North India’s smog season is here, which means the hunt for masks, air purifiers and plants that can supposedly fight air pollution has begun. I felt the drastic effect of the high levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the Delhi Air on day one itself. I could not breathe and eventually had to abandon work to lock myself in a room with two air purifiers on full blast. That’s a small example of what Delhi air can do to someone in just a few hours.
But the truth is there is no escape for most people in the city. ‘Don’t step outside’ is sage advice, but unless the city is shut down, chances are most of us are heading to work. Thanks to the policy paralysis around the issue — blame stubble burning or construction dust or vehicle emission — the best bet here is self-help. Air Purifiers have unfortunately become a necessary evil.
The Honeywell Air Touch i8 is one of the newer air purifiers, claiming to fight PM2.5 particles showing real-time data on the touch-based panel on top. It also claims to be Ozone Free and will keep out allergens, toxic gases, etc. I have had the review unit for a while, but I was not around in Delhi for Diwali, so I was fairly confident that there would be no need for this at full blast. Of course, Delhi had to prove me wrong. The last few days I have been using this zealously and here are some of the positives, negatives to keep in mind when considering this.
Price is Rs 22,990
Honeywell Air Touch i8 Air Purifier: So what’s good?
Honeywell Air Touch i8 Air Purifier claims to have a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) of 300 m3/h and says it is suited for use in rooms with 9 feet height, including living rooms and bedrooms. I would this is more efficient in bedrooms, which are closed considering the current smog levels, though mine is bigger than 9 feet in height.
In our living room, which is one long hall with the main entrance to our three-room flat, this one does struggle, especially in the present conditions. But that’s also because the hall is not completely closed off and chances of the outside air getting in are higher.
Honeywell’s big advantage over more budget air purifiers like Xiaomi’s Mi Air Purifier 2 or the ones from Panasonic, etc is that shows the real-time PM2.5 particle level. For most folks in Delhi right now, this is a major cause of concern and it should be for the coming weeks. It has three modes for auto with the highest being the one that sees the air purifier work in full blast. There’s also a night mode, which is the most silent and preferable.
So, how effective is the Air purifier? As I’ve written on top that I’ve had the two air purifiers on in the same room (effectively whichever room I’m sitting in) and have been tracking the levels from early morning (usually around 5.30 am) to the late night when I go to sleep. So far, Honeywell Air Purifier has remained at the red/orange zone and very rarely shown the safe blue level. The fact that it even gets to the blue zone (a good two to three hours and doors needs to be closed completely) is commendable.
In the mornings around 5.30 am etc, the Air Purifier does bring the levels down under 80 and I suppose we must all be grateful for these small mercies. Remember mornings is when the pollution starts to rise. On Tuesday evening, (around 5.30 pm) it had again brought the level down to 67, which in these conditions is not bad, though still far too high from the permissible WHO limits of 25 ug/m3.
If you think an Air Purifier can bring PM2.5 down to just 25 in these kind of conditions, you are in for a rude shock. In fact, when I switched off the Air Purifier today morning for around an hour, and turned it back again at 9 am, the PM 2.5 levels had spiked to 700.
So does that rating of 80 or 60 really mean a difference? I would say yes, as the most noticeable effect in my case was that I stopped coughing, at least in the room where the air purifier had been on for more than an hour. In office, where there are no air purifiers or in any other room of the house, I’m coughing continuously. So yes, that number on the air purifier might not mean much at the end of the day, but in my case there was one noticeable impact.
The other advantage is that pre-filter of the device can be taken out and cleaned and this is the one that removes PM10 and other allergens.The replacement HEPA filters, which are removing the PM2.5 particles, are priced at Rs 4,290. These are listed for around Rs 3,500 on Amazon and Honeywell seems to have standardised the filters for its Air Touch range.
One of the issues with air purifiers around the season is finding replacement filters, so it is good to see the Honeywell ones are already available, even if they are pricier compared to other options. The company claims these have 3000 hours of life, which is around 4 months. However, you might need to change it after three months or sooner depending on the pollution levels.
So what’s not good?
Honeywell’s Air Purifier might come in a snazzy ‘champagne’ colour option, but this is a big device to place in the room and you’ll need to make some space. If you have a smaller bedroom with more furniture, then this might seem like a hefty addition. The Air Purifier weighs around 6.2 kgs, according to the company’s list of specifications.
The other main issue with the Air Purifier is that this is loud, especially when you crank it up to full speed for the fan. The loud noise is annoying and at one point I was convinced this was broken. But I chose to live with it considering, the other option was just coughing and wishing for death.
Should you buy?
Honeywell Air Touch i8 is priced at Rs 22,990 though you can get it for less on Amazon India, where it is selling this at Rs 19,975. The claim of clean air in just 15 minutes is hard to deliver in these horrible conditions, but the Honeywell i8 does its best. It is perhaps not the best Air Purifier you can buy and yes it is loud, but I would say it proved to be fairly efficient when needed.
Efficient, of course, here is subjective, because nothing is good enough to handle the kind of PM2.5 and PM10 levels Delhi is facing. Air Purifiers are not a permanent solution, but for now it is all we have in the city. The advantages with Honeywell here are that the replacement filters are easily available and in less severe conditions, it does bring down PM 2.5 to under 50 in less than an hour.