In some ways, Meross seem to have come out of nowhere in the last 12+ months, to become one of the top manufacturers of HomeKit enabled products. Whilst some of their products may look generic, off-the-shelf items you can buy elsewhere (without HomeKit compatibility, I should add), clearly some of their products are bespoke to a large degree. Today’s product we’re reviewing – the Meross Smart WiFi Air Purifier – seems to be one such device, which has been released in a marketplace where, only a year ago, there was little choice. in the latter half of 2021, we’re now seeing more HomeKit compatible air purifiers hit the shelves, with the Molekule Air Mini+, the Sensibo Pure, and the Smartmi P1. How does Meross’ offering stack up against the competition, and will an expected part of the device that it’s missing be an issue? Read on to learn more…
The packaging for the latest Meross product is a step up from the rather plain box I received for their UK smart plug a while back. If you do happen to see this in a physical store, pretty much everything is mentioned on all sides of the box, including compatibility with HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa, a long list of features, and details on the included HEPA13 filter, which also comes with a pre-filter to capture hair and large dust fragments etc, and an Active Carbon Filter to help remove odours from the air.
THE AIR PURIFIER
The MAP100HK, to give it its model name (they also make a non-HomeKit version), comes in at 2.3kg / 5.07lb, and has the following dimensions;
185 x 185 x 380mm (WDH)
7.28 x 7.28 x 14.96in (WDH)
Noise levels are listed on the Meross website as between 24 – 48dB, with sleep mode being the quietest. In terms of the fan speed levels, you get – Sleep, Low, Medium, and High.
the base of the air purifier has a screw lid with a large handle to make it easy to open and replace the included filter. There are also markings to show the position the lid should be in when you’re locking or unlocking it, which I hadn’t previously noticed, resulting in me initially struggling to lock the lid.
The base of the purifier comes with four standard rubber feet to stop it from slipping about on a smooth floor like ours. The included filter looks fairly generic, with seemingly very similar-looking filters available for the Smartmi P1, the Sensibo Pure, and some of the Xiaomi air purifiers, although I’m just going by a quick visual comparison, so I’m not sure how different this and other filters are. The top of the filter also includes a section for you to fill out the date when you first started using it, so as to remind you to replace the filter, although of course, this doesn’t take into account potentially long periods where it may not get used. So unless you plan to have this running 24/7, it seems unnecessary, especially given that HomeKit and the Meross app will also report on the filter life. How this is achieved, I’m not sure, but apparently, the Xiaomi filters have a chip that measures the life of their filters.
The main body of the purifier is made of metal, which Meross also mention as a ‘feature’ on the packaging. Whilst I’m not sure you could consider it a feature, it does lend itself to appearing more ‘premium’ than you might otherwise expect. Having been testing the ‘Sensibo Pure’ as well, which uses plastic for pretty much the whole product, I can say that the Meross does feel better for having used metal. The plastic used in the Sensibo does unfortunately cheapen the overall appearance. Will it matter to most? Possibly not, but to me, it certainly makes a minor difference.
What does come as a surprise is that Meross use a USB-C port and power supply to power the purifier. It’s not that it shouldn’t be capable of such things, and in some ways, I guess it’s welcome compared to a more non-standard connector. The other end of the USB-C cable has a permanently fixed power supply, and in my case, as this was supplied by Meross’ Hong Kong supplier, it came with a Type G plug you find in the UK. I’ve yet to work out if I can use a suitably powerful USB power brick that I can use a regular USB-A to USB-C cable with to power it.
THE CONTROL PANEL
Like any air purifier, smart or not, the Meross has a control panel at the top and centre of the device, much like the Smartmi P1. The controls are limited to just one button, however, that acts as a power button, speed/mode change button, and for resetting the device where necessary.
The button is touch-sensitive, and only requires a light touch to change the status of the device; a short tap turns the device on (it will start up in the speed or mode it was last in when turned off), whilst further short taps go through the four speeds – Sleep, Low, Medium, and High. A long press turns the device off. Whilst I’m quite familiar with the concept of a long press due to the various wireless switches in our HomeKit home, the length of time required to turn off the purifier is a little too long in all honesty, so I’m hoping this can be looked at and adjusted in a future update.
The four dots you can see contain green LEDs that will light up depending on the mode and speed of the fan, with the bottom LED lighting up when in Sleep mode, and the subsequent dots lighting up in relation to the other three fan speeds.
Despite this one issue, controlling the purifier manually is foolproof, and taking that in tandem with the simple uncluttered design of the top section, shouldn’t confuse anyone.
THE MEROSS APP
As I’ve shown the process of adding a device to HomeKit, either via the Home app or the manufacturers’ own app, I won’t go into the details, but I generally add a device through the relevant company’s own app, and did so with the Meross product. In almost all instances, it’s a case of scanning the HomeKit QR code, even when it’s not the Home app, and this was the case with the Meross app. Once added, it simply showed up in the Home app/HomeKit without any extra input from myself.
The last time I used the Meross app was whilst reviewing the Meross smart plug, and I don’t recall it looking as nice as this! It does look pretty much as good as most of the better third-party apps, although this app isn’t what you could consider a full HomeKit app, as it doesn’t give you access to other HomeKit devices in your home, and doesn’t even have an automation section. All the controls you need are clearly laid out, and it’s an all-round easy app to use.
In the app you also have an option to reset the life cycle of the filter, which leads me to believe that it must have some countdown mechanism based on how long the purifier has been running, and at what speed(s), to determine when the filter needs replacing. This function, while not exposed to the Home app, is exposed to third-party apps, like Eve for HomeKit etc.
In the settings section, you get access to a few features not exposed to HomeKit. There are options to turn the LEDs or the beep sound on or off, as well as the aforementioned filter life-cycle reset, and a WiFi signal strength indicator. You also need the app for any future firmware updates.
THE HOME APP
In the Home app, it’s a fairly straightforward set of options, which leads us to the original point I mentioned in the first paragraph in this review, regarding a missing part. In a nutshell, unlike all other air purifiers I’ve tested, the Meross doesn’t come with any sensors – not even a PM2.5 sensor. This did come as a surprise, as in essence, it means that the device can’t work autonomously – meaning without an air quality sensor, it can’t operate by itself. More on that in a minute, but this is why the purifier here only has one tile and one ‘service’, unlike, for example, the Vocolinc PureFlow, which offers a total of four services – the purifier itself, along with sensors for temperature, humidity, and PM2.5 levels. It’s also fair to point out that the PureFlow is more than twice the price of the Meross, but I still think not having a PM2.5 sensor is going to turn some heads.
So, in the Home app, you get control of the fan speed and power, as well as the ability to control the child lock. The app will also show the life and condition of the filter, I assume based on the data from the Meross app.
That said, I’ve always been concerned that PM2.5 sensors built into devices are quite possibly going to be inaccurate as they (I assume) are only measuring the air immediately surrounding the device, which, if the air purifier is active, is already going to be cleaner than the air further out from the device and its sensor. With this possibly/probably being the case, I tend to rely on external sensors anyway, so in my case, it’s not really an issue. If you don’t have a PM2.5 sensor, then as I see it, you have three options; buy a HomeKit compatible PM2.5 sensor (there are a few around), rely on an app that reports on local air quality, and hope it works with IFTTT somehow in order to activate the purifier when necessary, or simply buy a purifier that does come with a built-in sensor.
To be fair, I’m not even sure how many people solely rely on built-in PM2.5 sensors for their purifiers, and with all my purifiers, I’ve always set up automations involving separate sensors to trigger the relevant purifier. As can be seen in the video review for this product, I set up two separate automations to control the device, using the QingPing Air Monitor Light (watch the video below or read our in-depth review HERE), when less than ideal air is detected.
So I guess my opinion on the omission of a PM2.5 sensor is a little ambivalent, even though in basic terms I do think it should have been included. How does it perform with the aforementioned automations? Well, the device certainly triggered, although that’s a low bar to pass, given that it’s the automations and HomeKit that are doing the work here. It does clean the air in the tests I performed in the video and elsewhere, so I’ve got no complaints in this regard. As it’s a smaller and less powerful device than the much larger Vocolinc offering, it’s inevitably a fair bit quieter, even at the highest level, and so taking this, its coverage (207 sq. ft.) and its physical size into account, this is definitely more suited to smaller locations, like your child’s bedroom or a kitchen for example.
There’s not a lot you can say about a product that has a sole task, but as long as it’s able to do that without any issues, that’s good enough for me. The design, albeit nothing to write home about, is nonetheless pleasing enough to the eye and looking at it from the front, it’s suitably minimalist enough to appeal to my tastes.
The controls (should that be ‘control’ as there’s only one button?) is really simple to use and equally as easy to understand. Pretty much everything about it, including control in the Home app Meross apps is a lesson in simplicity really.
In all honesty, there’s not a lot to dislike about this, but given the omission of a PM2.5 sensor, I do think the price should be a tad lower than the list price of US$169, although currently it’s available for $20 off, so if the price can stay there, and you don’t need a built-in sensor, then the price is about right. Connectivity has been solid, even though it’s reasonably far from the router it’s connected to, and so all’s good on that score.
It does have some competition from the likes of Sensibo and Smartmi, the latter of which features not only a PM2.5/PM10 sensor but also a colour touch panel. So, unlike 12 months ago, where it was an open field as far as purifiers and HomeKit were concerned, that same field is getting steadily more crowded, with potentially more to come with the proposed advent of Matter, which may well expose currently non-HomeKit devices to HomeKit, if they get Matter certified.
While it may not matter to some, I’ve started to challenge my thinking on using any more WiFi-based devices, where it’s not essential (cameras need WiFi for example), and so put to one side the fact that this is yet another 2.4GHz device to further clog up my network, something like this could easily operate on Thread. I predict that 2022 will see an update to this that will indeed include Thread connectivity.
If you’re a Meross fan, I’m sure you’ll love it, and if you’re looking for a budget air purifier, but already have a pm2.5 sensor, then I think this would be a decent purchase.