Are you sensitive to dust or other allergens? Or worse, fumes from your chain-smoking next-door neighbour?
Air quality (or the lack of it) is a constant concern for many of us living inside the polluted concrete jungle that is Hong Kong – especially in your own home space.
Here are five gadgets that can help keep the air in your flat clean and fresh.
Mi Air Purifier 2
If a svelte, reasonably priced air purifier is what you are looking for, chances are the Mi Air Purifier 2 will fit the bill.
The device draws in air from all sides, treats it, and releases it from the top. Within the chassis, a replaceable cylindrical filter cartridge helps sieve out hair, dust and microscopic PM2.5 particles to help you breathe better. An activated carbon layer also adsorbs harmful gases such as formaldehyde and removes odours from the air.
Unlike many models, the Mi Air Purifier 2 is a Wi-fi-capable smart device that lets you know when it is time to change the filter cartridge. The Mi Smart Home app connects to sensors in the air purifier to offer the latest readings for temperature, humidity and estimated pollution level.
Operation is straightforward and consists of switching the device on and selecting the appropriate fan speed, including an “Auto” mode that will vary its speed based on detected air quality.
The use of a custom motor from Japan means that the device is very quiet compared to other contenders, and keeps power draw down to a mere 4.8 watts during normal operation. Despite this, the device is touted to have a beefy air purification capacity of up to 310 cubic metres of air per hour.
Price: HK$849 (US$108)
Novita AirCare Pro NAS6000i
This device not only purifies air, but also claims to deliver air and surface sterilisation with the ability to eliminate both airborne and surface-bound contaminants. It achieves this with a multi-layered system in which its replaceable High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filter is only one of four layers of technology implemented to give you clean air at home.
To start, a process involving UV light rays lets the NAS6000i create particles that manufacturer Novita says will attach to and destroy airborne germs. It simultaneously releases millions of negative ions that attach onto airborne allergens and literally weigh them down – so you won’t breath them into your lungs.
Finally, the device releases ozone to oxidise surface-bound germs and eliminate airborne bacteria, virus and fungi. Ozone is also highly effective against odours and is typically used by hotels to quickly remove persistent smells, such as that of a smoker in a non-smoking room.
On the downside, the NAS6000i is hardly cheap, while the replacement costs of the various consumables after 18 months to two years of normal use can stack up quickly. However, a single unit can cover a relatively large area of 82 square metres (883 square feet).
Price: SG$899 (US$680)
Muji Circulator Fan
The Muji Circulator Fan is designed for high airflow without sounding like a jet engine (the company says the blades are designed using fluid mechanics). While its low electrical consumption is probably a plus, its claim to clean-air fame seems to reside in how much air it can move by blasting cigarette smoke or the lingering smell of your dinner out the window.
Simply keep your apartment’s door open as you point the fan at an open window – this will create negative pressure that will clear out the smoke and smells in a jiffy. Indeed, this may work faster than a typical air purifier, while support for five different angles means you can easily adjust the fan to point in just the right direction.
At its highest setting, the fan moves up to 23.7 cubic metres of air per minute, or almost an entire three-metre-square area. Alternatively, set it on low and enjoy its whisper-quiet operation of 18 decibels – less noise than someone whispering – and use it together with your air-conditioning unit to keep the room cool and reduce your power bill.
If you are asthmatic, allergic to pollen, or concerned about the harmful effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the Healthmate HM-400 could be for you.
The no-nonsense medical-grade machine is designed for around-the-clock operation to help reduce coughing, wheezing and symptoms such as dry mouth and runny nose stemming from irritation from dust and gaseous irritants.
Within the device, a four-stage filter first removes visible particles such as hair and dust, followed by allergens such as moulds, spores and pollen. An activated carbon and zeolite stage means that gases, chemicals and odours are similarly eliminated. Finally, a HEPA filter removes 99.97 per cent of particles as small as 0.3 microns, and up to 95 per cent of particles as small as 0.1 microns.
The HM-400 is effective in removing lingering traces of cigarette smoke – though using it in a smoking household apparently voids the manufacturer’s warranty. The device can also be a little loud, so unless you are a heavy sleeper, it may not be ideal in the bedroom.
Despite its hefty price, the expected filter life of five years under normal use means that it may well offer the best return on investment.
While the uHoo does not purify air on its own, the device plays its part in keeping the air clean by alerting you to dangerous or unhealthy levels of pollution in your home.
The device is packed with multiple discrete sensors for precise information about current air quality in a room and uploads air readings wirelessly to the cloud.
Readings can be viewed from the free uHoo app, which lets you track current and historical data by the hour, day or month. Once powered up, the device continuously samples the air, giving you detailed readings in highly granular, one-minute increments. And unlike air sensors that “estimate” current air quality by extrapolating data from a just a couple of sensors, the uHoo incorporates eight discrete sensors under the hood that track temperature, humidity, PM2.5, VOCs, air pressure, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.
A recent update added IFTTT support which gives it the ability to integrate with Alexa, Google Home and Nest thermostats, and for savvy users to get their air purifiers or ionisers to power up upon readings reaching a predefined threshold.
And if you travel frequently to hotels with dirty carpets, the uHoo is compact enough to be thrown into your suitcase on your next trip out of town.