Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Air Purifier 04386 Review

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A permanent "HEPA-grade" filter is the main selling point for this small-room (160 square feet) model. Instead of buying replacements, users vacuum the filter for powerful pollen and dust removal.

Although Hamilton Beach air purifiers don't always see reviews as effusive as the praise showered on higher-end brands, customers can generally rely on the home appliance giant for budget products that work and are designed with affordability in mind. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Air Purifier, model No. 04386 (starting at $48, Amazon), is a good choice for consumers looking for a basic machine that will fulfill its purpose of improving indoor air quality without requiring large outlays upfront or for future maintenance.

The Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Air Purifier has a permanent "HEPA-grade" filter and three fan speeds. It's designed to be effective in smaller rooms of up to 160 square feet, where it can be placed either vertically (like a "tower" model) or horizontally. As opposed to models with "true" HEPA filters (which boast a catch rate of 99.7 percent of particulates as small as 0.3 microns), the TrueAir air purifier can only cleanse the air of 99 percent of particulates smaller than 3 microns. Nevertheless, experts say it should certainly do the job on a majority of the culprits generally cited as the most offending indoor pollutants -- think dust, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold spores. Another plus: This air purifier is small enough to be easily portable and stowed in luggage, for consumers looking for a device to use both at home and at the office or while travelling.

At BestBuy.com, customers give this model an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars. This rating is only slightly lower than those of similar air purifiers we researched that use true HEPA filters. One verified purchaser testifies that this small air purifier managed to maintain the freshness of a home that housed four smokers and a slew of animals, including 20 cats and a monkey. While this appears to be an overachievement (even the reviewer felt the need to assure others it wasn't a joke), many customers are satisfied with this air purifier's ability to remove smoke and common allergens.

Many of the customers who gave this Hamilton Beach model low ratings were simply expecting it to perform better, particularly at removing odors -- which, lacking a charcoal pre-filter, this model doesn't really promise to do. A few reviewers claim that the TrueAir air purifier mitigated smells from litter boxes. Among the nearly 3,000 reviews the product has received on Amazon, there are hundreds asserting that it has helped significantly with indoor and seasonal allergies. One reviewer calls it a "lifesaver" in a household where several members of the family, including grandchildren, are allergy sufferers.

The main selling point of the Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Air Purifier is that its HEPA-grade filter supposedly needs no replacing -- which could recoup the initial outlay for the cost of the machine in just one year when compared to similar models, such as the Holmes HAP242-UC, which requires estimated yearly filter replacement expenses close to $30. In terms of maintenance, the filter needs only to be vacuumed regularly and the casings wiped down. It should be noted, however, that a couple of consumers report on Amazon that the filter became damaged after frequent vacuuming and did eventually need to be swapped out.

Tahirah Blanding

Tahirah Blanding is a blogger and freelance writer currently pursuing her graduate degree in professional communication. She spends her spare time browsing thrift shops in the local area. Tahirah enjoys a good deal, coupon cutting, and short stories.

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