Philips Air Purifier Series 3000i AC3033 review: it’s time to think deeply about air quality

How we take care of the air in our homes has shot up in terms of priority this year. We’re used to sucking up all the dirt and potentially hazardous particles from our surfaces with a high-powered vacuum cleaner, but prior to 2020, it wasn’t as widespread to consider how we go about maintaining the air in our homes. A good quality air purifier was seen as a luxury more than a necessity, but this pandemic, and the bushfires before that, has changed the way Aussies think about at-home hygiene.

Now more people know what a HEPA filter is (the workhorse that keeps the dense air quality on flights in check), and a pricey air purifier is just as common in the modern smart home as a smart display or video doorbell. Not just that, but the difference between the kinds of filters that often make up the higher end purifiers are now discernible, and customers are starting to ask the right questions when shopping in this increasingly competitive market.

Philips has been on this trend for awhile, so it’s well worth paying attention to the latest model in their Series 3000i Air Purifier family – AC3033 – when thinking about how to protect the home. Usually if you’re looking for an Air Purifier that means you or someone in the household suffers from hayfever, and the device is primarily being used to dust up allergens and pollutants such as pollens, dust, bacteria, aerosols and even gases. The goal is improved air quality, the opposite of which is usually the most insidious aspect of any home.

Poor air quality can have a substantial impact on people living with asthma and allergies, which is common knowledge. But sleep can also be affected dramatically, especially since sleep quality relies so much on how well we can breathe during the night. I personally suffer from exceptionally bad sleep quality and have since a pre-teen, so ensuring cleaner air is paramount for me.

According to Sensitive Choice, around 2.7 million Australians have asthma, with four in five of those also having allergies. This is particularly worrisome during the spring and summer months, where sudden weather changes lead to increased pollen in the air, and – especially for summer – pollutants such as bushfire smoke. I don’t even have to remind Aussies what happened at the end of 2019/start of 2020 to double down on how important it is to address such an issue.

Design & Performance

The latest 3000i Air Purifier model from Philips is a circular tower that looks soft in its appearance despite its considerable size. At 64.5 x 29 x 29cm, it’s far from a pushover, but is nowhere near as heavy as it looks. This makes it easy to carry the device across rooms, just in case you wanted the device to work its magic throughout the house (which you definitely do). It’s rated for rooms up to 104sqm, which is absolutely more than most people would need. It’s definitely more than what I need, seeing as most of the rooms in my house clock in at around 30sqm.

The grey wrap around fabric on the top section contrasted with the white filter that takes up the bulky bottom makes for a clean aesthetic that should fit well with any design scheme. Air Purifiers have certainly come a long way in terms of design, and it’s clear that Philips are keeping up with the trend of sleek, minimal smart home devices to seamlessly blend in.

At the top of the AC3033 you’ve got numerous icons set out neatly at exactly the right height for quick use. The control panel is colour-coded for easy reading of air quality, with a blue ring surrounding the panel being the goal. Red is something to be concerned about, and it’s often a colour I’d see if I was dusting nearby. Not that I regularly dust surfaces, but this was more of a sensitivity check to see if the device could detect changes quickly and accurately. That’s a big tick for Philips.

The Philips Clean Home+ smartphone app, which is necessary for the breezy set-up process, is the best way to control the device and check all the associated readings. But the control panel is just as easy to use if you’re nearby. You can switch between the three main readings – Gas, PM2.5, and the Indoor Allergen Index – as well as Auto, Turbo and Sleep Mode. They are all fairly self explanatory, and each of the readings have their own individual scales.

Simply press the magnifying glass to swap the readings. IAI is measured on a scale of 1-12, with 1-3 being the “Blue” area and 10-12 representing the “Red” area. I’d like to think my home is fairly representative of the average neighbourhood household in Sydney, and my IAI is typically 4 at most times throughout the day. This would qualify the reading as “fair”. Fortunately, if I leave the Air Purifier on Turbo long enough, I can get this down to 2-3. I’ve never seen a reading of 1.

Gas is almost always “good”, but I’d imagine that would be substantially different if we were in the thick of the 19/20 bushfire season again.

This kind of immediate feedback is valuable, even more so when I’m out at the office and can easily check the app to see the exact same readings. I’d turn the device on remotely so that it has been running for a few hours before I get home, that way I come home to a blue ring.

Another aspect I quite like about the design is how smart the ambient lighting shining from the top panel can be. Although the app only gives me the option to either have the lights turned on, or off. There’s no slider to control the brightness, although I do notice that they dim along with environmental light.

Of course any Air Purifier lives or dies depending on the specific design of the filters themselves. With this model, a pre filter has been included to catch dust and hair, which then leads to an activated charcoal filter that removes gases and odours. The preeminent layer is the NanoProtect HEPA filter, which captures ultra-fine particles as small as 0.003 microns. That’s enough to remove up to 99.97% of pollutants in a room.

Concerned about noise? Don’t be. Sleep Mode is smart enough to dim any of the device’s lights as well as turn the fan down to a whisper-quiet approach that is just loud enough to give off a pleasant amount of white noise. Auto Mode turns that up only slightly, maintaining a quiet and unobtrusive performance that I could barely hear over the TV in my living room. Turbo Mode is noticeable though, as expected, and sounds like most modern fans would when they are pushed to their max.

Obviously safety was a consideration when deciding to strip away some of the extra technologies that some other purifiers make use of. For example, there’s no use of UV light to neutralise contaminants, hence no extra potential radiation to trade clean air for something just as insidious. That makes Philips’ approach rather clear – just provide a clean, simple, and easy-to-use Air Purifier that’s powerful enough to not need any of those extra technologies.

Replacement filters should also be a consideration when thinking about an Air Purifier. The life of the integrated filter will depend on individual use of course, but it’s easy to monitor with the app and the touchscreen indicating the life of the filter and when it’s time to go out and purchase a new one. They can be simply popped in and out without any effort at all.

An Air Purifier isn’t a fan (unless it’s been designed as a hybrid), but this model is quite nifty when it comes to cooling those standing around it. The air comes directly out of the top of the device, so in Auto Mode you’d only get that cooling breeze if you’re standing directly over the device. But on Turbo Mode, the cool air reaches the area around and is strong, gentle enough to act as a perfectly fine substitute for an air conditioner or dedicated fan during those hotter days.

Verdict & Value

At $899, the device isn’t cheap. But if you’re curating a modern smart home, a chunky price tag is expected of something which is now one of the most essential components of a clean, liveable household. Especially if you have a great need for one – ie, constant hayfever – sitting below 1k is entirely reasonable for something this powerful. I’d say nowadays, an Air Purifier like this is as important to have as a good quality vacuum cleaner.

FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE

Highlights: Clean design; incredibly easy and quick set up; seamless monitoring of air quality; the app is simple; device is very responsive to any commands, whether by touchscreen or app; multiple filters; powerful enough for large rooms; lightweight design; can double as a fan on Turbo Mode.
Lowlights: Big investment
Manufacturer: Philips
Cost: $899
Available: Now

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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