For 60,000 MNT, you'll get a fan, a HEPA filter, and a strap. It comes pre-assembled and shipping from China is included.
Stronger fan, lower particle counts, and faster clean air. If you're looking to clean a larger area, check out our powerful Cannon kit. Same HEPA, just pushing more air through it.
HEPA filters are what trap small particles like PM 2.5, and they're not expensive! We buy ours straight from the factory so we can pass the savings on to you.
(average percent reductions, based on 8-hour tests in a 15 m2 bedroom)
(based on a 1-hour test in a 1 m2 bathroom with a source of PM.5 pollution. Get the full story here.)
Suitable for normal-sized rooms
Suitable for larger spaces
Check out Particle Counting for more details.
1 fan, 1 filter, and 1 strap.
60,000 MNT or $32 USD.
In stock, ready for pickup!
1 fan, 1 filter, and 1 strap.
150,000 MNT or $74 USD.
1 HEPA filter (Original/Cannon).
25,000/28,000 MNT or
1 carbon filter.
22,000 MNT or $11 USD.
3,000 MNT or $1.60 USD.
1 velcro strap.
3,000/4,000 MNT or
All items only available for local pickup in Ulaanbaatar. Currently we do not offer shipping within Mongolia.
We run workshops to let people know it doesn't cost hundreds of thousands of tughriks to get clean air. Participants make filters to take home, and we test them on the spot with a particle counter.
Sign up for our Mongolia mailing list to hear about future workshops and new arrivals of filters.
This is the easiest question to answer, and we do it by holding a Dylos DC1100 Pro particle counter in front of the purifier and watching the numbers drop. Here's a video of Thomas doing just that:
Answering this question is more difficult because you need a controlled environment (for example, you don’t want to walk in and out of the room during the test), and you need to test the air for a longer period of time. But fortunately for you, Thomas is a huge nerd and does this kind of thing for fun.
To answer this, Thomas set up the particle counter on one side of his 13.5 m2 bedroom and put the DIY filter on the opposite side of the room. Here's what our filter did in one hour:
And over the course of eight hours:
The particle counter also gives data on .5 micron particles — even smaller than the 2.5 micron reading. Here's what that looks like over eight hours:
For fellow nerds, here are some more details on how the tests were conducted:
The test above was done starting at 11:30 pm on 6/16/2013, when the outside AQI in Beijing was 230 according to the US embassy's AQI Twitter feed. (The outside air improved the next day, but results were similar on a later test where AQI actually went up slightly from 195 to 202 during the test.)
According to comparisons of our particle counter's tests of outside to US embassy AQIs, an AQI of 230 would convert to about 2,650 on the PM 2.5 count on the reader. (Remember, the particle counter gives the raw number of particles 2.5 micrometers and above per .01 cubic feet. The US embassy takes mg/m3 and converts that to an AQI. Therefore, the raw numbers are different, but they correlate highly. You can think of this as the difference between measuring attendance at a basketball game by the number of people in the stadium versus the total weight of those people. The two numbers are highly correlated, but not identical.)
Thomas did the test in his bedroom with the doors and windows closed. The room is 13.5 m2, with two windows.
The particle counter tends to take 5-10 minutes to get stable readings, so to be conservative, Thomas gave it about an hour:
The spike at the top was when Thomas entered the room to turn the air purifier on and reset the machine, so it may be the dust he kicked up by walking around. A more stable reading for that time would probably be about 230.
The uptrend prior to turning the filter on may have been because Thomas was running a dehumidifier (which itself has some small filters) in the room before the tests.
Regardless, this data suggests that the effect of the filter was not a confound of calibration.
Thanks to kind souls who donated a BlueAir 203/270E (1.1m MNT), a Philips AC4072 (940,000 MNT), and an IQAir Health Pro (2.7m MNT) we've finally been able to test the DIY against expensive brands in the same room, for the same amount of time, with the same particle counter.
To do that, Anna ran 11 overnight tests with the BlueAir, 9 tests with the Philips, and 11 tests with the IQAir. Thomas calculated effectiveness as percent reduction in particulates from the room air. Anna tested the air before she turned on the air filter, and then set the particle counter to take hourly measurements of the air in her 15 m2 Beijing bedroom. Anna used the highest setting on each filter.
All of the filters significantly reduced particulates, but the 150,000 MNT Cannon removed as many particles as the highest-performing big brand. Even the 60,000 MNT Original was only 6% behind the Blue Air on the .5 micron particles and 4% behind on the 2.5 micron particles.
Among the different brands, there seems to be no relationship between price and particulate removal:
For fellow nerds, here are more details on our data and methods:
Methods: Anna turned the purifier on the highest setting before she went to bed at night and turned it off after she woke up. To measure particulates, she used a Dylos particle counter, which measures particles .5 microns and above and 2.5 microns and above per .01 cubic foot. The particle counter took one measurement each hour.
Calculating Effectiveness: Thomas calculated effectiveness as the percentage of particles the purifier removed from the room air. The baseline was the particle count before turning on the purifier. The final count was the average number of particles over the last four hours before Anna woke up. We prefer this over comparisons to outside air because:
2. The baseline room number takes into account how dirty the outdoor air is because indoor particulates go up and down with outside air.
However, the drawback is that outdoor particulates sometimes go up after the test starts (lowering estimates of effectiveness) and sometimes go down (raising estimates). However, these average out over multiple tests, and the results are similar if you look only at days where outdoor particulates were relatively stable.
Room: Anna's bedroom is 15 m2, located in Chaoyangmen, Beijing. The doors and windows were closed while Anna slept, but she opened the door at various times in the very beginning of the test before she went to sleep. Although the doors and windows were closed, the apartment isn't new, and the seal isn't great.
For more details on the methods, see the end of Thomas's earlier post. All methods were identical to those earlier tests.
Filter Life: After all the tests were done, the IQ Air said the pre-filter had 1,931 hours of use left, the carbon filter had 3,077 hours, and the HEPA had 1,910 hours. Thus, the filter was in its prime.
Outlier: Of the 11 tests, one day was a strong outlier. On May 22nd, the IQ Air got only 68% of the .5 micron particles. Normally when we see poor results, it's because the outdoor air got a lot dirtier during the night. But on May 22nd, the outdoor concentration fluctuated between 74 and 110 micrograms, which isn't out of the ordinary.
Because we couldn't see any reason the results were poor that night, we left the data in. If we redo the analysis with that day included, the results are only slightly better: 93.0% of .5 micron particles and 96.5% of the 2.5 micron particles. That would put the IQ Air about equal with the Philips and still 4% below the Cannon.
Have any questions about testing? Send us an email!
We're not PhDs in fluid dynamics, but we love to talk shop about clean air.
No. Thomas, our data guru, is a PhD student in psychology at the University of Virginia. But we're firm believers in honest presentation of empirical data. Our philosophy is that no one should believe us just because we say so. Instead, we openly publish our data and methods so you can see how we reach our conclusions and judge for yourself. And we own a particle counter.
In our tests, our Cannon DIY outperformed a BlueAir and a Philips, so in a sense, yes! However, it's important to remember that these results are based on overnight particulate reductions in a 15 m2 bedroom, and don't take into account other room sizes or gas pollution (for example, carbon monoxide). But if particulate pollution is your primary concern (it's our main concern!) and your bedroom is 15 m2 or smaller (most are), then the DIY filters we sell perform about the same as (or in the Cannon's case, better than) the expensive brands.
You can! We have links on our Particle Counting blog. We're more committed to spreading the knowledge that HEPA filters are a cheap way to effectively combat air pollution than we are to making money, so we'd never discourage anyone from buying the same parts elsewhere.
We just try to make the parts easier to get for people who don't want to scour Taobao for the best filters. People have also emailed us saying that some stores stop carrying fans in the winter and that some HEPA manufacturers don’t sell in small orders. We buy in bulk so we can offer a low, flat rate (60,000 MNT) that includes shipping from China. By buying with us, you also know that you’re getting HEPAs that we tested personally for effectiveness.
Currently our products are only available for local pick-up in Ulaanbaatar.
Not tons. So far we're making enough to pay modest salaries to the people on the team, although Thomas is still working full-time for free. Any leftover cash goes to buying testing equipment and to development of our soon-to-be commercially produced affordable air purifier.
Big purifier companies have nice-sounding numbers for HEPA longevity--6 months! But what is that based on? And if a HEPA lasts 6 months in Sweden, will it last 6 months in Beijing or Ulaanbaatar? To get to the bottom of it, Gus tracked how much particulate his DIY Original removed in his Beijing apartment everyday for 200 days.
Results? In real Beijing air, effectiveness dropped significantly after about 140 days (almost 5 months) at 8 hours a day or about 1,000 hours total. See the full results and method here.
Remember that this result may not hold for the Cannon. So now we're doing a Cannon longevity test!
Thomas tested this by setting a Cannon to turn on and off automatically in an empty room over the course of six days, and recorded how quickly particulates rose and fell. On average, the Cannon cut .5 micron particulates in half in 10 minutes. By 20 minutes, it removed 80%. That's pretty fast, so unless you have noticeable symptoms there's no need to leave it running while you're not at home. It's fine to turn the purifier on when you get home. See the full results and method here.
Even in a room with the doors and windows closed, our tests found that particulate levels increased very quickly after the purifier was turned off. Dirty air is entering our homes constantly, even though we can’t see it. That's why we don't recommend turning the purifier off while you sleep. See the full results and method here.
Don't see your question answered? Get in touch and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
Smart Air is a small social enterprise that promotes DIY air filters as a low-cost solution to indoor particulate air pollution in Mongolia.
In January 2013, PhD student Thomas Talhelm wondered why air purifiers cost so much. He was living in China at the time and bought a HEPA filter on Taobao, strapped it to a simple fan, bought a particle counter, ran some tests, and published the results on a blog he called Particle Counting.
When people said they had trouble finding the right type of fan and a trustworthy HEPA, Thomas and his friends Gus and Anna decided to launch Smart Air in September 2013 to ship fans and the best HEPAs they could find to people all over China.
Smart Air believes that if more people saw our opensource data and testing, more people would know that clean air doesn't have to cost hundreds of thousands of tughriks.
Aware about the air pollution crisis in Mongolia, Smart Air has recently expanded to the land of Chinggis Khan!