself. It is a bit like measuring the temperature of the room by placing a thermometer on the radiator.
If the air quality monitor is integrated into the air purifier, it should obviously be close to the inlet of the unit.
The difference in filtration technology of the IQAir vs Blueair air purifiers is probably the most overlooked, important, but arguably also the most misunderstood difference between the two brands.
Blueair uses a synthetic filter in combination with ionisation. IQAir uses leakage-free HEPA filtration. Proper HEPA filtration – i.e. HEPA filtration that is leakage-free – is used in the most sensitive environments as it provides such a high and consistent filtration efficiency. But making an air purifier that has a whole system efficiency at the HEPA standard – i.e. cleaned at 99.95% at 0.3 micron – comes at a cost, as the manufacturing of the high quality filter, housing and fan is expensive.
As an alternative, many companies use polypropylene filters. They are significantly cheaper to manufacture and handle. A polypropylene filter also requires a less strong fan (and thus less energy) to push air through it. The filtration efficiency would obviously be significantly lower so that ionisation can be used to electrically charge pollution and make it ‘stick’ to the filter media and thus increase the filtration efficiency. However, this does not quality as actual HEPA filtration. Blueair calls this "HEPASilent" and several retailers seem to think it is actual HEPA filtration. It is not. "HEPASilent" is a term of art, and has nothing to do with actual HEPA filtration.
Ionisation has the potential to produce ozone as a by-product. Ozone is a naturally occurring gas, which is produced by electrical discharges and UV light. Background levels of ozone can be found in most environments, but as it can be a lung irritant, exposure to it might not be suitable for everyone. The stronger the ioniser, the more ozone is produced. Blueair units are considered ozone-free as they use a very weak ioniser and powerful filters to control ozone levels.
IQAir units are 100% ozone free, as they only use mechanical filtration.
Blueair does not use a pre-filter as such. IQAir HealthPro100 units use an F8 pre-filter, to increase the overall filter area and minimises maintenance in the form of filter changes. The average filter replacement cycle for a Blueair unit (according to the manufacturer) is 6 months. The average filter replacement cycle for the F8 filter in the IQAir HealthPro 100 is at about 1.5 years, and for the HyperHEPA filter 3-4 years.
The filtration efficiency of 99.97% at 0.3 is individually tested, certified and guaranteed for each IQAir air purifier. As such each IQAir unit comes with an individual certificate of performance.
The airflow of the Blueair vs the IQAir units is not easy to compare, as Blueair only publishes the airflow rate for its US 110Volt units. You should expect to get different performance from a 220Volt unit. Each IQAir unit is individually tested, certified and guaranteed for its actual airflow rate, which can be found on its certificate.
I hope this information is of use in your comparison of the two brands. There is obviously more that could be said and some of the points raised could be discussed in more detail. Please do let us know if you have any questions or would like more details on any particular issue.