This might be a bit unusual thing to be reviewed on my page, but in a way it is related. Every PC user knows dust is the seed of evil. Clogs filters, clogs coolers and fans and it’s just nasty and annoying. If you have a computer that runs almost 24/7, you know dust gathers like crazy inside it and around it. I also happen to sleep in the same room which makes it even worse. I’ve been thinking of getting air purifier for months, but couldn’t really decide. There are literally hundreds of them, mostly what I’d consider as no-name brands. There are also from well known vendors like Sharp, Philips and so on, but they cost a fortune and are ridiculously hard to buy, at least in my country. But in the end, based on several factors, I have decided for air purifier from a well known Italian appliances manufacturer DeLonghi. I have opted for the highest model AC230 because the price difference as well as dimensions of the unit weren’t particularly higher compared to their more basic AC100 and AC150 units. Plus I’ve heard filters for AC230 are significantly easier to obtain than for other two units. Have been using AC230 for several months now, with review being mostly written in the Draft folder, here is my final experience…
Construction and design
The unit is very sturdy and has no rattling elements. Maybe the rear case plastic is a bit cheap on touch, but the front one you’ll see most of the time is very high quality. The front plastic cover imitates shiny sandblasted metal which also looks very nice. This front panel is locked in place with magnets which make it really easy and durable. No hinges or mechanisms, just strong magnets. Certainly a good and durable design decision. Only bad design choice I’ve noticed so far is the cable storage compartment on the bottom of the unit. Its cover is attached with screws which point out of the case almost as much as the rubber feet. I can see this as a potential problem for delicate floor if you drag the unit around, it might scratch it. Especially over time as rubber feet will wear or compress because of weight and time. I’ve removed all 4 screws on the bottom just to be sure.
It has a 5 stage filtration. Washable pre-filter for larger particles, HEPA filter rated to filter particles larger than 0.3 microns, active carbon filter to absorb toxic fumes and odors, Nano Silver filter with anti-bacterial effect and lastly a TiO2+UV photo-catalytic filter. UV light by itself kills viruses and bacteria by disrupting their cell structure with UV radiation. And with usage of TiO2 (titanium dioxide) mesh, it further enhances this action.
Filter is rated at 720 hours which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I think I know the reason why they rate it at such low number of operating hours. HEPA filter itself may last a lot longer. I’m speculating 6-12 months actually, depending on usage and amount of dust. It’s the active carbon filter that wears out so quickly. So, if you mostly care about dust filtering, you can just ignore the 720 hours recommended replacement cycle. I would still recommend filter replacement at least once a year.
Be aware that HEPA and Active Carbon filter are bonded together. To replace one, you automatically replace both.
I did find another flaw, a green/grey mesh “filter” covering UV bulb started dissolving, I’m guessing it’s because of UV bulb. After removing it, location where it was pressing against UV bulb was just crumbling into dust. I don’t think it was meant to be like this, so I removed it to avoid potential dispersion of these particles into the air. UV bulb is still covered with plastic case mesh for protection.
Make sure to regularly clean pre-filter. I also clean HEPA here and there using vacuum cleaner furniture brush at lowest vacuum cleaner speed and gently go across entire filter surface from the dust receiving side (white one, not the carbon granules side).
From left to right…
- FILTER light which warns you to replace filter (time based, 720 hours of operation)
- RESET button below it to reset the status after replacement of the HEPA filter
- AQS control for the front red/orange/blue lighting
- IONIZER button to toggle ionizer on/off
- 3 manual fan speeds (Low, Medium and High)
- AUTO button for automatic fan speed based on AQS air quality sensor
- Off timer with 1, 2, 4, 8 hours settings
- ON/OFF button
Buttons are full touch operated and they glow brightly, but they go into dim mode after few seconds. They emit some light to the room, but it’s not annoying even during night. Every touch of any button creates a beeping sound as a feedback for changed settings.
AQS (Air Quality System)
DeLonghi AC230 comes with sensors which detect various particles from fumes, smoke, gases etc and activates the higher ventilation speed depending on severity of the detected impurities to accelerate air cleaning. AQS system is always active, but you can decide not to obey it by manually selecting a desired ventilation speed. To use AQS system, you have to press AUTO button on the control panel. When using manual speed settings, AQS will still show the state of air quality, but will not modify fan speed even if air quality changes.
Pressing AQS button on control panel only enables or disables air quality status lighting, which is useful for night operation, so it’s not too distracting.
Orange is very bad air quality, green means acceptable and blue is for excellent air quality.
There is general misconception that AC230 units have a hardware bug which makes them stuck in certain AQS colored mode. Based on my observations, sometimes air becomes so bad, AC230 is not able to improve it. Opening door or window of the room for few seconds made the unit cycle back to green and later to blue mode. I have also noticed removal of the small green/grey mesh in front of UV bulb improved things a lot and the unit is now able to maintain blue state much easier for some reason.
Like many air purifiers, this one comes with ionizer which is using high voltage needles with ionizing tips to generate negative ions. It’s actually an useful feature sometimes, because it can neutralize bad smells and force dust to fall on surfaces instead of floating around, but can also be annoying if you cannot turn it off. Ionizers create ozone (O3) which is an irritating oxidizing gas and can cause problems with some users. Luckily, AC230 unit has a dedicated ION button to turn it on or off at any time. It’s a simple thing, but you will often not find this even on units 5 times more expensive!
Night usage and noise
As I’ve said before, top control panel emits some light, but gets dimmer when nothing is pressed for few seconds. AQS air quality lights can also be turned off. In terms of emitted light footprint, it’s pretty good and isn’t annoying. Would be nice if there was also option to fully disable even control panel lights entirely. I’m sure some users would appreciate it.
Noise levels are very subjective thing, but if you have the AC230 unit running at Low speed, it’s reasonably quiet. If there are any other noises like quiet music, TV being turned on or having a conversation, you won’t even hear it. At Medium and High speeds however it is quite noticeable. I only use these modes when I’m not around and I want to accelerate filtration.
Sleeping with this unit nearby is possible, but if you’re not used to constant static noises nearby, you’ll want to disable it for the duration of the night.
My room has high temperature changes from very cold to very hot sometimes and I’ve noticed fan noise does change depending on temperature. Most of the time it has an uniform, even noise, but sometimes it goes into a bit more annoying oscillating noise. Imagine having a fan that is not balanced perfectly. It sounds like that here and there and that is in fact more annoying. This also changes depending on distance and angle from the unit.
In general, I think noise levels are very good.
Specifications and comparison with smaller models
Measured with Voltcraft Energy Check 3000 consumption monitoring device on European 230V wall socket.
Consumption at given fan speed:
- Low: ~41 W
- Medium: ~47 W
- High: ~60 W
Additional consumption for optional features:
- Ionizer: 0.4 W
- AQS LED status lights: 0.6 W
My usage and results
All observations are based on me having AC230 unit only 1m (~3.3ft) away from my head during day and around 3m during night. Unit is running pretty much 24/7 and is placed on a piece of furniture, 110cm above the ground which is less than ideal, but only option for me. Recommended placement is on the floor.
It did not eliminate dust problems entirely, to achieve that you have to run the air purifier at maximum speed at all times in order to catch more dust particles while they are floating in air and even then, some would still fall on surfaces. But I can sense being a lot less irritated by dust and I also noticed there is a lot less dust being accumulated on surfaces and also inside my computer. Indication of its efficiency is also the amount of dust caught on the pre-filter. It was a moderate amount during a year, but rather large amount during winter time because the heating makes dust particles circulate around the room a lot more. DeLonghi AC230 unit is clearly catching dust in its filtration system.
All in all, a very good all around air purifier. Is well made despite few silly design flaws, has good noise levels, has settings not found even on most expensive units and it’s simply doing its job rather well. There is really nothing that bothers me very much and for the price, it was a very good purchase. I’m still using the first HEPA filter, so I can’t comment on parts availability, but we do have official DeLonghi service chain in my country and filters aren’t that expensive based on prices found in online stores like Amazon. If you’re looking for a good and affordable air purifier, DeLonghi AC230 is an excellent choice for sure.
After roughly 1 year, I’ve now replaced the HEPA filter. Like I’ve said in the review, HEPA filter doesn’t require replacement every 720 hours of usage. It’s the carbon filter on it that requires that. So, if dust filtration is your primary concern, replacement every year is perfectly fine.
I’ve ordered the filter on Amazon.de and it was 38,10 € with shipping included. Fairly reasonable expense for once a year. And also the only expense as far as this air purifier goes (if we exclude electricity).
I’ve also decided to show you the difference between 1 year used filter and a brand new one, just for comparison how much crap it filtered in this time. Be aware that I have vacuumed the pre-filter several times through 1 year of usage, without that, main EPA would get a lot more dirty than it did…
Left filter is new, right one is the old. You can probably see how much darker the right one is…
And as I was writing this, I realized I was addressing the filter type wrong the entire time. Something I realized after looking at the filter box just now. It’s EPA, not HEPA. In the past it would be fine, but if we’re pedantic, lets go full force as they have changed the classifications a bit 🙂 It’s EPA12 (E12) to be more specific. EPA12 is not a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filtration) filter but “ordinary” EPA (Efficient Particulate Air Filtration). And the number defines a grade. EPA12 is the highest EPA grade which has a filtration of 99.5%. So, it “misses” 0.5% of particles. First HEPA filter misses 0.05%. Next grade 0.005%. And so on…
I think 99.5% filtration is still pretty damn good considering not having such unit would leave 100% of dust in my room. I’d consider even E11 to be reasonable. Where E10, while it does something, missing 15% of all particles is quite a lot. Besides, as you ramp up the filtration, you also increase the air penetration resistance. Meaning you need a higher pressure to push air through the filter, which means more expensive unit because of more powerful motor, more noise as you have to push air through finer filter.
I hope this update is helpful, filter seems to be obtainable for now, will keep you posted how this goes through years of usage…