In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Boneco U7147 Digital Review

A humidifier with numerous extra features and options, the Boneco has high maintenance requirements and can be confusing to operate.
Air-O-Swiss 7147 Ultrasonic Humidifier  Warm & Cool Mist
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Price:   $170 List | $77 at Amazon
Pros:  Highly effective humidification, quiet, warm and cool mist, timer, internal hygrometer
Cons:  Expensive, high maintenance, must reselect settings each time unit is turned on
Manufacturer:   Boneco
By Ellen Baker & BabyGearLab Team  ⋅  Jun 14, 2015
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64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Cleaning - 40% 3
  • Effectiveness - 30% 10
  • Noise - 20% 8
  • Ease of Use - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Boneco U7147 Digital excels in effectiveness while limiting noise production, but also requires special cleaning products, multiple-step maintenance procedures, and regular replacement of two separate filters (if you are using tap water). Though intrigued by all of the functions offered through the digital display, we were left disappointed. Read on to find out why in our opinion, this humidifier is more complicated than calming.

In 2001, Air-O-Swiss was launched in the U.S. as an offshoot of the Swiss company Boneco Healthy Air. As of 4/1/15, the Air-O-Swiss name has been formally changed back to Boneco.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Offering lots of power and lots of features, the Boneco U7147 Digital is a fancy humidifier that requires a lot of up-keep to maintain it in perfect working order. It's a substantial and solidly-built unit with a relatively compact footprint.

Performance Comparison



Ease of Cleaning


A sample of EZ Cal and a hydrocell is included in the box with the Boneco U7147.
A sample of EZ Cal and a hydrocell is included in the box with the Boneco U7147.
The Boneco is a high-maintenance machine. In particular this pertains to cleaning. Earning a 3 of 10, the Boneco scores the lowest compared to the other humidifiers in our review because it requires so many extra steps and procedures to keep it in tip-top shape. Although the instruction manual doesn't specifically recommend emptying out the tank and base daily, as is recommended for the Safety 1st 360 and the Crane Adorable, the Boneco requires a complete water change at least once per week, and an every-other-week, in-depth clean with one of two Boneco mix solutions: EZ Cal or EZ Cal Pro. In fact, the instructions for the U7147 specifically state that you will void the warranty if you use any cleaning solution other than these. These solutions must sit for at least one hour in the tank and base, but only after you remove the demineralization cartridge and Hydrocell.

Cleaning the ultrasonic membrane also requires a small brush, which is thankfully included and stored in the base. The other inner surfaces should receive a thorough wipe-down with a soft cloth. Though a plus is that most hands will be able to fit into the tank for cleaning, removing and cleaning the mist output jet is difficult. We were also left stumped in our attempts to wipe down the inaccessible water tunnel that leads from the water tank outlet to the ultrasonic membrane.
The mist output jet removed from the water tank.

Finally, after cleaning is complete, you must reset the cleaning indicator light on the digital control panel to restart the two-week countdown to the next cleaning.

Effectiveness


Boneco claims that the U7147 provides humidification for rooms up to 600 square feet, and, boy, does this humidifier work! The Boneco scored 10 of 10 possible points for effectiveness, outshining all other tested humidifiers. On the highest setting, it produced so much mist that it made the surrounding carpeted surfaces damp. Because of the tendency for moisture to accumulate around the unit on the highest setting, we quickly learned to stick with the low and medium output settings. Even in a larger space, we found the low and medium settings to be sufficient for raising and maintaining humidity.

Noise


This ultrasonic humidifier was very quiet through all mist output settings, earning an 8 of 10 possible points and placing fourth for least noise production in our group of nine tested humidifiers.

Ease of Use


We wanted to give the Boneco a higher score for ease of use because it offers so many extra features, but we found that more was actually less in this case. Earning a 6 of 10, we found that this unit was more complicated to operate than others because of the multiple options available through the six button control panel, and the extra preparation and maintenance required of the two different filters.

First, the control panel appears to give you options, but ends up being pretty inflexible. Every time the unit is switched off and turned on again, it goes back to a factory default setting which means that you have to use the buttons to re-adjust to your desired humidity level, turn the warm mist feature off if you want cool mist, and select a high, medium, or low mist output level.

The control panel display can not be turned off or dimmed, which we found to be distracting in a dark room. We also felt that the lowest mist output setting offered by the control panel still put out too much mist for small rooms. A continuously variable mist output would have allowed for more flexibility to use the Boneco in different locations.

Finally, the control panel offers no option to allow the unit to run independently or continuously apart from humidity level control. This means that the mist production cycles on and off constantly once it reaches the desired humidity level. While we didn't find the cycling on and off of the mist output to be noisy, we were surprised to find that the unit continued to produce motor noise in standby mode. Similarly, when the unit is out of water and the auto shut-off indicator light is illuminated, the standby fan motor continues to run.

Second, this humidifier comes with both a demineralization cartridge to reduce white dust and a Hydro Cell which sits in the water tank and claims to use activated carbon technology to reduce impurities in tap water. The demineralization cartridge needs to be soaked for 24 hours before use, and both need to be periodically replaced (the demineralization cartridge should be swapped every 2-3 months and the Hydro Cell lasts 1-2 months). To make things more complicated, Boneco also gives you the option of changing the granules inside the demineralization cartridge instead of buying a new one. Some people may prefer to do this because it is more economical. The demineralization cartridge and the Hydro Cell are intended for use with tap water, but the manual states that for best results, you should remove these two filters and use distilled or reverse osmosis water instead.

Best Applications


Best use of this humidfiier is for larger areas that need powerful mist output and for those with the patience and time to follow the in-depth cleaning and maintenance directions outlined in the manual.

Value


The U7147 is the priciest humidifier in our testing group and only becomes more expensive when you factor in the cost of purchasing EZ Cal or EZ Cal Pro and, if you are using tap or basic filtered water, regularly replacing the demineralization cartridge and Hydro Cell. Some may really appreciate the wide range of features offered through the control panel, but to us it didn't offer the right combination of features that would make it valuable as an item in baby's nursery.

Conclusion


Although this is a powerful humidifier with many different features, its cleaning and maintenance requirements made us less enthusiastic about using it on a temporary basis for illnesses or during times of cold, dry weather.

Other Versions and Accessories


Up until April 1st, 2015, the Boneco U7147 Digital was formerly known as the Air-o-Swiss U7147 Digital. We tested the unit under the Air-o-Swiss name and a call to customer service reassured us that the new moniker is simply a re-branding. Thus, the Boneco U7147 Digital is identical to the Air-o-Swiss U7147 Digital.

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Ellen Baker & BabyGearLab Team