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I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two years thinking about air quality.
Primarily as it relates to Covid, of course, but also as a work-from-home person who’s easily affected by dust, allergies, mold, smoke and other indoor pollutants. And being inside the same space for nearly 24 hours a day, well, you really start to notice any irritants (even invisible-to-the-eye irritants).
Molekule launched in 2014 and has done well making the concept of home air purifiers seem cool and necessary. They’ve won design awards, been lauded by Time as an invention of the year, raised millions of dollars … and also been chided by the likes of Wirecutter and retracted previous advertising claims due to pressure from the Better Business Bureau. (Plus, some reviews have noted the devices are very expensive compared to other air purifiers.)
Still, in early 2021 the company’s Mini device was FDA-cleared to kill germs in healthcare settings. That same year, the company shared data that showed that the Air Mini was able to remove 99.98% of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the air in a small chamber in a relatively short time. And their PECO-Filter rendered 99.42% of viruses applied directly to the filter incapable of infection.
What’s PECO (photoelectrochemical oxidation), you ask? According to the company, it’s a technology that uses “free radicals — the same radicals used to destroy cancer cells — to break down pollutants at a molecular level, including viruses, bacteria, mold, ozone, allergens, and chemicals.” The Molekule purifiers combine this nanotechnology with high-efficiency filtration and air quality sensors to capture particles found in smoke and supposedly “detect and destroy pollutants 1000 times smaller than the standard filters meet to qualify as HEPA.”
We were able to test out the Air Mini+ for a few weeks. We used it a for few days/nights in the bedroom, several days in a shared (and tiny) home office and then in a larger living room/kitchen. The device, which is fine for a countertop or other relatively small or narrow space, uses a light-sensitive detector to gauge the concentration of particles in the air in front of it. The filter needs to be changed about every six months, according to the company.
What we liked:
- It certainly wins on design. The Air Mini+ looks like a 360-degree speaker — it’s not “sleek” but it’ll fit in with almost any decor.
- The app is fairly minimalist and easy to understand — it’s also far better than using the touch controls on top of the Air Mini+ to control fan speeds.
- It legitimately seemed to improve the air quality in the two smallest rooms I used it in. I had zero issues in the time I used it in the bedroom and the shared office, and I seemed to sleep (and breathe) better when it was on.
- When cooking bacon and creating a bit of smoke in the kitchen, the Air Mini+ — two rooms and a hallway away — immediately picked up the change in air quality and upped its fan speed.
What we sort of liked:
- On the two lowest settings, we could barely hear the Air Mini+. That was also when the app said my air had a particle level of “good” (out of good, moderate, bad and very bad)
- After over a week of constant use, the filter was at 95%, which roughly matches the timeline for replacing it every six months
What needs work:
- While the app will give you an overall air quality, the Air Mini+ doesn’t measure ozone, VOCs and allergens (“but you can be rest assured the PECO technology at the core of your device is working to destroy a wide range of pollutants”). The update to the much more expensive Air Pro does offer some of those measurements, however.
- The app was really, really insistent on enrolling me in an auto-refill program for the filters
- The controls on top of the device were a bit frustrating to use — use the app instead
- I had consistent issues connecting the device to wifi and with my phone app, both the first time I used the device and when I unplugged it to move to another room (I basically had to reset everything and start all over again)
- At the highest fan speeds, it’s a very loud machine — not a problem if you’re manually picking your filtration/fan speed, but on Auto Protect that means you may suddenly get a very aggressive noise when you’re not expecting it
- After a day of use on a low fan speed in the office, my girlfriend walked in and said, “I can smell the neighbor smoking downstairs in here.” (It was in auto mode at the time.) For certain smells, it didn’t seem to help … or it didn’t completely clear the air.
What others are saying:
“4.5/5. With a reasonable price, and now with app-connected feedback, you can watch the Air Mini+ clean particulates from your room.” – iMore
“If you’ve got the funds to pay for a relatively pricey air purifier, the Molekule is an excellent buy. It’s backed by top-notch technology that’s FDA-cleared to destroy viruses and bacteria. It’s small and stylish. And, it’s easy to use.” — Fathercraft
Final words: The Molekule Air Mini+ is about a third the size of our old air purifier. It can be loud — but it also certainly helped me, at least during sleep and in a small room.
It’s not a cheap option, and connectivity was an issue. And we wish the Air Mini+ provided more information about our air quality instead of just four basic levels.
Given the current world situation, we’ll continue to use Molekule in our smaller rooms, but we may look for a more powerful (and cheaper) option for our largest room.
Where to buy it: You can buy the Air Mini+ for $500 — with a 30-day, 100% refundable trial — here. You can also buy it over time at $42/month, or save a bit of money if you buy it in a bundle with other Molekule products.
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