Honeywell HFD-120-Q Tower Air Purifier Review

Overview:

Pros: High airflow, Moderate efficiency for big particles, cheap purchase price
Cons: Short warranty, basic operation, noisy on highest speeds, low efficiency on tiny particles 
Great for: Allergies, Dust
Not Recommended for: Chemicals, Odors, Smoke

Summary:

The Honeywell 120-Q Tower is a good dust removal air purifier that delivers moderate airflow at a cheap purchase price. The 120-Q Air Purifier does not use a HEPA filter, but instead utilizes a unique type of filter technology that Honeywell has an exclusive license to in the US. This Filter technology is a plastic filter with an electrostatic charge applied to it to attract dust and allergens.

Depending on your preferences, this filtration method is either the key advantage, or main drawback of this unit. If you are ok spending your time hand washing the filter every 2 weeks to maintain its performance, then you can save money on filter replacements. But many people don't want to touch the filth that their filter collects. They would rather throw the whole filter in the trash once a year and be done with it. If that's you, then this isn't likely going to be a unit you will like.

Since it does not use a HEPA filter, it delivers lower rates of filtration efficiency. However, it does so at very low noise levels and low power levels.

Most Honeywell units lack activated carbon or other additives which make them ineffective for odors or chemicals. This applies to the Honeywell 120-Q air purifier as well.

However, for the price, it can be used as a dust removal unit and first line of defense. It has an oscillation feature and a very simple set of controls. The unit feels solid & made of thick plastic.

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Review Outline & Key Findings (Click to Skip Ahead)

1. Unboxing the Unit
Easy to Use
Difficult Filter Change
Solid Construction

2. Key Technologies
ifD Filtration

3. Available Filter Options
Pre-Filter
ifD Filter

4. Product Specs
170 SqFt
?? Efficiency
.

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

6. Cost to Operate
Power: $3.35
Filters: $Your Time
Total: $3.35

7. Similar Units
Whirlpool Whispure 400
Alen T500

8. The Bad
Filtration Efficiency
Regular Cleaning Required

9. The Good
Washable Filters
Cheap Price
Low Power/Noise

10. Why Buy Here?
Advice
Expertise
Long Term Support

Full Review of Honeywell HFD-120-Q Tower Air Purifier

Unboxing the Unit

Easy to Unpack
Unboxing the unit is quite simple, opening on the top you see two tabs that allow you to grab ahold and slide the packing material away from the unit. If you know to look for the handle on the back, it makes pulling the unit out easy. The packing material was not that tight and so the unit slides right out.




Basic Push Button Controls with Oscillation
It can’t get any more basic than this. I personally like push buttons more than knobs, but some people like the physical click of a knob. This unit as a single push button for the speed controls. Once to turn it to speed one, and then keep pushing it to switch to the other two speeds. If you are on speed 3 and push it, the unit will turn off. It also has a single button for oscillation which is great for using the unit like a tower fan.

Changing the Filter Looks Easy, But Wasn't
As with all tower units, just push down on the clip on the back grill and pop off the back cover. The unit has a thick pre-filter that clips into the back cover. If you want to change these, it’s probably best to pop off the back grill and then take it outside to remove the pre-filter to prevent dust from getting everywhere.

Where It Gets Difficult
While the back cover was easy to open, getting the filters in and out was not. The filters snap in to the grooves and have have to make contact with metal clips inside of the unit in order for the electric charge to be applied to the filter. Snapping the filter in the right way was a little difficult. It looked like I was putting it in right, but it wouldn't snap down all the way. I had to pull the filter out and re-orient it and try again at least half a dozen times. The 2nd filter took about 2-3 tries. I assume you would get the hang of this if you had to do it more often, but for me it was my first time.

Construction Quality Seems Good for The Price
Honeywell units tend to be cheaply made but have a solid feel. Because of their low price points, they are designed with saving pennies in mind. This is why you see molded cardboard packing rather than Styrofoam and units that use two or three small filters rather than one large filter. These are all items that cut costs for the manufacturer. However, despite the low cost construction, the plastic does not feel flimsy and the unit has some weight to it, which gives a more solid feel. Also, the 5 year warranty is fair considering the low purchase price.

 

 

Key Technologies


HFD Filter Technology
The Honeywell 120-Q Tower utilizes a unique type of filter technology that Honeywell has an exclusive license to use in the US. This type of filter technology is called ifD which means Intense Field Dielectric.

When looking at an ifD filter, you can see straight through it. It has hundreds of tiny straw-like tubes through which the air flows. By applying a charge to tubes, particles stick to them as they flow by.

Missing Half of The Equation
I have tested ifD filters that deliver 100% efficiency at extremely high airflow rates. The ifD filter in the Honeywell 120-Q does not deliver that level of performance. This is because Honeywell only uses half of the technology in their units.

In a complete ifD filtration system, there is a grid on the outside of the filter that is applying a static electric charge to the air and to the particles flowing through the filter. The filter is then oppositely charged, which gives it a very high efficiency rate. Without the grid to charge the particles, the filter alone will never reach its full potential.

The key advantages of ifD is that the filter is practically hollow. This means there is very little resistance to the air flowing through it. This allows for lower noise and lower power consumption. Also, because the filter is plastic, it can be cleaned many times before needing to be replaced.

Finally, ifD filters are costly, and deploying the full charging grid and filter would make this a much more expensive unit.

Available Filter Options

Filter Options are minimal on the 120-Q. You have a carbon pre-filter, and the HFD filter.

In theory, the HFD filter can remove odors, smoke, and chemicals, but we have not tested it for that. Due to the lower performance on the efficiency, we would not rely on it to remove strong odors or chemicals. It may help with smoke if you have ash/soot particles in the air, but it is not likely to be very effective against the odor/chemical portion.

Product Specs

Coverage Area 170 Sq Ft
Efficiency Not Rated by Manufacturer
Noise Levels Not Provided by Manufacturer
Power Consumption Not Provided by Manufacturer
Energy Star Rated Yes
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Performance Testing

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

Speed Power Consumption (Watts) Noise (dB) Efficiency (0.3 Microns)
3 31 51.5 74.4%
2 22 46.6 70.4%
1 20 40 87.4%

These test results clearly show both the advantages and disadvantages of the ifD filter technology applied in the Honeywell HFD 120-Q air purifier. The key advantages are low power consumption and low noise. However, the drawback is lower filtration efficiency.

Because ifD filter technology works through electrostatic attraction, efficiency tends to improve the slower the air is moving. This gives the filter more time to attract and capture the particles. This can be seen on speed 1 where the efficiency was nearly 15% higher than on speed 3 where the air is moving much faster.

Cost to Operate

The Honeywell HEPA-Clean tower is a budget priced unit. This makes it easy for the majority of people to afford and is one of the reasons it sells so many units. However, despite the low entry cost, it is actually going to be more costly to operate than some of the slightly more expensive units in its class.

Cost to Operate: Average
Monthly Power Cost:$3.35
Monthly Filter Cost: $0.00
Maximum Operating Cost: $3.35/month
Typical Operating Cost: $1.67/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: 31 watts
Cost of Electricity from Utility: 15 cents/kWh
Your Daily Power Cost on High: 11 cents per day
Your Monthly Power Cost on High: $3.48/month on high

Filter Replacement Cost

Filter Cost Change Frequency
No Filter Replacements Sold $0.00 None Specified by Manufacturer

Power Cost:
Running the Honeywell HFD-120-Q on high speed, 24 hours a day will result in a power cost of $3.35/month.

Filter Cost
We've looked all over, and it does not appear that Honeywell sells replacement filters for the 120-Q. There are several knock-offs available online, but none utilize the static charge. They are just basic HEPA filter knock-offs. So our estiamted filter cost is zero. However, this does not mean you will not spend a lot of time cleaning the filters thoroughly to maintain their performance. Unfortunately, we can't estimate the cost of your time.

Your maximum operating cost is based on the assumption that you run your unit on high, 24/7. This is always recommended for the best results, but we don't expect that everyone will need to use the unit this frequently. Therefore, we divide the maximum operating cost ($3.35) in half to give a more reasonable monthly cost of $1.67.

A Very Cheap Air Purifier
The Honeywell HFD 120-Q Air Purifier is by far one of the cheapest to operate that we have seen. This is because Honeywell is adamant that you do not need to replace your filter, and because the ifD filter technology uses so little power.

While low power consumption and permanent filters sound like a dream come true for an appliance, there are some drawbacks. These include lower filtration efficiency, and a lot of time cleaning your filters by hand. Rather than spending 5 minutes throwing your filter in the trash every 6-12 months, you may instead be spending 20 minutes every two weeks cleaning and drying your filters. Otherwise their performance will begin to decline quickly. However, we can't estimate the cost of your time in doing so.

Alternative/Most Comparable Units



Honeywell HFD-120-Q
 
Whirlpool Whispure 400


 Alen T500
Price ~$132 $179 $249
Coverage (2 air changes) 425 500 500
Coverage (5 air changes) 170 200 200
Efficiency (0.3 Microns) 87.4% Not Yet Tested 92.8%
Noise on High (dB) 51.5 Not Yet Tested 56.5
Power on High 31 53 53
Warranty 5 Year 1 Year  Lifetime Limited
Max Cost to Operate $3.35/mo $12.40/mo $13.03/mo
Typical Cost to Operate $1.67/mo $6.20/mo $6.50/mo
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The Honeywell HHT-120-Q is a low cost air purifier that is also cheap to operate. While you save on electricity and filter replacements, you will have to be diligent about washing your filter regularly to maintain its performance.

If you have it in your budget, there are a few higher priced towers that switch to conventional HEPA filters. These will deliver higher filtration efficiency at the cost of replacing filters each year. However, this will save you time effort on washing your filter since you just need to toss the old HEPA filters in the trash.

Areas for Improvement (The Bad)

Filtration Efficiency
As we mentioned up above in the Key Technologies Section, the 120-Q uses a special type of filter that works through electrostatic attraction. However, since Honeywell does not utilize the technology to its full extent, filtration efficiency is much lower than it otherwise could be. 

Regular Filter Cleaning Required
Your filter collects dust, and lots of other junk you probably don't want to be handling. However, since this is a cleanable filter, rather than throw the filter and the junk it collects in the trash, you have to wash it out. By hand. You will need to run water through the filter in the sink or with a hose and spray all the filth out of it. Then set it out to dry completely before putting it back in the unit.

Your filter will begin to decline in efficiency and you should be washing it regularly. Honeywell does not give a recommended wash frequency because it all depends on how much you use it and how dirty your air is. Once a month is what we suggest, but once every 2 weeks is probably necessary if you run it frequently or have a lot of dust in your air. This takes time, which we don't consider as a cost to operate the unit, even though it is.

Reasons to Buy (The Good)

Washable Filters
This is the key advantage of this unit. you wash the filter rather than replace it. However, this can also be seen as a drawback if you don't have time to wash your filter regularly to maintain its efficiency.

Cheap Price
This is a reasonable unit for the price and it will address common household dust concerns.

Low Power Cost and Noise
Due to the ifD filter that it uses, it does not consume a lot of electricity, and the noise output is low since the motor does not have to be very powerful.

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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