Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet Air Purifier Review – Got Pets & Need Relief? It’s A Winner!

Winix HR900 air purifier review featured image

Winix air purifiers are some of the best I’ve had the pleasure to own and test.

In fact, in my review of the wonderful Winix 5500-2 purifier I rated it as one of the best I’ve ever used – so much so it quickly became one of my favorites!

But what if you’re dealing with pet dander, hair, odors, and even allergies? In my hands-on review of the Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet you’ll find out all the details and if it’s a good buy.

Read on to learn more!

Contents

Getting to know the Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet air purifier

Winix pet air purifier models comparison diagram

The Winix HR900 is one of several models in the manufacturer’s line of home air purifiers. It shares many features & design elements from the older (and now discontinued) WAC-9500 Ultimate Pet purifier.

While they’re not one of the most popular manufacturers of home air products today, without question the South Korean company Winix makes some of the best air purifiers I’ve had the pleasure to own & test.

Winix has a relatively small line of air purifiers with similar features, some that are industry-leading. However, there are definitely some important differences to know before buying. Not to worry as I’ll be sure to explain more as we go!

The HR900 and its siblings the 5500-2 and the lower-cost 5300-2 share several common features:

  • Removable front filter (magnetic latches) and easy filter maintenance
  • PlasmaWave ionizer/air cleaning electronics
  • Auto-sensing air quality automatic operation with visual indicator
  • Soft-button electronic controls
  • Light sensor for ultra-quiet/dimmed overnight use
  • Air quality sensor(s)
  • Washable pre-filter screen
  • True HEPA filter
  • Odor/vapor filter
  • Very quiet operation
  • Self-off timer
  • Industry-standard Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) ratings are provided

Unlike the 5300-2, however, the 5500-2 and the HR900 offer a much more robust Advanced Odor Control (AOC) odor and airborne vapor filter which uses real carbon pellets.

That’s a distinct advantage over the 5300-2 and other purifiers sold today. Most use a weaker activated carbon coating on the prefilter instead of real solid activated carbon pellets.

You can expect to pay around $265 or so for the HR900. The 5500-2 and 5300-2 sell for around $250-$200 or so, depending.

Additional air cleaning features the HR900 for pet problems

The HR900 goes one step further with the use of a third filter just for pet hair and dander. Included in the box are 12 of these thin, replaceable filters which attach to the pre-filter. You’ll have enough for at least 1 year of use, if not more.

Pet odors are covered, too, as there’s not only the great odor control filter performance but an odor sensor for automatic fan speed control as needed.

The discontinued Winix WAC-9500 Ultimate Pet purifier

Winix WAC-9500 Ultimate Pet purifier product image front viewThe Winix WAC-9500 Ultimate Pet purifier, shown here, was the earlier model to the HR900. It shares many of the same design features but with a different style and control panel.

The HR900 model isn’t a completely new design. In fact, it’s quite similar to the older and excellent WAC-9500 that’s now discontinued. I’ll cover the minor differences later.

Unpacking & first impressions

Packaging

Image showing unboxing the Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet air purifier

It’s here! I’m always excited to try a new purifier and my HR900 was no different. I got to work right away unpacking it and checking it out up close. It’s securely packed using styrofoam, although I would prefer recyclable corrugated cardboard if possible. So far, so good though!

My Winix HR900 arrived and I got to work unboxing it right away! The purifier is securely packaged and held in place using styrofoam inserts.

The owner’s manual is located right on top so it’s impossible to miss it when opening it up. Unlike some other brands, however, there’s no quick start guide or customer service contact information printed on the box flaps.

That’s not really a complaint, however, as there’s plenty of helpful information included anyway.

The HR900 is a bit big and heavy so you’ll need to carefully remove it from the box using the built-in handle on the rear.

Getting it out and ready

Winix HR900 air purifier removing protective plastic examples

After unboxing the purifier you’ll need to remove the plastic bag and the protective plastic covering the control panel. You’ll also need to prepare it for use by opening the front cover and removing the filters from their bags.

After unboxing I had to remove the plastic bag and a thin sheet of protective plastic covering the controls. As mentioned in the owner’s manual it’s necessary to prepare the filters too.

In the case of the HR900, you’ll also need to attach a pet filter to the washable pre-filter screen as well. I’ll cover those steps in the filter section.

To set up your new purifier you’ll need to remove the filters from their plastic bags before use. That’s because they’re shipped in sealed bags to keep them fresh before use.

What’s included?

Winix HR900 air purifier included items image

Included in the box are the following:

  • The owner’s manual
  • A 12 pack of Ultimate Pet filters (12 month supply)

I’m a bit disappointed that unlike my 5500-2 model there’s no Quick Start Guide included. However, it’s not a big deal as the instructions are very clear and easy to follow.

Additionally, the pet filters included a very helpful instruction sheet inside the bag so you’ll be ready to go in no time.

Unlike the 5500-2, there’s no remote control included. While it may seem nice to have one, in practice I really haven’t missed it very much.

After setting up the purifier I got to work inspecting the build quality & fit & finish up close.

Build quality and fit & finish

Winix HR900 air purifier close up build quality images

The HR900 has low-gloss white finish with silver or gray color accents for the control panel inlay and side vents. The control panel is well-done and clearly labeled. Quality is excellent and the air purifier well-built with no issues.

After opening and unpacking it (and setting it up initially, which is just a few steps as I mentioned earlier) finally I got to turn it on and use it!

The HR900 is well designed with a low-gloss white finish and silver and metallic gray inset to contrast the white color. While white is not my first choice (the 5500-2 and 5300-2 models are black and gray, respectively) I have to admit it looks good.

Overall impressions and manufacturing quality

As I inspected the assembly, finish, and overall construction, I found the Winix HR900 to be well-made with no defects and nothing to imply poor quality or problems. It’s a high-quality purifier with a solid fit and finish.

Parts are put together nicely: Body panels line up very well, there aren’t any gaps. Just like the other Winix purifiers I’ve owned its top-notch quality. Very well done!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that gaps and misaligned parts are a sign of build issues. I’m happy to report you won’t find that here – only a well-made purifier that looks great right from the get-go!

Controls and how to operate it

Diagram showing the Winix HR900 touch control functions & features. Even though it might look complicated at first glance, it’s actually very easy to use. Just push the Mode button to switch between Auto or 1 of 4 fan speeds (in addition to Sleep mode). Activate the auto-off timer using the Timer button. 

Using the HR900 is simple. In the picture above, you can see the touch controls, each with a label:

  • Mode button: Sleep, Auto, low, medium, high, and Turbo modes
  • Control panel lock on/off (child lock)
  • Reset button (not normally needed)
  • Check filter indicator
  • Timer function/hour select (1, 4, & 8 hours selectable)
  • Power on/off
  • PlasmaWave on/off

The controls are nice and work well – they’re not too sensitive and don’t need a hard touch, either. I found them reliable, clear to understand, and straightforward in everyday use.

My impression is that some good engineering design went into making this model. What I don’t like, however, is that it uses black text on a silver inlay for the control panel labels. That’s in contrast to the 5500-2 and 5300-3 models which use light text & symbols on a dark inlay which I found easier to read.

Just the same, though, it’s still good-looking and easy to understand.

Button & control illumination

While the buttons themselves aren’t illuminated, active options or working modes are. 

For example, The PlasmaWave logo is illuminated when active, “1hr” is lit when the auto-off timer is set to 1 hour, and the current fan mode option is lit as well.

It’s a bit inconvenient to not be able to see the buttons themselves in a darkened room, but so far it has only been a small annoyance in my opinion.

Fan speeds and special modes

It’s easy to switch modes and fan speeds. Just push the fan speed button to cycle through the speeds (Turbo is the highest and is a special powerful mode). As the unit originally powers up already set to Auto and the lowest fan speed, you’ll need to push it to set it to choose another speed.

Once it’s in Turbo mode pushing it yet again puts it back in Auto mode.

The modes change in the following order:

  1. Auto (default at power on)
  2. Sleep
  3. Low
  4. Medium
  5. High
  6. Turbo
Note: By default, the purifier will start in Auto mode and low fan speed when first powered up.

Using the auto-off timer feature

Winix HR900 air purifier timer button use example image

Shown: The auto-off feature lets you use a convenient timer with one of 3 settings to turn it off automatically. Just push it to cycle through 1, 4, or 8 hour delays at any time. Continuing to push it will cycle back to turn the timer off. It’s a great feature I really like.

One feature I really like – which many purifiers don’t include – is the auto-off timer. With it, you can set the air purifier to run for several hours then power off by itself. Very convenient!

To use it, just push the Timer button and cycle between 1 of 3 hour settings (1, 4, and 8 hrs).

Push it again at any time to rotate back through the settings and turn if off it when you like.

Child lock feature

Winix HR900 child lock button example

To prevent your little ones from messing with the purifier’s controls the child lock button can be used. Just push and hold for 3 seconds to lock the controls to their current state. The indicator will light to show the controls are locked.

Also found in a competitor’s model (the smaller Levoit Core 300), the child lock feature lets you prevent any unwanted curious fingers from changing settings.

To switch it on, just push and hold the button for 3 seconds. The indicator will show a red color to let you know the controls are locked and can’t be changed, but they’ll stay at the current settings you’ve last used.

Repeat that again to return the controls to their normal use.

How the built-in sensors work + auto mode explained

Winix HR900 air purifier sensor location diagram

The HR900 includes a smart design with wonderful self-adjusting operation. To do so, it uses 3 built-in sensors: 2 on the left side of the control panel and a 3rd in the right side of the body. Two of these are air quality detection sensors and the 3rd senses the room’s light level.

As I mentioned at the start of my review, the purifier has an advanced design and allows self-adjusting operation. This works thanks to the use of 3 sensors built into the unit:

  1. Odor sensor
  2. Dust sensor
  3. Light sensor

The odor and light sensors are located on the top of the unit on the left side and can’t be serviced. You’ll find the dust sensor on the right side of the unit with a removable cover. According to the owner’s manual, occasional cleaning is recommended (it’s easy, don’t worry!).

How air quality sensing and auto operation works

The HR900 measures air quality (both odors and particulate levels) and shows you the current detected air quality condition using the front panel 3-color light. This works in both manual or Auto modes, by the way.

When the Mode button is set to the Auto mode, the purifier will adjust the fan speed automatically as needed for the current air quality situation. Very cool, and a great feature I love!

In my experience and during everyday testing it works very well! Despite what you might think, it does so gracefully and the fan adjusts slowly and without any kind of “jarring” behavior or excessive noise.

I can’t say the same for some lower-priced competitors.

Winix HR900 dust sensor cover removal example

The dust sensor, on the right side, can be accessed for cleaning occasionally. This helps make sure you’ll keep the purifier’s performance at its best.

You’ll not likely even notice it’s working, aside from the occasional slightly more noticeable fan sound (it’s an extremely quiet purifier).

In Auto mode the light sensor is used to detect when the room darkens. After a while the air sensor indicator light will turn off and the purifier will go into the ultra-quiet low fan mode.

It’s great for night use and works very well, in my experience. (You’ll just need to understand that it doesn’t go into Sleep mode immediately – there’s a delay before it changes modes.

Occasionally you may want to run the fan manually at say the high or Turbo speeds. For example, if there’s an immediate pet odor, dander, or airborne hair problem. However, most of the time Auto mode does the job very well.

Understanding the air quality indicator light

Winix HR900 air purifier air quality indicator light examples

When it’s turned on the purifier will use one of 3 colors to show you the current air condition it detects:

  • Blue (good air quality)
  • Amber (fair air quality)
  • Red (poor air quality)

The light uses an LED design but it’s not at all too bright, in my opinion. It’s definitely bright enough to be seen across the room, but not at all “glaring” in a darkened room. Again, you won’t have to worry about the light when sleeping if Auto or Sleep modes are used.

In that case, the light turned off automatically in a darkened room (or when Sleep is manually selected).

Understanding the Winix HR900 blinking blue light

One thing I noticed when using the purifier which I hadn’t see on other models was a blinking blue light after starting it up.

According to the owner’s manual, this only happens once during power-up and it means the purifier is measuring air quality:

During the first 4 minutes of power up, the Air Quality light will flash as the Smart Sensors measure the air quality in the
environment, after which normal operation will begin.Winix owner's manual

Turning off the air quality light

You can also switch off the light anytime you like. To do so, just push and hold the Timer button for 3 seconds. Do it again to restore it.

That’s a great feature if you get annoyed by the air quality indicator.

However, there’s no way to totally switch off control panel lighting. At least 1 indicator backlight (the Sleep logo) will be on during Sleep mode. In my everyday use, however, that wasn’t a nuisance for me.

I’ll cover dark room brightness later in another section below.

Using the PlasmaWave feature

Winix HR900 PlasmaWave use example

When the PlasmaWave feature is in use the logo glows with white light. By default, it’s switched on at power up.

To use the PlasmaWave feature just touch the on/off button. You’ll know it’s working as the logo will illuminate when it’s on. (Keep reading as I’ll cover this feature in more detail as we go.)

Control panel chime sounds

Winix HR900 Air Purifier Control Panel And Chimes Short Demo

The purifier has some unique chime sounds used as feedback when a button is pushed, power is turned on, or when it’s powered off.

Each touch of a button gives a gentle chime sound, which is actually pretty pleasant to hear – not at all harsh or annoying like some other products I’ve tested. When turning it off or on, you’ll hear a series of chimes for a moment, sort of like a short musical tone.

However, there’s no way to switch the sounds off if you prefer silent button use.

I’d prefer the option is available, though, and I don’t know why it was overlooked. So far I’ve not found it to be a problem, however.

The sound tones are very similar to those used by the 5500-2 and the 5300-2 models as you might expect.

Specifications & CADR ratings

This is box title
  • Room size coverage: 300 sq. ft.
  • 4-stage filter system: True HEPA, activated carbon filter (AOC), prefilter screen, pet filter
  • Washable prefilter screen & odor control filter section
  • Replaceable pet filter for enhanced hair and dander control
  • Fan speeds: Low, medium, high, turbo
  • PlasmaWave electronic air cleaning feature
  • Electronic touch control panel
  • Child lock feature
  • Auto-off timer: 1, 4, 8 hr options
  • AHAM Certified performance ratings
  • Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR): 194/200/220 (smoke/dust/pollen)
  • Air sensing technology with auto operation
  • Air quality sensors (odor, dust) & light sensor
  • 3-level air quality indicator light
  • Automatic Sleep mode option with dark room sensing
  • Ultra-low noise Sleep mode
  • Filter maintenance indicator light
  • Filter life: 1 year (true HEPA & AOC odor filter)
  • Pet filter life: 1 month (12 month supply included)
  • Main replacement filters: Winix type T set (true HEPA + AOC)
  • Pet filter replacement: Ultimate Pet filter pack
  • 2 year warranty
  • Power use (Watts): 0.7, 4.3, 7.8, 10.2, 13.9, 46.6
  • Weight: 18.7 lbs
  • Size: 9.6 × 16.3 × 23.6 in”

If you’re not already familiar with it, the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is an industry-standard way of testing and determining an air cleaner’s effectiveness.

Winix HR900 CADR ratings label

The HR900’s CADR ratings are shown here. They’re printed clearly on the box as well!

What is a CADR rating?

The Assocation of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is an organization that verifies the functionality and performance of home appliances for the industry. CADR rating tests are voluntary and not required by law.

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.”

In order to find out how well an air purifier cleans the air, 3 types of tests (smoke, pollen, and dust) are performed in a controlled lab environment and the performance is graded.

One thing I really like about the HR900 is that while they don’t have to offer these specifications, it’s really helpful. It’s very useful for comparing similarly rated air purifiers when shopping.

In the case of the Winix the CADR label is printed right on the box.

How it compares

Winix HR900 CADR label on box closeup

For comparison purposes, consider that many of today’s most popular air purifiers (small-medium room models) have CADR ratings around 100. The HR900, by contrast, has 194-220 depending on the particular air quality test. That’s very good!

However, it’s a bit lower than its sibling the 5500-2 which has ratings of 232, 243, and 246. While that means it’s slightly less effective, consider that the 5500-2 is rated for 360 square feet sized rooms vs the 300 of the HR900 – meaning it has higher airflow.

Additionally, the 5500-2 lacks the dust sensor of the HR900 meaning it has less effective auto-sensing operation as well.

The HR900 has more effective air cleaning for pet dander and hair than the 5500-2 & 5300-2 do too, as those don’t include the pet filter option.

Thoughts on the 5500-2 size & weight

Winix HR900 purifier heigth measurement

At around 23 1/2 inches tall, it’s reasonably sized in my opinion.  As it uses fairly large filters to clean the air well, naturally it’s not what you’d call a “compact” air purifier.

At almost 19 lbs in weight, it’s not quite as easy to move around like some other products. However, that also means it’s less likely to get tipped over.

Carrying the purifier

Winix HR900 carrying handle use example

The purifier features a built-in handle on the rear as well. You’ll still want to use 2 hands, however, as it’s a bit bulky and slightly heavy.

Just like with other purifiers from the company I’ve tested, there’s a convenient carrying handle (and opening for your fingers) at the rear top of the body. It works pretty well, but since the HR900 is a bit larger and heavier than its counterparts you’ll still want to use 2 hands.

I found it helpful to use the carrying handle and hold it at the front when moving it. That helps with avoiding dropping it or banging into walls or furniture by accident.

It’s a bit deeper

Winix HR900 purifier depth measurement

Additionally, one thing I noticed right away about the HR900 is that it’s slightly deeper than the 5500-2 and 5300-2 models. At 9 inches deep, it’s only around 1 inch larger from front to back.

For some reason, though, I noticed it more on this model (likely due to the white color and body shape). One reason for the extra size is additional filtering used.

Otherwise, it’s still fine and I’m not complaining!

HR900 power use measurements (Watts)

Winix HR900 air purifier power measurements in Watts diagram

One of my single biggest gripes about home air quality products like fans, air purifiers, and humidifiers is the lack of good information about their energy use.

Those that do give power ratings often only list the largest power use, not for the other settings. That’s a shame, as you’ll more likely to use the other settings!

To find out exactly how much power the purifier uses I measured it for all settings using my trusty Kill A Watt meter.

Mode/SpeedPower Use (Watts)
Off0.7
Sleep4.3
Low7.8
Medium10.2
High13.9
Turbo46.6

It’s easy to see that the purifier uses only a handful of watts on all but the highest settings! It’s one of the most energy-efficient models I’ve tested.

In case you’re wondering, with the PlasmaWave feature turned on there’s only a small increase in power use (0.3W). That’s in contrast to other brands & models like the GermGuardian AC5250PT with UV-C feature which uses an extra 5W with the featured on.

In fact, it’s an Energy Star rated appliance although you might not be aware. For some reason the company doesn’t use labels on the box or in some product listings as their competitors do.

Air cleaning ability + more about PlasmaWave

Winix HR900 PlasmaWave product feature image

I was unsure about what the PlasmaWave feature actually does as sadly there aren’t really any details in the manual or the manufacturer’s website.

In most cases, air purifiers with a feature of this type use one or more variations of ionizer technology to give a extra air cleaning. (In contrast to models with ultraviolet light, these use an electric charge to affect ions in the air as it works).

According to the company:

PlasmaWave® Technology safely breaks apart odors, allergens, chemical vapors, and other pollutants at the molecular level, without causing harmful ozone. PlasmaWave® creates positive and negative ions that combine with natural water vapor to form hydroxyls which cleans the indoor air.Winix America

It works using an ionizer type of device to affect molecules in the air to have them attach to airborne particles and remove them. While it’s a nice extra feature to have, don’t expect it to have a big impact on the air.

In all air purifiers, the real work is done by the pre-filter and the HEPA filter.

What’s it like in use?

Winix HR900 air purifier PlasmaWave logo glowing example

You won’t hear a noise or smell anything when the PlasmaWave feature is turned on (it’s set to on from the factory but can be turned off at any time).

In fact, if not for the illuminated logo you’d forget it’s turned on at all.

Air cleaning performance

Winix HR900 pet filter section dirty closeup example

It’s a bit hard to see due to the material it’s made of, but after use the pet pre-filter clearly had captured pet hair, dust, fuzz, and other nasty elements in the air.

As I did with the Winix 5500-2, I tested the HR900 for several things – most importantly good old-fashioned use within my home with a pet. There’s a lot to be said for putting a product through its real-world paces rather than a “perfect” environment.

That’s because there’s a lot that can get missed – both good and bad – by not evaluating how you’d really use it every day.

What I found during use

Much like the 5500-2 with the same type of Advanced Odor Control (AOC) filter, the HR900 did a great job of capturing odors, pet hair and pet dander. During testing I used in several modes:

  • Sleep
  • Auto
  • Manual: Low, Medium, High, and occasionally Turbo mode

Without a doubt, the odor control & vapor absorption ability of the HR900 is some of the best I’ve used to date. Air cleaning is very good and the auto-adjusting fan speed control works very well!

The HR900 did a great job of cleaning both pet hair (my biggest gripe), odors, dander, and microscopic dust and other particles.

New vs dirty HEPA filter comparison example

Before and after: The HR900’s clean HEPA filter vs the dirty condition after using it for some time. Notice the medium-gray color now seen on the filter. That’s from trapping minute & microscopic particles of all types over time. It works very well!

All in all, I’ve been very happy with the HR900. One of the best things I like about it is the low noise operation in all modes aside from Turbo.

One of the reasons is that while the purifier uses a very powerful circular fan, the fan noise I heard was very “soft” and less noticeable to the ears. It’s like a gentle white noise I didn’t mind at all.

Other models I’ve tested with a powerful fan are far more noticeable when running and don’t sound nearly as good, having a “harsher” sound they produce.

Testing auto mode

I’ve noticed that when in Auto (auto-sensing) mode it works well but has a slight delay before the fan changes speeds. I assume that’s intentional to prevent it from constantly moving between fan speeds due to sudden air quality changes.

For example, I tested the air quality sensing and auto mode by using a regular paper match. The HR900 was able to sense the strong odor in the room, changed the air quality indicator light to red (to show it was sensing poor air quality at that moment), and then increased the fan speed until the smell was greatly reduced in the air.

It’s a really great feature and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did. While a feature like is only found only somewhat more expensive models like this one and the Levoit LV-PUR131, it makes everyday use a breeze.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, the HR900 detects not only odors but dust & other particles as it has a 2nd sensor that other products don’t.

Room size and square feet coverage

Winix HR900 air purifier square feet coverage example diagram

The HR900 is recommended for medium to large rooms up to about 300 square feet (29.9 square meters).

As an example, that’s a room about 15 by 20 feet in size (about 4.6 x 6.1 m). That’s roughly 2x the room size coverage of some of the most popular purifiers, many of which are rated for medium sized rooms.

Additionally, the lower priced purifiers are recommended for rooms no bigger than 155 sq. ft. or so.

Note: It’s perfectly fine to use the Winix purifier in a smaller room – in fact, you’ll get even faster air cleaning as it will be able to cycle the air more times per hour.

Winix HR900 air purifier placement recommendation

Be sure to pay attention to the recommend purifier placement within the room where it’s used. The manual included spacing advice.

One more thing: You’ll need to be sure to avoid putting it too close to a wall or blocking the purifier from having enough room for proper airflow.

Just like other products, you’ll need to leave the recommended amount of space around it: 12-18 inches behind and in front, and 4 inches at least around the sides. That’s so it can move air efficiently so it can cycle the room’s air and clean it optimally.

Does the HR900 produce ozone?

In this post, I explained why traditional air purifiers which use HEPA filter are safe and don’t produce ozone. A good purifier works by removing elements and odors in the air, not by adding by-products to the air as it works.

The Winix HR900 does not produce ozone.

In fact, Winix America is verified by the Air Resources Board (ARB) verification to meet federal ozone emission limits (in this case, basically zero emissions).

Filters, upkeep, and maintenance costs

Winix HR900 filter sections illustrated

Shown: The 4 filters used: (1, 2) A permanent pet filter used to catch larger elements like dust, pet hair, dander, and more. This sticks on to the washable pre-filter section which also captures larger elements. (3) The Advanced Odor Control (AOC) filter uses a unique design containing real activated carbon pellets inside a honeycomb-style frame. It lasts for 12 months and traps odors as well as chemical & other vapors. (4) The true HEPA filter traps super-fine particles, pet dander, dust mites, and much more down to microscope sizes that the pre-filter sections can’t.

As I mentioned at the beginning, 4 types of filters are used:

  1. Pet filter (attached to the washable pre-filter)
  2. Washable (permanent, reusable) prefilter
  3. AOC odor control filter
  4. The High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter

1. The pet filter

Winix HR900 image showing how to apply the pet filter

This section is made of thin, soft material that traps pet hair and other large airborne problems. As it attaches to the pre-filter, it’s a permanent filter that has to be replaced periodically (see my notes about maintenance further below).

While it works really well, it is slightly a hassle as when you first try attaching one to the frame of the pre-filter. It’s easy to misalign the self-adhesive tape that comes attached to it when sticking it on the pre-filter frame.

Winix HR900 pet filter closeup image

The pet filter is unique to the Winix pet purifier and is made of a soft, thin, fibrous material with self-adhesive tape attached.

There are 4 sections of self-adhesive tape (left, right, top, and bottom) to apply.

They’re easy to remove, however, when replacement time comes around. As the purifier includes a 12-month supply, you’ll be all set quite some time! I do like very much how they included enough pet filters to match the 12-month life expectancy of the HEPA and AOC filters.

2. Reusable (washable) prefilter

Winix HR900 washable pre-filter closeup image

Just like other Winix models, the pre-filter included is made of a plastic frame and fine mesh material. It can be cleaned by brushing, vacuuming, and rinsing under clean water.

The prefilter is unique in that instead of being built being coated with the odor-absorbing chemical most brands (and the 5300-2 model) use, it’s a single reusable screen you can easily remove and wash.

It helps to extend the life of the other 2 if you do so, by the way (14 days is the recommended check/wash interval, although the filter reminder does not cover this filter too).

You’ve got several options for cleaning it: Brushing, vacuuming, and rinsing it under clean running water. It’s an option that I wish more products provided.

However, in my experience, the pet filter does most of the first filtering work and will keep the pre-filter clean.

That means ultimately you won’t need to clean the pre-filter often or at all and will simply need to replace the filter at the recommended times.

3. High-performance AOC odor & VOC filter

Winix HR900 AOC odor filter closeup

The Advanced Odor Control filter is a long-life odor control section made with real activated carbon pellets. That’s very different from most which use a lightweight coating on the pre-filter section itself. It’s an excellent performer!

As I mentioned earlier, the AOC odor control filter is one of the best I’ve used. It’s a bit different than what most air purifiers (and the Winix 5300-2 as well) use.

The frame is much like a honeycomb, made up of small “cells” in which real, solid activated carbon pellets are held loosely. That’s very different than the thin coating most use directly on the pre-filter material.

While you might be thinking it’s only there to help with odors, it isn’t. In fact, it’s helpful for trapping volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemical substances in the air that can cause both discomfort, headaches, and even health problems.

Cleaning options

Winix recommends removing the AOC filter and rinsing it with room temperature water every 3 months or so to prepare it for more use (up to the 12 month life rating). Don’t use any type of soap or cleaning products.

4. HEPA filter

Winix HR900 HEPA filter closeup

Finally, there’s the true HEPA filter. Based on the industry-standard HEPA filter specification, it’s a folded section made of highly dense fibers that can capture 99.97% of all particles down to 0.3 microns (less than 1 millionth of a meter) in size. 

In fact, that’s so small you’d need a microscope to see them. Anything that the pre-filter and pet filter sections don’t trap is captured by this. Mine works very well and it’s amazing to see how much it’s trapped!

Just like with the AOC filter, the estimated filter life is around 12 months. That’s good in my opinion, as many lower-cost products have estimated filter life around 6-8 months or so.

However, please note if you’ve got a particularly nasty air problem in your home the filter life may be shorter.

There’s a convenient pull tab on top of the filter as well as an arrow & label showing the proper installation direction. Those are nice touches I really like.

Maintenance notes

As I mentioned in the control panel section, there’s a filter reminder that lights after 3 months to let you know it’s time to check the filters.

Here’s the maintenance schedule as listed in the owner’s manual:

FilterIndicator lightWhen to cleanWhen to replace
Pet filter N/A N/A Monthly/as needed
Pre-filter N/A Clean every 14 days (Permanent filter)
AOC carbon filter Check filter light Clean every 3 months 12 months
HEPA filter Check filter light N/A 12 months

Ultimately, you want to check the filters and, depending on your needs, they may or may not need cleaning. The AOC odor-absorbing carbon filter and the HEPA filter last up to about 12 months then they’ll need replacement.

For best results, the company recommends rinsing the AOC filter under clean water every 3 months and similar for the washable prefilter every 14 days. Maintenance is pretty easy to do and I found it pretty simple as well.

When using my Winix purifiers I’ve had a lot of dust build-up on the filter sections so I simply rinsed off the pre-filter and odor filter to remove it.

I shook off the water and let them air dry as recommended before reinstalling them.

Replacement filters & maintenance costs

Winix type T replacement HEPA filter set product image

As it’s pretty new to the market, at the time of this post prices haven’t “settled” for the filter set it uses: Type “T” filter set.

Currently it’s only available at the manufacturer’s site but once it’s available at Amazon you can expect to pay around just over $60 for the set. Note that while it looks very similar, the Type H set for the 5500-2 model does not fit the HR900 (they’re close but slightly different).

While $60+ might sound like a lot of money, considering the great air cleaning performance you get it’s well worth it in my opinion. That’s around only $6/month or so for better health and clean, fresh air along with pet odor, hair, and dander relief.

Winix Type U replacement pet filters product image

A 12 pack of replacement pet filters costs around $20. These are Type “U” filters.

How to install & replace the filters

Image showing opening the Winix HR900 filter cover first time

Fresh out of the box and getting set up. To get started, you’ll need to open purifier, remove the new filters from the sealed bags, and put them back into place. It only takes a few minutes, though. Easy to do.

When my purifier arrived and I unboxed I followed the instructions shown in the nice little “quick start guide” sheet it came with. This is basically just removing the front cover, removing the AOC and HEPA filters from the sealed bags, and then putting them back into place.

It’s really simple and no hassle at all so there’s nothing to worry about there.

Winix HR900 filter installation steps diagram

Filter installation or replacement is very easy and only took me a minute or two.

There are just a few steps:

  1. Open the front cover
  2. Install the HEPA filter (follow the directional arrow printed on it)
  3. Install the AOC carbon filter
  4. Insert & snap in the prefilter with the pet filter already attached
  5. Close the front cover and secure it using the magnetic latches

What I really like about Winix air purifiers are the magnetic latches used on the front cover. Very convenient and they make the process even easier.

Winix HR900 filter cover magnetic latch closeup images

The purifier’s front cover uses magnetic latches to make opening & maintenance really is. I’m a big fan of this kind of feature!

Unlike some other products I’ve owned & tested, there aren’t any plastic tabs to break. There’s a small metal plate on the inside of the front cover (which covers the prefilter) that touches and connects to the magnets (one at each side) built into the front cover near the top.

Obviously, considering you’ll own it for several years of use it makes sense that a design that lasts and makes owning it easier.

Owner’s manual quality

Winix HR900 owner's manual examples

The owner’s manual is clear and helpful with plenty of clear instructions for the best use & maintenance.

Like the other Winix products I’ve tested, the owner’s manual is clear, helpful, and well-done. You won’t have any problem getting started using it right away or performing maintenance.

I do have a minor complaint, though: there’s no more information about the PlasmaWave feature. While the company does state in general terms what it does, it would have been nice to know a bit more about the technology behind it.

Also, unlike some competitors such as Levoit and Honeywell, there’s no customer support contact information on the box flaps where you’ll see them when opening it.

That’s not really an issue, however, as the owner’s manual (and the pet filter instruction sheet, too) has readily available customer support contact information in it.

Winix HR900 pet filter instructions image

Speaking of instructions and information, the pet filter has very good steps and is very clear. The diagrams are a great touch and do a good job of helping to understand how to install one correctly the first time.

The replacement interval and customer service/replacement purchase information is helpful as well.

Noise levels during use (measured)

Image showing measuring noise levels of the Winix HR900 air purifier

I prefer to measure, record, and verify noise levels. I used my sound level meter to get a consistent measurement you can expect during daily 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:

Measurement/SpeedVolume (dB)
Off (silent room)40.3
Sleep40.3
Low41
Medium42
High44.2
Turbo55.2

Without a doubt, just like the other Winix models it’s one of the quietest purifiers I’ve used! Sleep mode is ultra quiet – you can’t even tell it’s working.

Even the medium and high speeds are still well below the average noise levels of many other purifiers based on my measurements. Turbo mode, however, is very noticeable just like you’d expect but still has a nice gentle “roar” when in use.

The design touches show in some of the smaller details. For example, when changing speeds it doesn’t have a “harsh” adjustment; it ramps up or down gradually to the next speed you’ve selected.

Night brightness

Image of a Winix HR900 night brightness in dark room

If the purifier is not set to Auto or Sleep mode the brightness is clearly visible in a darkened room. However, don’t forget if you find the air quality indicator annoying you can switch it off by pushing and holding the Timer button.

Just the same, while it does produce a bit of light, it’s not super bright.

Sleep mode brightness

Winix HR900 before and after Sleep mode active in a dark room

Before and after images showing the purifier during the countdown period before switching to Sleep mode when a dark room is detected by the light sensor.

When set to Auto mode, the light sensor will detect if the room is dark and will begin a countdown before it switches to Sleep mode (or if placed in Sleep mode manually). I estimate around 60 seconds lapse before it switches to low fan speed and the control lighting & air quality lights dim.

It’s very dim in that case, but I was still able to see the light from the control panel in a darkened room. If you’re super-picky like I am you may consider covering it. Otherwise, most people won’t notice and will have no problems sleeping.

Review summary & score: Is it a good choice?

My honest opinion after trying it? I’m able to confidently say it’s a great choice.

The air cleaning performance is some of the best, and the included pet filters not only add extra pet hair and dander cleaning but also the life of the main filters.

The odor control filter is one of the few offered use real carbon pellets for up to 12 months of use and great odor control ability.

While I wish the pet filters were a bit easier to install, that’s a minor complaint. The Winix HR900’s design & build quality, features, and ease of use are excellent. I’m a big fan of the self-adjusting operation and I really love how quiet it is.

Winix HR900 air purifier review editors choice badge image

Is it the cheapest? Absolutely not. But if you’re a pet owner who wants one of the best purifiers available today, look no further.

Head over now and check out the great buyer reviews find out more at Amazon.

Overall
9.2/10
9.2/10
  • Quality - 9.4/10
    9.4/10
  • Value - 8.2/10
    8.2/10
  • Ease of use - 9.2/10
    9.2/10
  • Air cleaning ability - 9.6/10
    9.6/10
  • Features - 9/10
    9/10
  • Noise levels - 9.9/10
    9.9/10

Not cheap, but a great choice for pet owners who want fresh, clean air. Featured packed and well-made, it's a winner!

The HR900 continues the same tradition of quality and design as their other air purifier products. Unlike some competitors, the HR900 offers a much better odor control filter with 12 months life. Pet dander, hair, and odor removal are great, yet it’s pleasantly super-quiet and does its job without distracting you. Auto mode offers hands-free operation that controls the fan speed based on odor or particle levels.

Sleep mode works well and avoids keeping you up at night. Maintenance is easy and instructions are clear. Unlike the previous WAC-9500 no remote control is offered, however. Pet filters are slightly annoying to install but don’t detract from one of the best-quality purifiers for pet owners sold today. You’ll pay a bit more than competitors, but you’ll get one of the best! A solid choice.

Pros

  • 300 sq ft coverage (med.-large rooms)
  • AHAM certified CADR ratings: 194/200/220
  • Pet filter adds 4th filter stage
  • No irritating ozone produced
  • Electronic touch controls
  • Self-adjusting Auto mode
  • Air quality level indicator light
  • Quiet operation
  • Turbo high speed mode
  • PlasmaWave air cleaning feature
  • 1, 4, & 8 hr auto timer
  • Reusable/washable prefilter
  • Great AOC (active carbon) filter
  • AOC filter is rinseable under water
  • Easy filter maintenance
  • 12 month carbon & HEPA filter life
  • Filter reminder light
  • Light sensor for auto Sleep mode when dark
  • Ultra-quiet sleep mode
  • 2 year warranty

Cons

  • No remote control included
  • Can’t switch off control chime sounds
  • No additional colors available
  • Limited to 3 timer choices
  • No smart phone control
  • Most costly than some standard competitors
  • Lower room size coverage than 5500-2 model

Hands-On Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier Review: Big Winner Or Big Disappointment?

Winix 5500-2 air purifier review featured image

If you’ve shopped for an air purifier I’m sure you’re already aware of how many choices there are. It’s tough to make a decision – which ones are the best for your money?

In my detailed hands-on review of the Winix 5500-2 true HEPA air purifier I’ll help you decide if it’s a good choice for you, too. (Hint: I like it!)

I found out a lot of interesting things, so read on to learn more!

Contents

Basics first: Winix 5300-2 vs the 5500-2

Winix air purifier products diagram

Winix America produces a host of air quality products including humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers including the 5x00 series.

The 52300-2 and 5500-2 are two very similar High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter based air purifiers that very similar with a few differences in features and price. Both are popular, well-made air cleaners with excellent buyer satisfaction reviews.

In fact, you might be interested to know that besides looking very similar they offer the same room size coverage and same basic air cleaning ability.

However, there are definitely a few advantages you’ll get by buying the 5500-2 over its sibling the 5300-2.

Basic features both share:

  • Room size coverage: 390 square feet (med.-large sized rooms)
  • 3-stage filtering design
  • Proprietary PlasmaWave air cleaning feature (optional for use)
  • Auto-control air sensing technology (Auto mode)
  • True HEPA filter
  • Washable prefilter section
  • Auto off timer
  • Night mode/light-sensing
  • Turbo fan mode

Both offer a 1 year warranty.

The 5500-2 differs in 2 mains ways from the 5300-2:

  • Remote control
  • Washable Advanced Odor Control (AOC) carbon filter

There’s only one really significant difference between the two and that’s the type of odor control filer included.

While the 5300-2 offers a mesh prefilter much like other products from GermGuardian or Honeywell (a single mesh prefilter with odor-absorbing coating) the 5500-2 uses a much more robust odor control section with large activated carbon pellets.

Note that the activated carbon pellets can trap not just odors but also volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemical byproducts that are airborne.

What is Winix’s PlasmaWave?

The optional PlasmaWave feature is an add-on on design similar to ionizer technology that breaks apart airborne pollutants at the molecular level without creating ozone. It’s not required for use but is optional.

More about that later.

Unboxing & first impressions

Winix 5500-2 air purifier unboxing image

I was eager to get my hands on the 5500-2 and see why so many other people love it. Finally mine arrived from Amazon got started unboxing and testing it right away.

My purifier arrived in a nice cardboard box, securely held inside with styrofoam. I would have preferred they used recycled cardboard as other companies do, but oh well.

Everything was nicely kept in place and checked out fine. Right away after removing the purifier (by pulling it out using the convenient built-in handle), I found a handy quick start guide waiting.

What’s included?

Image of items included in the Winix 5500-2 air purifier package

Included in the box are the following:

  • Remote control, remote holder, and double-sided tape
  • Owner’s manual
  • Quick start guide with “getting started” notes

The quick start guide features the basic (very simple) steps you’ll need to get started quickly. That’s basically because you’ll need to first remove the front cover, remove the filters from their sealed bags, and re-install them as directed.

It’s a pretty simple process as you’ll see later below and only took me a few minutes.

Build quality and fit & finish

Closeup images of the Winix 5500-2 body panels

Checking out the Winix 5500-2’s fit and finish (general appearance and build quality). It’s a nice satin color in between gray and black, with body panels that line up and are put together well. All-in-all, I was happy with how it looked – it’s well made.

As I always like to do, I had a closer look at the purifier’s various body parts to get a better idea about the build quality.

Fit and finish are good, without any noticeable defects or assembly issues. The control panel features a printed vinyl overlay (like a thin plastic sheet over the real electronics) that’s nicely done.

Overall, it’s well-made and looks like a high-quality purifier and a good rival to other competing brands I’ve tested. I’d say quality control is good and it’s obvious the company know what they’re doing here.

(Note: Although the American company is Winix America my purifier was actually built in South Korea as that’s where it originated.)

Controls & how to operate it

Winix 5500-2 purifier controls image #1

The Winix purifier uses electronic touch controls located behind a perfectly flat plastic panel. They’re easy to use and well-labeled. During use I found it very simple to understand and use daily, although you really should read the owner’s manual to fully understand the features.

The 5500-2 is easily to use and works using electronic touch controls, similar to some competitor models from Levoit, GermGuardian, and Honeywell. Just like them it has its own style, too.

Although it might look a bit complicated at first, it’s not! The panel controls offer the following:

  • Power on/off
  • Mode: (Auto and sleep mode features)
  • PlasmaWave on/off
  • Fan speeds: Low, med., high, and Turbo
  • Auto-off: 1, 4, and 8 hour indicators

When operated, each mode, fan speed, or feature is illuminated from behind with a nice white light. I like it, and I found it to be well-done and very modern looking.

Fan speeds and special modes

It’s easy to switch modes and fan speeds, either manually or by using the included remote control. To do so, just push the fan speed button to cycle through the speeds (Turbo is the highest, and a special powerful mode).

Pushing the Mode button switches between Auto (the self-adjusting mode) or the super-quiet sleep mode.

While in Auto or sleep mode, touching the fan speed button brings it out of those and back into manual operation again.

Winix 5500-2 purifier controls image #3

Shown: The auto-off timer button lets you cycle through 3 countdown timers after which the purifier turns off automatically. It’s a nice feature and works well.

The timer feature is just as simple, too. Just push it to switch between 1 of 3 hour settings (1, 4, and 8 hrs) after which it’ll shut itself off – nice to have!

Push it again at any time to switch it disengage the timer if you like.

Winix 5500-2 purifier controls image #4

Located to the far right of the control panel is the check filter light & reset access point, light sensor area, and air quality sensing opening.

When it’s time to clean and possibly replace your filter the reminder light will turn on a steady light. Using a small object like the end of a paperclip, you can push and hold the reminder for 5 seconds to clear the light.

In Auto mode the light sensor allows the purifier to go into a low-brightness and super-quiet sleep mode when it detects the room’s lights are off. It’s a neat feature that worked really well when I tried it myself.

Additionally, the air quality sensor detects strong odors and other air quality conditions so the purifier can increase or decrease the fan speed automatically to clean the air as needed.

You’ll need to place it in Auto mode for that to work. It works well in my experience and it’s another reason I’ve come to enjoy using the Winix.

Using the PlasmaWave feature

Winix 5500-2 purifier controls image #2

When the PlasmaWave feature is in use the logo glows with a blue light. By default the purifier will start in Auto mode with the feature turned on at power up. Note the air quality indicator light below it.

To use the PlasmaWave feature just touch the on/off button. You’ll know it’s working as the logo will illuminate when it’s on.

Air quality indicator light

Winix air quality light indicator examplesAs I mentioned earlier, the 5500-2 features an air quality sensor. When the purifier is running the air quality light strip at the bottom center will glow indicating the current detected air quality.

There are 3 colors provided: Blue (good), amber (fair), and red (poor). The indicator is lit even when not in auto mode, as the sensor still works to show you what it’s detecting.

Beeps and chime sounds

Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier Control Panel Short Demo

The Winix has some unique beeps and chimes you’ll hear both when turning it on/off or when using the controls. Check out my video above to hear the sounds.

Each touch of a button gives a gentle chime sound. When turning the purifier on or off you’ll hear a slightly “musical” series of chimes as well.

Unfortunately there’s no way to switch the sounds off if you prefer silent operation. Yes, I am a bit picky and usually turn off sounds when possible, but in everyday use the sounds weren’t a problem for me.

Specifications & CADR ratings

Winix 5500-2 Specifications
  • Room size coverage: 360 sq. ft.
  • 3-stage filter system: True HEPA, activated carbon filter, prefilter screen
  • Washable prefilter screen & odor control filter section
  • Fan speeds: Low, med, high, turbo
  • PlasmaWave electronic air cleaning  feature
  • Electronic touch control panel
  • Auto-off timer: 1, 4, 8 hr options
  • AHAM Certified performance ratings
  • Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR): 232/243/246 (smoke/dust/pollen)
  • Air sensing technology with auto operation
  • Sleep mode with dark room sensing
  • Ultra low noise Sleep mode
  • Filter life: 1 year
  • Replacement filters: Winix type H set
  • 1 year warranty
  • Power use (Watts): 5, 6, 10, 61
  • Weight: 15.4 lbs
  • Size: 8.2 × 15.0 × 23.6″

If you’re not already familiar with it,  the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is an industry standard way of testing and determining an air cleaner’s effectiveness.

Winix 5500-2 air purifier CADR ratings labelThe 5500-2’s CADR ratings are shown here.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is an organization that verifies the testing results of home appliances & carry out lab testing for appliance manufacturers. The CADR rating tests are voluntary and 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 5500-2 has nearly 2.5 times the air cleaning effectiveness of those!

Thoughts on the 5500-2 size & weight

Image showing 5500-2 height measurement

At just under 2 feet (24 inches) tall, it’s still not too tall in my opinion. Given that it does need a decent size to fit the powerful fan and nice filters inside it hasn’t been a problem for me.

Even when used in a small room the size wasn’t much of an issue.

Carrying the purifier

Image showing 5500-2 carrying handle in use

The purifier features a built-in handle on the rear as well. It’s very convenient for picking it up when you need to move it.

On the top rear of the unit is a recessed area that works as a carrying handle. I found it a pleasure to use and really handy.

As the purifier’s shape is somewhat like a large box in ways having the handle available takes the hassle out of moving it around your room when you like.

At about 15 lbs (about 7 kgs) it’s not too heavy, either.

Remote control details

Images of the Winix 5500-2 air purifier remote control

The remote control also comes with a nice holder and double-sided foam tape you can use to mount it nearly anywhere. For a more secure mount there’s a screw hole you can use. It’s a nice little bonus – especially if you’re prone to losing remotes. Note: The battery is included!

The remote is nice and works well (up to around 20 feet in distance from the purifier, as I recall). I’ve got 2 fairly minor complaints, however:

  • The front of the remote has a thin plastic panel instead of real buttons
  • There’s no control for the PlasmaWave feature

Just pull out the battery protection seal (yes, the battery is included and is fresh!) and you’re ready to go.

As a plastic sheet is used for the labels instead of real buttons you won’t be able to use the remote simply by touch – you’ll most likely have to look at it, which is definitely an inconvenience in the dark.

I just don’t understand why there’s no button for the PlasmaWave feature, either! Why not? It seems like someone overlooked this.

That being said, overall, I’m still pretty happy with it and it’s the first air purifier I’ve used that included a handheld remote control. A very nice change of pace!

5500-2 power use measurements (Watts)

Winix 5500-2 power use measurements in Watts

The biggest problem I’ve found with air cleaning products’ power ratings is that even if there’s even one provided, it’s often only for the highest fan speed setting.

But what about the everyday use most of us would want, which is on a lower speed? How much energy will the 5500-2 use?

I set out to find out myself so I measured power use (in Watts, averaged) on all settings. Here’s what I found:

Mode/SpeedPower Use (Watts)
Off1.1
Low5.4
Medium6.6
High10.6
Turbo61.2

As you can see, it uses only a few watts in all but the highest settings! That’s excellent and it’s one of the most power-efficient purifiers I’ve tested so far.

Additionally, when I switched on the PlasmaWave there was no noticeable increase in power use, either. That’s in contrast to its competitor, the GermGuardian AC5250PT with UV-C feature which adds an extra 5W or so when the feature turned on.

In fact it’s an Energy Star rated appliance although you might not be aware. For some reason the company doesn’t use labels on the box or in some product listings as their competitors do.

Air cleaning ability + more about PlasmaWave

Winix 5500-2 PlasmaWave diagram

I was quite a bit confused about the PlasmaWave feature as unfortunately there aren’t any details in the owner’s manual. As I’ve tested other products with ultraviolet light germ killers, ionizers, and other similar features, I was very curious to find out more.

According to the company:

PlasmaWave® Technology safely breaks apart odors, allergens, chemical vapors, and other pollutants at the molecular level, without causing harmful ozone. PlasmaWave® creates positive and negative ions that combine with natural water vapor to form hydroxyls which cleans the indoor air.Winix America

It works using an ionizer type of device to affect water molecules in the air to have them attach to airborne particles and remove them. While it’s nice to have, it’s a small feature and won’t have a big impact on your home’s air quality.

Primarily, as always, it’s the main filter quality that really provides effective air cleaning and that truly matters. Everything else is a “nice to have” type of feature.

What’s it like to use?

There are no odors or noises you’ll find when it’s switched on, as indicated by the “on” light which is a blue light behind the feature’s logo.

Winix 5500-2 PlasmaWave logo glowing example

In fact, if not for the logo you’d have no idea it’s working at all.

Air cleaning performance

Winix 5500-2 dirty prefilter screen example

After using mine for some, the prefilter showed signs of doing a good job of removing dust, hair, and other nasty particles in the air during use.

I tested the 5500-2 for several things and especially good old-fashioned everyday use just like you’d use it for. There’s a lot to be said for real-world testing: not just for seeing how well it works but for things like noise levels, any problems that might pop up, or more.

The 5500 worked very well cleaning my air and trapping odors as well. I’ve used it in both auto and manual setting modes and I’m happy to say it’s definitely a good one.

The AOC activated carbon filter included is a lot more capable than most on the market and it shows!

It has some serious odor-control performance as it uses large, dedicated activated carbon pellets instead of the usual thinner carbon coating in the 5300-2 model and most competitors.

The prefilter in my unit caught dust, lint, hair, and other nasty things circulating in the room where I used it.

Testing auto mode

I’ve noticed that when in Auto (auto-sensing) mode it works well, but has a slight delay before the fan speed changes, which is fine. I assume that’s intentional to prevent it from constantly moving between fan speeds due to sudden air quality changes.

For example, I tested the air quality and auto mode by using a traditional paper match. The 5500 was able to sense the strong odor in the room, indicated it on the air quality light (turned red), and then increased the fan speed until the condition was gone.

It’s a neat feature that I like.

Room Size and square feet coverage

Winix 5500-2 air purifier recommend room size diagram with measurements

The company provides a recommended room size coverage of about 390 sq. ft and it’s a good fit for medium to some large-sized rooms.

360 sq ft is about 15 x 24 ft (about 4.6 x 7.3 meters). Note that it’s an approximation and you don’t have to have exactly a room that size and no larger.

The main point to know is that coverage is quite good (many of the most popular competitors offer only up to 155 sq ft coverage).

Also note that not only is it perfectly fine to use in smaller rooms, too, but you’ll also get even better use of it as the room’s air will be cycled and cleaned more quickly than a larger room.

Do the Winix 5500-2 & 5300-2 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 5500-2 and 5300-2 models do NOT produce ozone so there’s nothing to worry about. In fact there’s a notice about this printed on the box.

In fact, Winix America has the Air Resources Board (ARB) verification certifying that it meets federal ozone emission limits (in this case, basically zero emissions).

Filters, upkeep, and maintenance costs

Winix 5500-2 air purifier image showing illustration and names of filter sections

Shown: The air cleaner’s filter sections, with their names. 1. A permanent pre-filter used to catch larger elements like dust, hair, and more. It can be washed then reused. 2. The AOC odor-absorbing filter which is a unique design containing real activated carbon pellets inside a “honeycomb” like frame. 3. The true HEPA filter that traps super-fine particles, pet dander, dust mites, and much more down to microscope sizes.

As I mentioned at the beginning, 3 types of filters are used:

  1. Washable (permanent, reusable) prefilter
  2. AOC odor control filter
  3. The High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter

1. Reusable prefilter

The prefilter is unique in that instead of being built being coated with the odor-absorbing chemical most brands (and the 5300-2 model) use, it’s a single reusable screen you can easily remove and wash. It helps to extend the life of the other 2 if you do so, by the way (14 days is the recommended check/wash interval).

2. High-performance AOC odor & VOC filter

What’s pretty cool is the AOC filter I mentioned: it’s pretty unique and very effective. The frame is much like a honeycomb, made up of small “cells” in which real, solid activated carbon pellets are held loosely. There’s a mesh material on each side to keep them in place.

Winix recommends removing the AOC filter and rinsing it with room temperature water every 3 months or so to prepare it for more use (up to the 12 month life rating).

While you might be thinking it’s only there to help with odors, it isn’t. In fact, it’s helpful for trapping volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemical substances in the air that can cause both discomfort, headaches, and even health problems.

3. HEPA filter

And finally, there’s the true HEPA filter. Based on the industry-standard HEPA filter specification, it can permanently trap up to 99.97% of all particulates down to an incredibly small 0.3 microns in size! 

That’s less than 1/100,000th of a meter in size – microscopic, in fact!

Maintenance notes

As I mentioned earlier in the section where I covered controls, there’s a filter reminder which illuminates after 3 months to let you know it’s time to check the filters.

Here’s the maintenance schedule as listed in the owner’s manual:

FilterIndicator lightWhen to cleanWhen to replace
Pre-filter N/A Clean every 14 days (Permanent filter)
AOC carbon filter Check filter light Clean every 3 months 12 months
HEPA filter Check filter light N/A 12 months

Ultimately, you want to check the filters and depending on your needs they may or may not need cleaning. The AOC odor-absorbing carbon filter and the HEPA filter last up to about 12 months then they’ll need replacement.

(Note: If the HEPA filter isn’t really completely used up, it may be possible to extend its life a bit more)

For best results, the company recommends rinsing the AOC filter under clean water every 3 months and similar for the washable prefilter every 14 days. Maintenance is pretty easy to do and I found it pretty simple as well.

Replacement filters & maintenance costs

Example image of the Winix filter H replacement filter setWhile there are some aftermarket brands available for the 5300-2 model for a bit less money than the original, I wasn’t able to find the same for the 5500.

When replacement time comes you’ll need to pick up the type “H” filter set, sold as a pair. Expect to pay roughly $50-$79. While that may seem like a bit more costly, don’t forget that you’re getting 12 months worth of use out of it!

That’s roughly close to $5/month for having clean, fresh air at home.

How to install & replace filters

Image of new Winix 5500-2 purifier with sealed filters in bag

Fresh out of the box and getting set up. To get started, you’ll need to open the purifier, remove the new filters from the sealed bags, and put them back into place. It only takes a few minutes, though. Easy to do.

When my purifier arrived and I unboxed I followed the instructions shown in the nice little “quick start guide” sheet it came with. This is basically just removing the front cover, removing the AOC and HEPA filters from the sealed bags, and then putting them back into place.

It’s really simple and no hassle at all so there’s nothing to worry about there.

Illustrated images showing how to install filters on the Winix 5500-2 and 5500-3 air purifiers

Filter replacement is actually very simple and only takes a few minutes.

It’s just a few steps:

  1. Open the front cover
  2. Install the HEPA filter
  3. Install the AOC carbon filter
  4. Insert & snap in the prefilter
  5. Close the front cover and secure it using the magnetic latches

Did I mention the Winix design uses a really cool magnetic latch feature for the front cover? If not, I should have.

Image of the Winix 5500-2 & 5300-2 magnetic latches on filter cover closeup

Magnetic latches on the grill and body are one of the best design features I’ve seen yet on a purifier. They’re a snap to use – literally!

Unlike other products, there are no plastic tabs to break or worry about. There’s a small metal plate on the inside of the front cover (which covers the prefilter) that touches and connects to the magnets located inside the body at the top.

It’s a well thought out touch. Obviously, if you’re able to wash and inspect the prefilter and carbon filter as I mentioned it makes sense to have a design that lasts.

Owner’s manual quality

 Both the owner’s manual and quick start guide are clear, well-written, and are helpful. However, in a few cases I felt like a bit of information was missing.

For example, there aren’t any details provided for the PlasmaWave feature like what it is and how it works. Unlike Honeywell and a few other companies, there’s no convenient company customer support phone number and email contact information easily seen when the box is opened.

It’s not really a huge deal, but I know that some people have questions they need help with so it would have been nice. At any rate, the instructions are pretty good and will tell you all you need to know to use and maintain it.

Noise levels during use (measured)

dB noise level meter measurement image

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:

Measurement/SpeedVolume (dB)
Off (room noise)39.3
Low40
Medium42
High44.5
Turbo61.2

Honestly, the 5500 is hands-down one of the quietest purifier’s I’ve owned! The Sleep mode (which runs at the low speed setting) is super quiet.

And that’s coming from me, a person who’s very picky and susceptible to nearly all noises.

Even the medium and high speeds are still well below the average noise levels of many other purifiers based on my measurements. Turbo mode, as expected, however is very noticeable but still has a nice “roar” when in use.

What’s especially cool – and unexpected – is that when changing speeds it doesn’t have a “harsh” adjustment; it ramps up or down gradually to the next speed you’ve selected. Very classy!

Night brightness

Winix 5500-2 night brightness examples in dark room

As I always do for those of you out there like me who are sensitive to light when sleeping, I checked out the brightness in a darkened room.

I tested both manual mode (the control panel lights stay on) and Auto mode (which will go into Sleep mode when the room is dark).

Light levels are low and nice – not too bright at all. There’s a bit of glow in the room as you might expect, but certainly not enough to keep you or your kids awake at night.

When it’s in Auto mode and the room’s lights are switched off, after a moment it will automatically go into Sleep mode (with the ultra-quiet fan speed) and only the sleep mode indicator will be lit. All other panel lights turn off.

Pretty nice to have, if you ask me: no need to get out of bed to do it yourself.

Review summary & score: Is it a good buy?

I’m happy to report the Winix 5500-2 is one of the highest quality and best-performing purifiers I’ve tested yet. Without a doubt I can recommend it as a smart buy.

If you love convenience, and hassle-free operation along with the ability to wash the filters – not to mention very long filter life and excellent odor control – don’t pass this one up!

Winix 5500-2 Editor's Choice review summary imageWithout a doubt it’s a winner! Don’t just take my word for it – check out the fantastic buyer reviews and the great savings you'll get at Amazon.

Overall
9.5/10
9.5/10
  • Quality - 9.4/10
    9.4/10
  • Value - 9.4/10
    9.4/10
  • Ease of use - 9.6/10
    9.6/10
  • Air cleaning ability - 9.8/10
    9.8/10
  • Features - 9/10
    9/10
  • Noise levels - 9.9/10
    9.9/10

A great performer with features you'll love. One of the best money can buy for odor control, too.

Much like its sibling the 5300-2, the Winix 5500-2 provides up to 360 sq. ft. of well-designed air cleaning. Both offer a 12 month true HEPA filter and permanent washable prefilter. However, it also improves on the 5300 by offering a remote control and one of the best activated carbon filters I’ve seen on a production purifier.

It’s also hands-down one of the lowest-noise models I’ve used but still offers a high speed Turbo mode. The advanced features are great: The light sensor places it in ultra-quiet Sleep mode at night and an air sensor for self-controlled fan speed based on air quality. It’s a great purifier and one you shouldn’t pass up.

Pros

  • 360 sq ft coverage (med.-large rooms)
  • AHAM certified CADR ratings: 232/243/246
  • No irritating ozone produced
  • Electronic touch controls
  • Self-regulating air sensor option
  • Air quality level indicator light
  • Super quiet operation
  • Turbo high speed mode
  • Remote control
  • PlasmaWave air cleaning feature
  • 1, 4, & 8 hr auto timer
  • Reusable/washable prefilter
  • Great AOC (active carbon) filter
  • AOC filter is rinseable under water
  • Easy filter maintenance
  • 12 month carbon & HEPA filter life
  • Filter reminder light
  • Light sensor for auto Sleep mode when dark
  • Ultra-quiet sleep mode

Cons

  • Remote control could be better quality
  • Remote has no PlasmaWave button
  • Can’t switch off control chime sounds
  • No additional colors available
  • Instructions don’t explain PlasmaWave details
  • Limited to 3 timer choices
  • No smart phone control
  • Limited 3rd party filter options