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"I tried an air purifier at home that helps with hayfever, pet hair and...my husband."

I don't think there has ever been a year in my life where I have been more aware of the quality of the air I'm breathing in than I have in 2020.

In January, when the sky in parts of the country turned red as black eucalyptus leaves fell gently from the sky, we closed our doors and windows, cancelled all outdoor activities and tried not to breathe in too much smoke.

Then, a couple of months later, just as we were heading back outside breathing fresh, non-smoky air, COVID-19 hit and our air quality was in question again.

As we go into spring, I'm not sure my poor airways can handle one more thing. I can't imagine how this year has been for anyone with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

But even if we are locked away in the safety of our homes, we are now working, living, parenting and schooling with the people in our bubble 24/7 and sometimes that includes some… interesting smells.

In fact, the air quality inside our homes can be two to five per cent worse than the air outside, with gases, dust, chemicals, bacteria and odours all vying for a trip into you and your family's lungs.

I had already been looking into some kind of air filtration system for my house, especially since I started working from home back in March and was researching HEPA filters when I was offered the opportunity to have a look at the new Samsung AX5500 air purifier.

This lady stands at 78.3cm so it's no shrinking violet and don't expect it to blend into its surroundings - it stands out. Luckily it's also really sleek and has those nice curves so while it's quite a presence, it's a pretty nice one.

Meet the new addition to my home, the Samsung AX550 air purifier. Image: Mamamia.

I decided to call her Tess after Cher's character in the movie Burlesque and in case you haven't seen this 2010 work of creative genius, Cher's character gets to keep her club because of a little thing called 'air rights' and that's what this air purifier is doing in my house (giving me air rights, not saving my nightclub).

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So I fired Tess up and she gave me that lovely 'I've just turned on' tone that you get from electronic goods these days.

She showed me that the air quality in my home for particles up to 10 micrograms at the time was sitting at 18 and a quick check of the reference guide in the manual told me that 30 and below is pretty good. I wish I could have had it during the bushfires to see what level she would have gone up to before getting down to business.

She lit up in a pleasing blue hue and then settled into sucking in air, cleaning it and then returning it back out into my home clean, sweet smelling and fresh. Side note: the air coming out of the three outlets, two on the side and one on the top do make for some Beyonce-level hair moments, so get camera ready.

Beyonce mode on. Image: Mamamia.

Tess has a three-part filter system. A pre-filter that catches the big stuff like dog hair and dust bunnies. Then there's an activated charcoal filter that deals with stinky stuff and, finally, the HEPA filter.

A HEPA filter, or High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter, is what traps the tiny microscopic particles, the things that can get into our airways and cause irritation like dust and pollen. This one has a 'True HEPA filter', which means it's certified to say it captures 99.97 per cent* of 0.3 ultra-fine dust like smoke, mould and exhaust fumes, and inhibits the spread of captured bacteria.

As someone who suffers chronic hay fever even when it's not springtime, who is allergic to dust mites and who has both a kid and a dog in the house, this is the filter that had my attention.

The first night I put it in my room to see if I woke up any less stuffy than usual. I've tried dust covers for my pillow but then stupidly bought a bed with a fabric headboard, and so nightly sneezes are a regular thing for me.

Tess got the air quality levels down to 5, and while I still woke up with some stuffiness, I did not do a sneeze at all on night one. So far, so good.

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Winning. Image: Mamamia.

Another plus - my room didn't smell like boy or feet or a combo of both in the morning, which was a pleasant surprise.

Second night, I popped it into the kiddos' room and found the air quality levels were much worse than mine - it shot up to 54 at one stage. We figured out that the fumes and smells from the kitchen were getting trapped in her space and so Tess went to work to bring those down quick smart. I put it into Whisper Quiet Sleep Mode so all the display lights turned off and the fan dropped down to library-level quiet. It also has a child lock feature, so I can rest easy knowing my daughter won't accidentally mess up the settings.


It's a really nice peace of mind moment, knowing that the air in your child's room is clean and that they're getting a good night's sleep breathing in all that lovely air. She's a bit like me and often wakes up with a blocked nostril but no complaints from her on waking up the next morning and she asked if Tess could sleep over again.

She's become quite the popular lady in our house - husband is also vying for her attention. The next day I popped it into the lounge room to see how it went with the day-to-day movement of the family. This is no word of a lie, the air quality dropped every time the dog walked past. I love her but she often has her own particular perfume that while unique is sometimes... not pleasant.

Tess took care of that with her activated carbon filter. It also gave me a better idea on just how much of the kitchen fumes affect our air quality in the living area. Steak night had it in the red zone at 110.

The 4-Colour Indicator Display is really useful. Red and 110 on steak night! Image: Mamamia.

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 Last night, Tess was back in our room but on the husband's side of the bed.

Here's where the Samsung AX5500 really showed its worth. The husband did what husbands sometimes do and relieved himself of some unwanted gases. After a waft of the doona, Tess turned from a calming blue to a very distinct yellow as the gas pollution monitoring level shot up. I have today checked the reference in the manual to find yellow means the air quality at the time was considered poor. She tells no lies.

I've also hooked Tess up to an app on my phone that allows me to monitor the air quality in whatever room she happens to have been wheeled into that day - yes she has lovely hidden wheels underneath so you don't have to haul her around - and I can turn it off or on from wherever I may be.

It has a timer too if you want to set it to turn on before you get home. Imagine the rush of sweet air as you open the front door! Bliss.

For the energy conscious, I've been informed that running this machine will cost you between $30 and $50 per year** - which is not a big price to pay for good air quality, but the AX5500 model itself is $799. Some models are Wi-Fi enabled, so you can control the air quality anywhere via an app.

As someone who is quite affected by smoke, pollen, pet hair and other allergens, I can't tell you how nice it has been to walk around my house and not feel the need to reach for an antihistamine. There's also just something about knowing the air my family is breathing in right now is the good stuff.

Check out the full range of Samsung's air purifiers, which start from $449.

*Tested on the AX40M3040WMD for xylene, benzene, ethylbenzene, styrene & formaldehyde gases. The filter media has over 99.97% dust collection efficiency, based on a particle size of 0.26㎛, as specified by 42 CFR part 84. Antibacterial function tested on the filter media of the dust collecting filter. Tested in the National Test Institute of Korea.

** Estimate based on six hours' use per day and average electricity usage rate of 26.245c/kWh (average electricity usage rate in NSW as at June 2020). Actual energy costs will vary depending on various factors including hours of use per day, state, energy provider and tariff. Estimate does not include fixed/supply fee charged by energy provider.

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