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Winix 5500-2 review

One of the best air purifiers on the market, manufactured in South Korea
By
Updated on January 6, 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 original air purifier manufacturers and has been 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 ft, 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.
    purpleair
  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.
    sound meter

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 it’s a question we see a lot. 

As always, we 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. We tested this device a number of times as we didn’t expect it to clean the PM1 pollutants as quickly as it did.”
— Danny Ashton, HouseFresh Founder & Senior Writer

What we really like

With PlasmaWave enabled, the 5500-2 cleaned our test room in 19 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 (21 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

The specifications

High specs for an air purifier that can be found for less than $160

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:– 18 minutes with PlasmaWave ionizer
– 22 minutes without PlasmaWave enabled
Air purifier technology:PlasmaWave, removable pre-filter, washable activated carbon filter and True HEPA filter
Recommended room size:360 sq. ft. (4.8 ACH)
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):– Smoke: 232 CFM- Dust:  243 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)
Noise level (low – high):Low speed: 27 dB
Medium speed: 47 dB
Top speed: 59.5 dB
Filter life:12 months
Manufacturer’s warranty;2 year
Estimated energy consumption:53.2 watts ($42.05) per year
Country of manufacture:South Korea

Timeless style that fits anywhere

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 and clean underwater. Winix recommends you do this every 3 months to remove particle build-up and keep the unit running smoothly.

This pre-filter is much better than the fitted pre-filters seen on the Levoit Core devices, which are part of the main filter, making cleaning it a lot trickier.

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), we are a little wary of manufacturers’ claims of HEPA.

One thing that helps us trust in the performance of the Winix 5500-2 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. Big claims that we were also pleased to see it has been tested by a third-party lab, so we are 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 19 minutes

We were pleased to see that the Winix 5500-2 was two full minutes quicker than the latest Levoit Vital 200S and also two minutes quicker than the Blueair Blue Pure 311+, which utilizes an ionizer that can’t be switched off.

For our test, I used a Purpleair Indoor Sensor with an additional BM680 gas filter, which allows us to track PM1, PM2.5, PM10 and VOC levels continually. 

I first filled our test room of 728 cubic feet with smoke from burning an incense stick and then switched on the Winix 5500-2 on 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 one full minute longer than the Levoit Vital 200S but is the same time as 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 who do have concerns can leave the ionizer function off. 

Air cleaning performance test results 

The Winix 5500-2 was 6 minutes quicker at removing PM1 particles than the $900 IQAir HealthPro Plus and one 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 59.5 dB, which is a little higher than the 56.7dB 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 46.9dB, which is likely to be a comfortable sound to sleep or work under. 

At its lowest speed, the 5500-2 hit only 27 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: $135.70 per year

1. Electricity costs = $55.71 per year

At the lowest fan speed, the Winix 5500-2 only pulled 6.2 watts per our energy meter and reached a maximum of 53.2 watts on its turbo speed with Plasmawave enabled.

Assuming energy prices of  $0.12/kWh, if you ran the 5500-2 continuously 24 hours per day for every day of the year, it would add $55.71 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 $37.84 to the final bill, but was much less than we see with power-hungry devices like the IQAir Healthpro Plus, which adds $165.04 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 , White
Colorfullife 116130 Replacement Filter H for Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier, HEPA Filter and Activated Carbon Filter Combo Pack, Replacement Part 116130
Technology
True HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
More information
Price
$43.99
$24.99
Genuine Winix 116130 Replacement Filter H for 5500-2 Air Purifier , White
Technology
True HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
More information
Price
$43.99
Colorfullife 116130 Replacement Filter H for Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier, HEPA Filter and Activated Carbon Filter Combo Pack, Replacement Part 116130
Technology
HEPA filter + Activated carbon filter
More information
Price
$24.99

Bottom line

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

It comes with an ionizer via its Plasmawave technology that helps deal with odors and gasses. But even without using this function, it still has great air cleaning performance as it removed all PM1 in 22 minutes with no ionizer.

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

I much prefer the removable pre-filter than what you see with the Levoit Core series like the Core 400S and 600S. 

Turbo speed does run more sound than I would like, but it aligns with many modern air purifiers with similar air cleaning performance. 

You don’t get any app support but do get an auto-mode. Just remember to keep the area clean of any dust that might get caught on the sensor. 

For the price, the Winix 5500-2 is one of the top air purifiers available right now when it comes to performance, long-term cost and sound generated. I just hope that a future model brings 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 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 25th, 2023

At HouseFresh, we have been reviewing air quality products since 2010. In all these years, we learned not to rely on manufacturers’ claims and the ever-so-glowing marketing materials. That is why we buy products with our own money, so we can write unbiased reviews after we’ve had enough time to evaluate air quality products in our home lab. Every unit we recommend has been thoroughly tested to assess its performance, energy consumption, and noise levels emitted in real-life environments. If you have any questions about our testing process for different types of air quality products, just drop us an email at hello@housefresh.com.

Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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.