Whether it’s due to allergies, asthma, COVID-19, or Saharan dust, you might be thinking about how you can improve the air quality in your home. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of smart devices on the market that can suck harmful pollutants like allergens, bacteria, gases, mold, smoke, and viruses from the air. The $599 Airdog X5, for example, isn’t your typical air purifier: It replaces the traditional HEPA filter with washable collecting plates. It’s quiet, easy to use, automatically adjusts its wind speed based on pollution levels, and it connects to your phone via Wi-Fi so you can control it and see your air quality wherever you are. It’s a good option for waste-conscious consumers, though we prefer the HEPA-based Dyson Pure Cool Link Air Purifier ($500), which is more compact and doubles as a fan.
How the Airdog X5 Works
The X5 has a five-stage ionic filtration system that Airdog says “destroys and eliminates” bacteria, viruses, smoke, pollutants, pollen, dust, pet dander, odor, and formaldehyde from the air. The company claims it can purify a 400-square-foot room in 20 minutes.
It has an air inlet on the back and an air outlet on top. First, air flows into a pre-filter screen that collects things like hair and pet dander. As the air flows up, emitter wires zap dangerous particulates, then an ionic field created by a wire frame destroys them. Airdog says this system can kill 99.87 percent of influenza virus particles in the air in one hour. From there, charged particles stick to collecting plates that you can take out to wash when needed. Finally, the air passes through a composite catalyst filter that removes ozone.
Airdog says its system can filter particles as small as 14.6 nanometres (nm) in diameter. To put that in perspective, the coronavirus is about 60 to 140 nm in diameter. That said, as The New York Times recently reported, a NASA study found that HEPA filters can capture almost 100 percent of particles as small as 10nm.
The primary concern about ionic air purifiers is their production of ozone, a lung irritant that can exacerbate asthma symptoms and cause a host of other health issues. The X5, however, features a catalytic later that limits ozone emissions to just 0.01 parts per million over a 24-hour period. It’s EPA-compliant and California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified, so it’s considered safe to use in your home for extended periods of time.
The X5 has four wind speeds: low, medium, high, and turbo. In Auto mode, it automatically adjusts its running speed according to the air quality level. In the user manual, Airdog says this is the most energy-efficient mode, and recommends keeping it on Auto most of the time.
At night, you can enable Sleep mode, which turns off the display lights and sets the air purifier to run on low, the quietest setting. On low, you can barely hear it. On turbo, it runs at 63dBA, or a little louder than a normal conversation, according to OSHA.
There’s also a Child Lock feature that prevents kids from being able to turn it off with the power button on the unit. When Child Lock is enabled, you can only control the X5 from the app or with the remote.
Airdog X5 Price, Design, and Setup
For this review, Airdog sent me the X5 with Wi-Fi and metal collecting plates. That model is temporarily out of stock, but the company tells me it will be available again in August for $599. In the meantime, Airdog is currently selling a version of the X5 that comes with fast-drying collecting plates, but that doesn’t feature Wi-Fi, for $599. The fast-drying collecting plates are usually sold separately for $199 (more on them in the Maintenance section). When the X5 with Wi-Fi comes back in stock in August, the company plans to lower the price of the model without Wi-Fi.
The Airdog X5 stands 25.5 inches tall and its base measures 11.75 inches across. It’s bulkier and less eye-catching than the Dyson Pure Cool Link Air Purifier. At 23.5 pounds it’s fairly heavy, but it has handles on the sides that make it easy to carry around from room to room. Since it blows air from the top, it doesn’t really double as a fan like Dyson’s multi-purpose air purifiers, unless you’re standing directly over it.
On top, it has a power button, a Wi-Fi light, and small indicator lights for Auto mode, Child Lock, Sleep mode, and fan speed (more on these features in a bit). A quick press of the power button turns the unit on, and a long press (more than three seconds) turns it off. When the power is on, each short press cycles through the different modes and speeds.
On the front, there’s a screen that shows your current Air Quality Index (AQI) rating, which ranges from zero to 500. The AQI is based on the number of microscopic particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (also known as PM2.5) its sensor detects in the air. Below the screen is an indicator light that lets you quickly see your current air quality. Green is excellent (an AQI of 50 or less), yellowish-green is good (51 to 100), yellow is moderately polluted (101 to 150), and red is hazardous (greater than 150).
In the box, you get the main air purifier, collecting plates, a remote, and a cleaning brush. Setting up the X5 and connecting it to the Airdog app (available for Android and iOS) couldn’t be easier. First, you take the collecting plates out of the box and brush off any styrofoam packaging remnants. Then, use the pull handle to open the back door and insert the collecting plates, close the back door, place the air purifier where you want it (Airdog recommends an open location), and plug it in.
To control the X5 and monitor your air quality from your phone, you need to download the Airdog app and use your email address to set up an account. Strangely, the password field doesn’t support special characters, only letters and numbers. And if you enter the wrong password when signing in, the app says “incorrect password,” which is less secure than saying “incorrect username or password.” These are two minor privacy strikes against the Airdog app.
From there, you simply press Add Device, select the X5 from the list, and enter your Wi-Fi password. You then press the Wi-Fi button on the remote, make sure the blue Wi-Fi indicator light on the air purifier is blinking quickly, press Configure in the app, and you’re good to go.
When connected, the app shows your current AQI rating. It also shows a graph of your air quality over the last 15 days. The app is simple and easy to use. With it, you can turn the unit on and off, adjust the wind speed, turn on Sleep or Auto mode, and enable the Child Lock.
Airdog X5 Performance
My biggest gripe with the X5 is the smell it emits. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s is a noticeable, vaguely plastic odor. I regularly use the Dyson Pure Cool Link and Pure Humidify+Cool, which give off no smell whatsoever, so the fact that the X5 does is a bit off-putting.
I set up the X5 in my dining room, across from the Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool in my living room (I have an open concept floor plan). Interestingly, when I first turned it on, the X5 said my air quality was excellent, but the Pure Humidify+Cool said it was very poor. I poked around in the Dyson Link app to investigate the disparity, and the Pure Humidify+Cool was indeed sensing low levels of PM2.5, but high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), potentially harmful gases that are released into the air through combustion such as burning gas when cooking or vehicle exhaust emissions.
The Pure Humidify+Cool costs $200 more, but it gives you a much more comprehensive view of your air quality, with the ability to measure levels of gas pollutants like NO2 and VOC (volatile organic compounds, or odors from things like cleaning products and paint that can be potentially harmful).
Another issue is that the AQI rating in the Airdog app doesn’t always mirror the number on the machine’s screen. When this happened in testing, I simply closed out of the app, then went back in and the AQI ratings matched.
For the most part, the X5’s Auto mode worked as expected. To test it, I turned the wind speed up to high, then enabled Auto mode. Even though the AQI rating was 8, or excellent, the machine didn’t automatically lower the wind speed. The good news is that this only happened once. I repeated this test several more times, and it always automatically adjusted as expected.
Airdog X5 Maintenance
Airdog recommends fully cleaning the air purifier every six to 12 months. This involves unplugging the machine, opening it up, and taking out various parts to wipe down or wash off, including the ionization wire frame, metal collecting plates, and rubber sleeve. You can use the included cleaning brush to scrub the collecting plates with soap and water, or just put them in the dishwasher. You then wipe down the inner walls of the air purifier, and wait more than 24 hours for everything to completely dry before putting it back together. The benefit of this laborious cleaning process is that you’ll save money on replacement filters.
When the collecting plates need washing, a “C” will appear on the unit’s display instead of the AQI numbers. Airdog sells fast-drying collecting plates that are 30 percent lighter than the standard metal ones, are easier to clean, and cut the drying time down to just 20 minutes. That added convenience costs an extra $199, which isn’t insignificant considering the X5 alone already costs $600.
The X5’s metal collecting plates
Over time, the composite catalyst filter will start to build up moisture and get coated in dust. In the short term, you can refresh it by placing it in the sunlight for an hour or two. You’ll want to swap it out for a new one every six to 24 months, or whenever you notice it starts to smell bad. Replacement composite catalyst filters cost $49.
Comparisons and Conclusions
The $599 Airdog X5 features an ionic filtration system that eliminates harmful particles in the air as small as 14.6 nanometres (nm) in diameter, including the COVID-19. It features a screen on the front that shows your current Air Quality Index (AQI) rating, and an indicator light lets you quickly see the pollution level. It’s quiet, easy to use, and connects to Wi-Fi so you can control it and monitor your air quality from your phone. Since its collecting plates are washable and reusable, the X5 can potentially save you money in the long run—its biggest advantage compared with a traditional HEPA air purifier.
Left to right: Airdog X5, Dyson Pure Cool Link Air Purifier
The X5 has been tested and certified to give off only trace amounts of ozone, but I find it emits a noticeable odor. In the high-end smart air purifier market, I prefer the Dyson Pure Cool Link. Though the cost of its replacement HEPA filters will add up over time, the Pure Cool Link initially costs $100 less, is odorless, emits zero ozone, has a more compact design, and doubles as a fan.
Meanwhile, if you live in a cold, dry climate, check out the Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool. At $799.99 it’s more of an investment, but it’s like having an air purifier, a fan, and a humidifier all in one, and in testing it detected harmful gases the X5 overlooked.