Considering the Honeywell 50250-S? You’re potentially going to spend a bit more money than you would for a cheaper, weaker purifier.
Because of that you might be worried if you’ll get your money’s worth – and if it’s a good choice for cleaner air.
Don’t worry! I’ve done a hands-on review & test of the Honeywell true HEPA 50250-S air purifier. I’ll tell you the good, the bad, and if it’s a good buy.
I even measured the noise and power use, too! There’s a lot of great info here so let’s get started.
Basics first: Getting to know the Honeywell 50250-S purifier
Honeywell’s 50250-S is a bit different from some of the company’s other air purifiers (also called air cleaners) sold today. As it’s a slightly older design, its works the same in many ways but it’s a bit different as far as features and details go.
Basically, the 50250-S is an air purifier that’s a no-frills “workhorse” designed for large rooms up to 390 square feet in size.
Priced between the smaller HPA200 and the more expensive (and more advanced) HPA300, it’s a very capable model. It’s also one of the most powerful I’ve ever tested.
Unlike fanciers models, you won’t get advanced convenience features like electronic touch controls, an auto-off timer, sleep mode, and so on. What you do get, however, are simple and reliable manual controls.
Features that count
Much like the company’s other products I’ve tested including several of the HPA family, it’s a competent air cleaner and provides the following air cleaning features:
- True HEPA filter (easily replaceable, but rated for lifetime use)
- Prefilter with odor-absorbing active carbon coating
- Powerful rotary 3-speed fan with 360 degree airflow
In case you’re not familiar with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, here’s what you need to know: HEPA filters are very effective in their cleaning ability.
They’re a standardized way of guaranteeing the filter meets the HEPA standard, which requires that they can filter 99.97% of all microscopic (an incredibly small 0.3 microns in size; less than 1/100,000 of a meter!) in the air flowing through them.
What makes the Honeywell 50250-S different is its high-power circular fan design and 360 degree airflow. Nearly all other purifiers, regardless of brand, draw air in from the rear and blow it out the front with far less speed & efficiency.
The 50250-S, however, uses a great rotary fan design to draw in dirty air from every side and force clean air out of the top with from every angle possible.
Unboxing & first impressions
Unboxing my purifier for testing. Inside it’s neatly packed and held in placed by molded styrofoam. Also included are instructions, the individually sealed pre-filter, a quick start guide, and a customer support insert. All-in-all, it’s well-done and shows good quality.
Finally I got my hands on my purifier! I’m no stranger to them after having tested more than I can remember. But the 50250-S is different. It really made me feel curious to find out why it’s such a popular model.
On the outside of the box is a ton of information! Not only are all the features and the filtering abilities listed, but the company has gone to great lengths to also list the room size and replacement filter part numbers.
It’s a great break from what you’ll find missing on lower-quality products.
Packaging quality and what you get inside
After opening it up here’s what you’ll find inside:
- 50250-S purifier (with sealed HEPA filter inside
- Sealed prefilter
- Quick-start guide insert
- Customer support contact details sheet
Included in the box are 2 nice little touches: (Left) Convenient customer support contact information if you have questions, and (Right) a great little Quick Start guide to help you get your new purifier working right away.
I would have liked for recycled cardboard to be used inside the box (like with competing GermGuardian products) but that’s ok. The purifier was well-packaged and arrived safely inside the molded styrofoam top and bottom inserts.
My opinion so far? We’re off to a great start! The air purifier looks great and everything gives me a good impression just like other great products I’ve owned & reviewed.
Build quality and fit & finish
As part of my review “habits” if you will (haha), after unboxing a new purifier I like to check the build quality and fit & finish. It gives me more insight into the quality put into both the design & manufacturing. The Honeywell 50250-S didn’t disappoint! It’s a good-looking and well-made air cleaner that may be simple but it very solid.
There’s no way around it – there’s simply no substitute to an up-close and hands-on inspection. As I always like to do, I had a very closeup look at the Honeywell to check for defects, build issues, and fit and finish.
The great news, I’m happy to report, is that it’s well-made and had no signs at all of any quality problems! In fact, just the opposite is true: it’s obviously well-designed and solid.
Body styling and quality
The 50250-S has a standard “office business machine” light grey satin color. It looks good as far as purifiers go and gives the impression that it’s “all business.” In other words, it’s not trying fancy or pretty – but rather it’s designed to clean your air well and that’s it!
Body panels line up well without gaps or assembly defects. There’s a bit of satin silver paint used around the control panel and the bottom of the purifier’s base as well. It’s a nice touch and looks classy.
All in all, the 50250 checks out very well and is very well made. I’ve had zero issues with loose parts and the bottom cover works great. (More about that and the alternative Honeywell 50255B, the black version, later)
Checking out the controls
Shown: The purifier’s control panel is simple and there’s ZERO complication! To use it, just select one of 3 fans speeds. Right: The purifier does feature an extremely convenient filter replacement reminder along with reminder reset buttons. Unlike some products I’ve owned, there’s absolutely no confusion about what the lights mean!
What can I say? The Honeywell was designed to be simple to use…and it is.
The control panel is one of the most simple – and clear – I’ve seen aside from products like the super-popular GermGuardian AC5000 which also features a manual rotary fan switch.
It’s really easy to use: just set the fan switch to one of 3 positions (low, medium, and high). Believe me when I say that “high” is a high-speed fan setting! When set to high, the powerful fan moves a lot of air quickly.
Note that Honeywell actually has named the high speed setting as “Turbo.”
Filter reminder lights & buttons
Included are 2 filter replacement reminder lights as you can see in the picture above. After several month of use the lights will turn on (not blinking) to show the following:
- It’s time to check and clean the main HEPA filter
- It’s time to check, and possibly replace, the prefilter (3 month reminder)
After cleaning the main Lifetime HEPA filter or replacing the prefilter, the reminders can be reset by pushing and holding the buttons for 10 seconds.
It’s really easy and makes it hassle-free unlike some other products I’ve tested.
Does it beep?
The controls are silent and don’t produce any beeping, so there’s nothing to be concerned with there if that’s an issue for you.
Specifications & CADR ratings
If you’re not already familiar with it, it’s helpful to understand more about the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) standard used by the industry. This is a voluntary lab-tested rating of an air purifier’s cleaning ability.
The 50250-S’s CADR ratings are shown here.
The AHAM is an organization that verifies the testing results of home appliances & carry out lab testing for appliance manufacturers. This is voluntary and is not required by law.
In simple terms, the CADR ratings are numbers used to help you know an air cleaner’s performance before buying. The rating numbers are based on “higher is better.”
They’re lab tested using a series of air cleaning scenarios to find out how well they work.
For comparison purposes, consider this: most medium-sized room purifiers (that offer CADR ratings – not all do!) are around 100 or so on average. Therefore the Honeywell has a whopping 2.5 times more air cleaning ability than many purifiers that sell for nearly the same price!
That does come with a few relatively minor drawbacks, which I’ll cover later.
Thoughts on the 50250-S size & weight
At about 17.5″ or so tall, it’s not tall enough to be called a “tower” purifier like others. Instead, it’s slightly shorter and wider, with a nice, firm feel on the floor. You can’t knock this one over accidentally!
I measured the height at about 17.5″ tall or so, which is shorter than many medium room purifiers I test and own personally. Instead, it’s wider and by design – especially due to the fact that it uses a circular fan which makes up a huge portion of the body shell.
In my opinion, the size and height aren’t an issue as long as you know in advance, and if you don’t somehow expect it to fit into a cramped space.
This is a purifier designed for some serious air movement and it needs a bit more space than others. I like it, though!
(Note that Honeywell recommends having about 3 ft (~1 meter) of unobstructed space around it for air flow).
Carrying the purifier
One thing I really like is being able to carry it easily from place to place at home using the built-in carrying handle. Right on top is a convenient and strong carry handle made of very solid painted plastic.
As the purifier is definitely not a light one (at around 20 lbs in weight), it isn’t the easiest to move if you’re not strong. So be sure to bear that in mind as you may need help when doing so.
For me, however, it wasn’t an issue.
I picked the purifier up several times during testing and use. The handle feels solid, strong, and works great in my opinion.
50250-S power use measurements (Watts)
Pictured: I measured power use (in Watts) for all 4 switch positions: Off, low, medium, and high (“Turbo”).
Unfortunately I couldn’t find power use specs from the company anywhere. Rather than guess, I measured power use in Watts for all speed settings. Here’s what I found.
|Mode/Speed||Power Use (Watts)|
Basically it uses a least twice as much power as an average medium room air purifier (they use around 55 watts or so, depending on the model & features), but that’s to be expected.
As it uses a very powerful motor the power requirements simply have to be higher. Regardless, it’s still relatively low use as when used on the low setting it’s about the same as a 100W incandescent light bulb.
Air cleaning ability and air flow design
Shown: The air purifier’s airflow design. Unlike most products on the market, it’s not limited to a rear-in and front-out airflow pattern. Instead, the device draws in dirty air with a 360-degree circular range from the sides and blows it out at the top with the same circular pattern. It’s a very cool, and effective, design.
One of the most interesting things with the design is how it moves air into and out of the filters. While most air purifiers draw air in from the rear and out of the front, this one’s different.
Dirty air is drawn in from all sides (360 degrees) and forced out of the top likewise. Putting your hand over the top lets you feel a rush of clean, purified air being blown out with a lot of force.
With my hand over the top of the purified air exhaust vent, it was easy to feel how powerful the fan is! You can immediately tell the airflow is very strong – especially on the highest of 3 settings.
Let me be clear about one thing: it has a very powerful fan! This thing can really move some air quickly.
While the low setting is pretty normal when compared to other products, it’s still more effective in that it’s circulating air from every angle.
On the highest of the 3 fan settings it’s fairly noisy but really moves air quickly – no weak fan motors here!
Air cleaning performance
During testing, the Honeywell worked well for both odors and airborne debris. In my particular case, dust is a huge problem at home.
It’s an incredibly annoying problem so I depend a lot on having a good air cleaner to get relief.
After testing & some use, my purifier got a lot of nasty things out of the room’s air as you can see. Later I vacuumed the HEPA filter (as you can do with this model – a great feature!) and replaced the prefilter as well as it was past its use of 3 months.
As you can see from the image above, it did quite well at getting nasty dusty, dander, and more out of the air.
The prefilter and true HEPA work well together. I’m very happy to say they do a great job cleaning both solid particles and odors or volatile substances from the air.
Odor removal performance
I tested the unit with several odor sources and it worked well! I noticed it only took a little while before odors trapped indoors were gone or really much less noticeable than before.
The activated carbon filter (charcoal, it’s also called) works well for most odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs, which are airborne chemical substances).
As it has a very large prefilter that you’ll get much more odor relief than smaller models – so that’s another benefit you’ll get for your money.
The 50250-S & 50255B use a prefilter section that wraps around the lifetime HEPA filter. The HEPA section is made up of a folded, dense fiber material with a protective mesh material around it. The pre-filter/activated carbon filter, is responsible for trapping larger particles as well as odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air.
The high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is fantastic for removing the most common air quality issues (especially those that cause allergies!).
Here’s a basic list of air contaminants the 50250-S can remove:
- Pet dander
- Pet hair (thanks to the pre-filter)
- Dust mite allergens
- Home construction particles
- Smoke residue
- Smoke odors
- Chemical and organic odors
- Chemical vapors
- Sickness-causing microbes from pets & humans
Essentially, this is an air cleaning system as the filter process is made of 2 main parts: the pre-filter/activated carbon filter and 2nd section, the HEPA filter.
What is the prefilter?
The pre-filter section is a less dense & thin section covering the active carbon filter. It’s job it so first capture larger items in the air like pet hair, dust, and so on. It’s a type of rough-feeling mesh material with a coating on it.
The active carbon filter traps odors and other chemical substances in the air (like those that household chemicals release).
As I mentioned in the beginning, the HEPA filter captures an amazing 99.97% of particles passing through it down to 0.3 microns in size. (That’s less that 1/1,000,000 of a meter, microscopic in size)
Room Size and square feet coverage
When it comes to buying an air cleaner like this one, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s room size recommendation. This is because an air purifier with too little air flow capability can’t cycle the air in a large room well.
That means a weaker, less-capable purifier designed for small rooms shouldn’t be used in a much large room – it simply won’t be able to move enough air to clean the air well.
Having said that, the 50250 is best for large and very large rooms up to around 390 square feet in size. That’s room size of about 17 x 22 ft (5.2 x 6.7 meters).
The 50250’s box (and instructions) recommend a maximum room size of 390 sq. ft. That’s approximate, however, so don’t worry if yours is not exactly the same. It’s ideal to be sure to use it in a room about the same size or smaller.
When used in the recommended room size I mentioned above you’ll get not 1, not 3, but 5 air cleaning cycles in the room per hour! That means in 1 hour, in a room size of 390 sq. ft, the purifier will have circulated and filtered the air 5 times.
For smaller rooms, you’ll get even more air cleaning performance:
- Medium rooms up to 149 sq. ft: 12 air cleanings per hour
- Small room up to 80 sq. ft: 23 air cleanings per hour
When I said it’s a powerful air cleaner I wasn’t kidding!
As I mentioned above, you don’t have to use the purifier in only larger rooms – you can use it in smaller rooms as well. You’ll get faster air cleaning in that case, as shown on the box.
Does the 50250 produce ozone?
As I explained in this post, standard purifiers that use filters (and not electronic air cleaning methods) don’t normally add anything unhealthy to the air. They don’t produce emissions, gases, or by-products.
The 50250 and 50255 models do NOT produce ozone so there’s nothing to worry about. In fact there’s a notice about this printed on the box.
Filter indicators, parts, and maintenance costs
The 50250/50255 models provide convenient and very clear filter reminders to let you know when it’s time to check and possibly replace or clean the filters. The reminders are reset by pushing and holding the buttons shown.
For both the true HEPA filter and the prefilter section a check/clean/replace reminder is provided. When the light turns on steady, you’ll want to open & check each.
Reminders are triggered every 3 months. Ideally you’ll replace the prefilter then, but honestly in my opinion unless it’s been exposed to heavy odors, chemical vapors, and etc, you can get a bit more life out of it.
As instructed in the owner’s manual, when the HEPA filter is dirty you can remove it and carefully vacuum away dirt and particles before putting it back into use.
Replacement filters & maintenance costs
While most purifiers need periodic replacement of both filters, for the 50200 series models you’ll ordinarily only need to replace the prefilter. As mention earlier here, Honeywell’s HEPA filter is can be cleaned (vacuumed) for continuous use even when it seems dirty.
If for some reason, however, you need to replacement, they can be found for $50 and up if you shop carefully.
The odor reducing prefilter is actually very affordable despite its large size! The type A filter (model HRF-AP1) can be found for about $12-$15 at retailers like Amazon.
1 prefilter is included in each box unless you’re purchasing a multi-filter package.
Filter removal and setup
Shown: How to remove the HEPA filter for initial setup. You’ll need to turn the unit upside-down to access the filter housing cover. Then unscrew the retaining fastener. After this you can simply remove the cover and pull out the HEPA filter before adding the prefilter and re-installing the setup.
As it’s a bigger purifier (as should be very obvious by now!) it’s a bit more work to do maintenance than smaller models.
While it was a bit more work for me to do, it wasn’t very hard. To setup your purifier’s filters you’ll need to this first:
- Turn the unit upside-down (I recommend placing it on a soft towel to avoid scratches)
- Unscrew the retaining knob
- Remove the cover and pull out the HEPA filter
After doing so, it’s time to remove both filters from their plastic bags as they’re sealed from the factory to avoid being used up before you receive them.
Putting the prefilter on the HEPA filter
It’s a bit more work than most purifiers but believe it or not, despite the awesome cleaning ability, it can be cheaper to maintain than lower-performance competitors. To install the first (or replacement) prefilter, 4 basic steps are involved. Basically it boils down to trimming the existing prefilter to the right size then keeping it in place.
Ok, I’ll admit it: this was a bit more work than I expected. But it’s the only real (minor) complaint I have about the 50250’s design.
The difference between the 50250 and other models, including others from Honeywell, is that the prefilter is made to work with several different models and has to be cut to fit when used.
To install the HRF-AP1 prefilter you’ll do the following:
- Remove from sealed protective bag
- Cut to size for fitting the model 24000 HEPA filter in the purifier (instructions provided)
- Wrap the prefilter around the main HEPA section
- Secure using Velcro-type attachments provided
It took me around 15-20 mins to do this my first time, so you can expect about the same. However, from there on it’s easy to do once you’re used to it. In fact I switched steps #3 & 2, but it really doesn’t matter.
To secure the prefilter in place, you’ll just attached the 2 rectangular sections of a Velcro-like material that are included while holding the prefilter in place with one hand. It’s not hard so don’t worry.
One thing I don’t like
One thing that did annoy me, however, was that while removing the old prefilter and installing the new one I saw some dust (debris particles) had fallen on the floor. Apparently they came from both the old prefilter and the new one.
When installing (and later replacing) my prefilter some debris had fallen on the floor and accumulated. I had to sweep it up when finished. Kind of annoying, but not a big deal (I recommend doing the work in an area where you can sweep it up easily).
For that reason, my advice is to do the filter work where there’s no harm in it falling on a floor and where you can vacuum it up or sweep it up easily.
You’re done! Let’s get fresh air!
Once the prefilter is fitted to the main filter and secured, you’re ready! Just gently slide the assembly back into the body, close it, tighten the retainer, and flip over again.
Owner’s manual quality
Shown: Example page from the 50250-S’s owner’s manual showing maintenance instructions.
While it may sound silly at first, it’s very important: I always make sure to check out the owner’s manual to see if it’s good for buyers. I don’t want you to be frustrated with poor instructions or a lack of customer support information should you have problems.
I’m very happy to say that the owner’s manual is clear, easy to read, and has all the information you’ll need both to use and keep up your new purifier.
Customer support information is easy to find inside, too. It’s a quality manual, just like I’ve found with other Honeywell models I’ve tested.
Noise levels during use (measured)
I prefer to personally measure, record, and verify noise levels of the products I test. I used my sound level meter get a consistent measurement you’ll find in typical real-world use. After doing many air cleaning product tests it’s a great way to have numbers to compare with.
I measured volume levels using a nice digital decibel sound level meter at 1 meter (3.28 ft) from the purifier. Here’s what I found:
|Off (room noise)||39.3|
I have to be honest, it’s a bit noisy, and when set to medium or high it’s fairly loud. This is not designed to be good for sleeping areas or study rooms.
Don’t get me wrong, however! The noise level is perfectly fine when you understand ahead of time that it’s designed to clean a lot of air quickly. Powerful fans do make noise, after all.
As I said earlier, it’s a “workhorse” of a purifier and does its job well – but it’s better suited in your home or office in a place where it can do its job without disturbing you.
If you need similar air cleaning power but with quieter operation, consider the Honeywell HPA300 you can see here.
Night view of the 50250-S’s fan switch illumination. No complaints here, as it’s fine – not very bright, so there’s no need to worry about super-bright, annoying LED lights.
I’ve learned that different things matter to different people, so part of my test procedure is to check the brightness of products in a darkened room.
I’m happy to report the purifier’s fan switch lighting is very soft and not at all annoying. It’s enough to see across the room if you like, at night, but far from annoying.
The color is a soft bluish-white effect. No complaints here!
Honeywell 50250 vs 50255
Wondering what the differences are between the 50250 and the 50255? The great news is that there really aren’t any!
The Honeywell 50255 (50255B model number) is functionally identical to the 50250-S with only cosmetic differences:
- Satin black finish (instead of gray)
- The built-in handle has slightly different appearance
The handle on the 50255B has a slightly different style with several lines across the surface. Otherwise, there’s nothing else to mention.
It features exactly the same design, filters, and cleaning performance.
50250 vs HPA300 comparison & details
The HPA300 and 50250/50255 models have some big differences to be aware of depending on your needs & preferences. In both cases they’re great air cleaning purifiers!
As you can see by now the 50250/50255 models are very powerful & basic products that extremely simple to use but don’t offer any special features.
As I explained in my detailed review of the Honeywell HPA300, it offers similar cleaning performance with the benefit of some great convenience options and enhanced controls.
The HPA300 model offers electronic touch controls along with several special features the 50250 & 50255 don’t. It’s a great unit and I enjoyed owning & testing.
Here are the most significant features and differences of the HPA300:
- Electronic touch control panel
- Modular HEPA type “R” replacement filters are simple to reach & replace
- Prefilter is located in grill/filter cover
- Front air grill uses snap-release fasteners for ease of use
- Illumination dimmer for the indicator lights
- 2, 4, & 8 hour auto-off timers
- 3 main cleaning modes + an additional high-speed Turbo mode
- Lower noise levels
Additionally, the HPA300 is a good choice if you’d like to keep the purifier running at night in your living room or bedroom while sleeping. That’s because it offers quieter operation.
You’ll still get the benefit of excellent air cleaning speed when using the Turbo option. However, like other purifiers, it doesn’t offer the 360 degree airflow like the 50250 design.
The HPA300 uses a standardized filter design: products in the HPA purifier family use the same type R filter, just different quantities. The prefilter is located in the front grill (front cover) and is very easy to replace.
As it’s modular by design, the HPA300 makes filter maintenance much easier than that of the 50250. There’s no need to cut the prefilter to fit like you have to do for the 50000 series models.
The Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) for the HPA300 is also higher, meaning it’s a bit more effective for cleaning air, and >300 for each test. Room size coverage is also larger at about 465 sq. ft.
The 50250, by comparison, has a respectable CADR of 250 for each the 3 standard smoke, dust, and pollen tests. It’s also a few inches taller than the 50250 & 50255B with a slimmer body design.
Which should you buy?
- You’ll get higher performance, more features, easier maintenance, and more convenience with the HPA300. However, you’ll pay more (under $300).
- If you’re fine with basic features but still want a very powerful and great-performing purifier for less money (often around $200 these days) the 50250 is the better choice.
Review summary & final score
After owning and testing it for some time I can honestly say it’s a great choice. While the noise level is higher than some more expensive models from Honeywell, I’ve quickly grown fond of the ease of use and how well it works.
Don’t wait – enjoy fresh air soon! Head over and see why thousands of happy buyers made it one of the best-rated purifiers at Amazon.
Quality - 9.2/10
Value - 9.4/10
Ease of use - 10/10
Air cleaning ability - 9.4/10
Features - 7.5/10
Noise levels - 6.5/10
Not fancy, but a powerful air purifier that delivers what really counts: Quality, good value, and fresh, clean air.
If you’re looking for advanced features and quiet operation, this isn’t the right choice. HOWEVER, if you want a great air purifier that’s well-made, affordable, and has some of the most powerful air cleaning you’ll find, look no further. In my hands-on testing, the 50250-S has some of the best airflow I’ve seen for under $250.
The lifetime HEPA filter saves money on maintenance costs and is an excellent feature I don’t see often: just vacuum it and reuse! It’s a good basic workhorse purifier that’s also a good value. If an ultra-quiet purifier is critical for you, this isn’t what you need. However, noise is moderate and the excellent airflow & great design outweigh its noise level.
Get one for yourself and you’ll understand why I’ve quickly come to love it!
- 390 sq. ft. coverage (large/ext. large rooms)
- Great air filtering & odor removal
- CADR ratings: 250 (very good)
- AHAM verified performance ratings
- Powerful rotary fan design
- 360 degree air flow works great
- Carry handle
- Lifetime reuseable true HEPA filter
- Inexpensive prefilter
- Filter reminders
- Very good built quality
- Available in 50255B black model
- Suitable for dark rooms
- Simple 3 speed control
- Short body won’t tip over
- Filters are easy to find
- 5-year limited warranty
- Helpful owner’s manual and documents
- Excellent buyer satisfaction ratings
- No electronic controls
- 3 speeds only
- A bit heavy (~20 lbs)
- Filter replacement requires trimming
- Some dust from prefilter when installing
- Powerful fan design produces higher noise
- Must turn upside down to access filters
- Needs 3 ft clearance for best results
- 3 month estimated prefilter life