Indoor air purifiers, which have steadily assumed kind of similar importance in our homes as water purifiers, spent most of the past decade gratifying utility. There were outliers at that time, such as Dyson’s design and Aura Air’s enlarged puck. Yet for the most part, it was all about functional boxes interspersed with attempts to add some finesse with touch controls and detailed information screens. It is only now that air purifiers are adopting the sort of aesthetics that place them easier, amidst your home’s interiors.
I’ve been wondering about this since our tryst with Electrolux’s newest air purifier ‘Well A7’. It comes at a cost of around ₹40,000. The company insists the design is inspired by Scandinavian design philosophy. It is hard to argue that piece of detail.
It has a tilt resembling artwork on a floor or table mount. Complete with unique feet which make up its floor stand, essentially propping it up successfully albeit with a nice lean-back. Be sure to keep this further away from the walls though, to factor in the clean air throw at an angle.
There is an integrated (and somewhat retracting) handle to carry it around too – and this feels like high-quality leather. The Electrolux Well A7 can be wall-mounted too if that’s what you’d prefer. This is becoming an increasingly viable option, with purifiers that are focusing more on the lifestyle aspect.
The front cover isn’t a plain polycarbonate instead, it is a textile-wrapped cover. For now, the only choice is a shade of grey. We’d expect more colour options to be made available at some point if the purifier has to match the home’s interiors. How much these will cost as separate accessories, remains anyone’s guess.
The Electrolux Well A7 takes in air from all four sides of the front frame, with thick filter layers awaiting the impure air. The purifier deploys a five-stage filtration process, but you don’t have to deal with as many filter layers. There is the now-standard pre-filter layer, which captures the larger (and very visible) dust particles whilst preventing the other filters from clogging up.
The high-efficiency particulate arrestance or HEPA is next in the chain. To be fair, we have seen thicker HEPA filters in purifiers priced half as much (Philips and Honeywell’s filters are some examples). Next is the activated carbon filter layer, which deals with even smaller micron size particles as well as volatile organic compounds in indoor air – of this, there are many, including cooking smoke, fumes from cleaning agents and aerosols.
Within the Electrolux companion app (available for Android phones and the iPhone) is the toggle for enabling the ioniser, which is basically the introduction of electrically charged molecules into the room’s air. These, because of the chemical differences, deactivate airborne viruses and bacteria. Without getting into the complexities of how science works, it is an effective add-on if you are okay with ionisers.
The real-world performance numbers, in a fairly active living room, tell their own tale. In the auto mode (called ‘smart’, in the Well A7’s terminology), this brought an extremely unhealthy air quality index (AQI) of 233 microns per cubic meter of PM2.5 and 199 microns per cubic meter of PM1.0 to 66 for PM2.5 and 57 for PM1.0 in around 30 minutes. Even with activity in the room and the adjacent kitchen, these stats were maintained.
When the cooking activity was complete, the PM2.5 dropped to 33 while the TVOC stats dipped steadily from 307 ppb (or parts per billion) to 103 ppb. All our tests are done with the ionizer turned off, which puts the actual filter performance in perspective.
We did notice that in the ‘Smart’ mode, it often takes a while for the Well A7 to increase the fan speed to quick the speed of air filtration in case of changes in composition (such as a door opening, allowing a significant amount of polluted outdoor air into the room). This, I feel, can be tweaked with a software update to make the Well A7 more reactive to the ambience.
In manual mode, things can be sped up by dialling up the fan speed to deal with changes in air quality. For large rooms, the trick is to leave this on fan speed 2, and active rooms are taken good care of as a result.
The Well A7 does not power on automatically, after an electricity supply gap, even if momentarily.
The design of the Electrolux Well A7 does leave space only for a small display. It is enough to give you the details of the active usage mode (smart or manual) with an LED strip that changes colour to indicate how healthy the air is (red means very poor and blue means good, for instance). But there are no AQI numbers on the purifier itself. For that, you must refer to the smartphone app.
This in itself requires a lot of patience. The iPhone app which we used extensively, is extremely buggy. It freezes the moment you do anything, such as increase or decrease the fan speed. The only solution is to force close and restart the app, at which point you’ll realise that the changes you made haven’t been implemented. This is most certainly unexpected, for a premium air purifier.
As I step away from my experience with the Electrolux Well A7 air purifier, there are two distinct takeaways. First, this is a very capable indoor air purifier that does a good enough job of keeping the air quality well in control, in large indoor spaces too. Yet, it doesn’t do it any faster (or better) than purifiers that cost much lesser (such as the Philips 3000 series or the Dyson Pure Cool Link). It is at par, all things considered.
But you’ll be interacting with a much more annoying companion app, at least for now. That needs to be fixed, soon enough.
All things considered, the composition can only mean one thing – you are paying a premium for the Scandinavian inspiration for the good looks. That is never a problem. It may still add value to your home.