Winix 5500-2 review

This is by far one of the best air purifiers on the market, manufactured in South Korea.
By
Updated on June 7, 2024
Written by
Danny Ashton
Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.

Our verdict

This Korean-made air purifier builds upon the success of the older 5300-2 to bring big improvements to its performance and carbon filter. 

 

For those looking to keep a room up to 360 square feet clean, this should be one of the top devices for consideration. Even without the use of Plasmawave, it was still able to quickly clean our test room. 

 

There is also a ton of generic filters available that bring filter costs down to $15 per year and even with its high air cleaning performance, it won’t cost more than $60 a year in electricity.

 

The Winix 5500-2 is the upgraded version of their super popular Winix 5300-2 that we reviewed in 2021. It’s a device that has a lot of fans online, starting with the team from NYtimes Wirecutter all the way to the Redditors over at r/AirPurifiers.

Winix is one of the OG air purifier manufacturers, producing air quality devices since 1973. They are a South Korean company known for creating budget-friendly products that still perform effectively. It’s worth also mentioning that all Winix devices are made in Korea rather than China (the usual manufacturing country of most air purifier brands).

Another highlight of Winix is that they send all their devices for independent testing with AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) Verifide, which means that a third party has confirmed the unit’s CADR results. 

All Winix devices use a bi-polar ionization technology called PlasmaWave, but you can switch it off and still use the air purifier without this ionizer function. Hooray. 

We bought the 5500-2 with our own money, and, as always, we have no relationship with Winix. We only want to share how well it performed in our set of tests, including its air cleaning performance, long-term costs, energy usage and sound generation.

  1. In our home lab of 728 cubic feet, we light an incense stick to generate particle pollution and VOCs.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. We track sound levels emitted by the air purifier at different fan speeds with the help of a commercial sound meter.

Read more about our testing process, and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

I am keen to see what improvements Winix has brought from the older 5300-2 and to test its performance with the PlasmaWave enabled and without, as I see this question frequently. 

As always, I will share all our results and data with you in this review.

The lowdown on the Winix 5500-2

“I am pleased to see that Winix made some major improvements with the 5500-2, including a new type of activated carbon filter and a remote, so you can adjust without using the buttons on the device.
I ended up testing this device a few times as I didn’t expect it to clean the PM1 pollutants as quickly as it did.”
— Danny Ashton, HouseFresh Founder & Lead Tester

What we really like

With PlasmaWave enabled, the 5500-2 cleaned our test room in 20 minutes — without the ionizer, it still managed to clean the air in 22 minutes
A great price-to-CADR ratio, with 1 CADR cfm costing 74 cents!
Improved activated carbon filter that uses pelleted carbon instead of the impregnated fabric we saw in the older Winix 5300-2 
Affordable filter replacements, with genuine filters available for $50 and generic filters for $15 per year 
It comes with an auto-mode and timers, so you don’t have to continually adjust the settings — you also get a remote control for adjusting the settings from afar
AHAM Verifide, so it has been tested by a third party to confirm CADR scores and has an EnergyStar rating

What we think could be better

The Levoit Vital 200S is still quicker at cleaning our room without the use of an ionizer (18 minutes)
No memory setting, so if you lose power, you lose your current settings — including the PlasmaWave function, which could generate ozone without you knowing if you don’t switch it off

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):20 minutes (with PlasmaWave)
22 minutes (without PlasmaWave)
Air purifier technology:PlasmaWave, removable pre-filter, washable activated carbon filter and True HEPA filter
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):360 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Dust:  243 CFM
Smoke: 232 CFM
Pollen: 246 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / cm):15W x 8.2D x 23.6H inches (38W x 21D x 60H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):14.8 lbs (6.7kg)
Filter life:12 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 38.8 dB
Speed 2: 42.5 dB 
Speed 3: 47.5 dB
Speed 4: 58.9 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 0.34 watts
Speed 1: 6.5 watts
Speed 2: 9.11 watts
Speed 3: 14.80 watts
Speed 4: 53.46 watts
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$161.53 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$0.66
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 year
Country of manufacture:South Korea

Timeless style that fits anywhere

The twin brother of the 5300-2 for those who prefer black over grey.

While the older 5300-2 is gray, the 5500-2 is black. I prefer this color as it doesn’t stand out as much, but then again I have a black phone, black car and black laptop — so I must really like black.

But apart from the color, the 5500-2 looks very similar to its predecessor and has the same product dimensions and floor space requirements.

Like the 5300-2, the 5500-2 keeps the useful removable pre-filter, which makes it super easy to remove to clean as you can quickly vacuum it or rinse it under the tap. Winix recommends you do this every three months to remove particle build-up and keep the unit running smoothly. Data from CleanAirStars has shown that HEPA particle removal efficiency can drop up to 40% when you fail to keep the pre-filter clean.

Another thing worth mentioning about the pre-filter in the 5500-2 is that it is much better than the fitted pre-filters seen on the Levoit Core devices, which are part of the main filter.

The control panel is similar to the 5300-2 with a button for auto mode and sleep mode, a button to switch on PlasmaWave, a button to cycle through the 4 fan speeds and a timer button to set 1 hour, 4 hours or 8 hours running time.

One annoying thing about the older unit was that when you lost power, it would default back to using the PlasmaWave even if you had switched it off before. Sadly, the 5500-2 still has this issue, so you must adjust the settings again whenever you lose power. We have seen that Alen has managed to build in a setting memory, so it would be great to see this in place for future Winix devices.

One benefit over the Winix 5300-2 is that the Winix 5500-2 comes with remote control, so you have that as an option:

Be aware if you have small children that the batteries used in these remotes can be deadly if ingested.

3-stage air cleaning filter system

Following the big issue of Levoit removing HEPA from their marketing after Dyson complained to the BBB National Programs National Advertising Division (NAD), I am definitely wary of manufacturers’ claims of HEPA.

One reason to trust the Winix 5500-2’s performance is that it’s been independently tested by AHAM as part of their Verifide process.

Winix states that their True HEPA filter can remove 99.99% of particles of 0.3 microns. This is a big claim, but Winix brought receipts: their True HEPA filter has been tested by a third-party lab, so I am not worried that they are not using the filters they say.

One of my biggest issues with the older Winix was the material they used for the activated carbon filter. Winix chose to use impregnated carbon fabric, which is much cheaper and fine for light-duty issues with odors and gasses. However, ASHRAE recommends that granular media filters are better for medium-duty issues, which most homeowners will face.

I am glad to report that the 5500-2 has removed the impregnated media-infused carbon filter in favor of the granular type with activated carbon pellets.

I asked Teddy to take a close-up shot of the filter so you can clearly see the activated carbon pellets:

Tip

Winix states that you can clean these new activated carbon filters every three months by running them under water and then making sure to let them dry completely before putting them back into the device.

You can see the difference between the carbon filters in the Winix 5300-2 compared to that of the Winix 5500-2 in the image below:

As with many air purifiers, the filters for the Winix 5500-2 come inside plastic packaging that must be removed before use. If you don’t remove the plastic bags, the air purifier will move dirty air around your room without cleaning it, potentially worsening allergies.

Removing filters for the Winix 5500-2 is super easy once you have removed the pre-filter from the tabs. Be sure to always put the activated carbon filter in first and then the True HEPA filter.

The Winix 5500-2 cleaned our test room in 20 minutes

The Winix 5500-2 was two minutes faster than the Levoit Core 400S and three minutes quicker than the popular Coway Airmega AP-1512hh.

For our test, I used the PurpleAir Indoor and Zen sensors with an additional BM680 gas filter, which allows us to track PM1, PM2.5, PM10 and VOC levels continually. 

I first filled our 728-square-foot test room with smoke from burning an incense stick and then switched on the Winix 5500-2 in its highest mode with PlasmaWave enabled.

One of the main questions we see online is how well the Winix 5500-2 can clean the air without using the PlasmaWave ionizer function.

We decided to test this ourselves and were pleased with the results as it was still able to clean our test room of PM1 particles in 22 minutes without the PlasmaWave, which is three minutes faster than Wirecutter’s top recommended air purifier: the Coway AP-15122hh Mighty (with its ionizer enabled).

It’s worth stating that the Winix 5500-2 is CARB certified, and its EnergyStar rating shows 0.0ppb of ozone created. Hence, the risk of ozone with this type of ionizer is very small, and it could help with odors beyond using the activated carbon filters alone, especially if used in a space with smoke.

But we are glad that Winix keeps this feature as an option so those concerned about ozone can leave the ionizer function off. 

Air cleaning performance test results 

The Winix 5500-2 was four minutes quicker at removing PM1 particles than the $900 IQAir HealthPro Plus and two minute slower than the larger ionizer-powered Blueair Blue Pure 211+.

Considering the low price of this air purifier, its air cleaning performance is super impressive, especially considering it uses a higher grade of activated carbon.  

Noise level test results 

The last test is to see how much sound is generated when using the purifier, especially at its highest and lowest fan speeds. 

The quieter an air purifier, the more likely you will use it, which will mean cleaner air in your home. 

At its highest speed, we found that the Winix 5500-2 hit 58.9 dB, which is a little higher than the 57.7 dB we saw with the Vital 200S but still not so high as to be uncomfortable. 

At the second highest speed, we were pleased to see it only hit 42.5 dB, which is likely to be a comfortable sound to sleep or work under. 

At its lowest speed, the 5500-2 hit only 38.8 dB.

We know the sound is highly subjective, so be sure to listen to the sound test we produced after testing the Winix 5500-2:

The cost to run a Winix 5500-2: $161.53 per year

1. Electricity costs = $81.54 per year

At the lowest fan speed, the Winix 5500-2 only pulled 6.5 watts per our energy meter and reached a maximum of 53.46 watts on its turbo speed with Plasmawave enabled.

Assuming energy prices of $0.174/kWh, if you ran the 5500-2 continuously 24 hours per day for every day of the year, it would add $81.54 to your annual electricity bill. Most people will find that they will use the unit for less time than in our scenario, but others with issues with allergies might need to keep it running continuously.

The overall energy use was higher than what we saw with the Levoit Vital 200S, which added $67.95 to the final bill but was much less than we see with power-hungry devices like the IQAir HealthPro Plus, which adds $221.47 to your bill each year. 

2. Filter costs = $79.99 per year

The genuine True HEPA and activated charcoal filters will need replacing every 12 months and have an RRP of $79.99 but are regularly available for close to $50 with sales and discounts. When I wrote this review, you could buy filters from Winix for $49.99 and Amazon for $43.99.

There are plenty of generic filters that bring the price down even more, with a year’s worth of filters costing close to $15 per year if you buy in a pack of four or $19 for a pack of two.

Genuine Winix 116130 Replacement Filter H for 5500-2 Air Purifier , 16.25"L x 12.5"W x 1.5"Th, White
Colorfullife 2 Sets 116130 Replacement Filter H for Winix 5500-2 AM80 Plasmawave Air Purifier, 2 True HEPA Filter and 2 Activated Carbon Filter Combo Pack, Replacement Part 116130
Technology
True HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
More information
Price
$40.00
$31.99
Genuine Winix 116130 Replacement Filter H for 5500-2 Air Purifier , 16.25"L x 12.5"W x 1.5"Th, White
Technology
True HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
More information
Price
$40.00
Colorfullife 2 Sets 116130 Replacement Filter H for Winix 5500-2 AM80 Plasmawave Air Purifier, 2 True HEPA Filter and 2 Activated Carbon Filter Combo Pack, Replacement Part 116130
Technology
HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
More information
Price
$31.99

Bottom line

The Winix 5500-2 has impressed me with its improved performance and use of pelleted activated carbon instead of fabric. 

The 5500-2 comes with an ionizer via its PlasmaWave technology that helps deal with odors and gases. However, it still offers great air cleaning performance even without using this function, as it removed all PM1 in our test in under 23 minutes without PlasmaWave enabled.

Filter prices are fair, considering the use of activated carbon pellets. Due to the device’s popularity, there is a ton of choice for generic filters if you want to save more money long-term. 

I much prefer the 5500-2’s removable pre-filter, which makes it a lot easier to clean and vacuum compared to Levoit Core devices like the 400S and the 600S, which have the pre-filter integrated into the main filter. 

When running on turbo speed, the 5500-2 is noisier than I would like, but the sound levels generated are no louder than those of other modern air purifiers with similar air cleaning performance. 

With this unit, you don’t get any app support, but you do get auto-mode. Just remember to keep the sensor clean of dust to ensure it works effectively. 

For the price, the Winix 5500-2 is one of the top air purifiers available right now. It offers excellent air cleaning performance, relatively low long-term costs and minimal noise generated. I just hope that a future model includes settings memory so those of us who don’t want to use the ionizer won’t have to worry it will switch back on when there is a power cut.

SOURCES

We calculated yearly costs associated with running the Winix 5500-2 for 24 hours a day, 365 days per year utilizing the latest average energy prices as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of $0.174/kWh as of April 2024.

Last update on 2024-06-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About the author

Danny Ashton

Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.

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