Pionair Air Purifier Review

Update 2020

The Pionair air purifier was released in 2004 by the company HealthQuest Technologies, LLC and they released an air purifier to US consumers. 

As you can see from the Google trend graph below, there is a lot less interest now as the company no longer exists and the unit has not been on general sale since 2009.

But there must still be plenty of people who still own a Pionair purifier and it might even still work. The technology used didn’t require filters to work so it’s very unlikely to break.


However, there is a major problem with this type of air purifier.

It uses an ultraviolet bulb that emits light with a wavelength of 185nm – which is a part of the ozone generating wavelength and this is terrible for your health and also not great at removing particles from the air (Ionizers air purifiers generate a lot of dust that doesn’t get removed but sits on surfaces.)

In the past, we assumed there was no other way to clean air cheaply but to use this type of ozone technology but in 2020 there are plenty of alternatives.

In fact, I would ask any person still running an ionizer air purifier like the Pionair air purifier then you should consider looking to replace the unit that uses a true HEPA and activated charcoal filtering system. Both of these systems have been shown to provide significant health benefits under laboratory tests and many new units don’t have to cost $100’s of dollars.

As of 2020, I recommend the following air purifier for most people:

1.Best for Most People – LEVOIT Pet Edition
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Allergies and Pets Hair, H13 True HEPA Filter for Bedroom, 24db Filtration System with ARC Formula, Remove 99.97% Odors Smoke Dust Mold Pollen, Core P350, Gray
  • Genuine Replacements: Search for "p350-rf" or "B087R7ZFPB" for levoit 3-in-1 customized pet filter with ARC Formula to ensure excellent performance
  • Perfect Gift for Pet Families: Ideal for pet allergies, improve your air quality and help you and your pets relieve allergic symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, sinuses and heavy breathing. Ozone-free, approved by CARB, ETL listed and CA PROP 65 certified
  • High Powered: The Vortexair Technology offers an increased CADR of 141 CFM / 240 m³/h, handily covering rooms as large as 219 ft2 (20㎡) and refreshing the air 5 times per hour, perfect for bedroom, living room, dining room or pet room
  • H13-Grade True HEPA Filter: Reduces up to 99.97% of harmful air pollutants, smoke, pollen, mold spores, dust mites and other allergens as small as 0.3 microns from the air. This new fine non-woven fabric pre-filter is more effective than other common pre-filters at capturing floating hair, pet fur, pet dander, dust, fibers, lint
  • Sleep Mode & Timer: The QuietKEAP Technology keeps noise levels as low as 24dB. Set a timer for 2, 4, 8, or 12 hours, then turn off the display light to enjoy a perfect and undisturbed night of sleep. The pet lock button prevents your pets from tampering with any of the other buttons or settings

2. Budget Friendly – $75ish Hamilton Beach TrueAir
Hamilton Beach TrueAir Air Purifier for Home or Office with Permanent HEPA Filter for Allergies and Pets, Ultra Quiet, Black (04386A)
  • High Performance Hepa Grade Filter: Captures 99% of pet dander, dust, dust mites, pollen, and mold / mildew spores as small as 3 microns from the air.
  • Easy to clean: Allergen reducing air purifier has a permanent Hepa-grade filter that easily vacuums clean.
  • Compact, stylish design: Allergen reducing air purifier is perfect in the office or in rooms up to 160 square feet
  • Versatile air care that fits anywhere: Position the unit vertically or horizontally to best fit in your bedroom, den, nursery, hallway or living room at home or at the office.
  • Quiet and powerful: Use whisper clean for extra quiet operation at night, the medium setting or the quick clean setting for more powerful air cleaning.

3. Winix 5500-2 – For those with bigger rooms
Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA, PlasmaWave and Odor Reducing Washable AOC Carbon Filter
  • True HEPA filter captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants; dust mites, pet dander, pollen and other allergens as small as 0.3 microns
  • Washable AOC Carbon Filter, made from activated carbon granulars for removal of household odors. Decibels 27.8 dB
  • PlasmaWave acts as a permanent filter to safely break down odor, allergens, chemical vapors and other pollutants with no harmful ozone
  • Smart Sensors gauge the air and our Auto Mode adjusts the fan to filter the air as needed; with a sleep mode for silent night time operation
  • CADR rated for 360 square feet room size. Suitable for medium and large rooms; kids bedrooms, family rooms and kitchens

4. Coway Airmega 400 – If you need the very best
Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier with 1,560 sq. ft. Coverage
  • Coway Airmega 400 room air purifier is designed to accommodate large room sizes up to 1,560 square feet and cleans the air at least two times per hour when used as recommended.
  • Coway Airmega Max2 filter—combined activated carbon and True HEPA filter—captures and reduces up to 99.97% of 0.3 micron particles in the air, including pollen, pollutants and other allergens. It also reduces volatile organic compounds by more than 99% and reduces fumes such as NH3 and CH3CHO. Includes washable and permanent pre-filter to catch larger dust particles.
  • Coway Airmega’s pollution sensor communicates indoor air quality testing in real-time. The brightly colored LED ring lets you know how clean or dirty your indoor air is, every minute of the day.
  • Coway Airmega has five fan modes: Smart, Sleep, Low, Medium and High. Noise level is nearly silent at lower speeds. Max noise at highest setting is 43.2 dB.
  • Coway Airmega is a smart, energy efficient air purifier with a three-setting smart mode to adapt to its surroundings. Fan speed automatically adjusts based on the room’s air quality and lighting conditions to improve air quality.

According to the literature marketing material at the time – they described the Pionair purifier as:

“The Pionair ion purifier does not have a filter and doesn’t trap airborne particles such as pet dander or hair. In this sense, it is more like an air sterilizer than an air purifier. The Pionair uses negative ionization and photocatalysis to clean the air surrounding the machine. Prices range from approximately $400 to $600, and the machines are made in the U.S. by HealthQuest Technologies in Georgia. A purifier like the Pionair works best in humid environments where conventional high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters don’t work as well, such as damp rooms like basements and bathrooms. In these environments, mold spores and musty smells accumulate, and this is where the Pionair works best.”

The Pionair uses a photocatalytic air purifier that uses titanium dioxide as a catalyst, and an ultraviolet light bulb to create hydroxyl oxidizers. This is a fairly new technology and can be used instead of ozone. The Pionair does not have a fan but draws air in due to a chimney-like effect created by the light bulb. Because there is no fan, the clean air delivery rate is very slow. However, the Pionair is very quiet and is not designed to do the same job as a traditional HEPA air filtration system. The ultraviolet bulb used in the Pionair will have to be replaced after about a year. While the bulbs are fairly expensive, the cost is comparable to the replacement filter costs for traditional air purifiers.

Drawbacks to the Pionair purifier include the steep price compared to the size room it can treat. Also, the Pionair does produce ozone due to a wider wavelength distribution in the ultraviolet bulb. Light with a 254-nanometer wavelength is germicidal, and light with a wavelength if 185 nm is ozone generating. However, the production of a bulb that is made specifically for 254 nm is more expensive, so Pionair elected to include the 185 nm light in its bulb. The biggest drawback is that it is not designed to rid the air of particles, and often it is particles that aggravate allergies. On the other hand, HEPA air cleaners don’t do so well in damp, moldy environments like basements.

Overall, the Pionair ion air purifier is suitable for cleaning the air in fairly small rooms where particle removal is not a high priority. It is small, easily portable, and uses very little electricity (25 watts). Because there is no fan, the unit is very quiet. Though there is no filter, the ultraviolet bulb does have to be replaced periodically. Over three to five years, users will spend a comparable amount on replacement UV bulbs as they would on replacement filters for a traditional air purifier.”

Last update on 2020-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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