Sacramento, California is known as the "City of Trees" and is one of the top cities in the world with the most trees per-capita. I suffer from seasonal allergies and when March comes around, I'm miserable for about three months every year (I'm literally sneezing while writing this sentence).
When I first heard about the Molekule air purifier, my interest was immediately piqued. Instead of using a traditional high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, it destroys pollutants at a molecular level, which the company says cleans the air better and keeps those pollutants from making it back into the air. Can this new technology truly help a seasonal allergy sufferer? Have I found the miracle cure for my spring sickness? I had to find out.
Price: $799Bottom line: This mini appliance does something no other air purifier does; it destroys pollutants instead of just collecting them.
- Whisper quiet fan
- Adjust controls from your phone
- Beautiful design
- Subscription filter refills
- Filters are easy to replace
- Option of payment plan
- Large and heavy
- Very expensive
Bells & Whistles
Molekule: The features
The Molekule air purifier is a large cylinder about two feet tall. It's got a fan at the bottom that pulls air up and a small pre-filter where larger particulates like dust are trapped. The air is then pushed up through Molekule's patented photoelectrochemical oxidation (PECO) filter, which is coated with nanoparticles that, when reacting to UV light, destroys pollutants at a molecular level. Things like pollen, pet dander, mold, bacteria, viruses, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Those last three are things that standard HEPA filters can't do at an efficient level (or at all in some cases).
While running, Molekule is lit up with a blue light, which is the pollutant-killing rock star of this outfit. The clean air is then pushed out of vents on the top of the cylinder.
Molekule has an onboard touch screen controller, which allows you to change the fan force and volume between silent, auto, and boost. In silent mode, the fan runs at its quietest speed, but still cleans the air. In auto mode, the fan runs at medium speed at all times and automatically adjusts for the size of the room. Boost mode allows you to push the fan to its highest speed to work fast and hard to clear the room. It's usually used after something like a room cleaning.
The onboard touch screen also shows you the filters' current health, lets you turn on Dark Mode (which turns the lights off if you need total darkness), and makes it possible to turn Molekule on or off.
At about 18 pounds and almost two feet tall, Molekule is practically an appliance. Luckily, it has its own carrying handle. If you want to move it from one room to another, you can pick it up and carry it with relative ease (if you're capable of lifting something that's 18 pounds).
When your filters are ready to be changed (every three months for the pre-filter and every six months for the PECO filter), you'll be sent new ones via a subscription. It's important for the health and effectiveness of Molekule to sign up for the subscription filters. Currently, there is no other way to buy replacements and the filters are the most important part of the air purifier. A subscription costs $65 every six months and includes one PECO filter and two pre-filters.
To replace the filters, you'll first turn off your Molekule, then press down on the cylinder and twist counter-clockwise. This lifts the top of the cylinder up so you can pull out the PECO filter from the top and open the drawer to pull out the pre-filter from the bottom. The pre-filter will be dirty, covered with dust, pollen, and other bits of stuff that has been drawn up from the fan. The PECO filter will be nearly clean. You won't even think it needs to be changed. That means it's working. Because it's destroying pollutants at a molecular level, you're not supposed to actually see what's left behind. Though it looks clean, the PECO filter still needs to be changed every six months if you want it to continue performing properly.
Molekule: What I like
When I first plugged the Molekule in and started it up, I immediately worried that it would be too loud and too bright to sleep with it running. I was wrong.
At the auto level, Molekule runs quieter than a fan running on low. It's actually a very pleasant sounding white noise, but not at all room-filling. If you're particularly sensitive to noise and don't like the sound of the fan, you can actually set it to Silent Mode and it will run at its lowest speed. It will still filter the air, just not with as much gusto.
As far as the blue light is concerned, I really didn't think I could sleep with it on. I can't sleep when my alarm clock numbers are too bright. This is a two-foot-tall cylinder that's emitting blue light for about a foot all the way around at the top. I was completely surprised to discover that I could sleep with the blue glowing light just fine.
If the light does bother you, and I wouldn't blame you if it did, you can set Molekule to Dark mode, which turns the light off. You don't want to leave it off all the time because it's the light that actually kills the micro-pollutants. Through the companion app, you can actually schedule a time for it to turn off and on. That way, you don't have to worry about remembering to turn it back on and it won't keep you awake through the night.
I change my house filters every six months because I know how important it is for filters to be clean. One of the most useful things about Molekule is its subscription service. Without even thinking or worrying about it, you'll receive a new set of filters every six months. You don't have to order anything, set a reminder, or even think about it for a second. The filters will just show up when you need them.
With a contraption such as this, you might worry about how to change the filter, but frankly, it's a pleasant experience. The Molekule design makes replacing filters actually a little fun, or at least something that makes you feel smart.
Speaking of design, Molekule looks like something Apple would make. It's like the Mac's hip, trendy younger sibling. Just as handsome, but actually a little bit cooler. When people see it in my house, they immediately ask, "What's that?" with the excited tone of a child seeing cotton candy for the first time.
Does it work? Having started out as a complete skeptical, I've been won over. It's not perfect. I still wake up with a stuffy nose and runny eyes sometimes, but not nearly as often as I do without it. Considering how bad my hay fever normally gets, I'd say Molekule has helped me through my most difficult time of the year. My significant other caught a cold during my testing of Molekule. I'm not going to assume that it saved me from catching the same cold, but I will say that I didn't get sick. Molekule does destroy viruses, including those same little rhinoviruses that cause the common cold.
Molekule: What I don't like
Molekule is very big. It's more like an appliance. Obviously, in order to purify a 600 square-foot room, Molekule needs to be big. But there is no mini Molekule. Whether your room is 600 square feet or 150 square feet, you get a two-foot-tall cylinder. Once the company solidifies its place in the air purifying industry, maybe it'll design a smaller unit, but for now, you may have to reconfigure your bedroom in order to fit your Molekule.
Price is the biggest hurdle to face when deciding to purchase something that clearly works well. Is it worth $800 plus $130 per year for the rest of your life? That's a hard one to answer.
Though Molekule definitely reduced my allergy symptoms, it didn't eliminate them altogether. If I was feeling particularly itchy eyes or a headache from my stuffed up nose, I couldn't just sit in my room for a half hour and suddenly stop feeling the symptoms. For $800, I kinda hoped it would.
Molekule air purifier
Does it improve my quality of life? Yes. Is it a miracle cure for all allergies, no. For some people, Molekule is too much purifier for the price. If you've never really felt compelled to use an air purifier, you might consider going with something less expensive to begin with. HEPA filters do work, just not as good as Molekule.
Molekule is for those people that have adverse reactions to airborne pollutants like pet dander, people who suffer from asthma and are particularly sensitive to VOCs, people that easily catch colds. If you've tried 10 different air purifiers, hoping to finally breathe well again and are always a little disappointed with the results, Molekule will probably be the 11th and final air purifier you get. For you, it's worth the price.
Though you're paying a premium for Molekule, the company's founder and his family understand that price shouldn't be a barrier to better health. They do offer a payment plan for as low as $45 per month (depending on your credit). In the end, it's still a lot, but can be possible if you can't fork over $800 at one time.
Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).
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