The winter of 2006 was an unprecedented cruel time around allergy-wise. I do not get allergic too much anymore, but my wife and son suffer from allergies sometimes. This winter they couldn't seem to get well, their noses were runny, sore throats, headaches - the works. On a channel we watch, there is a commercial we watch every day that advertises the Oreck air purifier. They claim to take away polluted air in the home, which in turn would alleviate allergy symptoms. Well, income tax season was coming around and I thought it would be a good time to invest in something that would maybe help the situation in my house. There was a slightly better deal with the Sharper Image brand, and so I went with that brand instead. If I didn't like it within 30 days, I could always return it for a full refund. Thankfully, it wasn't the case.
Recommend this product?
Why the Sharper Image "SI861" model?
Well, at this point, this was the top of the line model from Sharper Image. This was the only model with all of the features available. By the way, it comes in two colors, black and grey.
Features (from the website)
Electrostatic air cleaner with an upgraded Professional Series 3+2 five-blade collector configuration three charged collector blades have two inert diverter blades in between to significantly improve their particle capture rate. Ideal for larger rooms, more polluted environments or highly sensitive individuals.
Kills airborne germs - A built-in Philips Sterilamp germicidal UV (ultraviolet) light kills virtually all bacteria and viruses in the air it cleans.
Negligible ozone - Exclusive OzoneGuard in the front grill converts virtually all by-product ozone to harmless oxygen as clean air circulates back into the room. Ozone accumulation is far below the U.S. safety requirements for air cleaners and medical devices.
The closest model that Sharper Image has to this one is the SI857, which has all of the features of the model that I purchased, except for the UV light, so it doesn't kill airborne germs.
There is another model, the SI837 which only has the Ozone guard and a less effective electrostatic air cleaner and it's not silent like the other two. So in other words, this unit that I bought is the top of the line...so far that is.
When I plugged it in
I must confess that when I first plugged in the unit, I thought I made a huge mistake. Immediately, you feel and smell the difference. There is such an overwhelming new feeling as you breathe the air. It smells like nothing I had ever smelled before. The manual states that this is normal and the odor is the OzoneGuard. This was sanitized air that I am not used to. My wife and I suffered from sore throats the first four days we had this unit plugged in. Luckily, I referred to the manual and did not give up on the unit.
Do not give up; it gets better in less than a week. Now the only thing that is clearly noticeable is that my wife isn't waking up with headaches or nasal drip. My son is not sneezing every five minutes. All you have to do is keep up with the cleanings and the machine does all the work.
Sharper Image claims that independent tests have been done and it has been proven and documented that this unit reduces the number of airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites, dander and cigarette smoke. The UV Sterilamp kills just about all airborne microorganisms, like flu viruses, mold, bacteria and other germs of the like.
The unit will clean the air of a space up to 550 square feet. Depending on the size of your living space, you probably only need one unit. I'm not sure how big 550 square feet is, but it sounds like a lot of space.
No Filters. Clean Up & Maintenance
Well, like most air purifiers on the market, there are no replacement filters that would empty you wallet unnecessarily. So, no filters = clean up yourself.
Clean up time is really a chore I was not looking forward to. I read an epinion somewhere about a different model where the owner of one of these air purifiers said that cleaning the blades was a nightmare chore. Luckily, the person was doing it wrong or just lying. The truth is that clean up couldn't be easier.
I had purchased two of these units and the time it takes me to clean two of these total about four minutes. The manual of this unit recommends that you clean the three charged collective blades every ten days. If you forget to clean the units for a while, there will be a light that goes on to remind you after like two weeks. I have been cleaning the blades on my units every seven to eight days.
The collective blades easily slide out of the top of the unit with the simple touch of a button. Slide them out, and wipe with a wet paper towel and then slide them back in when you make sure they're dry. I used to just use a couple of damp paper towels, but I find it a slightly bit quicker to use a cleaning agent. I use this cleaner called Clear Power which is sort of like Windex but of a higher quality. When you see the black disease that accumulates on your paper towels, it's hard to believe we used to breathe this stuff in. Anyway, it takes me about 2-3 quick wipes each blade, it's very quick. Even though these blades are electronically charged to collect the dust, and whatever else is in the air, it all comes off very easily.
Also, clean up consists of cleaning the small area behind the UV lamp every three to four weeks as recommended by the manual. This takes about ten seconds to clean and then make sure is dry.
When you clean the unit, you have to unplug it in order to safely remove grills and or blades. If you leave the unit unplugged for over 30 minutes, your living space will revert back to the air you were breathing before it was treated with the SI861, so it's best not to put it off. Also, if you do not upkeep with the cleaning, the unit could not be as effective as it can be.
Again, I cannot overstate how quick and easy the clean-up really is.
Energy Consumption and the Cost to Run
Each of these units needs a different amount of energy. This particular unit claims to run you about $25 a year in energy costs. Remember, you are keeping the unit on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. It needs at the most about 36 watts of power at the highest setting.
With this unit, you also need to replace the Ultra Violet Sterilamp bulbs when they run out. The manual states that a bulb will last you around 8,000 hours, that's about twenty days shy of a year. You can purchase the replacement bulbs from Sharper Image for $24.95; so far I haven't seen these bulbs for sale anywhere else except for the Sharper Image store.
Technical Mumbo Jumbo
The unit weighs about 11 lbs
It stands 29 inches tall
The base measures at 11" by 7½"
The unit has three air-cleaning speeds to choose from (depending on the size of your space)
The unit needs a 3-prong outlet to plug into
The unit comes with a six foot cord
The unit comes with a five-year warranty
A 10 year warranty can be purchased for $44.95.
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Amount Paid (US$): 449
Battery Life: N/A
Noise Level: Almost noiseless