The Winix 5500 is a newer model than the Winix 5300. Does that make the 5300 obsolete? Should you just automatically purchase the newer model without bothering to look back? Let’s see…
Winix Inc has established a place in a very crowded home air purifier market and maintained it well over the past few years. They’ve done that by offering a lot of value for your money. Good examples are the Winix 5300 and the follow-on model, the 5500, both of which are still produced and supported by Winix.
There’s a lot to like about both models.
For example, each offers essentially the same powerful fan that runs at four separate speeds: Quiet/Low, Medium, High, and Turbo. Each runs undetectably quiet on the lowest speed, a bare whisper at medium, and not really annoying at the high speed. Only in Turbo mode does the sound become (possibly) enough to interfere with conversation or hearing the TV easily. As a result of that fan and the filter system, both the 5300 and the 5500 have the same very respectable Clean Air Delivery Rates.
- 252 Pollen
- 248 Dust
- 236 Smoke
But those numbers do you little good unless you understand how CADRs are created. Without going into a lot of technical detail, they essentially measure how much air can be cleared in how much time.
The best thing to do if you don’t already own a home air purifier is compare those numbers to several other models of similar price. Comparing similarly priced models is key because you’ll see models, like the Blueair 503 for example, that list CADRs like 375 for all three categories. But it also costs double that of the Winix 5300 or 5500.
More Similarities – 3 Stage Purification System
The 5300 and 5500 have very similar filter systems. Each is a three stage system.
Stage 1 is a carbon filter. Carbon molecules in a mesh have a very large, chemically reactive surface area. That’s a fancy way of saying a lot of things stick to them and there are lots of places for them to stick. This section clears large dust particles, pet hair, and other room pollutants.
Winix filters offer less carbon than some other manufacturers model’s but they’re decent. In addition, they coat the filter with an antimicrobial compound to zap some microorganisms before they get to the HEPA filter in the next stage. That lengthens the life of the HEPA filter. However, some very sensitive buyers may object to the somewhat insecticide-like smell. It’s subtle, but some users do notice it.
Both models have this same advantage/drawback, so there’s nothing to distinguish them here except that the newer model has a slightly improved version. That is the 5500 filter’s odor is a little harder to detect.
Stage 2 is that previously mentioned HEPA filter and it hasn’t seen any significant change in filtration ability between the two models.
It’s not the equal of ones you’ll see in some high-end models like the awe-inspiring IQAir HealthPro Plus, but it’s good. On the other hand, that IQAir HyperHEPA model is three times or more the price of either Winix unit. The Winix HEPA certainly gets the job done, at least for all but the uber-sensitive. If you are, consider biting the bullet and buying something like the HealthPro.
Stage 3 in each model houses the company’s proprietary Plasmawave technology. That technology is Winix’s adaptation of something invented by Sharp and used in their Plasmacluster models. A plate inside generates positive and negative ions that are then expelled from the unit. They combine with airborne water molecules to produce hydroxyl radicals (negatively-charged OH molecules.
Those hydroxyls then break down VOCs (volatile organic compounds), such as those from cleaning products, gasoline exhaust fumes, and the like. They also zap airborne microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and the like – that can cause disease or generate allergic reactions.
There’s no major change between the two models because there was no need. That said, manufacturing quality has possibly improved a bit because there are many fewer complaints about the crackling noise from the ionizer. The 5300 has a noise that bothered some buyers; the 5500 seems to have improved on this.
Differences – Hepa Filter
The differences between the 5300, beyond improvements in quality control, are few and subtle, but may be important to some potential buyers.
First and foremost is the HEPA filter change between the two. The two filter the same but the HEPA filter in the 5500 is washable. That might not sound like much but it can be a big deal. HEPA filters are pricey and, despite what some manufacturers claim, do have to be changed sooner or later.
The one in the Winix 5300 was recommended to change about once per year. That will vary depending on room size and pollutant levels, of course, but it can only be stretched so far. By contrast, the HEPA in the 5500 can last the rated 2-3 years with proper care. Wash it well about every three months (when you change the carbon filter) and it will keep working at near-new capacity. That decreases your annual maintenance costs by two-thirds on this component.
One qualifier though. Washing, per se, doesn’t decrease the effectiveness. HEPA filters work as they do chiefly because of their physical characteristics, not any chemical coating. But no matter how well you wash them there will always be some material that doesn’t get removed and eventually the tiny ‘channels’ do get (at least partly) plugged.
More Differences – Remote Control
The other difference between both models is the remote control. The former lacked one but the 5500 has one. Whether that’s important to you is strictly a personal choice. Some owners barely use a remote for their home air purifier; others would suffer greatly without it.
The remote on the 5500 isn’t fancy but it is sufficient. It lets you set the fan speed manually and turn on/off the Plasmawave ionizer as well as the unit as a whole.
That said, both models are highly automatic. The sensor detects when to shift the fan speed. The sensor in the 5300 was an odor detector but the one in the 5500 is a particle detector. The difference is subtle and which works better is a matter of some controversy but both work well. So, whether you will feel the need for a remote control, even if you have limited movement ability, is an open question.
The Winix 5300 and the Winix 5500 are almost identical units. The differences are few and subtle. Both are fine mid-range home air purifiers. Which one is best for you, if either, only you can decide. Suffice to say, you can’t go wrong with either one if your room is not too large nor your nose, eyes, and lungs too sensitive. If they are, I recommend a higher end unit instead.