We just wrapped a 3 month review of the Crane Smart Air Purifier and boy are we impressed. Air quality is the top consideration for a healthy home. After all, you’ve heard our rave reviews of the Zehnder ERV (energy recovery ventilation) fresh-air system installed at The Greenwich House. This really is the must-have system for new home construction or a gut renovation.
However, should you live in an older home, or perhaps you are a renter, the need for fresh air remains a top priority. The way to get there naturally needs to be a little different: Meet the Crane Smart Air Purifier, which our editorial director Christopher Mohs, recently tested extensively. As a result, we have some interesting hands-on insights.
Design and Function
In our test case, the Crane Smart Air Purifier was a replacement for a GermGuardian air purifier that was already in the apartment. The main drawbacks of the original unit were flaws in its design which made it function more like a fan than an air purifier. It had the charcoal filter, hepa filter, and UV filter to eliminate dust, pollen, and germs, but the design made it inefficient.
In order for the Germguardian to work well it had to sit in the middle of the room as it drew air in from the rear and pushed it out via the front (really like a fan). This resulted in the unit being off most of the time and not really doing its job as it was often pushed to a corner (where it failed to receive proper airflow) and turned off due to the amount of air circulation from the unit (particularly on cold days).
In contrast, the Crane Smart Air Purifier really wins here. Instantly it was apparent that the product designers really took into consideration how this device might be positioned in the space. Air comes into the device from a 180 degree vent in the front of the unit. The intake is also cleverly hidden along the edges of the large blue cover you see in the photo. We found that this really allowed the unit to draw in air from all angles. Air is then pushed directly upward from the top of the unit. We found that this eliminated the feeling that a fan was running and really completed the cycle effect of moving air throughout the room.
The purifier benefits from 4 levels of purification with an initial debris shield to remove larger particulates floating in the air, the charcoal filter for odors, HEPA filter, and finally an Ionizer.
The ionizer did give us some concern as there have been documented drawbacks in how this technology can result in buildup of ozone in the air. Research points out that this exposure can be harmful. However, equally there are studies that show ionized air can help with energy and be beneficial to our body. Luckily, you can decide for yourself as this feature has a separate on/off option.
At Sabine’s New House we talk about how smart gadgets should really act more as connected devices than independent interfaces. The Crane Smart Air Purifier meets this standard and gives you control from your mobile device.
We have to admit, setup was a bit tricky. You will want to download the Crane app from your appstore and setup and verify an account before setting up your air purifier. And be sure to look in that spam folder for the activation email, we missed that for several hours and were frustrated that we couldn’t move forward. Company representatives indicate that modifications are coming to the instruction manual and a new YouTube video has been created to aid with setup.
Once we had the app and account set up, it was relatively simple to follow the instructions in the package. In truth, it could be a little easier.
We particularly love the energy-efficient perks such as auto fan speed which increases circulation based on the amount of pollutants the device sensed in the air. You read that right, this air purifier actually senses pollutants and allergens and adjusts accordingly.
Initially we opted to not use the ionizer. We did eventually go back to this feature when we discovered the timer features in the app. One setting allows you to set the unit to turn on anywhere from 1 to 12 hours in advance. The one we started using sets an on and off time for the unit. In our case since the unit is in the bedroom, we wanted to ensure clean purified air for bedtime and set the unit to turn on roughly 5 hours ahead of this time yet turn off when it was time for sleep.
We appreciate that the device can be controlled via our smartphone when away from your home network, not through a smart home hub, but via the online account at the outset. This likely provides some added security, however prevents integration with other devices in your home.
What We’re Hoping For Next
Overall, the unit is functioning far better than we expected and we’re happy to give it rave reviews. But there are a few things we’d like the manufacturer to consider with future models. We hope future models have
- A simplified initial setup, perhaps with a bluetooth integration that can allow for the unit to be more easily discovered and then connected into the home’s WiFi system for constant connectivity.
- System integration. separate dedicated app for the system works but future connection to . Apple’s HomeKit, Google’s Weave framework, or Amazon’s Alexa are desirable for an integrated connected experience.
Overall, this is a great option for air purification. If you are in an apartment or an older home that can’t be retrofitted with a built-in ERV fresh-air system, yet still want to improve your life through better air-quality in your own home, the Crane Smart Air Purifier is a great an option Be sure to check it out.