The pandemic is behind us. That means more time outdoors sans restrictions. But as more people venture out, particularly at a time of the year when the air gets smoggy, an air purifier in certain settings can be an effective device to make the ambient air fresh.
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While people tend to focus a lot on pollution levels outdoors, the air inside car cabins could be far worse as they are kept closed and the a/c often doesn’t bring in fresh air. Keeping cabin air clean can improve health and well-being of drivers. I tested one of the car air purifiers that claims to get rid of PM, viruses, bad odour, and smoke.
Size and Space
I used the O2 Cure Car Air Purifier for about month, largely in my mid-size SUV car, and found it to be good at keeping the ambient air clean and odour-free. The device I received for review was off-white in colour, which made it look premium despite the thin plastic casing. It was slightly larger than a big coffee mug, and light to carry around. So, at times, I plugged it into an extension box in the bedroom (a 10X10 room). I’ll come to how it performed here later.
In the car, this large mug-sized device did what it promised. Even when the cabin was full with five adults and a toddler, the ambient air was refreshingly clean and odour-free. It neatly fitted into the car’s cup holder right next to the gear handle. The air purifier came with a foot-long cable connected to it. Its end had a USB connector that has to be plugged into the car’s charging port.
Inside the box, there is a small (roughly three-square centimetre) HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filter. It has to be slid into a slot provided for the filter in the device. This process was not smooth as the filter did not fit exactly into the slot provided. I had to press it slightly harder to get it in so that I can cover the air purifier with the external shell.
The device came alive with a mildly audible motor sound when the vehicle was cranked up. It was powered up by the car’s battery. When I used it for the first time, an amber colour LED light lit up at the top-centre of the device. A small semi-circle curved around the light. That acts as a switch to change the intensity of air suction inside the car.
Amber light indicates medium level suction of PM and bad odour. There are two other options. One will reduce suction. This is indicated with a green light and much more softer fan sound. And the other one increase pull, indicated with a red LED light. The switching helps to get the car’s interior air clean based on the level of odour. The air outflow channel is placed right next to the semi-circle button, bordering the top area’s periphery.
HEPA filter concerns
While the India-made car air purifier does a fine job, there are some red flags. For instance, the air outflow vent is small. It takes little less than half of the top periphery area. An equivalent air purifying device available in the market has a full circular vent on top. That enables it throw more fresh air into the cabin and make it clean faster.
The HEPA filter is too small for a purifier that will be used on average at least 3 – 4 hours a day. That’s about 120 hours a month. And the filter that was part of the device that I’m reviewing turned almost black after two weeks of use. A replacement filter costs about ₹799, and it can only be ordered on the company’s site. It would be good if a replacement can be purchased via ecommerce sites. Alternatively, the company can include a few additional filters as part of the pack.
The filter also had a fitting issue. It had to be squeezed in. And when I pulled it out to check how much it has been used, it did not come out easily. That process of removing the filter disturbed the particulate matter settled on it, making the air surrounding it unclean briefly.
One has to be extra careful when replacing filters as some tend to use bare hands to remove the filter. And inadvertently, they may rub their eyes or touch their nose, which may cause allergic reactions like rashes and redness. A filter usage level indicator may be helpful for users to know when they have to change. That way, they would not have to check the filter which is unclean.
The company recommends changing the filter every six months. But, each car cabin and the place of use may differ based on the amount of PM sucked into the filter. So, I think some need to be changed on a bi-monthly basis.
Though the size of the device fitted well in my SUV car, it may not work in some of the hatchback vehicles that have smaller cup trays. Owners of small-size or hatchback cars should consider the cup tray size before going for any of the car cabin air purifiers. This is important as the power cable is short, and there are not a lot of alternative spots inside the cabin to hold the purifier.
Considering the importance of keeping the cabin air clean, an air purifier is a worthy investment for people using their vehicles for more than a few hours daily. The O2 Cure Car Air Purifier is easy to install and use. But, the small outflow vent radius, HEPA filter size and replaceability, and the hefty price tag of ₹7,699 are clear red flags for those considering to buy it. Currently, on some prominent ecommerce sites, the product is sold for ₹2,499.