Long ago in a galaxy far away there was a best-selling air cleaner called Sharper Image Ionic Breeze.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when there was real action in the air cleaner market space.
Back in 2005, I called the Ionic Breeze "a mediocre product supported by a big marketing campaign."
The success of Ionic Breeze produced a wave of competitors and offshore copy cats.
But Ionic Breeze;
collected mostly larger particles
only worked when kept sparkling clean
was subject to electrical arcing
achieved its main effect by emitting ozone
Consumer Reports attacked all "Ionic" air cleaners, citing poor air cleaning and excessive ozone emissions.
Electrostatic air purifiers ("ionic" was a marketing misnomer) were largely discredited.
Sharper Image, maker of Ionic Breeze, was forced into bankruptcy.
Belatedly, the government - Air Resources Board (ARB) - came out with liberal 50 parts per billion ozone standards, certifying nearly every ozone-making air cleaner that survived the shakeout.
Ironically, Ionic Breeze itself, producing 48 ppb ozone, would pass the current standards.
All this action left an opening, which numerous ozone-emitting electrostatic air cleaners, mostly made in China, rushed to fill.
Among these was the small electrostatic tower marketed today as the Five Star FS8088.
This item has been around for several years, selling on eBay with two-for-one and four-for-one-price deals.
Numerous brand names have been used, such as "Ion Technologies B-222," "3Q," and combinations of the names of top selling towers: "Pro Ionic Fresh Breeze..."
Often steep discounts were implied: "retail price $399, now available for only $100."
Today the "new design" Five S FS8088 is available at Amazon, and doing a brisk business, at $59.99 with free Super Saver Shipping.
First, FS8088 is much smaller than the illusion of size in web advertising depicts: it is only 16" tall.
Many user reviews express disappointment, expecting a bigger tower.
There are around 100 user reviews for the FS8088 on the web, averaging 3.3 stars.
But negative one and two star reviews, which I trust more than the sunny five star kind, represent a whopping 34% of all reviews.
This is a very bad ratio.
Typically negative reviews range from 5%, (outstanding), to 30%, (avoid product).
This might solve some of the arcing and pitting issues of the old electrostatics.
The adapter is included with the Five S FS8088 air cleaner.
A big defect in the original Ionic Breeze was the lack of a fan.
FS8088 has a two speed fan capable of pushing 40 cubic feet of air per minute (3.6 cubic meters/min) past the electrostatic dust collector.
While user reviews say the fan is quiet, with published noise levels less than 48 dBA, the airflow is too light to do much real cleaning.
But ads claim FS8088 "covers 1000 square feet."
They are referring to the ozone emissions, not the particulate cleaning capacity, which is more suited to 50 square feet.
Five Star's collector rod is very small, and user reviews say visible dust does accumulate on the collector.
Most electrostatic precipitators must be wiped clean with a damp cloth very frequently, like every four to five days, to maintain efficiency.
Once the collector rod is covered in a film of dirt, most particles will bypass the collector and coat the interior of the tower.
Over time, this creates a pollutant source inside the FD8088.
Reviewers mention using a can of compressed air to blow out the collector and clean accumulated dust off the fan.
A low wattage ultraviolet lamp UV follows the collector in sequence.
While UV can damage the DNA of microorganisms, intense exposure to high wattage UV for a sufficient dwell time is required.
Next, a washable charcoal filter is said to reduce odors and ozone output.
And finally, a negative ionizer produces 3.3 million ions/cm3/sec, comparable to other small ionizers.
But a strong stand-alone desktop ionizer, the Wein VI-2500, makes 450 trillion ions/cm3/sec, consuming 6 watts of power.
Ozone is effective at oxidizing airborne odors and suppresses mold spores.
On the high setting, FS8088's ozone output is modest, about 15mg/hour.
This makes FS8088 a weak ozone generator, not suited for the high dose shock ozone purification strategies we recommend as the proper use of ozone.
Ozone may have real utility as a health therapy, but this is controversial.
Most ozone-based air purifiers produce many user reviews mentioning allergy relief, and others say they "love the smell of the clean fresh air."
Regardless of the validity of ozone as a health modality, chronic daily use of ozone as an air cleaner is NOT recommended here.
Part of the reason is the possible generation of additional pollutants, such as oxides of Nitrogen.
FS8088 also has a blue night light, with an on/off switch.
Here is one thing to commend - so many air cleaners have night lights that won't turn off and must be covered with tape.
It appears that the FS8088 air cleaner is based on a machine from Moral Environment Appliances (Beijing) Co., Ltd.
Moral's current model, the M-K00A5, offers the same specifications as FS8088, but includes a photocatalyst grid.
Five Star has an office in California;
Five Star I/E, Inc.
2564 Monte Lindo Court,
San Jose,CA 95121
It is not clear if or how the two companies are affiliated.
FS8088 is warranted for three years.
But user reviews complain of poor quality control, with numerous product defects contributing to the negative user reviews online.
Five Star counters the quality issues with a reputation for fast shipping and good customer service.
Many buyers are searching for a replacement for an Ionic Breeze air purifier, an old Sharper Image model that finally bit the dust.
FS8088 costs far less than the old Ionic Breeze, but has numerous mechanical faults to go with the low price.
You can browse the
FIVE STAR FS8088 at Amazon.com
Five Star FS8088 Air Purifier Review