Blueair 403 Air Purifier Review

Overview:

Pros: High airflow, low power consumption, all metal construction
Cons: Very Noisy, silent claims based on lowest speed only
Great for: Allergies, Dust
Not Recommended for: Chemicals, Odors, Smoke, Germs

Summary:

The Blueair 403 is one of Blueair's most popular air purifier models. The Blueair 403 takes a minimalist approach to air purification. No buttons, no sensors, no smart features, just a solid design with basic HEPA filtration and high CADR test results.

CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) is a measurement of airflow x efficiency, and is not supported by most premium brands, nor Air Purifiers America. Blueair is one of the few premium air purifier brands that promotes it. Focusing on CADR has a strong influence on the design and performance of Blueair units.

Unfortunately, Blueair's focus on CADR tends to take precedence over benefit to the customer. Most Blueair units are very noisy on the highest speeds, even though their marketing is positioned around being silent (which only applies to their lowest speeds).

Review Outline & Key Findings (Click to Skip Ahead)

1. Unboxing the Unit
Heavy to Carry
Basic Controls
Solid Feel, Ugly Look

2. Key Technologies
High Performance HEPA

4. Product Specs
500 SqFt
99.97% Efficiency
104 Watts

5. Our Testing
Power Consumption
Noise Levels (dB)
Efficiency Tests

6. Cost to Operate
Power: $9.83/mo
Filters: $10.50/mo
Total: $20.32/mo

7. Similar Units
Winix P450
Alen BreatheSmart FIT50

8. The Bad
Limited Concerns
Costly Filters
Short Warranty

9. The Good
Soothing Sound
Good Coverage
High Efficiency

10. Why Buy Here?
Advice
Expertise
Long Term Support

Full Review of Blueair 403 Air Purifier

Unboxing the Unit

All Metal = Heavy to Move
Cutting open the box reveals a smaller box inside which shows that the Blueair units are designed to give the unit a personal touch and high end feel. This little box contains a note from Blueair and the filter timer device that sticks to the unit.

Pulling the Blueair 403 unit out of the box makes it clear that the unit is big, and quite heavy, due to being nearly 100% metal construction.

Given the size and weight, the Blueair 403 is right on the border of being small enough to move, and too heavy to move without wheels. Some older people or those with a bad back may not want to carry this unit around the home.

Larger units like the Blueair 503 will come with wheels to improve mobility.

Basic controls: Click-Click-Click
The unit uses a basic knob dial for adjusting the speeds. The noticeable click of the knob makes it obvious that the next speed has been engaged.

The first two speeds are quite quiet, but the highest speed is quite loud. The volume of airflow at this speed is very high but the noise means that you will probably not use it for extended periods of time.

 

Opening the unit/changing the filter is quite easy
Filter changes with the Blueair 403 are very simple and straightforward. Just open the door on the side of the unit, slide out the old filter and slide in the new one.

This is one of the easiest units to change the filter on and is great for people who don’t have a lot of time to pull on every corner of the unit to figure out which way it is supposed to open.

Construction Quality is Solid/All Metal
As we mentioned above, the 403 unit is made out of all metal. It is a very durable and solid feeling unit, but is also heavier than many comparable sized units that are made out of plastic.

Key Technologies

HEPA-Silent (Misleading Marketing)

Read anything about Blueair and you will see "HEPA-Silent" technology mentioned everywhere. This is clever marketing on the part of Blueair. Most people would believe that HEPA-Silent means that Blueair units are quiet, but they are not. Blueair has branded its lowest speed as the HEPA-Silent speed. Not all speeds are silent. In fact, many are very noisy.

    • Speed 1: HEPASilent (Low noise and high efficiency claims based on this speed.)
    • Speed 4: Max Airflow (Coverage area/CADR claims based on this speed.)

This means that Blueair units have two extremes. One for making low noise/high efficiency claims, and the other for making coverage claims. Unfortunately, you probably would not want to run your unit at either one of these extremes for very long. However, by taking the best claims from each extreme, the unit appears to perform well in all areas.

How does HEPA-Silent Work
HEPA-Silent technology means that Blueair does not use a HEPA filter, but instead achieves close to HEPA performance by heavily ionizing the incoming air.

An ionizer adds charge to the incoming particles, causing them to become stickier and easier to capture. With this ionizer boost, a loosely woven, low efficiency filter can then deliver true HEPA efficiency. This is a great way to save power, reduce noise, and deliver high efficiency. Unfortunately, most of this only applies to the lowest speed, which delivers very little airflow/coverage area.

Available Filter Options


The blueair 403 has two filter options to choose from. The plain HEPA filter, or their SmokeStop filter. The SmokeStop filter adds in activated carbon in order to remove odors and chemicals. Depending on the unit, the SmokeStop filter can contain quite a large volume of carbon. The Blueair 403 Smokestop contains about 5lbs.

Product Specs

Coverage Area (5 air changes per Hour) 365 sq ft
Coverage Area (2 air Changes per Hour) 915 sq ft
Efficiency 99.97% (at lowest speed only)
Noise Levels 52 dB
Power Consumption 80 Watts
Energy Star Rated Yes

Performance Testing

The following performance specs are what we measured in our performance testing.

Speed Power Consumption (Watts) Noise (dB) Efficiency (0.3 Microns)
4 91 59 87.4%
3 34 45 91.2%
2 18 38 (inaudible) 94.3%
1 15 37 (inaudible) 93.8%

These results are somewhat low for a premium air purifier.

As we have mentioned before, Blueair focuses on CADR rates. Their goal is to clean the air as fast as possible in a room. Run it on high for 30 minutes, tolerate the loud noise, and then turn it down to a lower speed. Unfortunately, our experience shows us that a room can return to dirty air quality levels in less than an hour after turning an air purifier off. Even faster if someone is present in the room. So turning the unit on high, and then down to low, where it is effectively off, will not keep your room as clean as running a quiet air purifier at a higher speed.

Cost to Operate

Cost to Operate: Average
Monthly Power Cost:$9.83
Monthly Filter Cost: $10.50
Maximum Operating Cost: $20.32/month
Typical Operating Cost: $10.16/month (We divide max operating cost in half since we don't expect everyone will run it on high 24/7)

In order to determine the cost to operate, we consider power consumption cost and filter replacement costs:

Power Consumption Cost

Unit Power on High: 91 watts
Cost of Electricity from Utility: 15 cents/kWh
Your Daily Power Cost on High: 32.7 cents per day
Your Monthly Power Cost on High: $9.83/month on high

Filter Replacement Cost

Filter Cost Change Frequency
HEPA Filter (used for analysis) $59.95 every 6 months
SmokeStop Filter $119.95 every 6 months

Power Cost
The cost of running the Blueair 403 on high, 24/7 is $9.83/mo.

Filter Cost
Changing the HEPA filter on schedule every 6 months will cost about $119.90 per year, or an average of $10.50/mo.

While we recommend that you run the unit 24/7 on the max speed for the best results, not everyone will. Therefore, we have taken the maximum cost to operate ($20.32/mo) and divided it in half to give a more typical cost to operate of $10.16/mo.

Most Comparable/Recommended Alternative Units



Blueair 403
 
Alen BreatheSmart
 
AirPura H600
Price $549 $599 $609
Coverage (2 air changes) 915 1100 2000
Coverage (5 air changes) 365 440 800
Efficiency (0.3 Microns) 87% 98.2% TBD
Noise on High (dB) 59 56 62.3
Power on High 91 105 120
Warranty 5 Year Lifetime Limited  5 Year
Max Cost to Operate $20.32 $17.90  $23.64
Typical Cost to Operate $10.26 $9.94 $11.82
Full Expert Review   View Product Page Not Yet Reviewed
Not Sold by Air Purifiers America View Product Page View Product Page

Air Purifiers America no longer carries Blueair units due to some disagreements on what is best for the customer. The truth is, we rarely find a situation in which we would recommend a Blueair 403 to a customer instead of one of the two units above. For every application that you would buy a Blueair, the BreatheSmart or the Airpura H600 are both better alternatives. The Blueair 403 is comparable to both the Alen BreatheSmart and AirPura H600 units in terms of airflow, coverage area and price point. Both units are premium brands with high airflow and performance. For those that like the all metal construction and minimalist design of the Blueair 403, the AirPura H600 has you covered. And while the Breathesmart does not have metal construction it offers more features, smart sensors and automatic performance instead.

Areas for Improvement (The Bad)

Poor Filter Life Timer
Most air purifiers incorporate a filter life timer to help you keep filter changes on schedule. Blueair's external filter life timer is not based on the usage and speed of the unit so it is not very accurate. This means that the filter life timer runs even when your unit does not. So you will likely run your filter either too long, or not long enough before replacing it, either reducing your performance or increasing your cost of ownership.

Misleading Claims Regarding Noise
Blueair 403 is well built unit and a top seller for Blueair. However, on high speed, this unit is too loud to use for extended duration. "HEPA-Silent" positioning is misleading, because it is intended to make you think the unit operates quietly and delivers high performance. In reality, the high efficiency and quiet claims only apply to the lowest speed, and the high coverage claim only applies to the highest speed which we find to be misleading.

Reasons to Buy (The Good)

The Blueair takes a minimalist approach to air purification. Durable, all metal construction and low power consumption, are two of the key benefits of owning a Blueair air purifier.

Why Buy With Air Purifiers America

With a hundred places you could buy this same product, why choose Air Purifiers America?

With Air Purifiers America, you always have someone to call if you run into a problem.

We can give you advice over the phone or online chat. Help you determine where and how often to run your unit. Help you find the right filter replacement, and more!

If you need to send the unit back, we've got you covered. If your unit has an issue in a year, we can walk you through the warranty process.

Amazon may ship it to you 1 day faster, but after that, you're on your own! When you buy from Air Purifiers America, we are always available to help you resolve any issues you may have.  

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