I purchased this product to replace an Air-O-Swiss unit that I recently reviewed for Epinions.
Recommend this product?
I already had in my possession a Venta LW24 unit which I was really happy with. I moved the LW24 to my home office to help keep it nicely humidified and to keep the air in the office clean and wanted something a little beefier to keep the bedroom suite clean and humid. I originally purchased an Air-O-Swiss 2055 unit after being told it was "better for less money" than the Venta. Those people were mistaken, the Air-O-Swiss unit was noisy and didn't evaporate very much water compared to the Venta machine. I took the Air-O-Swiss back and exchanged it for the higher capacity LW44 Venta unit and so far I have been very impressed.
The Venta Airwasher system is extremely simplistic in operation. A bottom reservoir unit holds water and a set of nylon wheels. The top of the unit consists of a multi-speed fan and a cog that drives the nylon wheels that sit in the water in the reservoir tank. As the fan runs it pulls air down into the bottom unit, which filters the air and passes clean, humidified air back into the room.
As simple sounding as it is, the Venta system really does work and works well. The LW44 unit is rated for humidifying an area about 750 square feet, assuming standard height ceilings. I have the unit in my bedroom and keep the door shut to keep the humidity seal intact. When I open the door and enter the bedroom from the rest of my home the difference in humidity is noticeable and immediate. I keep my unit on the "medium" fan speed setting and it still manages to evaporate around 2 1/2 gallons of water PER DAY. Every morning or evening I pop the top off and use a few trips with a pitcher to top off the water level. It is obvious to see how well the filter is working as a thick scum of dust and debris will collect along the bottom of the reservoir tank after just a week or two of operation.
Venta recommends cleaning of the unit about once every two weeks. They also recommend adding a water additive that helps prevent hard water stains (I also suspect the additive prevents algae or bacteria from growing in the water tank). The additive is pretty expensive, costing about $15 for a bottle that will last you for about 6 months (12 applications). I haven't found a generic replacement for this additive, but one might exist. Cleaning the unit consists of taking the bottom reservoir to a sink, removing the nylon water wheels and hosing the whole thing down with warm water. Although Venta doesn't recommend it, I expect that throwing the parts in the dishwasher would also probably be accepteable as they are made of a very heavy plastic/nylon and shouldn't deform in the dishwasher.
I suffer from pretty heavy dust and pollen allergies but haven't had any problems since having one of these units installed in the bedroom. I wake up without that scratchy nose and throat that plagues many folks who live in dry climates. I know that the unit is working because it keeps my room nice and humid and I can see how much junk it is pulling out of the air every time I clean it.
One drawback with this unit is that it is only rated for collecting particles that are 10 microns in diamater. Many airborne allergens like dust mite particles are supposed to be much smaller than this, around 1 micron in size. This unit really seems to help me with my allergies, but extreme allergy sufferers might be better served by a HEPA rated filtration system. I own a small HEPA filter system but the filter replacement cost and loud noise that the unit makes is unbearable.
I can definitely see why Venta is the #1 air purifier sytem for the home in Europe. It's a very simple system that is easy to use and cheap to operate over the long haul. Other than water, all that you have to do is put the additive in every couple of weeks and clean the parts. Venta even covers the unit with a full 10 year warranty, which is one of the longest in the business. Overall I am very satisfied with this unit, if it was a little more reasonably priced I could give it a five star rating. As it is, these units are very pricey. The 350 square foot model will run you around $300 and the 700 square foot model mentioned in this review will run around $420 (I got mine with a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond for $340). This is very expensive for something that probably costs under $100 to manufacture (although these units are made in Germany, NOT China I still can't quite justify the high price for what you get). All in all though this is a very satisfying solution for someone who needs humidification AND air purification and doesn't want a solution that requires expensive filter replacements.
Amount Paid (US$): 340
Battery Life: N/A
Noise Level: More quiet than most