Venta-Airwasher: Humidifier & purifier review

Consumer Reports News: February 25, 2008 03:09 AM

The claim. The Venta-Airwasher—a “humidifier & purifier—two in one," according to the manufacturer’s Web site—is supposed to trap particles as small as 10 microns while adding moisture to the air. Four models of these German-made products are available for rooms of different sizes: LW 14 (1.2-gallon capacity, $200); LW 24 (2-gallon capacity, $300); LW 44 (3-gallon capacity, $400); and LW 84 (6-gallon capacity, $1,440).

A Venta-Airwasher uses a series of rotating plastic discs to clean the air and add moisture to it. Those discs, mounted on an axle that constantly rotates, dip in and out of a water-filled reservoir. As the wet discs emerge from the reservoir, a built-in fan evaporates the water on them, boosting humidity in a space. Particles in the air are supposed to stick to the discs, then wash off as the discs pass through the reservoir again.

The check. We tested the LW 14 and LW 44 (shown) models as we usually test air purifiers, by measuring their clean-air-delivery rate with the fine dust and cigarette smoke (0.1 to 3 microns) that are of more concern to people with respiratory problems. To test their humidifying chops, we placed each device in a sealed chamber and let it run overnight, recording the humidity level in the room.

The Consumer Reports take. The claim of ridding the air of particles as small as 10 microns is kind of a nonstarter: A 10-micron or larger particle is so big that it's unlikely to remain aloft in the air for long.

Both models we tested proved no better at removing dust and smoke than no air purifier at all. They were, however, efficient at adding moisture to the room. Note that they lack a sensor and controls to let you set a humidity level. Without those features, humidity could rise too high and contribute to mold and mildew growth. What’s more, the Venta-Airwashers are pricey and require you to buy water additive and cleaning solution—a cost of about $90 per year.

Essential information: Before you buy any air purifier, read the expert advice in our latest report, and find out how well some models eliminate odors and learn how much maintenance your air purifier might require.

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