Last week, Saigon woke up to unhealthy air measuring 156 AQI at the US Consulate or roughly 65 micrograms. This gave me an opportunity to test my SmartAir Original DIY fan and HEPA filter in my other room. As you can see from the photos below, LaserEgg gave an AQI reading of 95 or 32 micrograms. The safe US levels are 12 micrograms so my room was 3 times above the safe level.
LaserEgg measured the PM2.5 air quality at 95 AQI or roughly 32 micrograms.
Microgram reading at start of test
Outside AQI reading by US Consulate at start of test roughly about 65 micrograms
Below is the the SmartAir Original fan I brought from Shanghai. I have two of these in Saigon plus the new SmartAir Original 1.1. Fan plus one filter costs around $34 USD (773,500 VND) in Shanghai. This is a bargain when compared to my $500 USD (11.4 million VND) BlueAir air purifier also purchased in China. The cost seems prohibitive to many first time air purifier buyers but the DIY options are viable. SmartAir, themselves, has conducted extensive tests in China with their DIY fans. The four hour test in my second room also shows that DIY air purifiers will work in Vietnam as well.
SmartAir Original Fan and SmartAir HEPA filter
Side view with a good HEPA filter and fan seal
Back of Original fan
The HEPA filter I am using is about 2 months old. It ruffled up from sitting inside a suitcase for two months in Saigon during the moving process. It is still have a good seal between the fan and the HEPA filter. I did not enter the room after I started the test. I live in a very local style apartment so there are lots of air flow for PM 2.5 particles to enter.
Check the results below after four hours.
AQI readings after 4 hours, roughly 1 microgram. By US standards, 12 micrograms (50 AQI) is healthy
1 microgram is very clean air
With the Original DIY air purifier, the room’s PM 2.5 count when from 32 micrograms to 1 microgram or roughly 4 AQI. Not bad for an inexpensive air purifier. The two other places I had used the SmartAir Original fared the same. It is also pretty good at maintaining a healthy PM 2.5 over a period of time greater than 8 hours. SmartAir provides this data at the website and we will do the same in the future for Hanoi and HCMC.
So is the DIY air purifier with HEPA filter a good option for Vietnam? The Xiaomi Air Purifier 2 seems like an affordable option for many, especially in Hanoi. You can see the size comparisons of the SmartAir Original DIY air purifier with the Xiaomi model. So which is the better air purifier? At high speeds, the Xiaomi purifiers the air in a room faster. Unfortunately, due to software issues, it will not be able to keep the air in a room clean over a period of time. This is because it switches to “auto mode” after three hours. You then have to manually set it back to high speed which can be difficult if you are asleep. A DIY air purifier, such as the SmartAir Original, continues to clean at one speed. No automation. I will discuss this issue in more detail in a future blog entry.
SmartAir Original DIY air purifier in comparison to Xiaomi Air Purifier 2
Top view of Xiaomi Air Purifier 2 and SmartAir Original DIY
Hence, the SmartAir Original, with HEPA filter is a good DIY air purifier option. You will be available to buy them from the Southeast Asia Action for Clean Technology (SEAACT). We are currently working with SmartAir to organize their first workshop in Hanoi. This will be followed by Saigon and then Phnom Penh. Attendees will get an option to buy a DIY air purifier kit with HEPA fan at the workshops. More details will be provided at SEATAC’s website when it is launched this month. As of July, 2018, we were not able to register a company to sell HEPA filters in Vietnam. To stay under the radar, it is best to order the HEPA filters directly from SmartAir and build your DIY air purifier with the Senko model pictured above.