When choosing an air purifier at the $400 price point, there are certain things you should take for granted: .3 micron-level HEPA filtering for example, or Energy Star Certified compliance. However, we’ve worked in enough domestic and commercial environments to realize that not everyone who spends this much money on an air purifier gets machines worth their price tags. Whether you’re looking for a quality air purifier for allergy, respiratory, or just sanitary and aesthetic reasons, if you’re like us, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting something that’ll actually clean your air. We’ve had good experiences using and reviewing a range of Oreck carpet and vacuum cleaners in the past, so today we’ll take a look at three Oreck air purifiers in the $400 range to figure out which offers the best value: the AirInstinct 200, the ProShield Plus, and the Dual Max.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Oreck AirInstinct 200 HEPA Large Room Air Purifier
Out of the box, we loved the straightforward setup of the AirInstinct 200. Oreck essentially states in the manual that you plug it in, turn it on, and let it go to work, and we found that to be a reasonably accurate summary. The AirInstinct includes a computerized sensor inside that modifies the air flow speed based on the number and size of particles it detects, essentially making it a set it and forget it-type purifier. We were more than happy to walk away and let the machine work in the background while we cleaned carpets or vacuumed (we do this for a living, after all).
Technically, the AirInstinct includes a HEPA filter with a 99.97% capture rate of allergens (e.g., dust, smoke, pet dander, pollen, mites, etc) and other microbes at the .3 micron level. This is the same level of filtering included in their top vacuum cleaners (e.g., the Magnesium RS and Elevate Conquer), but we’d naturally expect the air purifier to do a lot more work filtering than their vacuums since the air purifiers work in a 3-dimensional space (the air) vs. the relatively 2-dimensional domain of their vacuums (the carpet, furniture, etc). The filter is rated for 3 years before needing replacement, although the actual lifespan will naturally vary depending on where, when, and how it’s used).
Beyond the HEPA filter, a 3 year odor filter is also included to trap odors and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. We like this, especially given how many toxic compounds are present in homes due to off-gassing (from furniture, carpets, paint, appliances) and household cleaners (pretty much anything more complex than vinegar).
The AirInstinct is recommended for use in environments of up to 248 square feet and has a clean air delivery rate (CADR) of 160, signifying that it can deliver up to 160 cubic feet of purified air per minute. It weighs just under 19 pounds and we found it easy to move from one room to the next. Oreck rated it as capable of fully circulating the air in a 248 sq. ft. room in around 13 minutes; we could not directly verify this, but we were pleased to note the AirInstinct did not release any noticeable odors during operation. To the contrary, we noticed substantially fewer smells by the litter boxes in a home with several cats after running the AirInstinct for around half an hour. After a number of days of use, the house began to smell noticeably fresher and we could no longer see dust particles floating in the sunlight shining through our windows.
Overall, we were pleased with the performance of the AirInstinct 200, and we loved the assurance of a 5-year warranty and the efficiency of its Energy Star certification. We’d just like more coverage, and would be more than willing to trade a larger air purifier for more square footage.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Oreck ProShield Plus Air Purifier
Compared to the AirInstinct 200, the ProShield Plus did not impress us nearly as much. At first, we were quite stricken by the permanent Truman Cell and Helios Shield filters for allergen and odor filtering respectively–both are advertised as never needing replacement, and from contacting fellow cleaners in the home cleaning community, we were reasonably convinced of the accuracy of Oreck’s claims. However, we weren’t nearly as keen on the fact that the Truman Cell, which is an electrostatic filter, doesn’t filter with nearly the same level of effectiveness as the old-fashioned HEPA filter in the AirInstinct. If you don’t need top-level allergen filtering or don’t have significant respiratory needs, this may not make a difference, but for us, it did.
Secondly, we were somewhat disappointed with the much smaller amount of filter coverage for the money; the ProShield Plus is recommended for rooms 80 square feet in area, which was only 1/3rd of the square footage the AirInstinct was designed to support. Unsurprisingly, its filter rate was only 50 cubic feet per minute instead of the 160 CADR in the AirInstinct.
We did like how it weighed significantly less at 15 pounds, but since it covered such small spaces, the lighter weight wasn’t an advantage since we ended up moving it much more to filter different parts of the same room in certain cases. We also were disappointed by the 3-year limited warranty, which was 2 years fewer than the coverage we got from the AirInstinct. Overall, we didn’t feel it was the best use of our money.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Oreck Dual Max Air Purifier
The Dual Max was our second favorite of the three air purifiers we tried for this showdown. Like the ProShield Plus, it used a Truman Cell filter instead of a HEPA filter, rendering its filtering less effective than it could have been by our books, but unlike the ProShield Plus, it came with a 5-year limited warranty, was Energy Star certified, and was designed to be used in significantly larger spaces. Specifically, it was rated for use in rooms of up to 200 square feet. This wasn’t quite the 240 square feet we’d enjoyed with the AirInstinct, but it was significantly more than the 80 square feet of the ProShield Plus. We also liked the much better CADR rating at 130 feet; again, this didn’t quite equal the CADR of the AirInstinct at 160 filtered cubic feet per minute, but it was leagues ahead of the 50 filtered cubic feet per minute of the ProShield Plus.
Like the ProShield Plus, neither the Truman Cell air filter nor the Helios Shield odor filter needed replacement; they simply needed to be rinsed and dried before being reinserted. In this respect, we found the Dual Max to be the most environmentally friendly choice, as it offered nearly the same filtering effectiveness as that of the AirInstinct while not requiring non-reusable filtering units that would someday end up in landfills.
Which is the Best Oreck Air Purifier For the Money Between the AirInstinct 200, ProShield Plus, and Dual Max?
For us, the choice was clear: the AirInstinct 200 provided the best coverage and the best filtering. The Dual Max came in a very close second while the ProShield Plus came in a distant third. However, families with a high environmental priority would do well to choose the Dual Max over the AirInstinct due to the environmentally-responsable permanent filter in the Dual Max.
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