Smart Air is a social enterprise and certified B-Corp that puts 100% of its profits into helping more people breathe clean air.
Normally, we only like to review air purifiers that we bought with our own money to avoid biases, but Smart Air reached out to ask if we would like to borrow their latest SA600 to test and then send it back.
When manufacturers ask us to review their products, I make it clear that we will be open and honest with our readers. That means that if it sucks, we will share this with the world — sorry, Molekule. Most companies ghost me when I say this, but Smart Air was happy to let us say exactly what we think.
The SA600 is the latest air purifier from Smart Air, offering more power than the Smart Air S (a.k.a. Sqair in the UK and other markets), although for a slightly higher price at just under $280. It provides 287 CFM (dust), which works out as 97 cents per CADR point. This is just a little higher than the Blue Pure 211+ (91 cents) and is a better value than the Blueair 311+ ($1). Considering both these devices use ionizers to improve their CADR, on paper, the Smart Air SA600 looks like great value.
To find out for sure, I have tested the SA600 in our home lab to see how it performs in the real world.
- In our home lab of 728 cubic ft, we light an incense stick to generate particle pollution and VOCs.
- We set up our trusted Purpleair Indoor Sensor with the latest Bosch gas sensor to track levels of PM1ug/m3, PM2.5ug/m3 and PM10ug/m3 and VOCs in the air.
- We switch the air purifier to its highest speed and measure how long it takes to get our room air quality down to PM1 level to 0.
- We use an energy meter to measure precisely how much electricity is used when running the unit at the lowest and highest fan speed settings.
- We track sound levels emitted by the air purifier at different fan speeds with the help of a commercial sound meter.
The lowdown on the Smart Air SA600
What we really like
What we think could be better
For $280, you get a unique unit that utilizes four filters for rooms up to 450 sq. ft.
|Time to clean our test room:
|Air purifier technology:
|H13 TrueHEPA and activated charcoal filter
|Recommended room size:
|450 sq. ft. (4.8 ACH)
|Clean air delivery rate (CADR):
|– Smoke: 265 CFM
– Dust: 287 CFM
– Pollen: 299 CFM
|Dimensions (in inches / cm):
|20 x 13.8 x 9 inches (51 x 35 x 23 cm)
|Weight (in pounds / in kg):
|15.5 lbs (7 kg)
|Noise level (low – high):
|23 — 52dB
|Estimated energy consumption:
|40 watts ($42.05)
|Country of manufacture:
Modern simple design
A never-seen-before design that uses two filters on each side of the unit to capture pollutants from both sides of the room.
Unlike most air purifiers, the SA600 uses four filters. That means you get one HEPA filter and one activated carbon filter on the left side of the unit, and then another HEPA + activated carbon combo on the right side. This means that this air purifier pulls air from both sides of the unit and that you won’t have to change the filters as often.
This is a unique design that we have not seen before, so I was so excited to open this air purifier up to see what’s behind each of the covers.
In addition to the HEPA and activated carbon filters, the SA600 also comes with a removable pre-filter on each side:
This makes life a lot easier as you can quickly remove the pre-filters to clean them when necessary — hassle-free compared to units that have a fixed pre-filter, which involves having to awkwardly use a vacuum cleaner to remove any lint and large dust particles.
The control panel is also hassle-free: You get just four buttons: one to cycle between the three fan speeds, a lock to prevent the settings from being changed, a filter replacement indicator, and a power on/off button.
Like other Smart Air air purifiers, the SA600 doesn’t offer an automatic mode or access to a smartphone app to control the unit from afar. That being said, the SA600 comes with a unique feature: the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, which turns off all control lights to save energy and kicks in if you don’t touch the buttons for three minutes.
Although fairly commonplace in today’s appliances, the child lock and the filter reset light make this the smartest model from Smart Air. I appreciate them making these two features available in the SA600, along with the Do Not Disturb mode. These are quality-of-life features that won’t necessarily impact the air cleaning performance of the air purifier as much as the four filters will, but that users will appreciate in their daily lives.
When it comes to its floor footprint, the SA600 is similar in size to the Levoit Vital 200S with both air purifiers being light and easy to handle. However, I prefer the design and the aesthetic of the SA600 as it is more compact and has a sleeker front panel.
But check out both units side by side for yourself so you can decide which one you prefer:
Two HEPA H13 filters and two activated carbon filters
A unique air filtration combo that supercharges the air cleaning performance of the SA600.
In August, Dyson made a complaint to the BBB National Programs National Advertising Division (NAD) about Levoit’s use of ‘HEPA’ in their marketing. The complaint forced Levoit to refrain from saying their main filtration was powered by HEPA 13 filters because it wasn’t true.
With that in mind, we were glad to see that the HEPA filters for the SA600 have been third-party lab tested as per AHAM AC-1-2002, so we can be confident they are genuine H13 HEPA Filters
I was also happy to see pelleted charcoal in the activated carbon filters because it is a lot more effective than impregnated fabric used in other units such as the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty.
The best thing is that the SA600 comes with two of these pelleted activated carbon filters, meaning that you will have A LOT more carbon to absorb gasses and VOCs than the average air purifier.
As with other Smart Air air purifiers, the fan of the SA600 is a powerful little beast, which helped this unit clear the air from incense smoke in our test room in just over 30 minutes.
Remember that filters will come in plastic bags, so be sure to remove them before turning on your SA600. Otherwise, the air purifier won’t be able to clean the air and is likely to generate unwanted smells.
It was great to see that Smart Air used clear stickers to clarify that bags must be removed before switching the device on:
When you change the filter in your Smart Air SA600, you’ll find that the process is simple. Here is a video taking you step by step:
- The filter reset indicator will flash continuously when your filter needs replacing
- Pull out the front cover, then lift out the pre-filter, HEPA and activated carbon filter
- Remove your new HEPA filter from its bag
- Insert your new HEPA and activated carbon filter, making sure the arrow on the filter is in the correct direction outwards
- After inserting the front cover back into your purifier, hold the filter replacement indicator for 4s. This resets the filter replacement indicator and makes it stop flashing.
The SA600 cleared our test room in 33 minutes
Real-world air cleaning performance that matches the lab-reported CADR scores.
The real-world performance matched up to the lab-reported CADR scores, and this was great to see, considering that this air purifier uses two activated carbon filters that would reduce the airflow for particle removal.
Our test uses a Purpleair Indoor Sensor with the optional BM680 gas filter, which allows us to track PM1, PM2.5, PM10 and VOC levels continually.
We first filled our test room of 728 cubic feet with the smoke from burning an incense stick, and then we switched on the SA600 at its highest fan speed.
The Smart Air SA600 cleared our test room of PM1 particles in 33 minutes
Air cleaning performance test results
Considering that this device uses two sets of HEPA and carbon filters, we were impressed with how it removed particles measuring 1 micron. Based on its CADR, this device could change the air 4.8 times in an hour in a room as large as 450 sq ft.
Noise levels test results
Our final test involved seeing how much noise the Smart Air SA600 made at its highest and lowest fan speed.
This is one of the quietest air purifiers we have tested, outside of much smaller units that don’t have the level of air cleaning performance of the SA600.
This air purifier runs impressively quiet even at its top fan speed, hitting just 52dB (equivalent to a fridge running in the background). This is a lot quieter than similar performing devices from other brands.
At its lowest speed, the SA600 only hits 23dB, which is pretty much silent to most ears.
The reason we track noise levels is that a quieter air purifier is more likely to be used, especially in locations that need concentration, like a home office or a school.
We made sure to get a video of the SA600 running at each fan speed so you can listen for yourself, as we know that sound can be subjective:
The cost to run a Smart Air SA600: $92.83 per year
Our analysis shows that the SA600 is cost-effective in the long term.
1. Electricity costs = $37.84 per year
Our energy meter showed that when running at its maximum fan speed, the Smart Air SA600 pulled 40 watts. This will add $42.50 to your electricity bill if you run it for 24 hours per day for an entire year, so it is a very fair price to pay for keeping the air clean in a medium-sized room.
Smart Air uses a very efficient fan with its SA600 to pull in a lot of air without requiring much electricity. I’m glad there seems to be a trend this year of the latest air purifier models becoming a lot more energy efficient as electricity costs continue to rise.
2. Filter costs = $54.99 per year
The four filters for the SA600 mean that replacing filters is a little costly, but the good news is that these filters will last much longer. Smart Air recommends that you change these filters every 2 years.
You buy filters in packs of two, with the genuine H13 HEPA costing $58.99 and the activated carbon filters costing $49.99. This brings the total cost of filters every two years to $108.90, which brings the yearly cost to $54.49.
This figure aligns with the cost of budget brands like Levoit and Honeywell, where you will find yourself replacing filters every six to eight months.
As the SA600 is a new unit, there are currently no generic filters available, but considering how fair the costs are for the genuine filters, this isn’t a major issue. The big benefit of the Smart Air filters is that they have been third-party lab tested, so you can be confident that they are HEPA H13.
The Smart Air SA600 is a great choice for those worried about particles and odors, wanting to clean the air in a medium-sized room.
The SA600 has no ionizer function, Bluetooth or WIFI, so it is the perfect choice for those looking for an air purifier that will thoroughly clean pollutants from the air without chemical by-products or costly extras.
I know I keep banging on about this but I’m impressed with the use of four filters. This design is unique and allows the SA600 to use more activated carbon than the average purifier, becoming a fantastic choice for those wanting to erradicate unwanted odors and VOCs.
The SA600 creates 52dB at its highest fan speed, which is a little lower than similar-sized competing units, we were also very impressed with the 23 dB and 39dB you find with the low and medium fan speeds. Using this device continuously at its medium fan speed would be a great way to keep the air clean without any excessive noise at all.
The only issue with recommending this device over other similarly powered devices is its price, as it’s nearly $100 more than the Levoit Vital 200S. Still, the Smart Air SA600 is 2dB quieter on its highest fan speed, and you get the confidence that this uses real HEPA H13 and that any profits will go to helping more people rather than just going to the shareholders of a corporation.
If you have a space smaller than 300 sq. ft. but you like what Smart Air has to offer, then you should look into the Smart Air S instead, as it is more affordable and can handle small spaces well. And if you have a space larger than 450 sq. ft., then I suggest you check out the Smart Air Blast Mini, as the SA600 will be too underpowered for a large room.
We calculated the monthly energy consumption costs with the help of the Department of Energy’s appliance energy calculator. We calculated yearly costs associated with running Smart Air SA600 for 24hs a day for 365 days. We chose to run this calculation utilizing the US average utility rate, which is $0.12/kWh as of November 16th, 2023
Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API