PLEASE NOTE: I have changed my mind about this product. Yes, it has worked well for me. I see the "gunk" collected on the collection grid and love the fact that it's not in my lungs. BUT, recently, I have read articles about the unhealthful ozone it creates and that it's a danger to me (and my dogs) while sleeping. While I am not certain it can harm me, I have decided to be safe and return it.
Recommend this product?
The follwing is the original review I wrote two years ago, but keep in mind, the ozone factor is the ONLY reason I returned it.
Please note: The purchase price is $499 for one unit. BUT if you can get a family member or friend to buy at the same time, you pay only $374.25 for each.
I have owned Hepa-types and I tried the Oreck air purifier. The Hepa models are very loud and the Oreck's filter is a joke with its tiny ultra-fragile wires. When you see the hefty price tag of the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze GP, it may dissuade you from buying it. But listen to this. If you buy a HEPA-type air purifier, they may cost less, but when you factor in cost to operate, the noise they make and the cost of the filters, The IONIC BREEZE is actually cheaper to run.
Unless you need to drown out noise while you sleep, the Ionic Breeze makes very little to NO noise at all. The Breeze uses a collection grid that traps dust and allergens, compared to the two or three stage HEPA filters that cost hundreds to thousands of dollars (depending on how long you keep the HEPA purifier.
Cost to operate: The Breeze uses less electricity than a 15 watt light bulb. Compare that to the cost to run a loud motor, and you'll save even more money with the Breeze.
The GP model (vs. the Ionic Breeze base model) uses a light bulb that is designed to zap airborn spores and germs. NOTE: The Sharper Image suggested that the GP mode be used ONLY at night while you sleep or when you are sick. Replacement bulbs can be purchased through the Sharper Image stores or on their website for $20.
Cleaning: When either the cleaning light comes on or the collection grid starts to hum, it's time to clean the grid. It's so simple to clean this... you remove the collection grid by pulling it straight up out of the tower. Take a damp cloth or sponge and wipe the dust and gunk off. Then replace the collection grid back to the tower. It's REALLY that simple. Just make sure that the grid is dry before you put it back into the tower.
The GP model comes in three color finishes; light grey, black and black with a burlwood top. I went with the grey - it shows less dust on it.
The way the Ionic Breeze works is ingenious. Have you ever tried to connect two magnets together? One way, they are drawn together and the other way the repel each other. The same principles are at work here. The air flow gets its thrust from the collection grid being positively charged and the air particles are negatively charged. The result; the "bad gunk" sticks to the collection grid while the fresh air is pushed trough the unit. The air is slightly cooled and so clean, my dog tends to sleep in front of it.
Speaking of pets, I am HIGHLY allergic to cats and tried the ultimate test... I took my Breeze to a friend's house who has 2 cats. Usually I'd be miserable within 20 minutes. I can honestly say, that I slept through the night with the Breeze on in the room. That factor ALONE is well worth the price tag.
The Ionic Breeze also comes in two sizes...Large and small. The large one is perfect for bedrooms and small offices, while the small desktop model is great for smaller areas. The larger model stands 29" tall, by 6" wide by 9-3/4" deep. The top control panel includes Hi, med & low settings on the right knob AND On, off and GP on on the left knob. There is also an illuminated BOOST button for when your dog passes wind..LOL. And a red light that illuminates when it's time to clean the collection grid. This entire paragraph was for Suzer and her hunger for DETAILS! (snicker).
Sharper Image runs a special. If you buy two units (of the same size) they charge 50% of the second unit. Also, they throw in (free) a smaller $70 unit that's great for a bathroom.
NOTE: Sharper Image does NOT publish this. If you purchased the regular Ionic Breeze model, they will let you upgrade to the GP model for the difference in price of the two units.
Warning: DO NOT light candles while this unit is operating. Turn it off! Sharper Image is aware of this problem and advise against it in their manual. They are addressing the issue for the next generation of air purifiers.
UPDATE: Thanks to Bob, who tells me that eBay sells these "refurbished" for around $200. Grab one - you'll be glad ya did.
UPDATE: 5/5/05 Well, after all of the articles I have read about these S.I. units creating unhealthful ozone... I have decided to return the Ionic Breeze. S.I. was very nice about and refunded my money without any questions. While I firmly believe this unit DID clean my air and keep me from getting sick from germs, I decided that the unhealthful ozone thing scared me enough to return it.
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Amount Paid (US$): 374.25
Battery Life: N/A
Noise Level: More quiet than most