Molekule Air Purifier Review and Buying Guide 2019

Molekule Air Purifier Buying Guide

Molekule is an entirely different type of air purifier. It doesn’t trap the smallest and most harmful pollutants. It literally destroys them using technology the company calls PECO, or Photo Electrochemical Oxidation.

Is Molekule safe? Does Molekule work? How exactly does it work? Is PECO like ozone?

These and other questions are answered in this Molekule air purifier review and buying guide.

Molekule Technology

This air purifier has a pre-filter to trap debris like pet hair, clumps of dust and other large items.

Then, the main filters handles smaller particles.

So far, that sounds like most air purifiers. But Molekule is different.

This image shows the air cleaner with the cover off.

1. Motor: The motor isn’t shown in the photo, but it is housed in the black, round section above filter #1. It pulls air up and in through the Intake.

2. Pre-filter: The air is drawn through the pre-filter, which is pulled out a bit to show its design. It is a thick media filter similar to a vehicle’s air filter or a thick furnace filter.

It could be called “HEPA-type,” meaning it looks and acts like a True HEPA, but doesn’t reach the 99.97% filtration rate required to be labeled True HEPA. Many air purifiers, the cheaper ones from Holmes for example, use a filter like this as their main filter, not a pre-filter.

As the photo below shows, the Molekule pre-filter does a good job collecting dust and similar debris. The left side shows a new filter; the right shows a filter that should be changed.

3. Molekule main filter: This is where PECO, or photo electrochemical oxidation, takes place.

The filter uses proprietary technology that isn’t fully explained in any of the company’s literature or videos. Molekule does state, “A chemical reaction occurs when a nanoparticle-coated filter is activated by light, breaking down harmful pollutants to their most basic molecular components.”

The blue light at the top of the Molekule is the light that activates the process of photo electrochemical oxidation.

There’s more on the technology here.

The filter has been independently tested by several certified testing agencies. The results show that it is effective in:

  • Destroying mold spores and similar allergens including pollen
  • Breaking down VOCs into harmless molecules like carbon dioxide, water and trace elements

4. Air discharge: The air coming out of the Molekule has been purified. Dangerous compounds have been broken into “harmless molecules that are meant to be in the air.” They’re no longer harmful pollutants.

This chart was produced after testing by two reputable, independent agencies.

It shows VOC reduction over 140 minutes based on three filter types: Carbon, True HEPA and Molekule’s PECO filtration.

As you can see, the difference is notable. PECO reduces VOCs quickly and dramatically, and keeps their levels low.

Molekule, Winix and Ionizers – What are the Differences?

There are a few other air purifiers that change the molecular makeup of harmful substances to render them harmless or at least less dangerous.

We’ve seen how Molekule does the job – by breaking down complex pollutants into harmless, more basic compounds like the carbon dioxide we exhale after breathing in fresh air, and water.

Here are two other approaches to the problem.

Ionizers

Quite a few brands make ionizing air purifiers. Most give you the capability to turn off the ionizer. We’ll show why this is important in a minute.

Ionizers release negatively charged ions into the air. A black mold remediation expert explains what happens next:

“These charged ions attach themselves to particles of dust, mold, pollen, pet dander and other allergens and irritants in the air. That charges the particles so that they will attach to each other, making them larger and heavier so they settle faster. It also makes them cling more to surfaces like walls, floors and furniture. Then there are fewer particles drifting around in the air that can be inhaled.”

That sounds reasonable, but there are two concerns with ionizing air purifiers:

1. The mold spores, even though attached to other particles, can still grow. Mold, pollen, pet dander and other pollutants/allergens aren’t removed from your home.

2. Perhaps of greater concern, ionizers are known to produce ozone. In the upper atmosphere, ozone protects the earth from excessive warming. But in the air we breathe, it is considered a pollutant and can be harmful. Just as the charged particles cling to pollutants, they will cling to the lining of your respiratory system including your lungs and damage them.

The saying is, “Ozone – Good up high, but bad nearby.”

If you care to know more, you can read about the dangers of ozone-producing air purifiers in this guide from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Winix Air Purifiers

Winix is an innovative brand, as Molekule is.

The approach Winix takes is to develop air purifiers that emit hydroxyls, which are safe compounds. Hydroxyls are naturally occurring but can be produced too.

Winix calls the technology PlasmaWave and says this about it. PlasmaWave “Creates Hydroxyls to instantly neutralize bacteria, VOCs, odors and gases while emitting no harmful ozone.”

Hydroxyl, or -OH, has a negative charge which attracts pollutants with a positive charge. When this occurs, new compounds are formed that are not dangerous. And those compounds quickly break down into harmless molecules like water, oxygen and carbon dioxide.

So far, the results of Winix PlasmaWave sound a lot like Molekule technology.

There is one significant difference: Winix PlasmaWave creates a small amount of ozone. The level is much lower than the amount of ozone released by ionizers, but it isn’t zero.

This chart shows dangerous ozone levels. Winix produces less than the 50 parts per billion (50ppb) that is considered dangerous.

Here are two conclusions:

1. Most experts that have tested Winix believe the ozone amounts are safe to anyone except those with already compromised breathing (severe allergies or asthma, COPD).

2. The PlasmaWave function can be turned off. The Winix HEPA and carbon filters do an excellent job removing most pollutants without creating hydroxyls and ozone.

A good option is to buy a WiFi-enabled Winix. Turn the unit on when you leave home, and use the App to turn it off a couple hours before you get home. Most of the ozone will have dissipated by then.

See our Winix Reviews and Buying Guide for complete details on the technology and the Best Winix Air Purifiers. 

Molekule Air Purifier Review

In this section, we approach the Molekule the same way we reviewed other leading brands like Dyson, Honeywell, Levoit and Holmes.

Models and Room Size Rating: There is only one model currently, but Molekule reports that its scientists are constantly looking to improve the filters and the general technology.

The Molekule is designed for large rooms. The air cleaner can purify air in 600 square feet of space in one hour. Large air purifiers from Dyson, Honeywell and Winix can clean the same amount of air multiple times in an hour – the question, of course, is does it clean it as thoroughly?

Filtration: HEPA-type pre-filter and the PECO photo electrochemical oxidation filter.

Features: WiFi and App. 3 speeds – Auto (42dB), Hushed (30dB) and Boost (55dB).

Pros: The PECO filter breaks down VOCs, mold spores and other allergens into harmless, common substances.

The unit is easy to maintain. Molekule suggests replacing the main filter every 6 months and the pre-filter every 3 months. To make it easy, Molekule sells a pack with one main and two pre-filters.

Cons: Cost is a concern for some. The current price is $799. Plus, the current cost of a replacement filter set is $65. If you change the filters per Molekule’s recommendation, you’ll new two sets per year for a total of $130. That’s higher than you’ll pay for a year’s worth of pre-filters and main HEPA filters for most True HEPA air purifiers.

One size fits all rather than offering various sizes for small, medium and large spaces.

The light is bright – but it can be turned off at night – “Dark mode.” However, because it is the light that activates the filter, you won’t get PECO benefits in dark mode. Just the pre-filter will be working.

18 pounds is a little heavy, but the unit has a handy and sturdy strap.

Rating the Molekule Air Purifier

Here are ratings we apply to the other brand air purifiers we review. So far, users have given Molekule 4 out of 5 stars on the company website.

Features Rating: 4 – Three levels of activity allow for custom air cleaning. You can control the unit from the top panel or with the App. However, users that have issues with the Molekule say connectivity is a problem. Molekule continues to release firmware updates in an effort to repair connectivity and general App issues.

Filter Rating: 5 – We’re sold on PECO filtration. The independent science and testing shows that it works. Is it the best air purifier for you? See our Recommendation at the end of the review.

Efficiency Rating: 4 – Not Energy Star certified.

Quality Rating: 4 – The quality seems excellent, but the warranty is just 2 years, and that lowers our rating. Many less costly air purifiers have longer warranties. See our Honeywell Reviews and Guide for many examples.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

How Molekule Air Purifiers Compare with Other Brands

The primary difference is that other brands rely on high-efficiency True HEPA filtration plus a carbon filter to capture particles rather than break them down into more basic, and harmless, molecules.

Dyson: Even Dyson, with some units priced comparably to the Molekule, relies on HEPA, carbon and a large-particle pre-filter.

Winix: As noted above, Winix uses hydroxyls to change the chemical makeup of pollutants to render them harmless. The downside is that Winix PlasmaWave technology releases a small amount of ozone. There are two advantages to a Winix. First, the cost of most units is about 1/3 the price of a Molekule. Secondly, the PlasmaWave can be turned off, and you still get excellent HEPA and carbon filtering of your air. Turn off the ECCO technology, i.e., put the unit on dark mode, and you lose the main source of filtration. Only the HEPA-type pre-filter will be doing its job.

Honeywell, Levoit and Holmes: These are HEPA and HEPA-type air purifiers that cost far less than Molekule. Honeywell and Levoit have a few highly effective models that we give high marks. Holmes is mostly an entry-level brand, though a few models use True HEPA filters. The brand offers good value in HEPA air purifiers. If your allergies or asthma isn’t severe, and you don’t have other health or environmental reasons for advanced air filtration, Honeywell, Levoit and Holmes have good options for general air cleaning.

Several of the Holmes air purifiers have ionizers that can be turned on or off. Most of them use a HEPA-type filter, not a True HEPA. We do not recommend ionizers, so all you have left on those units is the HEPA-type filter that doesn’t do a great job. Those Holmes air purifiers aren’t even worth considering.

Do We Recommend the Molekule Air Purifier?

In a word, yes. The testing done on the PECO technology has clearly demonstrated that it is effective. We’re most impressed with how it breaks down volatile organic compounds into harmless substances. It is effective on common allergens too.

Here’s another question: Should everyone get a Molekule?

It’s our professional opinion that not everyone needs that level of air purification. If the cost of a Molekule were comparable to Honeywell or even most Winix models, then sure, it would be a great choice. But since the cost of the unit plus the annual cost of filters is so high, $865 the first year and $130 annually thereafter, it isn’t realistic that everyone could afford one.

Who should consider a Molekule air purifier?

This advanced air cleaner makes the most sense for:

  • Those with severe allergens or asthma
  • Anyone with COPD
  • Households where smoking in the house is allowed
  • Carpeted homes where infants and elderly live
  • Those who are enthusiastic about leading-edge technology and can afford the high cost of the machine and filter replacements

Where to Buy a Molekule Air Cleaner

The only place to purchase a new Molekule air purifier is directly from Molekule. That is true of the filters too.

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