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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ikea Now Makes a (Handsome) Air Purifier

It was only a matter of time. I've covered air purifiers for WIRED for a long while, and Ikea's absence in the market was growing more and more conspicuous. The brand's tardiness was especially felt last year, when the market for air purifiers blew up among the hellscape of wildfires and coronavirus. Suddenly, everyone wanted cleaner air indoors.

As the saying goes: Better late than never. The Ikea Förnuftig goes on sale in the US today (the overseas market got it earlier this year), and no, even though it's got a funny name and today is April 1, it's not an April Fool's joke. The Förnuftig costs $55, and you can have your choice of case color, as long as you choose black or white. The woven grille on both models is gray. The Förnuftig's fabric-swaddled design is reminiscent of Ikea's other smart-home products, like 2019's Sonos Symfonisk speakers.

Most air purifiers look pretty heinous—like the sort of weird plastic machine you'd find in the school gym storage room while skipping class. But the Förnuftig looks sharp, and as it measures roughly 12 by 18 inches, it doesn't take up much space. It's very thin at 4.5 inches deep, and if you want, you can ditch the floor stand and mount it horizontally or vertically on a wall. Very few other air purifiers can mount to a wall.

The Förnuftig has a clean air delivery rate (CADR) of 130 cubic meters per hour, making it what I call a “bedroom air purifier.” The CADR is an industry-standard measurement of how efficiently a device can filter the air in a room over the course of an hour. Without boring you with the details, that rating means the Förnuftig is a good choice for small rooms like bedrooms or small home offices. If you're buying a device for a bigger room, I suggest you pick one of the larger living room air purifiers from our air purifier guide instead.

Inside, there are two filters. One is a HEPA 12 filter that blocks 99.95 percent of particles 2.5 microns or larger, such as pollen and dust. To give a sense of scale, a human hair is about 70 microns thick, on average. The second is a carbon prefilter that absorbs formaldehyde and odors such as smoke and cooking smells.

A replacement set of filters costs $15. That's cheap. People rarely take filter costs into consideration when choosing an air purifier, but when you're replacing them every year or so, the costs can add up to a substantial amount. For comparison, replacement filters for the Blueair 411 Pure and Coway Airmega 200M, two of my favorite bedroom air purifiers, cost $22 and $60, respectively.

There are three speed settings, but no automatic mode to ramp up speed when detecting higher particulate levels—something I would expect on air purifiers in this price range. The lowest setting is marketed as being quiet enough to have in your room while you sleep. And yes, this being an Ikea product, you do have to assemble it yourself. At least there aren't any cam locks.

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