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Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX Review (HC502) with True HEPA – Worth it?

Welcome to Vacuum Wars and to our Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX review review. The 3-in-1 in its name signifies its three main functions: an air purifier, an air purifying heater, and an air purifying fan. Those three functions set the 3-in-1 MAX apart from many of the air purifiers reviews we have done in the past.

About the Shark 3-in-1 MAX with True HEPA

Shark product names are often long, and we’ve seen a few different names of this product. Some include Clean Sense IQ in the name. On Shark’s website where we’ll assume it is the official name, the HC502 is called the Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX with True HEPA.

A Very Versatile Air Purifier


The Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX (HC502) performed above average in our air cleaning tests. One standout feature is Shark’s Clean Sense IQ which automatically adjusts the air purifer’s settings based on changes in indoor air quality. We also found it to be high in value as it uniquely functions as an air purifier, fan and heater.

The MAX in the Shark 3-in-1 MAX’s name is a reference to its large area capacity, up to 1,000 square ft, with one air change per hour, making it ideal for larger rooms. Shark suggests the 3-in-1 MAX for dining rooms, living rooms, basements and workout spaces.

Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX HC502 for Review
The Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX purchased for this review. © Vacuum Wars

In addition to providing air purification, the 3-in-1 MAX has a purifying fan function with an oscillating fan to increase the airflow of an area which has a cooling effect.

It also has a purified heat function where you can select a target temperature, and the integrated heater will automatically adjust as it maintains that target.

The three functions are set by a switch on the side of the unit, and each function’s settings and features are then controlled by a detachable remote control that affixes to the top of the unit with a magnet.


Moving on to features, features are all the additions that are nice to have but don’t necessarily help with air purification. We see that Shark’s 3-in-1 MAX is well equipped for its price range.

It has a particle sensor which measures three particle sizes, PM1, PM2.5 and PM10. The sensor allows for two high-value features.

Clean Sense IQ Air Quality Indicator
The Clean Sense IQ air quality indicator on the front of the air purifier. © Vacuum Wars

First, an auto mode where, while in air purifier mode, the unit will adjust its fan settings higher and lower according to the levels of particulates it finds in the room. Second, an air quality reading is displayed on the front of the unit where an LCD is encircled with a colored light.

It changes color to blue when the air quality is good, yellow at a fair quality, and red means poor air quality. The LCD will also show the percentage of the cleaned air for the area and shows temperature readings depending on which function is in use.

Shark calls the combined sensor, automatic fan speed adjustment and air quality indicator Clean Sense IQ. It’s found on other air purifiers by the brand including the Shark HP201 and HP202 models.

Detachable Remote Control
The detachable, magnetic remote control for the air purifier.

From the remote, there are additional features such as a timer and brightness settings so that the LCD can be dimmed or even turned off at night. The Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX was well above average in the features category coming in at a features score of 78 compared with the average, 52.

Filter Quality

The Shark 3-in-1 Clean Sense Air Purifier MAX features Shark’s Nano Seal True HEPA filter.

This is a large circular filter with three integrated layers: a pre-filter for trapping large debris like dander and dust, an activated carbon layer for light household odors, and Shark’s proprietary HEPA filter.

Nano Seal True HEPA Filter
The Shark HC502’s Nano Seal True HEPA Filter removed from the unit. © Vacuum Wars

Shark claims their HEPA filter captures more micropollutants than HEPA standards require and traps 99.8% of large, small, and micro-sized particles such as pollen, pet dander, mold, and bacteria.

Although it isn’t something that would show up in our tests, Shark says the air purifier is great for homes with pets, stating the filter as being anti-allergen.

Looking at filter replacement costs, we found that the Shark 3-in-1 MAX replacement filter, for up to a year of use, is competitively priced when compared to other air purifiers we have tested for approximately the same size room.


Before using the Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX be sure to remove the plastic bag around the pre-installed filter.


Moving on to the bench test, in our bench tests, we measure factors such as airflow and noise level. Shark attributes their Pure Air Micro Force for this air purifier’s quiet purification of up to 1,000 ft.

At its highest setting, the Shark 3-in-1 Clean Sense IQ Air Purifier MAX performed above average with slightly higher airflow than the average of all air purifiers we have tested.

Recording Airflow and Noise During Testing
Recording airflow and noise levels during our testing. © Vacuum Wars


For our real-world noise test, where we measure airflow at the noise level closest to 55 DB without exceeding it, the Shark 3-in-1 MAX measured 39 CFM at 54 DB, which again is slightly above average for all air purifiers we have tested.

Shark’s actually has a name for the HC502’s quiet air purification: Pure Air MicroForce.

Filtration Tests

Next, we evaluate particle and VOC filtration in the filtration tests category.

For our fog test, where we release 12 seconds of fog into a ventless room and run the air purifier on max power, the Shark 3-in-1 Clean Sense MAX successfully cleared the fog back down to baseline measurements in 55 minutes, which is well above average.

Filter Test - Fog Test
The Shark HC503 performing our fog, or smoke test. © Vacuum Wars

We also test for the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This involves pumping exact amounts of incense smoke into a sealed refrigerator and measuring how much and how quickly the air purifier can reduce VOCs in a 5-minute test on max power.

In the TVOC tests, the Shark 3-in-1 Clean Sense MAX reduced TVOCs by 83.2% in the 5-minute test. So once again, the Shark 3-in-1 MAX delivers a solid performance in another category of our tests.

Performing VOC TVOC Tests - Shark Air HC502
Performing our TVOC testing. © Vacuum Wars


In conclusion, the Shark 3-in-1 Clean Sense Air Purifier MAX offers a strong blend of functionality and value. Its multi-purpose design, serving as an air purifier, fan, and heater, sets it apart in the market, especially when considering its mid-tier pricing.

Shark Air Purifier 3-in-1 MAX Specs

Shark 3-in-1 MAX
FunctionsAir Purifier, Fan, Heater
Coverage Area1,000 sq.ft.
Filter TypeHEPA
Cord6 ft
Amperage12.5 amps
Wattage1500 watts
Diameter12.6 in
Height29.53 in
CertificationsUL, Energy Star, CARB
Specifications from the Shark website and product manual.

The Shark 3-in-1 MAX air purifier is available online, including at the retailer(s) below.


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