Seeking to emulate the Hyundai miracle in the auto industry, the
Koreans are coming to the air purifier market with
very competitive products.

The Idyll 280 and Idyll 200 air purifiers are Korean exports built by Woongjin Coway Co.

From its establishment in 1989, Coway has emerged as
a force in the Korean domestic market.

In Korea, Coway holds over 50 percent market share for
water filtration devices, and 40
percent of the domestic air purifier market.

This considerable installed
base supports the company’s bid to go global.

Going global means penetrating the overbuilt U.S. air cleaning market.

Coway recognizes that products sold in the U.S. will need different
look-and-feel from those directed toward Southeast Asia.

Idylis 280 Air Purifier
idylis 280 air purifier

So when the company launched stateside in Los Angeles in 2007, it
pursued a two-tiered strategy.

Premium products would compete just
below the allergy-shop space, and second-tier mass market air cleaners would attack
the (Clean Air Delivery Rate) CADR buyers roaming aisles in big-box retailers.

The Korean-built Coways, sold in the US as the RabbitAirs, are reviewed
positively here.

Coway’s Idylis-branded second-tier products have been picked up
and marketed exclusively by big box retailer Lowe’s.

Idylises appeared on Lowe’s
shelves in April, 2009, after the Hunter Permalife filter debacle closeout.

I think Lowe’s purchasing department made a better choice this time.

So this is a preliminary review of two brand new products, based on zero consumer feedback,
to be updated as such feedback becomes available.

Lowes’ offers five Idylis models with brand names based on CADR rate;


Idyll 100 – $ 89
Idyll 125 – $ 128
Idyll 150 – $ 167
Idyll 200 – $ 246
and Idylis 280 – $299.

Only two models are covered here, the lower-powered Idylises lack the automated
controls found on the top Idylis models: IAP-10-280 and IAP-10-200.

The squarish 280 sells as Lowes Item number 302655 for $299.00,
while the tall Idylis 200 Air Purifier goes for $246.00 as item number
302654.

While the Lowes website states the Idylis 200 to be available primarily
online, my local store in Bastrop, Texas, had both models available.

Idylis – Strong AHAM Certified CADR

These machines appear to have been designed for CADR-marketing.

That means strong fans and loose fitting filters – reduced efficiency, especially
where tiny sub-micron sized particles are concerned.

CADR ratings for the “280” are;


Dust – 290,

Tobacco Smoke – 280,

Pollen – 285.

These are strong numbers – typical CADRs run from 100 (too weak) to a maximum of 450 (very rare).

AHAM rates the Idylis 280 for a 434 square foot room.

As usual, this is overstated.

But if the claimed noise specifications quoted below
prove accurate, the big Idylis might be able to run on higher
speeds and earn a room size larger than its CADR.

Until more facts come to light, I’m recommending the 280 for
applications to a maximum of 320 sq. ft.

CADR ratings for the “200” are;


Dust – 215,

Tobacco Smoke – 200,

Pollen – 215.

AHAM rates the Idylis 200 for a 310 square foot room –

I recommend it for no more than 230 sq. ft.

HEPA Filters

Coway designed the Idylis series air cleaners around a modular set of filters
that can be combined in different ways in multiple machines.

So the 280 uses 2 separate Idylis HEPA filters, part numbers IAF-H-100C and
IAF-H-100D, laid sideways. Hence the square profile.

Idylis 200 Air Purifier
idylis 200 air purifier

The 200 Idylis uses 2 identical HEPA filters of the IAF-H-100C designation, stacked
longways. This gives the Idylis 200 a “tall boy” profile.

Nobody is going to switch these two by mistake.

With a new brand like Idylis, availability of replacement filters
in the future is a concern.

Replacements for the 280 are $44.98 and
$24.98, for a total of about $70 plus tax and shipping.

Idylis 200 uses two of the $24.98 size, bringing the tab to $50 plus tax and
shipping.

These are pretty reasonable filter costs.

Idylis HEPA filter model IAF-H-100D is sold as Lowes item number 306188.

Idylis IAF-H-100C filters go under Lowes item number 302650.

While the Idylis’ labels call for “Up to 18 month filter life,” I’d expect more frequent
filter changes in the average home.

Activated Carbon Pre-Filter

Each machine uses 2 polyester-mesh type carbon-impregnated
prefilters, which must be cut to size by the user.

This is a weak area.

I think Idylis air purifiers lack sufficient
prefiltering – a permanent fiberglass screen as used on the Sharp,
Winix, and Mitsubishi (RabbitAir) air purifiers would have been appropriate here.

And, of course, the small amount of carbon present will foul rapidly
where smoking or other odors and chemicals are present.

However, this is consistent with practice in the big-box
air cleaner space.

Idylis number IAF-C-100U universal prefilter kits were on the shelf at Lowes, item 302656, for $17.98.

This HEPA installation also lacks perfect sealing around the
filters, which fit somewhat loosely in the case.

Overall efficiency
and fine particle removal may be compromised, but again,
this is common in the middle market.

UV-C Lamp

A UV-C lamp sits behind a chromed deflector in the upper filter tray, but little
information is provided beyond “Eliminates germs and bacteria”
on the packaging.

From appearance, I make this UV installation 6 Watts or less, low
powered.

Idylis Electronics

Automation of air purifiers has been a disappointment.

There have been previous low cost automated
air purifiers, notably from Hamilton Beach and Panasonic.

But these sold poorly and have all but disappeared.

I remember the last steam locomotive, and telephones that you had to
crank before they worked.

Computers less powerful
than the three on my desk once cost millions of dollars and
sat in locked climate controlled rooms.

But today’s automated air cleaners do not deliver on the promise.

I recommend manually running the Idylis air purifiers on the highest speed
that doesn’t interfere with activities.

Idylis auto mode uses one dust sensor to select one of three fan
speeds according to ambient particulate levels.

Another handy device is the current air quality indicator, a LED
that shows the user three levels of particle contamination.

Pollen and other particulate allergy sufferers will find this feature
useful

A timer allows programmable settings or 2 hours, 4 hours,
or 8 hours running time.

The tiny remote control is just large enough to fit in the hand.

A thoughtful night light button can turn off the display for bedtime use.

Idylis’ filter change indicator is a simple timer with reset button.

The front panel is wired with a safety switch to prevent operation
when the panel is loose or removed.

Noise

Asians have many obstacles to success in the U.S. market, one
is communication, as many mis-wordings on their
websites demonstrate.

Experienced air cleaner buyers place a priority on
genuinely quiet operation, day and night.

A label on the 280 package is the only evidence of Idylis
noise emissions I could locate.

It states, in fine print, “Quiet performance at only 42.5 dB on high speed.”

What?

If documented better, this would be a major marketing point!

We are looking at
290 CADR, under $300, and only 42 d(B)A noise.

For comparison, my near silent Sharp Plasmacluster does 50 d(B)A
at an estimated 205 CADR.

If true, this noise spec makes the Idylis 280 the quietest air purifier
on the market on a noise-to-power ratio basis.

The RabbitAir MinusA2 mentioned above is quiet, but costs almost
twice as much as 280 Idylis.

Airgle 750 is the strong silent type, but costs $799.

Idylis is very, very quiet when compared to the big-box retail model’s
low quality competition.

Size

280 measures 10.8 inches deep by 20.0 wide by 27.9 inches tall.

Idylis 200 dimensions are 11.9 in. deep by 11.8 wide by 32.9 in tall.

The Idylises are EPA ENERGY STAR listed,
Idylis 280 is rated at 2.88 CADR/Watt, the 200 is rated 2.84 C/W.

Idylises are covered by a limited 5-year warranty, long for
the segment.

Corporate

Woongjin Coway, USA

246 North Western Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90004-4108

Phone: (213) 388-2010

Corporate Headquarters:

Woongjin Coway Co., LTD

658 Yugu-Ri, Yugu-Eup, Kongju-City

Chung-male,: Korea

Conclusions

While the Idylis brand is no threat to the premium segment,
it is a value brand which is poised to take market share from
brands long established in the big box retail area.

Look out Hunter, Holmes, Whirlpool, and Honeywell, the Hyundais
of the air purifier world are coming.

Folks cruising the
retail space could consider the Idylis 208 or 200 as an alternative
to these established brands where larger diameter particle pollution, such as mold
spores or pollen, is the target allergen.

Air Purifiers at Amazon.com.

Idylis Replacement Filters by Crucial Air at Amazon.com.

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