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Winix A231(A230) review

The A231 has higher air cleaning performance than the Levoit Core 300 at a lower cost and with an auto-mode
By
Published on January 29, 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

A creation from South Korean company Winix, this small air purifier cleaned the air in our test room quicker than other small air purifiers we have tested — including the popular Levoit Core 300.

 

The A230/231 comes with an onboard air quality sensor, allowing its auto-mode to kick in when it detects pollutants in the air. It also features Winix’s own PlasmaWave ionizer technology, which allows you to get more air cleaning performance when needed.

 

Long-term costs are some of the cheapest of any other small air purifiers we have tested.

Winix is a South Korean company that has been producing air quality devices since 1973. We have previously tested and reviewed the Winix 5300-2 and 5500-2 with good results, so we know Winix knows how to produce air purifiers with excellent performance at affordable prices.

The Winix A230 comes in all black, and the A231 — the device we are reviewing — is white and grey. Other than the color, the Winix A230 and A231 have all the same features and functions.

The Winix A231 is aimed at those with smaller spaces of up to 230 square feet and is a much smaller device than the 5300-2/5500-2.

All Winix devices are sent for independent CADR testing as part of AHAM/ANSI AC-1-2002, to see how well the device can remove dust, smoke and pollen. After years of testing air purifiers, I recommend you to always choose a device with an AHAM CADR lab result, as this will help you get an adequately powered air purifier to keep your room clean.

All Winix devices use PlasmaWave, a bi-polar ionization technology that can improve particle removal performance beyond HEPA filtration alone. One big thing I like about Winix is that their Plasmawave technology is optional and easily switched off. I wish more air purifiers with an ionizer would offer this.

As with all the reviews we perform here at HouseFresh, we bought the Winix A231 with our own money and have no relationship with Winix. We aim to share the results of our hands-on testing, including a performance test, sound levels, long-term costs and energy usage.

I am excited to see if Winix can bring its high level of cleaning performance for an air purifier that can be found regularly for less than $99.

The lowdown on the Winix A231

“An impressive small air purifier that does a good job considering its low cost.

While I would still recommend that most people choose a bigger air purifier, for those needing a smaller device, this is at the top of my list of recommendations.”
— Danny Ashton, HouseFresh Founder & Senior Writer

Some people just want to know the key findings without reading the entire review, so I distilled the review down to the seven most important things to be aware of with the Winix A231/A230.

What we really like

It was four (4!) minutes quicker at cleaning our test room of PM1 particles than the Levoit Core 300.
Small design that doesn’t take up too much space.
Auto-mode means it can add value in cases where there are occasional issues with air quality, like a kitchen.
Fair pricing from Winix for genuine filters, some of the cheapest on the market.
Generic filters bring filter costs down to $15 per year.

What we think could be better

No settings memory, so if the device loses power, it will go to default.
It is a small air purifier, so it will struggle in larger spaces.

The specifications

When writing this review, the Winix A231 was $81.22, and the all-black A230 was $78.99 – this is even cheaper than the popular Levoit Core 300, and the Winix device has a better Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). 

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our test room:36 minutes
Air purifier technology:Fine mesh pre-filter, True HEPA filter, activated carbon filter, PlasmaWave technology
Recommended room size:Up to 230 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):– Dust: 149 CFM- Pollen: 154 CFM- Smoke: 147 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):9.5D x 9.5W x 14.6H inches (24.13D x 24.13W x 37H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):7.1 lbs (3.2 kg)
Filter life:12 months
Noise level (low – high):25 – 55 dB
Estimated energy consumption:49 watts
Warranty:2 years
Country of manufacture:South Korea

A small air purifier that takes little space

The Winix A230/231 is light, bright and easy to the eye

This small device takes up very little space in the home and could easily be used in smaller rooms like a bedroom or office. It’s a good-looking device with a flared design that makes it stand out from the standard white cylindrical designs of other manufacturers. 

In terms of size and weight, the Winix A231 is similar to the Levoit Core 300 — small and easy to move around. But similar ≠ the same: the A231 comes with a flared design that makes it a little shorter than the Core 300. That being said, both units have a similar floor footprint.

The control panel of the device sits at the top. It is a touchscreen surrounded by the air quality indicator: a circular light that changes color depending on the current air quality (red = poor, amber = fair and blue = good).

In terms of buttons, you will see that there is a filter alert at the top (to let you know when it’s time to change the filter) and then three buttons for enabling auto mode, sleep mode and switching PlasmaWave on and off. There are also two arrows to switch through the three fan speeds available (low, medium and high). Finally, you have a power button at the bottom of the screen.

One minor issue I found with the control panel of the Winix A231 is that the arrow buttons don’t light up, so it can be tricky to see them in the night or when using this unit in darker spaces.

This air purifier comes with an on-board air quality sensor, which powers the AQI light indicators and the possibility of running the unit on automatic. The sensor sits at the back of the device and you should always make sure that it is not blocked by anything.

While this device comes with an auto-mode, it doesn’t come with a smartphone app or smart speaker connectivity. This limits your ability to operate your A231 remotely. Not everyone cares about this but I always like to clarify for those who do.

HEPA and activated charcoal with integrated pre-filter

The A230/231 offers great CADR for less than $80!

With the recent fiasco of Levoit falsely claiming their filters were HEPA-certified, we are paying close attention to other air purifier brands who might be overselling their features.

It’s reassuring that all Winix devices are third-party tested by Aham Verifide. These tests pit purifiers against the most common air pollutants, and we can see below the impressive results backing up Winix’s performance claims for the A231.  

Winix uses HEPA H13 for their Winix A231/230. These filters are considered medical-grade, which means they can remove 99.99% of particles as small as 0.3 microns — the equivalent of ultra-fine pet dander, dust mites and bacteria particles. 

The Winix A231 also uses activated carbon, but it’s the same impregnated fabric we saw we testing the 5300-2 rather than the pelleted carbon we saw in the latest 5500-2. As this is a small air purifier, the amount of carbon will still be tiny, so it’s unlikely to make much of a difference in daily usage against gasses and odors.

Tip

If you have a severe issue with VOCs or odors, you should look at specialist air purifiers that utilize high quantities of activated carbon.

Like the Levoit Core 300, you can remove the filter from the bottom of the device by twisting it in the direction of the arrows.

One benefit of the A230/231 over the Levoit Core 300 is that it’s much harder to remove the base by accident when the device is standing on the floor. This is an issue that my wife uncovered: sometimes when cleaning the floors, she will pick up the Core 300 and the filter falls out because the base of the device was unlocked. The Core 300’s base can easily unlock when moving the air purifier around the floor. With the Winix A231, the base stays on unless you intentionally twist it with your hands, so it is a much better design.

Tip

Most HEPA filters will arrive in a sealed plastic bag, so be sure to remove them before you start your device, or you will fail to remove any particles from the air.

The Winix A231 cleared our test room in 36 minutes

This small air purifier is four minutes quicker than the popular Levoit Core 300

For our performance test, we used the Purpleair Indoor Sensor with an additional BM680 gas filter that allows us to continually track the levels of PM1, PM2.5 PM10 and VOCs in our 728 cubic feet room.

  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

First, we performed the test at the highest speed with PlasmaWave enabled.

At top speed and with PlasmaWave enabled, the Winix A231 cleared all traces of pollutants from our home test lab in 36 minutes

We know that plenty of our readers don’t want to use any type of ionizer, so we are pleased that Winix keeps this optional. We decided to test how fast this device could clean without the use of the PlasmaWave function:

Without the PlasmaWave, the Winix A231 still managed to clean our test room of PM1 in 38 minutes, showing no significant drop in performance, taking just  2 minutes longer and still completing the test 2 minutes faster than the Levoit Core 300.

Considering the small size of this air purifier, we were impressed that it was faster at removing PM1 than the much pricier Austin Air HealthMate (37 minutes) and was much quicker than the Okaysou Airmax10L Pro (44 minutes.)  

The Winix A230/A231 is still only suitable for smaller rooms, but I was still very impressed by its air cleaning performance considering its low price.

Noise levels test results

The final test is to see how much sound is generated at each of the three fan speeds.

Air cleaning performance is essential, but if you don’t want to use the device due to the level of sound, then it won’t matter.

We recorded that the Winix A231 produced 58.9 dBA at the highest fan speed, similar to other Winix devices we reviewed. 58.9 dBA is not quiet enough to use during sleep or work, but it wasn’t excessively high compared to other air purifiers we tested.

At the second fan speed, noise levels peaked at 49 dBA. And at the lowest speed, sound levels went down to 25 dBA. This is very quiet, but we wouldn’t recommend using such a small device at its lowest speed as it just wouldn’t be able to clean enough air, even in a tiny space.

The cost to run a Winix A231: $95.19 per year

Low energy draw and affordable filters keep annual costs below 100 bucks. 

1. Electricity costs = $45.20 per year

It’s advisable to keep your air purifier running constantly to improve the number of air changes in your room. This means you must be aware of the energy costs because they can add up when running inefficient devices. 

Assuming that Winix A231 was on 24/7 every day of the year at its highest speed, it would add $45.20 to your electricity bill.

The Winix A231 energy usage aligns with other small air purifiers and is fair, considering how well it can clean the air. 

2. Filter costs = $49.99 per year

Winix states that you should change the filter every 12 months for the A231, but this will depend on how you use it and how bad the air is. Thankfully, it also includes an alert to tell you when to change the filter at the top of the device. 

Genuine filters are $20 cheaper than those from Levoit for similar-sized devices, so these filters are some of the best value on the market. 

If you want to keep costs even lower, you can also go for generic filters that bring the yearly filter costs down to just over $15 if you buy a 2-pack.

Sale
Winix O Filter, 1 Count (Pack of 1), Black
  • Compatible with Winix air cleaner models A230 and A231
  • Fine Mesh Pre-Filter: The first line of defense against the largest airborne particles found indoors
  • True HEPA Filter: Captures 99.97% of airborne allergens including pollen, mold spores, dust, pet dander, microbes, and smoke (particles as small as 0.3 microns in size)
  • Activated Carbon Filter: Reduces VOCs and household odors from cooking, pets, and smoke. It is designed to catch airborne particles found indoors
  • Genuine Winix one year replacement filter set. For optimal performance, it is recommended to change the All-in-one True HEPA Canister Filter once every 12 months.
Fette Filter – 2 Premium True Hepa H13 Replacement Filter Size O Compatible with Winix Air Purifier Model A230 A231 Compare to Part # 1712-0110-00, 1712011000
  • Optimized Air Filtration: This package includes 2 Premium True HEPA H13 Replacement Filters specifically designed for Winix Air Cleaner Model A230 and A231. Enjoy cleaner, healthier air in your home.
  • Perfect Compatibility: These filters are tailored to fit your air cleaner with precision. They compare to Filter Size O Part # 1712-0110-00 and 1712011000, ensuring a hassle-free replacement process.
  • High-Efficiency Filtration: The True HEPA H13 filter captures 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, such as dust, pollen, pet dander, and more. Experience improved air quality and breathe easier.
  • Cost-Effective Solution: This 2-pack of filters offers a budget-friendly alternative to OEM parts, providing you with the same high-quality performance without the premium price tag.
  • Easy Installation: Replacing your filters is quick and straightforward, ensuring your air purifier continues to operate at its best. Enjoy the convenience of cleaner air in no time.

Bottom line

A great performing small air purifier for a tiny price

I always recommend readers who email me asking for advice to oversize their air purifier because larger devices can run at lower fan speeds without loss in performance, which means they are quieter but still pack some power for moments when you need it. 

That being said, there are times when you just need a small device or when space is limited and those big units will be impossible to fit in. The Winix A230/A231 is a great unit for those cases — for example, for a small bedroom or the top of a desk in a small home office.

When it comes to competitor units, I have to compare the A231 to the Levoit Core 300 and the Core 300S. After our testing, it’s clear that the A231 beats both of them:

  • The WInix A231 was quicker to clean our test room of PM1 than the $99 Levoit Core 300
  • It comes with an onboard air quality sensor and auto-mode, which are features you would get with the Levoit Core 300S after paying $50 extra

I recommend looking at bigger Winix devices like the 5500-2 for serious air cleaning performance, including odors and VOC busting capabilities. But if you are short on space or budget, the Winix A231/230 is one of the best small air purifiers I have tested.

SOURCES

We calculated energy consumption costs with the help of the Department of Energy’s appliance energy calculator. We calculated yearly costs associated with running the Winix A231 for 24 hours a day for 365 days. We ran this calculation utilizing the U.S. average utility rate of $0.12/kWh as of January 26th, 2024.

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.