Filtrete FAP-SC02 Air Purifier Review: Well-known Brands Don’t Mean Everything

You probably know Filtrete as the 3M brand that makes those rectangular filters you invariably forget to change in your furnace or HVAC unit; which 3M says you should do every three months, by the way. 3M recently expanded the Filtrete brand to standalone air purifiers, including a pair of smart systems that debuted in 2020.

The line includes a pair of purifiers, both available in black or white. The smallest model FAP-SC02 reviewed here (3M shipped a white model) is designed to service up to 150 square feet. The largest model FAP-ST02 can handle up to 310 square feet. Apart from their size and coverage area, the two units are the same.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best air purifiers, where you will find reviews of competing offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide on the features to consider when purchasing this type of product.

The unit looks good, with a modern design that measures 17 x 12 x 9 inches (HxWxD) and weighs just over 10 pounds. Air is drawn in through both sides of the device, filtered, and emitted through the top. The airflow feels pretty fierce, but 3M specifies a single CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) of just 98. That’s a very low number but probably acceptable if you’re actually using it in a 150-square-foot room.

smart air purifier filtrete sc02 cfop white 3M filter

Filtrete’s Smart Console looks like a small trash can, in a good way.

All controls are touch-sensitive and mounted on top of the unit, including a four-speed fan (plus an automatic mode), three brightness levels for the controls (one of which turns everything off), a sleep timer. countdown (each tab alternates between 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24 hours) and an onboard filter life meter. Two indicators measure air quality: a numerical index and a color-coded LED (with five levels). 3M does not say specifically what these figures measure, but it is safe to assume that these are PM2.5 levels.

filtrete 3 app Christopher Null / IDG

Dig deep to find a replica of Filtrete’s onboard system controls.

An advantage of the unit is that it uses Standard size F2 filters (or Lowe’s Filtrete A2)So when it’s time to replace one (the company says a filter will last about 6 months), it should be relatively easy to pick one up rather than ordering it directly from the manufacturer. Filters cost around $ 22, which is pretty affordable.

On the downside, the unit is noisy. Even at its lowest power setting, the unit emits a hum that is audible from at least a room away. At higher settings, the noise is much louder and larger than you would expect given the size of the device.

To make matters worse, Filtrete offers a decidedly shaky mobile experience for this unit. Setup requires locating a 6-digit code inside the chassis, using it as a Bluetooth passcode, then connecting to your Wi-Fi network (on the plus side, you have a 2.4 / 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi adapter on board) . The drive seemed to connect normally to me, but a day later I kept getting an error saying the drive was “setting things up.”

A little research led me to discover that the unit had disconnected from the Wi-Fi network and that nothing I did would bring it back, on either frequency band. I finally tried removing it from the app and setting it up again. This was also problematic: the application could no longer discover the drive. Finally, another day later, the Filtrete was back and available to connect, and this time everything was completed successfully. Unfortunately, after configuring it again, I found that it was prone to losing its connection and spitting out random “System Error” messages when trying to change even the most trivial settings.

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