The curious case of AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier
While priced at less than half of what the big brands will charge you, the AUGIENB HEPA Air Filter does stand a chance to go head-to-head against more popular alternatives.
RM399.99 (SRP), promo price RM199
+ Very affordable
+ Cheap replacement filters
+ HEPA filter works well against PM 2.5
+ First 3 speed mode are registering in softer then 40 dB
+ Touch panel is a good touch (pun intended)
- Cheap build quality
- Touch panel is a fingerprint magnet and scratches easily
- Turbo mode could sound quite annoying
This interesting looking thing is an air purifier by AUGIENB, a Hong Kong company that specializes in “home machine solutions”. They basically make home appliances like air or water filters, lights, humidifiers and other similar products. They seem to have quite a good present around Southeast Asia, hence seem to be a trustworthy company. We managed to purchase our unit at half price during a lazada sale, so I guess why not, right? It’s quite a deal if you ask me, slashing the unit price from RM440 to RM199! So, the question is, does paying less than RM200 for a air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter make sense? And is it worth the money? Or have we been taken for a ride? Let’s jump right in.
The unit we got the is the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier. The unit resembles an inverted bucket. Most of the casing is just plain white plastic and it looks and feels quite thin. The good thing is that it’s really lightweight, but it definitely does not inspire confidence in its quality.
The touch-sensitive controls are located on top, and in the middle there’s a container for essential oil. Personally, I find the inclusion of essential oil container very odd, but more on this later.
Under the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier is a hatch to insert the HEPA filter. All it takes is a twist to unlock it and the filter can be easily removed and replaced here.
Within the filter, you can see the fan that will pull in air from the back, force it through the HEPA filter, and exhaust clean air out the top end.
The filter that comes included with the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier is a basic HEPA filter. On AUGIENB’s website they have an upgraded version which adds an activated carbon layer.
This is a desktop air purifier, officially it is rated to be capable to purify 140 cubic meters per hour. That’s about the volume of a small room, perhaps around the size of small bedroom. How it works is that it has intakes on the back to take in air from the surroundings, which would be sent into the HEPA filter to “purify” it before having the clean air come out from the vents along the top panel.
First things first, despite the cheap price (RM220 is a ridiculous price to pay for a HEPA filter) the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier work flawlessly, with its simple mechanism meaning little can go wrong anyway. Using our air quality measurement tool, it does seem to be working just fine.
We will be testing the air purifier based on how well it purifies the air within 30 minutes by looking at the levels of formaldehyde, PM 2.5 particulate and TVOC in our small room. Below is a little description of what these 3 levels mean:
Formaldehyde is a chemical that is colorless, flammable, with a pungent odor. It is used in building materials and also in certain household products. It’s present in pressed-wood products, glues and adhesives, permanent-press fabrics, paper coating materials, and certain insulation materials.
When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 100 mg/m3 , some individuals may experience adverse effects such as watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. Some people are very sensitive to formaldehyde, whereas others have no reaction to the same level of exposure. Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk. (2011, June 10)
|Formaldehyde Level in Air||Expected Health Effects|
|>0.0123 mg/m3||Mild irritation or allergic sensitization in some people|
|>0.615 mg/m3||Irritation to eyes & mucous membranes|
|>1.23 mg/m3||Possible nasopharyngeal cancer|
|3.684 mg/m3||Respiratory impairment and damage|
Friedman, D. J. (n.d.). Formaldehyde Gas HCHO Exposure Limits Formaldehyde Gas
PM 2.5 level is a measure of the amount of fine particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, since they are so small and light, they tend to stay longer in the air than heavier particles. This increases the chances of humans and animals inhaling them into their lungs. They are able to bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs and may even enter the circulatory system.
Studies have found a close link between exposure to fine particles and premature death from heart and lung disease. They are also known to trigger asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.
|PM 2.5||Air Quality Index||Health Effects|
|0 – 12.0||Good 0 – 50||Little to no risk.|
|21.1 – 35.4||Moderate 51-100||Unusually sensitive individuals may experience respiratory symptoms.|
|35.5 – 55.4||Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 101-150||Increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly.|
|55.5 – 150.4||Unhealthy 151 – 200||Increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; increased respiratory effects in general population.|
|150.5 – 250.4||Very Unhealthy 201 – 300||Significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; significant increase in respiratory effects in general population.|
|250.5 – 500.4||Hazardous 301 – 500||Serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population.|
What is PM2.5 and Why You Should Care. (n.d.)
“Total volatile organic compounds” TVOC is a grouping of a wide range of organic chemical compounds that are present in the air.
Many substances, such as natural gas, could be classified as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are reserved for characterization of such substances in polluted air, that is, VOCs generally refer to vapors of gases given off by compounds rather than the liquid phase.
|TVOC Level mg/m3||Level of Concern|
|Less than 0.3 mg/m3||Low|
|0.3 to 0.5 mg/m3||Acceptable|
|0.5 to 1 mg/m3||Marginal|
|1 to 3 mg/m3||High|
Acceptable VOC levels in the air for human health. (n.d.)
- Small office: ~150 sq feet
- No windows
- Door closed with no entry nor exit during testing
In the test we notice that PM 2.5 levels does drop over time. But formaldehyde and TVOC actually went up over time. We believe is it due to the extremely low levels of the pollutants present, what was picked up by the measuring tool is generally not of concern.
Regardless, the PM 2.5 present were lowered from 12 to just 4 μg/m3, which is evidence that the AugienB Air Purifier is working as intended.
As the normal test shows that the air purifier can actually filter out PM 2.5, we need to know whether the purifier can deal with formaldehyde and TVOC, as well as how well does it handle them.
To do this, we sprayed the room with insect repellent, essentially jacking up the levels of formaldehyde and TVOC in the room.
|Time||Insect Repellent||Formaldehyde||PM 2.5||TVOC|
So as you can see, after spraying the insect repellent, within minutes the formaldehyde and TVOC detected spiked up so high it exceeds the maximum reading of our tool. It takes about 5 hours to bring the hazardous level of Formaldehyde and TVOC down to an acceptable level.
These result are not convincing for an air purifier. But then again, the lack of an activated carbon filter layer does mean that it isn’t equipped to handle anything but particulate matter. We ran similar tests with the Xiaomi Air Purifier Pro, with it being able to drop the hazardous levels to a relatively safe level in significantly less time. Yes, the Xiaomi Air Purifier Pro costs more than quadruple the price of the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier, but the added peace of mind is definitely tangible.
All the test done so far are done with Speed 2 setting. It seem to be the most reasonable mode to be used, due to how much loud the air purifier can become. Below are a series of tests we ran to give you guys an idea of how loud it can be.
|1||24.7 dB||33.4 dB||42.5 dB|
|2||29.3 dB||34.2 dB||37.8 dB|
|3||33.7 dB||36.3 dB||38.7 dB|
|Turbo||46.3 dB||48.1 dB||50.2 dB|
At full speed, the AUGIENB Air Purifier hits around 50.2 dB, which easily made it the loudest device in my small room. Personally I am rather sensitive to noise, and I get agitated very easily in noisy environments and the Turbo setting made me really uncomfortable. Our recommendation is if you are considering this air purifier, speed 3 might be the best compromise in terms of noise and effectiveness.
The results are promising, despite the low price the air purifier definitely get the job done. You can safely assume that using the higher speed modes will mean faster filtration of all the air in the room, but we don’t recommend to do so with the Turbo mode, simply because it is just too darn loud.
Although advertised with 3 speeds, the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier actually offers a total of 5 speeds: sleep, speed 1, 2, 3, and finally turbo. While sleep mode have almost no sound present but a gentle hum, each speed take it up a notch, as you can see in our noise testing. While the device is advertised to “create a calm environment”, we found it to be more or less a trade off from air pollution for noise pollution if you were to run the air purifier at any setting higher than speed 3.
The touch control is a great touch, the smooth piano black panel add a sense of premium into this air filter. However the material used here seems to be the kind of soft plastic that is a fingerprint magnet but at the same time each time you try cleaning it, it gains a few more scratches.
As mentioned earlier, in the middle of the control panel is a little container where user can insert essential oil to “enchance user experience”. It is worth nothing though that essential oils are reported in multiple studies to not “help clean the air” as commonly believed, but also further pollute the air with volatile organic compounds. Our advice is to never use essential oils unless you’re absolutely sure of what you are doing.
Conclusion: AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier, Gold or No?
If you are looking for an air purifier and have limited budget, the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier is a decent value buy at RM199 (the promo price at which we got it for). Under normal circumstances a branded air purifier would retail at around the price of RM500 or more, AUGIENB is giving you quite the bang for buck. The filters which are recommended to be replaced every 6-8 months retails at the price of RM65.90 with a buy one free one offer is also a steal where branded air purifier replacement can easily run two times the price.
Bear in mind, while you save your money, there are some trade-offs too. As mentioned earlier, the noise produced at higher speed levels are unbearable, the control panel is a fingerprint and scratch magnet, and finally the inclusion of essential oil container somewhat contradicts its own existence as an air purifier.
But, we do recommend the AUGIENB HEPA Air Purifier if you manage to get it during promo and use it at low speed. It does a pretty good job for something this affordable.
Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk. (2011, June 10). Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet.
Acceptable VOC levels in the air for human health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.npi.gov.au/resource/total-volatile-organic-compounds.
Friedman, D. J. (n.d.). Formaldehyde Gas HCHO Exposure Limits Formaldehyde Gas (Formalin Gas) Exposure Standards & Limits in Buildings. Retrieved from https://inspectapedia.com/indoor_air_quality/Formaldehyde_Gas_Exposure_Limits.php.
What is PM2.5 and Why You Should Care. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://blissair.com/what-is-pm-2-5.htm.