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Winix 5500-2 review

The Winix 5500-2 is an above-average air purifier that stands out for its “Plasmawave” technology

Winix 5500-2 on floor in living room
(Image: © Winix)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Winix 5500-2 is an above-average air purifier that stands out for its “Plasmawave” technology.

Pros

  • +

    Unique “Plasmawave” technology

  • +

    Air quality indicator

  • +

    Remote control included

Cons

  • -

    Expensive filters

  • -

    Large and plain design

Winix 5500-2: Specs

Size: 23.6 x 15 x8.2 inches
Weight: 15 pounds
Suggested room size: 360 square feet
Filters: True HEPA, "plasmawave", carbon filter, and pre filter
CADR (smoke/dust/pollen): 232/243/246
Speeds: Four speeds and auto mode
Noise level (db): 35.3/59.8
Energy use: 0.105 kWh in 24 hours
Warranty: Two year limited warranty 

The Winix 5500-2 is an air purifier with massive potential and is one of our top recommendations. With a style all its own and the ability to cleanse a room of most pollutants, we found it offered almost everything you could want from an air purifier — that’s why it’s one of the best air purifiers.  

In a crowded market of air purifiers from well known brands, Winix proves that you don’t need to have a tech following in order to create quality. It also has an entirely unique function, “Plasmawave” technology, that can be turned on or off when needed to improve its performance. Want to know more? Here is our Winix 5500-2 review. 

Winix 5500-2 review: Price and availability

The Winix 5500-2 comes with a middle-range price tag at $249, although it’s often reduced down to $180. It’s available from retailers including Amazon, Target, Wayfair and directly from Winix America. It’s only available in black. Replacement filters start from $46, which is quite steep compared to others on the market.  

Winix 5500-2 review: Design

Without a doubt, the appearance of the Winix 5500-2 won’t be to everyone’s taste. Its black plastic shell is covered in slopes and edges, and it looks more like an upright printer than an air purifier. The design is more likely to blend into any home decor than become the center of attention, which isn’t really a bad thing.  

This air purifier does feel plastic however, and it’s heavy as well. It comes in at around 15 pounds, making it the second heaviest air purifier we tested, next to the BlueAir HealthProtect 7470i. Saying that, the HealthProtect comes with a whole touch screen and a pair of wheels to help move it around, whereas the Winix 5500-2 does not. There is a handle directly under the top lip that makes it slightly easier to drag around though, and there isn’t any protruding plastic that could catch you in transit. 

Winix 5500-2 on floor

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

So what makes up that weight? The Winix 5500-2 comes with three layers of filters: a pre-filter, a carbon filter, and a HEPA filter. Each is stacked on top of one another, with the pre-filter snapping in last to keep everything from jiggling around.

In terms of settings, it features an auto mode, a night mode that dims the front light, and four manual fan speeds. There’s also a timer for one, four, or eight hours that will automatically power down the device. In auto mode, the air purifier automatically changes the speed of the fan depending on the level of pollutants it detects in the room. It features a colored light to show the current status as well; blue means it’s fine, yellow means it’s ramping up and red means it detects a high level of pollutants and needs to work over time.

Winix 5500-2 settings buttons

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Then there’s the “PlasmaWave” technology, which can be turned on by a button on the top of the console. According to Winix’s website, the mode “creates Hydroxyls to neutralize bacteria and viruses without producing harmful ozone” and “is effective in cleaning and eliminating all types of pollutants, and especially useful in reducing viruses and bacteria from the air.” It claims to create an electrical discharge that uses ions in the air to remove pollutants. We didn’t notice any change to the air purifier when the “PlasmaWave” was active, but it sounds like a neat piece of technology.

Winix 5500-2 review: Ease of use

This air purifier is easy to set up and get running straight out of the box; just take the front lid off, remove the tape on the pre-filter, and take the next two filter layers out of their plastic bags. Then replace everything and you’re ready to go.

Once you plug in the Winix 5500-2, you’ll be greeted with a nice little chime that makes it sound like a Star Wars droid. For the first 30 seconds, you’ll see the Winix cycle through a series of colors on its front panel while it boots up.

The 5500-2’s manual is only a single page, which shoves as much information onto it as possible. That means it contains a very small font, which is hard to read without a magnifying glass. 

Winix 5500-2 remote control

(Image credit: Winix)

But, the included remote control does make using the Winix 5500-2 a bit easier — you can adjust the modes without any issue from afar (though you can’t activate Plasmawave with it). The controls on the device itself are very simple to use as well — we didn’t even need the manual and rarely touched the remote when testing.

Winix 5500-2 review: Performance 

When put through CADR testing, the Winix 5500-2 proved to be a powerful air purifier, handling smoke, pollen, and dust well with a CADR rating of 232, 243, 246 respectively. Consequently, it’s suggested for use in rooms up to 360 square feet. This result was decent enough, but be aware that there are other air purifiers that can clean rooms more efficiently like the BlueAir HealthProtect 7470i. Having said that, the HealthProtect is more than twice the price, and a higher CADR may only be necessary if your air purifier is working in a larger space, so make sure the rating reflects what you need.

In terms of noise, the Winix 5500-2 performed fairly well. At its lowest setting, it barely added a decibel to our average room reading with 35.3 decibels, but at max speed, it was nearly double that at 59.8 decibels. This is above average for an air purifier, but not the noisiest. Keep in mind, if you have the device on auto mode, it should only reach this volume when the max fan speed is required, such as when you are cooking or kicking up dust, both of which are fairly loud activities anyway. At night, it shouldn’t keep you up with its loud blaring fan either, thanks to the thoughtful night mode.

Winix 5500-2 air purifier

(Image credit: Winix)

And as for energy usage, the Winix 5500-2 was one of the most economical. Over a 24-hour period on auto mode, the 5500-2 used .105 kWh, which averages to around four dollars a year. It achieved this low power usage in part due to the fact that it turns its fan off in auto mode when it doesn’t detect contaminants in the air. Most air purifiers will just continue running constantly at a low speed, but the Winix picks and chooses when it’s best to purify the air. In this auto mode, it won’t turn off completely, but rather go on standby where the fan doesn’t run, but the sensors are still active.

Winix 5500-2 review: Verdict

The Winix 5500-2 is a top-tier air purifier that would make a great addition to any home. True, it doesn’t have quite as strong a CADR performance when put up against our winning air purifier, the BlueAir Blue Pure 211+ Auto. It’s also a much simpler device when compared to beasts such as the BlueAir HealthProtect 7470i, but you don’t need all the bells and whistles to get clean air and the Winix ultimately provides a quality performance. 

If you don’t mind having to occasionally splurge out on expensive filters, then we recommend giving the Winix a shot. It might not have the same futuristic glow compared to others, despite the ‘Plasmawave technology’, but it's got the auto mode and multiple layers of filtration to keep up. Plus, the remote control gives it added convenience which few others provide.  

Hope Glendon is a chef and writer who reviews air purifiers for Tom's Guide. She used a number of models in her home for more than three months, evaluating their ease of use, noise levels, and how good they are at eliminating impurities from the air — which comes in very handy for her, as her kitchen is often in need of deodorizing after cooking any number of dishes. When she's not testing air purifiers, Hope works for some of New York City's most prestigious catering companies, and has carved out a niche in the world of high-end events. She's also available as a private chef for when an event needs a special touch.