There have always been two big restrictions on entry into clean air. One is knowledge – there is still a large lack of awareness about the dangers of air pollution and you have to go out of your way to learn about the impacts.
The second is cost. For those who do understand the dangers of air pollution, there are also large costs involved. Air quality monitors often cost hundreds of dollars, respirators can cost $5 per day if you replace them regularly, and air purifiers can sometimes cost thousands. Not anymore – today I want to introduce the Sqair air purifier by Smart Air.
Air purifiers have one main function which is to clean the air. However, over time more and more features have been added to these devices driving up the prices and making them an unaffordable item for many.
Smart Air seeks to remedy this issue by providing the information and parts for DIY air filters. On top of this, they also produce some of their own air purifiers such as the Sqair. This small air purifier has been stripped of all of the extras and has one purpose – to clean air.
This is what makes it easily the cheapest air purifier on the market. However, while cheap, Smart Air also claims that it is one of the most effective air purifiers. Especially when considering a cost to performance ratio.
This is my review of the Sqair by Smart Air. An air purifier that is designed to make clean air accessible to everyone.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information please refer to my affiliate disclaimer.
Is an Air Purifier Necessary?
Air pollution caused by cooking (most commonly found in third-world countries).
There is a large number of people who instantly discount air purifiers due to the belief that air pollution is an outdoor issue. I have already written articles proving how wrong this is, but it’s something that can’t be emphasised enough.
Indoor air pollution is dangerous. In fact, it’s often more dangerous than outdoor air pollution due to the lack of ventilation and the many sources that add to the pollutants in our homes.
If you are able to ventilate your house well, then an air purifier is usually not necessary. However, if you have a house or workspace that lacks ventilation, or you can’t always effectively ventilate, then an air purifier can help clean the air.
Or, if you are like me, you can use an air purifier in conjunction with good ventilation. Throughout the day I usually rely on airflow through the windows, but at night I turn to the Sqair to remove any VOCs and particulate matter from the air.
If you are unsure about whether or not an air purifier is necessary, I would recommend checking out some different air pollution monitors. They can analyse the air quality in your house and inform you of the overall air quality.
Smart Air Sqair Review
Image from Sqair Kickstarter.
The Sqair is a relatively small air purifier that focuses on one thing – purifying the air. For this reason it is one of the most affordable air purifiers on the market.
The Sqair comes with a HEPA filter, and you can also purchase carbon filters for a small fee. While these extra filters aren’t essential, they will add the ability to filter chemicals.
For anyone living in a small apartment or an apartment with low airflow, I would recommend the carbon filter addition. VOCs can be a danger – especially in smaller apartments and rooms.
Purchase Sqair air purifier from Smart Air.
When purchasing an air purifier it is first necessary to make sure that the device has a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) adequate to provide clean air to the space in which it is intended to be used. The Sqair is rated to clean 40m² on its highest speed.
Since the device has three different speeds, each speed increase will result in an increase of CADR. However, this will also make the noise of the device louder. While the first level is very quiet, the second and especially the third level are very audible.
- CADR is 65m³/h, suitable for 15m²
- CADR is 180m³/h, suitable for 22m²
- CADR is 315m³/h, suitable for 40m²
The Sqair uses a H11 HEPA filter. This is a filter that is capable of removing > 95% of particles at 0.3μm in size. However, in reality filters are often able to capture far smaller particles as well as bigger particles. This is because 0.3μm (specifically, between 0.2μm and 0.3μm) is the MPPS or Most Penetrating Particle Size.
Therefore, the 95% filtration efficacy of the H11 filter in the Sqair will actually be greater for both smaller and larger particles, as the other filtration methods (diffusion, impaction and interception) take place.
I will cover the filtration efficiency of the carbon filter in further detail in the following sections. Not everyone will need a carbon filter as these are aimed at removing VOCs and other chemicals from the air. However, if you have excess chemicals it may be worth purchasing the extra filter.
The lifespan of the filters can range depending on the air quality in your home. There are many aspects that can influence the lifespan of a filter. For example, the carbon filter will usually have a lower lifespan in houses that have recently been painted (due to the VOCs that many paints emit).
To judge when the carbon filter needs to be changed Smart Air recommends performing a smell test. This action is recommended to be taken every couple of weeks, and it involves smelling the carbon filter. Once the device starts to smell metallic or acidic, it is time to change the filter.
The HEPA filter will gradually lose effectiveness over time, and as such, it should be replaced around every six months (if being used for 6 hours every day) or every 1000 hours of use. Again, this is dependent on the quality of your local air – if the filter is filtering cleaner air it won’t get dirty as quickly.
Image from Sqair Kickstarter.
The design of the Sqair is something that pleasantly surprised me. The first words that my girlfriend said when she saw the device were ‘It’s cute’. I think this statement best sums up the look of the Sqair.
Despite being a budget air purifier, the device looks clean and simple. It has a white plastic exterior with a black plastic top. At the bottom you will find four wooden legs. The colour scheme works to its advantage, as it uses neutral colours to fit into any room.
When using the device it is very quiet. There are three different fan speeds, and each step up in speed will increase the speed at which the device cleans the local air. The first level is very quiet and sounds similar to the ambient sound of a desktop PC or fridge.
Under the faster fan speeds, the device becomes very audible. Especially at the third speed, you will instantly notice the noise and it is loud. For this reason, I would recommend the higher speeds only when you need quick air purifying – or for when you aren’t in the house.
Functionally, the device is very simple. It features a small dial on top which can be rotated to choose the correct speed. On the side, two buttons can be found. Pressing these will enable you to access the HEPA filter (and VOC filter if included).
Both of these filters are incredibly easy to replace and the whole process takes only 30 seconds. If you do get a carbon filter, this can be placed just underneath the HEPA filter. There is no need to get a special Sqair device for VOC filtration.
The device really shines in its simplicity and capability. It is one of those products that can fit in nearly anywhere – it just suits a wide variety of different settings. It looks elegant, and it’s small enough to not draw attention or to get in the way.
Purchase Sqair air purifier from Smart Air.
Impact on Air Quality – Test Results
The Smart Air Sqair is the first air purifier that I have ever used while having the capabilities to test the effectiveness of the product. For this reason, I initially didn’t know what to expect with an air purifier – especially this one. Would it clean the air at all?
I can safely say that it has improved the quality of my home’s air significantly. Before I go over my results though, I want to note two things. Firstly, my apartment is very small. It is less than 30m² in floor area. Secondly, I used the uHoo and Laser Egg air monitors to analyse the results.
These are not lab quality monitors. However, I have found them to be relatively accurate in my own tests. Even if they aren’t 100% accurate, they can definitely show trends and large changes over time. Considering that both tend to show similar results, I believe what they show.
Indoor VOC rating before and after using Sqair for eight hours.
The first thing that I noticed was that when I have the Sqair consistently turned on (on the lowest speed), that the VOC level is considerable lower than it used to be. I would see numbers in the red (<800 ppb) often throughout the day and the only way to lower the number was to open the windows.
Now, even when I am sleeping and the windows are closed, I have found that the VOCs very rarely reach over 500ppb.
TVOC and AQI results for the Kaitera Laser Egg.
One night I was sleeping and when I woke up in the middle of the night I noticed that uHoo had sent me air quality warnings. I quickly turned on the Sqair, used my phone for a while, and then went back to sleep. When I woke up, I noticed that both the AQI and TVOC had decreased greatly.
This trend continued throughout the day as I kept the Sqair on. I did open the windows around 5pm, however, before this the windows were closed all day. These results I believe show how much of an impact the Sqair has on VOCs – chemicals that can be very dangerous in high concentrations or over long exposures.
Air quality changes after turning on Sqair (speed = 1).
The images above reemphasise what I have already mentioned about Sqair and how it filters air. The first two images show VOC results, while the third shows PM2.5 levels. I have never had issues with PM2.5 (that first spike was an exception!) so it was harder to monitor the changes in the PM2.5 particle levels.
However, it does seem that the levels have been consistently lower since using the device every day. While there was a spike in the last two days on the graph, the spike was lower than those before. Further, I have never seen such a consistently low PM2.5 reading for six days in a row.
From these results I can conclude that the Sqair has definitely impacted my home air quality in a positive way. I noticed an especially big difference in regards to TVOC levels. However, PM2.5 levels are also lower than they previously were.
It is worth noting that I have yet to use the device at the higher speeds. While speed two is okay for short periods of time, I found that the third speed was too loud for my small apartment. That means that all of the results above were achieved on the lowest fan speed – a speed that is only about as audible as a desktop PC or a fridge.
Conclusion – My Experiences with Sqair
The Sqair is the first air purifier that I have been able to test while having monitors to record the results. Therefore, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I first received the device.
However, after using the device for a few weeks I have been pleasantly surprised. It has had a noticeable impact on my indoor air quality, and I have seen a large drop in the VOCs present. Although It has been harder to monitor particulate matter trends (as I have never had large concentrations), it does also seem to have decreased PM2.5 concentrations.
The device is also very well designed. Despite being simple and affordable, the device doesn’t feel or look cheap. It doesn’t have more advanced features, but it is the most affordable and cost effective way to clean your indoor air.
Further, the device is extremely accessible. Anyone can learn to change the filter within seconds. In fact, there is hardly any learning required. It’s that simple. Within 30 seconds you will fully understand how the product works.
Smart Air states that the want to make clean air accessible – ‘For years, big air purifier companies have made clean air over-priced and over-complicated. The truth is that purifiers are simple: a fan and a filter is all you need to breathe clean air in your home’.
I think that this statement sums up the Sqair perfectly. It’s a device that performs its intended function very well. Everyone deserves clean air, and this is one of the best ways to ensure that you are breathing healthy air.
Purchase Sqair air purifier from Smart Air.
Does the Sqair Have a HEPA Filter?
Yes, The Sqair features an H11 HEPA filter. This filter is certified to filter >95% of particles at 0.3μm.
Can the Sqair Filter Chemicals?
Although the HEPA filter won’t filter chemicals, a carbon filter for VOCs and other chemicals can be added. This filter can be placed directly underneath the HEPA filter.
How Much Area Can the Sqair Filter?
The Sqair has three different speeds, each of which is ideal for different room sizes. CADR is 65m³/h; suitable for 15m², CADR is 180m³/h; suitable for 22m², CADR is 315m³/h; suitable for 40m².
Can the Filter be Replaced?
Yes, both the HEPA and carbon filters in the Sqair can be replaced. Further, both of these filters are extremely easy to replace and can be changed in a matter of seconds.
How Long Does the Filter Last?
Typically the HEPA filter will last for around 6 months with average usage. At around 1000 hours of use, the filter loses 50% efficiency, meaning that it should be replaced.
How Effective Is Sqair?
While this depends on your room size, pollutant levels, Sqair fan speed, and more, I have found the Sqair to be effective in reducing VOC and PM2.5 levels indoors.
How Does Sqair Compare to Other Purifiers?
The SmartAiR website has many comparisons to other air purifiers on their website.