The dangers of outdoor air pollution have been well-publicised. But the air we breathe indoors also impacts massively on our health. Now that we’re forced to spend much more time inside, it’s a good time to start thinking about the quality of the air in your home.
One way to improve your indoor air quality at home is to install an air purifier. They can be expensive, though – some cost as much as £700.
Could the HoMedics Total Clean AP-15 air purifier be the answer? It’s a relatively basic machine but it’s due to go on sale for £80 in Lidl from Sunday 5 April.
We haven’t put this model through our air purifier tests. But, based on our expert knowledge of the market, we can tell you how its features compare with other air purifiers we’ve tested.
Prefer to buy an air purifier that’s been properly tested by Which?? Head to our list of Best Buy air purifiers
Can an air purifier protect against coronavirus?
First of all, it’s important to specify that an air purifier can’t protect you from coronavirus. It’s something that we know a lot of people are wondering right now and we covered a story on it last week. To stay safe, follow the latest NHS guidance.
An air purifier could help you by improving the quality of the air you breathe at home more generally, though – which is good for general health and well-being.
With that in mind, read on to find out what the HoMedics AP-15 has to offer.
Key specs: HoMedics Total Clean AP-15 air purifier on sale at Lidl
Price at Lidl: £79.99. For comparison, it’s currently reduced from £129.99 to £89.99 at Currys, the next cheapest retailer
Maximum size of room it can purify, according to HoMedics: 10.6m2 / 114ft2
Filter: HEPA filter and carbon filter
Dimensions: 36.5cm x 21.5cm x 43cm (height x width x depth)
Settings: Low, Medium, High and Night mode
Cost of a replacement filter: £20 from the HoMedics website
On sale at Lidl from: Sunday 5 April, while stocks last
What features does the HoMedics Total Clean AP-15 air purifier have?
HEPA filter and carbon filter
The HoMedics Total Clean AP-15 has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. HoMedics says this will trap 99.97% of airborne bacteria and allergens, including dust, pollen, pet dander and mould spores. And it has a carbon filter, designed to trap odours and gases.
When buying an air purifier, we would always recommend getting one with a HEPA filter.
To use the term HEPA filter, a filter must conform to certain standards of filtration efficiency. Filters with names such as EPA, HEPA-type and HEPA-style may or may not meet the same standards as HEPA filters.
So, a HEPA filter is a good starting point when choosing an air purifier. But it isn’t, in and of itself, any guarantee of a good air purifier. At least one machine we tested at our lab with a HEPA filter was still such a poor product overall that we made it a Don’t Buy.
The HoMedics AP-15 also has a carbon filter. A HEPA filter can’t trap unpleasant odours or gases; you’d need a carbon filter for that. There’s still a world of difference between types of carbon filter (which is an area of ongoing research, and isn’t something it’s currently possible to test for).
But, in broad terms, the presence of a carbon filter is likely to be a good thing.
Fan speeds and settings
The HoMedics AP-15 comes with three fan settings – Low, Medium and High – which is pretty standard. It also has a Night Mode, which HoMedics says turns off the display light.
If you’re working from home (which many of us are), you’ll probably want to have it on Low while you concentrate. After activities that cause pollution (spraying deodorant, for example), you’ll want to whack it up to max.
Without having tested this machine, we can’t tell you how loud or annoying a sound it may make.
The HoMedics AP-15 is a smaller version of the HoMedics AP-25A-GB (£150), which we tested in 2018. That one was pleasantly peaceful using the minimum speed. We could still hear the air flow, but it was an even sound with no humming that we didn’t find intrusive. There was a loud motor noise and background whistle on the maximum setting, though.
Other HoMedics models we’ve tested, such as the HoMedics 5-in-1 Total Clean AP-T30 (£180) were annoyingly loud even on low, though.
So be warned that it’s a bit hit and miss with this brand.
Other air purifier features
As we said before, the HoMedics Total Clean AP-15 is a fairly simple air purifier. It doesn’t have some of the features that you’ll see on some more sophisticated models – a timer, an automatic mode which prompts the air purifier to spring into action when pollution levels rise, or the ability to control the settings from an app on your smartphone, for example. That’s to be expected, considering how cheap a model this is.
Those features are nice to have, as they’ll make your life easier, but they’re certainly not vital.
Nor does it have the option to add essential oil pads, which some HoMedics models, such as the HoMedics AP-T30 (pictured above), do. We don’t think you’re missing out there, though: while we haven’t tested this feature, essential oils often release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), causing extra work for an air purifier.
If there’s a bad smell in your home, it’s better to open a window and track down the source, rather than covering it up with fragrance.
Air purifiers for small homes
The HoMedics Total Clean AP-15 is designed to be ‘slimline and discreet’, so that it can ‘fit neatly into your home’.
HoMedics says this air purifier is suitable for rooms of up to 10.6m2 / 114ft2
If the room you’re aiming to purify is larger than that, opt for a bigger machine.
Air purifiers contain a fan which draws in air. If you buy one that is too small for your room, the fan won’t be powerful enough to move the air around the room. So the air that needs cleaning is less likely to pass through the air purifier.
We don’t test air purifiers that are tiny, because we know they can’t do much, however small your room. The smallest we tend to test are around 40cm x 20cm x 16cm (height x width x depth).
Small air purifiers that we’ve tested include:
These aren’t as cheap as the HoMedics HoMedics Total Clean AP-15. But you can read our reviews to see how they’ve performed in our lab tests.
How to improve your indoor air quality at home
If you don’t want to buy an air purifier, there are other simple steps you can take to breathe cleaner air at home. For starters, you can:
- Open a window – keeping your home well-aired is a really simple thing that you can do.
- Avoid condensation build-up – use your extractor fan when cooking and showering, dry clothes outside (if you have a garden or balcony that you can use for that purpose), wipe down any windowsills if you notice condensation building up, tackle mould as soon as you spot it – and, if you have an ongoing damp problem, consider buying a dehumidifier.
- Clean your home regularly – and swap high-polluting chemicals for natural cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda, if you can. Vacuum regularly, using a vacuum cleaner that won’t leak back out all the particles it hoovers up. And keep high-shedding pets off beds and sofas.
Head to our guide to improving your indoor air quality at home to find out more. Or check out all our air purifier reviews to see a complete list of all the models we’ve tested.