I am so allergic to dust that if the power goes out in my home, I need to go sit outside until it comes back on and all the air purifiers in my home come back online. Over the years, I have collected quite a collection of air purifiers as we’ve moved from smaller to bigger homes and my allergies have turned into full-blown allergic asthma requiring weekly then monthly shots and daily medication consisting of both pills and inhalers. I buy exclusively from two brands, IQAir and Alen having given up on Blueair altogether in favor of Alen.
I own (2) IQAir HealthPro air purifiers and (1) IQAir HealthPro Compact, which I use in our two bedrooms and our living room. Our home has an open layout with a lot of room to cover and so we use a Alen BreatheSmart in our kitchen (with the handy HEPA-OdorCell filter), another in our main room of our back house. I also own (2) Alen T500s, which we use in our back house bedroom and for travel, one of which I received from Alen to test and keep. Vistors are often shocked by the amazing air quality in our home. It’s fresher inside than the great outdoors of Los Angeles.
I haven’t tried the Fit50, the now middle child of the BreatheSmart line so I’ll be comparing the Flex primarily with the original flagship BreatheSmart model. The first thing I noticed was how SEXY the Flex is and how much more compact it is than the original BreatheSmart while still feeling quite and if at all possible, more sturdy. It comes in a giant box that’s easy enough to open and is reminiscent Amazon’s frustration-free packaging.
The front panel of the Flex is weightier than the BreatheSmart’s and lined with gray plastic and I believe all over magnetics so it need the annoying hinges that the BreatheSmart does. Overall, the materials used look similar but look and feel much improved. The brushed metal surfaces feel quite nice against your skin if you’re planning on cuddling with it. (Kidding.) The darker silver finish and white front are truly aesthetically pleasing. The display is also fantastic with it’s a flat sleek surface with a touch display that is a vast improvement on the clunky push-down buttons of the original BreatheSmart. You can shut off the display lights or keep them on. Also, unlike the BreatheSmart, it offers the same Lock function as the Fit50 which is really useful if you have a little toddler who loves to those push buttons on the original air purifier. Like the other models, the Alen will tell you when your filter is still good (green), when you should order a new one (yellow) and when you’re filter needs replacing (red).
At the lowest setting, the Flex is pretty much silent while the third is barely a whisper with the fourth Turbo mode setting is loud but softer than expected but this last setting is really the one you’ll only use when you need to get a room de-dusted quickly, like say in your hotel room, new home office or while staying in the dust mite haven that is your mother-in-law’s really, really dusty back house.
The Flex is 15 pounds so it’s almost twice as heavy as the portable travel-friendly Alen T500 tower, which is 9 pounds, but smaller than the 21-pound BreatheSmart and only a pound lighter than the Fit50. The Flex is also stripped down as far as some features that both the BreatheSmart and Fit50 have: the ionizer is gone on the new Flex, as is the SmartSensor, Air quality feedback light and Automatic mode. I’m not sure I personally could not live with the automatic mode which decides on its own what setting is necessary or the SmartSensor that tells me in different colors that the air quality in a specific room is great or really poor. It is also not energy certified and the CADR results are still pending and uses 36 watts on the highest setting whereas the BreatheSmart uses 105 and the Fit50 uses 60.
The Alen promises the same filtration rate as all the BreatheSmart models: 99% of particles great than 0.3 microns eviscerated keeping you safe from those dust mites. The filter life is paired down to 6-9 months, a sharp decline from the Fit50’s 10-12 months (awesome!) but only slight change from the BreatheSmart’s 8-9 months. The powers supply comes in at 115V instead of the 120V of the other models. The Flex is recommended for average size rooms up to 700 sq. feet so it falls between the Alen T500 (up to 500 sq. ft) and the Fit50 (at 900 sq. ft) with the BreatheSmart offering the most coverage of up to 1100 sq. ft for large and open spaces. Like all the Alen air purifiers, it comes with the standard HEPA-Pure filter which is the base filter available with the same three options getting slightly more expensive: the HEPA-Silver, HEPA-FreshPlus and HEPA-OdorCell. The HEPA-OdorCell is truly brilliant in the kitchen, where smoke or garbage might cause some terrible smells, and a baby’s room where a diaper pail might do the same.
Unlike the vastly more expensive 10-year warranty on the IQAir, which Alen rightly deems “overkill” for most people and their homes, the Alen has a lifetime warranty and they truly stand by it. I had problems with the T300, which the T500 replaced, and received a whole new air purifier each time as a replacement. After being offered the Alen T500 to test by Alen when it first came out, I sold my T500s and bought a second T500 and a third for a friend.
If I didn’t already have the top of the line BreatheSmart with the less awesome display, I would really consider this little Flex in my bedrooms. Alen is the air purifier I recommend to anyone with basic allergies or allergic asthma like myself who cannot afford the louder, bulkier, energy-sucking and more complicated and expensive filter requiring energy-sucking IQAir. The IQAir is $200 more than the BreatheSmart’s $599 price tag and the Flex comes in at $399 about a $100 less than the listed price for the Fit50.
And last but not least, the Alen Flex offers 14 designer panels to “complement” your décor just like the BreatheSmart and one more than the Fit50. We plan to take advantage of this feature for the first time with the Flex as we will be using this model in the small office where my husband works. The Flex has also made me more curious about the Flex and left me wondering if Alen has plans to upgrade the display on the original flagship model. I highly recommend the Flex and ALL the aforementioned Alen air purifiers.