Did you know that indoor air pollution can be as bad as or worse than outdoor air pollution? From off-gassing chemicals in paints to mold and dust, the contaminated air inside our homes and offices negatively impacts our health and can lead to fatigue and dizziness, or even respiratory diseases in the long-term. Fortunately, air purification technology has improved in recent years to offer easy and affordable ways to combat indoor air pollutants. Read on to see our review of one such product, the Luft Qi, an on-the-go and filter-free air purifier billed as the smallest of its kind in the world.
About Luft Qi
Developed by Taiwanese company Titus & Wayne, the Luft Qi air purifier is described as the “first compact air purifier using nanotechnology.” The air purifier uses a method called photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), a technology originally invented by NASA to prevent food spoilage — for instance, by removing bacteria in meat or pesticides from fruits and vegetables — and has since been applied to air purification.
Here’s how it works: broad-spectrum ultraviolet light — Luft Qi uses UV-A LEDs — is combined with a tungsten oxide modified titanium oxide (TiO2) filter to create highly reactive oxidizers that break down harmful molecular-sized and microbial pollutants. Luft Qi isn’t the first to use PCO technology for air purification; followers of Ellen DeGeneres might remember her shout-out to the Airocide PCO air purifiers on her show in 2013.
Advantages of Luft Qi
Unlike Airocide, however, Luft Qi is much smaller and more compact. Made of aluminum, the soda can-shaped device only weighs 160 grams and its modern design, available in six different colors, means it probably won’t clash with your existing setup. Moreover, since Luft Qi only uses PCO, the device is conveniently filter-free, meaning that you’ll never need to buy or replace the filter. When plugged in, Luft Qi will gently draw air in through its perforated base, where pollutants are then broken down through photocatalytic oxidation. The purified air is then pushed through the top, with carbon dioxide and water molecules as byproducts. PCO technology has also proven effective at removing ultra fine particulates, airborne mold spores and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and exhaust fumes.
Luft Qi is designed for on-the-go convenience and comes with a standard 3.3-foot-long USB-C to USB-A cable that can plug into a laptop or any USB port adapter outlet. The startup says that the device can be safely used 24 hours a day and attribute its minimal electricity demands of 2.5W to an energy-efficient design. The air purifier uses a hidden brushless fan — the same as those used for computer servers — with a measurable noise level of around 25 decibels, which isn’t very quiet, but isn’t loud enough to be distracting either; it is quieter than most air purifiers. Luft Qi is estimated to last at least 4.5 years without replacement.
Disadvantages of Luft Qi
Despite Luft Qi’s many benefits, there are several downsides to the product. Firstly, since Luft Qi only uses PCO technology instead of filters, the device cannot remove larger particulates like traditional devices with HEPA filters can. This means Luft Qi will not eliminate pollen, dust, dust mites or pet dander, which are among the major contributors to poor indoor air quality and allergies. Due to its small size, Luft Qi also requires a long time to achieve desirable results and is best used in contained rooms such as bedrooms or car interiors. And while Luft Qi does eliminate odors, it also does so at a fairly slow rate; carbon filters are a better choice for odor removal.
Moreover, PCO technology produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct. While the amount produced is likely small, those who want to keep Luft Qi turned on 24 hours a day will need to introduce adequate ventilation. Speaking of constant use, Luft Qi’s PCO technology also has its drawbacks for those hoping to sleep with it plugged in at night. While the constant fan noise can be dismissed as white noise, the device’s bright blue light can be distracting in an otherwise dark room. Putting Luft Qi on the ground isn’t a good option either; the air purifier should be elevated above the floor since it relies on the surrounding environment’s air circulation to work optimally.
Should You Buy Luft Qi?
Overall, Luft Qi isn’t the best air purifier given its small size and the limitations of PCO technology. If you really want to get rid of indoor air pollution, it’s best to use PCO technology in conjunction with air purifiers with filters. Luft Qi’s relatively steep price may also put buyers off. However, if you’re mainly interested in removing VOCs, microbial pollutants, odors and mold spores in small, contained environments, Luft Qi is a good choice. This particularly holds true in small offices or rooms in tropical and humid environments where mold is an ever-present concern, like Taiwan, where the Luft Qi startup is based. Furthermore, the product is nicely designed, well-constructed and doesn’t become hot to the touch.
Titus & Wayne launched Luft Qi on Indiegogo in a successful crowdfunding campaign that’s since raised more than $215,000. From now until mid-June, Luft Qi is available for $99, not including shipping, in an early-bird special with an estimated delivery in July 2018. The product’s regular retail price is $169.
Images via Luft Qi