The search for a good air purifier and humidifier can be surprisingly difficult; we’ve reviewed a number of them by Oreck (the AirInstinct 200, the ProShield Plus, the Dual Max, the Air Refresh) and Venta (the Airwasher), and although we’ve had our preferences, we’ve yet to be wowed by one the way we’ve been by certain vacuum cleaners (e.g., the Miele C3 Calima) or carpet cleaners (e.g., the Bissell Big Green). However, because we clean houses for a living, we’re happy to keep up the search, as the more effective our tools are, the happier we leave our clients. Today we’ll take a look at three more combination air purifiers and humidifiers in the $300-$400 price range: the Sharp KC-850U Plasmacluster, the Dreval D-950, and the Dreval D-850. If you’re simply looking for the best of the three and are ready to buy, we recommend the Sharp KC-850U if both air filtration and effective humidity are priorities, and the Dreval D-950 if your priority is to maximize your purified air zone.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Sharp KC-850U Plasmacluster Air Purifier with Humidifying Function
The Sharp Plasmacluster was our favorite combo purifier / humidifier out of the box. It’s rated for purification and humidifying rooms up to 254 sq. ft in area, which we measured to be roughly accurate (our humidification measurements were consistent between 220 and 260 feet, depending on the relative humidity and room geometry). We were pleased to note it featured both HEPA filtering and charcoal filtering, with the HEPA filtration effective at stopping 99.97% of particles down to the .3 micron level. This is equivalent to the filtration systems found in $500 upright vacuums like the Oreck Magnesium RS, and it was good enough for us to make the Sharp a purifier we’d recommend for families with allergies or respiratory concerns.
We were also happy to see the filter was rated for 5 years of use before replacement, as we’ve seen far too many filters in purifiers that require replacement every year (or worse, every 6 months); even if it’s not a financial strain, it’s one more thing to keep track of that we’re happy to be able to forget. The charcoal filter also comes with a 5 year life and is washable, which we also found useful for reducing waste.
Beyond cleaning capabilities, we were also pleased with the automation and sound attenuation features present in the KC-850U; it featured a dust sensor, water supply and humidity sensors, a quick clean mode, a pollen mode, and the capability of emitting as few as 19 dBA modes when purifying air on low mode and as few as 23 dBA when both the air cleaner and humidifier ran on low mode. These levels were easily low enough to remain unbothersome and effectively unnoticed while the device ran in the same room.
Overall, we were pleased with the KC-850U’s ability to trap germs, allergens, and other floating particles while replenishing the air with moisture. Our biggest complaints involved the expense of the replacement HEPA filter, the lack of a remote, and the relatively weak humidifier; we wish it worked more quickly in the winter.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Dreval D-950 Air Purifier True HEPA Filter Humidifier UV Light Nevative Ion Generator Combo
The Dreval D-950 was our second favorite combination purifier and humidifier of the three, and the best when it came to pure air purification. At 430 sq. feet of air filtration, it blew away the Sharp by nearly doubling its range. The filtration levels were as precise as those in the Sharp: 99.97% effectiveness down to the .3 micron level. We also appreciated the presence of various auto modes as well as the quiet mode that matched that of the Sharp. It also came with a remote! At this point, you might wonder why exactly we’d recommend the Sharp over the D-950. To put it simply, it looked like a machine that was designed by two sets of engineers that didn’t talk to each other.
The negatives for us included the airport-landing-light-grade LEDs on the purifier; they made it impossible to sleep at night without covering them with tape or something similar. We also weren’t fans of the manual, which was written in poor English and nonsensical in a number of places (e.g., where it asked you to “fill many waters for clean airs”). We believe that was a reference to the need to refill the humidifier tank, but we can’t entirely be sure. However, the water compartment itself was on the small end, and we noticed ourselves filling it more often than we’d like; we certainly filled it more often than we did the Sharp’s tank for an equivalent level of humidity. That said, the machine cleaned the air well and did a good (almost too good) job of filtering out odors. Trust us when we tell you that you won’t get away with flatulence if it’s installed in the same room.
With all that said, we found the D-950 a great machine if your primary goals involved air purification, and lots of it. We just wouldn’t recommend it for humidification.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Dreval D-850 HEPA 0.1 Micron UV Light 7 Stage Air Purifier Humidifier with Odor Sensor
Finally the Dreval D-850 functioned more or less like the D-950. This was positive when it imitated the good habits of the D-950; it was less so when it succumbed to the same shortcomings of the D-950. The air purification range was the same, as were the filtration ratings and general functionality. In fact, we had trouble distinguishing the two machines and wondered why Dreval had bothered to make two of them (besides from a desire for more money). We did learn from consulting fellow cleaners who’d purchased the D-850 that it had a poorer reputation for reliability than the D-950, and would like to believe that this is what led Dreval to re-release it (hopefully after addressing said reliability issues) as the D-950.
Which $400 combination air purifier and humidifier is most effective?
In our books, the best combination of air purification and humidification came from the Sharp KC-850U. It wasn’t perfect, but it had the fewest flaws for the average user likely to purchase one of these three machines; the Dreval D-950 would be a good fit for families who wanted the most filtration per dollar, as it came with the largest purification range. We wouldn’t recommend the D-850 unless you had a specific reason for avoiding the D-950, since the D-950 does everything the D-850 does for the same price.
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