Updated by Molekule staff 6/22/23
We know from asking our customers that about three quarters of Molekule air purifier owners replace their filters every six months, which is perfect. A small but growing group just lets the Molekule app and filter replacement program handle it for them, and don’t even have to pay attention to how long it’s been since a new filter was put in.
Changing out filters on time is important because most filters collect pollutants on their surfaces and after enough time no space will be left. Molekule technology, called Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO), destroys pollutants through a catalytic reaction on the filter surface, and changing filters on time will offer peak efficiency. We have always offered filter refill subscriptions to make it worry-free for our customers to get new filters.
PECO-HEPA TriPower Filters
Molekule’s filtration system
Original Molekule Air
The original Molekule Air, now discontinued but still active in thousands of homes, came with an air purification process that begins with a 360° air intake at the bottom of the device. A powerful fan blows contaminated air upward into the first filtration step, the Pre-Filter. The air then travels up into Molekule’s proprietary PECO-Filter where pollutants are destroyed, and finally exits clean and contaminant-free out the top of the device.
Molekule Air Mini+
This process is similar but slightly different for the Molekule Air Mini+, which only has a single PECO-HEPA Tri-Power filter. In this purifier, Molekule Air Mini+ takes in the surrounding air from every angle, and air flows through a HEPA layer to remove particles, a carbon layer to remove gasses, and finally the activated PECO catalyst that destroys pollutants. During the PECO process, pollutants are destroyed and rendered into trace amounts of things that are meant to be in the air like water and carbon dioxide, reducing the presence of harmful pollutants. When set to auto-protect mode, Mini+ will automatically ramp up filtration in response to particle pollution.
Molekule Air Pro
Molekule Air Pro works a lot like Mini+, but has a few more features. There is still HEPA for fine particles, carbon for toxic gasses, and PECO to destroy pollutants in Air Pro’s PECO-HEPA Tri-Power filter, it’s just a lot larger. Air Pro can also detect more pollutants than Mini+ and will increase filtration in response to VOC gaseous pollutants in addition to particles. Air Pro’s sensor suite can also let you know if carbon dioxide is getting too high, which means more outdoor ventilation is needed.
Pre-phase: Big fibers and hairs
When contaminated air first passes through either the original Molekule’s Pre-Filter or the PECO-HEPA TriPower filter, very large objects like hair and textile fibers are halted and removed from the air, therefore preventing them from passing further.
Air first passes through the Pre-Filter of the original Molekule Air, where large particles are removed.
Large particles removed during the pre-phase typically include:
- Grains of pollen
- Mold spores
- Strands of pet fur
- Long fibers from clothing or bedding
You will see hair and fibers accumulate over time if you check these first layers. Like other air purifiers that have a type of pre-filter to protect their primary filter, this accumulation can affect airflow into the unit, which means you’ll be paying the same for electricity but a lot less air will get into the purifier to be cleaned. Pre-Filters should be changed every 3 months, and TriPower filters every 6 months.
First phase: Gaseous pollutants
The real filtration starts with activated carbon granules interwoven throughout the first Pre-filter and first layer of the TriPower filter. Gaseous pollutants are chemically attracted to the carbon and made into a solid that isn’t easily shifted. Gaseous pollutants that can be removed by activated carbon include but are not limited to:
- Artificial scents
- Off-gas from new products
- Paint fumes
Carbon filtration is by far the oldest form of filtration, and works on the simple principle of sticking to toxins before they can stick to you. Activated carbon filters are most effective when new, but extreme air quality events like wildfires can fill most of the available spaces in the carbon within a few weeks. Afterwards, the carbon is laden with toxic substances that can re-enter the room in the wrong conditions, such as when the temperature or humidity rises.
When using a Molekule or any purifier to protect from wildfire smoke or other intensive source of pollution such as from a commercial kitchen, you might want to change your filter more often. It can be very difficult to gauge when this is, but a good rule is to trust your nose, if indoor smells suddenly start to accumulate when they hadn’t before then it might be time to change the filter.
Second phase: Fine particles
In the original Molekule Air, after the large particles are removed from the air at the surface, the tightly woven fibers deeper in the high-efficiency pre-filter stop or entangle finer particles like smoke and fragments of pollen. PECO-HEPA TriPower filters work the same way, but can trap 99.97% of the hardest particles to trap, which are considered to be 0.3 micrometers (0.00003 centimeters) in width. Many of these tiniest pollutants are the most harmful because they can get deep into the lungs and pass into the blood, which is how allergy triggers like pollen seem to cause a full-body allergic reaction. Fine particles can pick up airborne chemicals as they move through the air, and often contain bits of mold, pollen, or dust mites that trigger allergies and asthma.
The original Molekule Air PECO-filter, where Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) takes place.
Some of the fine particles captured include:
- Pollen and fungal fragments
- Dust mite droppings
- Infectious bacteria and viruses
- Smoke particles bearing free radicals
Final phase: Destruction by oxidation
The final layer of protection in a Molekule air purifier is the PECO catalyst, which is activated by UV-A light inside the purifier. PECO speeds up the natural process of recycling pollutants that is usually done by the sun and earth, only on a much smaller scale inside the purifier. When completely oxidized, all that is left of most pollutants is carbon dioxide and water. PECO is particularly destructive to viruses that need to be intact to infect, in a study on Air Mini, the predecessor to Air Mini+, at the University of Minnesota that can be read about here, PECO was able to deactivate approximately 90% of influenza viruses more than the same device’s filtration without PECO activated in a single-pass test on an Air Mini PECO filter. No air purifier can prevent transmission of a virus.
PECO primarily destroys organic substances, which aren’t just living things, and can include but are not limited to:
- VOCs like toluene, formaldehyde, and artificial scents
- Pathogens like viruses and bacteria
- Allergens like fragments of mold, pollen, or pet dander
How dirty filters can affect performance
During the Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) process, light activates a catalytic reaction to break down pollutants at a molecular level. The fibers of the interior of a PECO-Filter are coated with a proprietary catalyst that reacts to light inside the unit. The light activates this catalyst, initiating a chemical reaction that converts toxic pollutants into safe substances in the air like carbon dioxide and water vapor. Oxidation also renders some other air pollutants, like ozone or nitrogen dioxide, into their non-reactive states.
It is also possible that some non-carbon based fine particles, like bits of sand or rock, will pass through and begin to accumulate as an invisible layer of light-blocking dust on the PECO-Filter. If you do notice a layer of dust on the PECO-Filter after about 6 months, this may block the light that activates the catalyst. After this time, you may notice the air is not quite as fresh. For the original Molekule Air, we recommend you replace your PECO-filter on time (after 6 months of usage) to maintain peak efficiency. For the Molekule Air Mini+ and Air Pro, we have the same recommendation of replacing your Tri-Power Filter every 6 months. You can also refer to this page here for more guidance on filter replacement frequencies.
Role of Pre-Filter in the original Molekule Air
The pre-phase Pre-Filter ultimately removes large particles and dust from the air, a critical step in the process of cleaning the air in your home. Dust and large particles will accumulate on the Pre-Filter regardless of where you live or how clean you keep your home.
A clean Molekule Air Pre-Filter vs. a dirty one.
In addition, the Pre-Filter is vital to the Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) process because it prevents larger particles, which may block the light within the device from reaching the PECO-Filter and activating the oxidation process.
This aspect of the Pre-Filter is performed by the outside surface of the three-in-one integrated PECO-HEPA filter in the Molekule Air Mini+.
Why changing frequency is important for the original Molekule Air’s Pre-Filter
Because the Pre-Filter is where large particles are removed from the air, it will become dirty faster and we recommend replacing it every 3 months. The PECO-Filter has a longer lifespan of 6 months; any accumulation of dust on the surface of the PECO-Filter will be much slower because air must first pass through the Pre-Filter.
To make it easy for our customers to receive filter replacements, our auto-refills model is based on this timeline of providing fresh Pre-Filters every 3 months, and a new PECO-Filter every 6 months. The filter life status indicator (found in your Molekule mobile app or the touch screen of your device) can help keep you on track as an additional reminder to replace your filters. The filter status indicator will show a 0% or exclamation mark for each filter when it comes time for replacement. The status indicator counts down from 90 days (3 months) for the Pre-Filter and 180 days (6 months) for the PECO-Filter.
You may see visible signs when it is time to change your Pre-Filter. Depending on environmental conditions (some of which are discussed below), you may find the Pre-Filter saturated with dust, pet hair and other larger particles. In this case, we would recommend replacing your Pre-Filter based on these signs.
How frequently should you change your Molekule filters
To keep your Molekule air purifier at peak performance, filters should be replaced on time. Our data indicates what a viable cycle would look like for average conditions, and we recommend the following filter replacement schedule:
- Replace your Pre-Filter every 3 months to avoid overloading it with large particles
- Replace your PECO-Filter every 6 months to maintain the highest efficiency
Molekule Air Mini+ and Molekule Air Pro:
- Replace your PECO-Filter every 6 months to maintain the highest efficiency
Molekule Air Mini+ device and integrated PECO-Filter.
We recommend running your unit 24 hours a day to experience the cleanest air, and the above general schedule is based on this continuous usage time.
How our filters are constantly improving
The PECO technology has been independently tested and confirmed to destroy pollutants like airborne chemicals, mold, bacteria and viruses. Because the scientific process is very important to us, as a company we continue to develop and further the science behind the technology, and fresh filters that we mail customers incorporate the most recent advancements and technology that science has to offer.
A cutaway version of the original Molekule Air Purifier
Molekule filter auto-refills
To prevent any burdens for Molekule customers to order new filters, we created a filter delivery model so that Molekule filter replacements arrive at your doorstep.
For Molekule Air: These filter auto-refills will ensure you have a fresh PECO-Filter when it comes time to replace it every 6 months, and a fresh Pre-Filter every 3 months. The auto-refill shipments include a set of 2 Pre-Filters and 1 PECO-Filter that will arrive every 6 months, so you will have fresh filters when it comes time to replace them.
Original Molekule Air filters
For Molekule Air Mini+ and Molekule Air Pro: Filter auto-refills will ensure you have a fresh PECO-Filter to replace every 6 months. One filter refill pack includes a year’s supply with 2 PECO-Filters.
Regularly replacing your filters can help prevent your Molekule from running on dirty filters. We encourage you to keep the Molekule technology working at its best with fresh filters to maintain clean air in your home. Our technology is always improving and so are the Molekule filters, ensuring the benefits of clean air for you and your family.