Love Pets? Hate Allergies? Is the Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 Fur Family the Answer?

Perhaps you have a faithful dog you love or a super-friendly cat you adore. Perhaps you would like to offer a badly treated animal a safe new home or perhaps you’re looking to surprise the kids with a cuddly family pet. It all sounds great in theory but there is a problem with pets. They create odors, they cast fur over your floor and clothes, they create dander and they trigger allergies. Now all of a sudden your great idea starts to lose its appeal!

However, all is not lost and there is a solution – an air purifier. The Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 Fur Family could be just the model you need.

You only need to search online to see that Alen have an excellent track record of creating a range of high-quality air purifiers to fit most budgets and requirements, but is their BreatheSmart FIT50 really all that ‘smart’ and most importantly, how does it perform when is comes to dealing with pet fur, dander, odors and allergy control?

Read on to find out exactly what I think of the FIT50 (Spoiler Alert – it’s great!)

Head straight to Amazon.com to check out this unit

 

UnitQuick Summary of Pros and Cons

Alen Air FIT50 Fur Family Bundle

Reviewer: Jase Davidson

HEPA-OdorCell filter system - customised filter, ideal for effectively removing pet odor and particles that aggravate allergies
Covers up-to 900 sq. ft. - great for a master bedroom, living room or open plan apartment
A range of colors and trim options - offers excellent flexibilty for integrating into your home
Get 50% off a second filter
Industry leading, genuine lifetime warranty (for US and Mexico only)

A very small number of units have failed within the first month
Filters can be expensive to replace

Price check on Amazon

What is an Air Purifier?

In a nutshell an air purifier is a device that cleans the air in your home. It removes potentially harmful particles, odors, mold and gases from the air by sucking in dirty air, running it through a variety of different filters and then blowing it back out as cleaner, purer and healthier air. For a more detailed description of air purifiers check out my quick guide.

Why is this great for people with pets?

The Alen FIT50 has a great feature that allows you to select a custom filter to meet your specific needs. The Fur Family bundle ships with 2 HEPA-OdorCell filters. These filters have been specifically designed to deal with the type of odors and air born particles that pets bring into your home.

The OdorCell works on 3 levels. An outer layer captures larger dust, hair and dog and bird dander. A HEPA filter then removes the microparticles, down to a size of 0.3 microns. At this size, the particles are more or less invisible to the human eye. To give the size some context, a human hair is about 100 microns wide. The HEPA filter captures fungi, bacteria, mold spores, dust mite faeces and pollen and a whole host of other microparticles that can trigger allergies or breathing problems. Filters that meet the HEPA standard are used in hospitals and by the military so they really are the gold standard as far as air filtration is concerned.

Filters that meet the HEPA standard are used in hospitals and by the military so they really are the gold standard as far as air filtration is concerned.

The 3rd layer of the Odor-Cell is an odor neutralizer. This is designed specifically to capture pet odors that come from damp dogs and overused cat trays!

Putting the Smart into BreathSmart

FIT50 – Red Light Quality Indicator

As the name suggests the BreathSmart has some smart technology about it (I’ve used the word smart far too many times now!).

Alen has a built-in sensor system that is continually monitoring the air quality in your home. A colored lighting system on top of the unit acts as a visual indicator.

  • Red – Heavy pollutants detected
  • Amber – Moderate pollutants detect
  • Blue – Maintaining pure air

The unit will automatically adjust the fan speed depending on the air quality status so you can simply switch it on and more or less forget about it while it takes care of keeping your indoor air clean.

Is it Noisy?

Most air purification units are not actually that noisy to start with, certainly not on the same level as air conditioners.

Alen has done their research and understands that most of us don’t want or need any additional noise in our homes. Most people are on the go all day getting on with the hustle and bustle of life and when it comes to relaxing at home you want to enjoy a quiet, calm haven of peace and tranquillity. If you’ve got young kids, like me, this is even harder to achieve! :-).

Basics of Noise Generation

To understand why something is noisy, you first need to understand where the noise comes from. The noise comes from 2 sources in an air purifier.

First is the fan that circulates the air; second is the noise created by the flow of air through the unit. Alen has analysed each and every component and designed the inlet, outlet and air flow paths to optimise the sound signature. This sound signature is designed to be low noise and at a frequency range that is beneficial to us. The result is a noise that is known as “Pink Noise“. This pink noise has a certain composition that works in tune with our brains and is less disruptive, even helping us sleep soundly. Check out this link on the effects of pink noise on sleep.

According to the Alen website the noise (in units called decibels) of the unit operating under each fan speed is as follows:

  • Speed 1: 32.4 dB (whisper);
  • Speed 2: 38.5 dB (light rainfall);
  • Speed 3: 44.5 dB (heavy rainfall);
  • Turbo:48.7 dB (box fan, medium)

Most of the time the unit should be running on speed 1, which is the maintenance speed. It’s only when some pollutant is detected that the fan will speed up and with it the noise. But even at the max speed is not too loud though.

How Does it Look?

First of all, let’s take a look at the design of the FIT50. Alen has definitely gone for simplicity with this unit and I like the results.

Many other air purifiers are not really designed to blend into your home, often making no attempt to hide unsightly air intake grills, screens, buttons and control panels. They also limit their appeal because they come in either a standard black or all white finish.

Alen’s designers, on the other hand, have created a classically simple design that looks great and comes in a huge range of front panel color options – 14 at the time of writing this article in April 2017.

Easy to Use Controls

The controls are placed neatly on top of the unit so they don’t break up the clean lines at the front and sides. This makes it simple to check the status of the unit or select one of its functions. The soft-touch blister type buttons give you a reassuring sense of feedback when you press them and are also easy to wipe clean if you need to.

The unit has a great selection of features that are simple to use and practical. I’ve listed a few of the best features and explained why they are especially useful.

What is an Ionizer and what does it do?

An Ionizer is used improve the effectiveness of the air filter. Ionized air particles are attracted to a charged surface inside the unit, a bit like the way static electricity attracts a balloon to your clothes or hair. This increases the effectiveness of the unit when it comes removing unwanted particles from the air.

There is some great research to back this up, with the UK National Health Service (NHS) seeing airborne infections drop to zero when they installed a negative air ionizer in their hospital wards.

The ionzer in the FIT 50 can be switched on or off manually from the control panel, giving you the choice to use it or not.

Timer

The timer is fairly basic on this unit, but simple to use. Press the timer button to toggle between switching the unit off after 2, 4, or 12 hours. I’m personally not sure when you’d use this feature if you have an auto mode, but it might come in handy at night time if you want to switch off the unit after you drop off to sleep.

Child-Friendly Lock Feature – Keeping little fingers safe and stopping them from interfering!

There are two features specifically designed to make the unit kid-friendly. The first is a lock feature; the second is a fan inlet guard. For the lock feature, you basically press and hold the lock button for a few seconds and it locks all the other options. Press and hold it again for around 5 seconds and it’ll unlock them again giving you access to change or select any of the options.

Toddlers love to explore new objects. A kid-friendly guard fits over the air intake so little fingers won’t poke down inside it.  The guard also stops children dropping other random things down these holes like pens, Lego, toast etc. This will help prevent them accidently damaging the unit so it’s well worth fitting if you have a young family.

Filter Life Indicator

The unit has built-in sensors that monitor the condition of the filter. A green light will come on when the filter is working effectively. It will change to yellow as a build up of particles captured from the air starts to affect the effectiveness of the filter. Finally, it’ll turn to red when the unit’s filter needs to be changed. The red light means that it’s no longer able to do a proper job of removing particles from the air. Replacement filters an be found on Amazon.com. The HEPA-OdorCell is recommended as the best filter for pets.

According to the Alen you should replace your filter every 12 months for normal usage patterns and around 8 months for heavy usage

While the main filter cell will need to be replaced, the pre-filter can be removed and washed or vacuumed to remove the larger particles it’s designed to capture. This can be done whenever you wish, but it’s probably worth doing every 6 months to keep it clean and working effectively.

Auto Mode – For Peace of Mind

The unit has 4 fan speeds (slow through to turbo). These can be selected manually by toggling through them using the fan button. Allowing you to select your own fan speed is useful as you might want to get an instant extra boost of odor elimination in certain circumstances, i.e. when a wet dog comes in out the rain or a cat has thoughtfully done their business in the indoor litter tray.

Alternatively, you can let the unit Smart Sensor technology control the fan speed. A sensor on the side of the unit continually monitors the air quality and then selects a fan speed that’s appropriate. This works in tandem with the air quality indicator mentioned at the start of the article.

Mobility – can it be moved around from room to room?

Yes! – the unit is light, weighing in at just under 17lbs so moving around it should be no problem. A discrete handle built into the top casing of the unit will help you easily lift the unit between rooms and up and down stairs. Remember to always keep one hand free to hold the handrail when going up and down the stairs – safety first 🙂

What is the Customer Feedback?

At the time of writing this review in April 2017, 85% of customers gave the unit either a 4 or 5-star rating on Amazon.com. Of these, 68% gave it the Maximum 5 stars.

Some of the positive quotes from reviewers on Amazon.com

  • “Great if you have pets and want to reduce odors…I now have multiple cats, and 2 dogs.” – 5 stars
  • “STOP… Go no further… THIS is the machine you NEED or WANT. I’ve had a dozen diff & this is the BEST. It’s worth EVERY PENNY” – 5 stars
  • “The internal fan is whisper-quiet but very powerful.” – 4 stars

Head over to Amazon.com to read the latest customer feedback

…and some of the lower 1 and 2-star feedback

  • “Stopped working after 20 days of use”
  • “It didn’t even turn on….”
  • “Stopped working after 30 days”

It would appear that the unit does have a very low number of early-life failures. On the plus side these are covered under the warranty but nonetheless it’s a pain to have to package up and return the unit. It’s also worth remembering that transporting these units, sometimes from the other side of the world, will result in some units being damaged so I don’t see it as being a specific issue with the FIT50. Most electrical products have a percentage of units that fail early on in their life.

It’s the nature of many consumer electrical products is to have a small percentage that will either be damaged in transit or fail within the first few weeks of operating so I personally wouldn’t be concerned with this. Almost no one was critical of the unit’s actual performance when it’s up and running.

What do you get in the Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 Fur Family Smart Bundle?

When you order the Alen Fur Family Bundle you get the following:

  • BreatheSmart FIT50 air purifier (120V)
  • 2 HEPA-OdorCell filter – designed specifically for pet and smoke (50% off ARP)
  • Quick start guide – get up and running in minutes
  • BreatheSmart FIT50 Owner’s Manual – full of useful information on the features and also covers how to change the filters.

The advantage of buying the bundle is that you get a starter pack of 2 HEPA-OdorCell filters with 50% off the retail value of the 2nd one so you save yourself around $60. This will be enough to keep you up and running for the first 18-24 months so you know that you’ll have no more outlay for around 1 1/2 to 2 years, depending on your usage.

What Warranty does the unit come with?

The unit comes with a lifetime limited warranty and a 60 day no quibble money back guarantee. This means if the unit fails at any time, be that after 6 months or after 5 years, you’re covered and if you just don’t like it and want your money back you’re also covered – just send it back within 60 days for your money back.

I loved my Alen HEPA Air Purifier and when it failed 5 years later, I was so disappointed…When I contacted Alen, they immediately reminded me that the product had a lifetime warranty, no questions asked and in 4 days, I had a new machine.

Will in Maine from Lincolnville, Me

 

Warranty Conditions

There are a few things worth noting about the warranty:

  • Firstly, the warranty is only valid in the US and Mexico so if buy this model from any other country or take it with you abroad then you’ll not be covered. The reason for this is that the unit is designed for 120v power supply. If you take it to another country you’ll need to use an adaptor for that country and Alen can’t guarantee that this won’t have an effect on the unit’s performance.
  • You need to operate and maintain the unit as per the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions. This means cleaning and replacing the relevant filters when required. The filter indicator light lets you know when they need to be changed.
  • There can be no signs of misuse or tampering. Obviously, if you drop the unit down a flight of stairs and the case is cracked and the unit doesn’t work, it most likely won’t be covered!

Final Verdict

One reviewer summed up this product nicely – “It’s an investment in your health!”

It’s more expensive than some models but it’s great value for money in terms of quality and features. One way to look at it is that it’s an investment in your health. Some people pay a lot of money on treatments for allergies and other conditions that could be related to poor air quality in their environment, but investing in a device that could reduce or eliminate the need for these at source could be far more cost effective, not to mention kinder to your health and your body.

The design is stylish without being too bold, with lots of color options. The auto mode makes easy to switch on and forget about, with peace of mind that your air will be cleaned automatically. It has a large 900ft coverage area so it’s great for most larger rooms and apartments. The 4 fan speeds offer flexibility in quickly filtering the air and the low noise operation shouldn’t keep you awake at night. Finally, it’s child-friendly features will suit families with young kids or those who enjoy occasional visits from grandchildren.

Customers rave about the FIT50 with the vast majority of them rating it 4 or 5 stars on Amazon.

My Rating:Price check on Amazon.com

Still not convinced this unit is for you?

Head over to my top 5 air purifiers for pet dander for reviews and recommendations of other great units designed specifically for homes with pets.


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