Sharp Plasmacluster FPP60CX Review

Sharp Plasmacluster FPP60CX; $300.00 to $406.00

Combined Replacement Filter Kit FZ-P65HFU
True HEPA Filter and Washable Granular Activated Carbon Filter; $ 131.97 to $174.99

FPP60CX: Top Ionizer

NOTE - Sharp has discontinued FPP-60CX, the smaller FPP-40CX is still available as of 10/30/09.

Released in September 2006, and widely available since Jan 27, 2007, Sharp Plasmacluster FP-P60CX is the successor to the competent and popular FP-N60CX. With lots of older model inventory out there, Sharp was understandably cautious about actively promoting the upgrade.

The very congested air purification industry has learned the lesson illustrated by the Friedrich C-90A debacle. C-90A was riding high, having received a huge boost, and name recognition, from a high ranking at Consumer Reports. The company had developed a new more powerful, but identically packaged model, and put it on the market without delay. Vendors and consumers were confused by the C-90B.

So Sharp has quietly superseded the outstanding FP-N60CX with FP-P60CX. A new fascia and a couple electronic features are the main upgrades. This unit should enjoy the same success as it's predecessor.

Unfortunately, the need to be discrete until old inventory was gone muddied the waters for FPP60CX. The Sharp corporate website still features the old machines, with no mention of the new FPP**CX series.

Sharp's Canadian site also neglects to list the newer models, but does offer the FP-P60CX user manual as an executable file for download. This manual offers the best, and principal evidence of kinship with the previous air purifier series.

Long Live the King: FPP60CX

Consumers looking for a safe ozone-free ionizer that actively cleans the air should consider Sharp Plasmacluster FP-P60CX. Good looking, very quiet and controlled through a sophisticated electronic interface, Sharps, Japanese made ionic-HEPA-carbon hybrid air purifiers, have established an international presence.

I continue to be pleased with the cleaning power of this oxidizing technology, and the build quality of my Sharps. I have used my FP-N60CX day and night for over two years, without any maintenance other than filter cleaning. I have yet to find a consumer complaint about manufacturing or design quality.

Ionic Air Purifier
ionic air purifier

This ionic air purifier is are built by a world class corporation with the research and development funding to stay ahead of the pack.

Sharp Plasmacluster FPP60CXes emit a balanced shower of positive and negative ions by splitting molecules of water in the air. Ordinary ionizers emit negative ions, which cause suspended particles to form aggregates, accumulating weight until they fall. These particles are not removed from the room, they will return to the air with air currents, foot traffic, and changes in atmospheric electrical charge. "Plasmacluster" ion clusters attach to airborne particulates, including biologicals (molds, bacteria, viruses, and pollen). Hydroxyl radicals are created to oxidize and destroy the pollutant.

Plasmaclusters: Power

Hydroxyl radicals are among the most powerful oxidizers known.

When I first reviewed the Plasmaclusters, I warned users with chemical sensitivity to avoid close proximity to the "blue light" oxidizer. Eye irritation and itchy nose resulted from sitting close in "clean" mode.

Over a two year period, this has created an impression that the Sharps are dangerous.

Here is the update: if FPP60CX's automatic sensors find enough pollutant in your space to turn on the oxidizers, you are better off letting the machine do it's job. Where the red light indicates high contaminant levels even after prolonged clean mode operation, there is a source emission that should be removed.

FP-P60CX has active cleaning power!

I use numerous HEPA air purifiers in my space. But these provide passive filtration. These air purification devices must wait for the chemicals to become airborne. I believe the claim that plasmacluster ion-oxidizer technology can remove toxic chemicals which are not airborne.

But many users are making the mistake of installing a Sharp FPP60 instead of source removal. There are numerous reports of consumers getting mixed results where Sharps have been exposed to heavy chemical odors or contaminated surfaces.

In one case, chest of drawers was antiqued, without leaving the bedroom. (Yikes!) The furniture was chemically stripped and re-varnished. Then (surprise) strong odors were noticed. A Plasmacluster was installed. Because of the extreme levels in the room, the residues on the surfaces were oxidized to an unpleasant smelling by-product, which proved impossible to remove.

The number one rule for smart air purification users: "No air purifier can substitute for proper source removal".

But because of these reports warns FP-P60CX buyers the machine is not recommended for heavy odor situations.

FPP60CX is a better alternative to high ozone ionizers because the ion clusters and resultant hydroxyl radicals produced are short lived, decaying in a few seconds. It is convenient to use the remote to switch blue (plasma-cluster) to green (plain negative ions).

Plasmacluster Quiet

Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) certified Clean Air Delivery Rates (CADR) for FP-P60CX are dust 209, smoke 213, and pollen 205. These are identical to the predecessor model.

FPP60CX generates sufficient airflow to clean the AHAM recommended 330 square foot room.

Manufacturer/AHAM room size ratings need to be deflated a bit. room size recommendation for the FPP60 is around 220 square feet.

Sharps FPP60CX, running in quiet mode outputs a claimed 14 Decibels at 31 cubic feet per minute - 14dB(A)@31cfm. The medium speed generates 35dBA@109cfm.

This is the quietest air purifier performance on the market. On high speed, with CADRs averaging an acceptable 209, a claimed 52 dB(A)@212 cfm is also pretty quiet.

My Sharp is so quiet, near the foot of my bed, I must look at the light to be sure it's running.

FP-P60CXs are Ozone-free

Most other ionizers produce ozone as a by-product. Significant other contaminants, including oxides of Nitrogen, accompany any electrostatic arcing.

Plasmacluster FPP60CX produces less than 10 ppb (>.01 ppm), the lowest of any ionizer.

When the Plasma-cluster clean mode (purple light) is off, it's a powerful conventional negative ionizer (green light).

The manufacturer says that the Plasmacluster does not out-gas, and is safe for use with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). I consider this air purifier perfect for MCS, because the sensor gives feedback about air quality. In my apartment bedroom, after two years of agressive air cleaning, the red light (bad air quality), and accompanying blue light (oxidizer working), rarely stay on for long.

Economical Filter Interval

FPP60CX is equipped with three filters; prefilter, HEPA, and carbon.

The washable prefilter traps large fibers and particulate. This lifetime prefilter can be vacuumed and/or washed. Significant dust also accumulates on the carbon bag, which can be vacuumed between bimonthly washings.

The carbon bag contains over a pound of granular activated carbon in a pleated polypropylene and polyester bag to make a washable odor filter with much higher capacity than ordinary carbon impregnated polyester filters. FPP60CX is claimed to clean over 4000 volatile chemicals.

Low cost of ownership derives from long filter replacement intervals.

In routine household use both HEPA and washable Granular Carbon Filters do not need replacement for up to five years. I suspect the carbon filter change interval will be shorter, but after two years there has been no airflow restriction. I have washed my carbon bag 10 times, and wonder if it will still be effective for 30 washings.

While the part number has been changed, Sharp has wisely maintained backward compatibility with the previous generation filters.

Washing the odor filter takes some effort; vacuuming, soaking in mild detergent, brushing, and complete drying.

The FPP60CX true HEPA filter is polypropylene in a polyester frame to reduce out gassing and microbial growth. It has antimicrobial compounds added to clear airborne organisms.

Intelligent Electronic Interface

Automated air purifiers are the future, and the leader is FPP60CX.

I absolutely would not purchase a manually controlled purifier again. I believe industry leading builders are vulnerable if they are slow to adapt automated controls.

FPP60CX manages itself with fully automatic cleaning in several operating modes; Full Automatic, Special Programs, and Manual. LED displays show the current operating mode, air quality, and filter cleaning and replacement interval. The entire process is easily user controlled through the remote.

Two new software routines have been added to the FPP series. Quick Clean Mode runs the FPP60CX on high for 15 minutes, switching to Auto Mode thereafter.

In Night Mode fan speed is automatically switched between medium and silent, based on sensor feedback.

Colored lights provide air quality feedback in green, orange and red. A large light, which can be turned off at night, shows the user which type ion stream is being emitted. Clean mode is purple, and Ion Mode is green.

In Auto Mode Sharps newest air purifier uses a single odor sensor chip to "sniff" its environment, and turns itself up as needed. The dual sensor arrangement of the FP-N60CX has been dropped.

My Sharp Plasmacluster will tell me I need a bath even quicker than my wife does.

The remote control is almost identical to its predecessor, with extra buttons for the added features.

On manual mode, users single-step through each fan setting.

Important is the remote's ability to turn off the lights and alter speed and function at night. I find the remote easy and convenient to use in the dark.

A timer can be set for 1, 4 or 8 hours delayed shut off.

FP-P60 Energy Star

A quiet 12-Volt DC motor uses 72 watts on high speed, and energy use drops dramatically through lower speeds.

FPP60CX puts out 31 cubic feet per minute in second speed using only 4 watts of power.

With dimensions of 16" x 22" x 9", weighing only 19.2 lbs, and a centrally placed handle, Sharp Plasmacluster FP-P60CX is quite portable.

A shortened power cord, now at 5.2 feet, is adequate to position the FPP60CX in most rooms.

Flawless Review?

Every mass-market product will have weaknesses. FPP60CX, with incredible quiet, long filter life and low energy costs, has a few.

Air flows through the front and exits laterally at the top left, focusing the typical ionizer's “black wall effect.” Where cigarette smoke, oil heat, or other dark particulate is present, the wall behind the purifier, furniture, or curtains may become soiled.

This is unusual, but consumers should be sure the air stream is not directed at a light colored surface. Sufficient space should be left between FPP60CXs and walls for air flow to cool the motor. Some owners have noticed weakness, but not fragility, of the front cover retaining clips. Mine have held up fine so far.

When I first reviewed the Sharps, I thought that the method of holding the filters in retainer trays could permit bypassing and compromise small particle efficiency. Subsequent inspections of the HEPA tray reveal no fine particle accumulation.

Other longtime users also report no fines accumulating downstream of the filter box.

Low voltage DC is applied to the fan motor, reducing its electromagnetic fields. Virtually every electronic device, including most air purifiers, will have EMF issues. I am very sensitive to electric fields, and must sleep in non-conducting cotton, but have no issues with the Sharp Plasmacluster.

Electronic controls have many circuits to fail, and many cheaper brands have had problems. Plasmaclusters from Sharp, a world electronics giant, have few chip faults.

Production of air purifiers, like most everything else consumed in America, is shifing to the Chinese mainland. Early FPP series Sharp Plasmaclusters were Japanese made.

Exporters in areas of the world with stronger currencies than the US Dollar know they must economize as the Dollar falls.

Sharp has eliminated the particle sensor and shortened the cord, will the shift to Made-in-China hurt quality?

A slight ticking sound can be heard when the FP-P60CX is generating ions. This sound is the ionizer wire contracting as it cycles on and off, and is normal.

Sharps are sold primarily through electronics vendors. The electronics chain marketing channel is sometimes less flexible on returns and warranty service. Some dealers refer all problems back to the manufacturer.

Plasmacluster's limited warranty covers parts and labor for just one year.

Staying Power Predicted for FPP60CXs

Sharp Plasmacluster FPP60CX is produced by a global leader in microelectronics. Sharp's offerings include Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD), 3g mobile phones, HDTV, thin-film photovoltaic power systems, and a wide range of industrial and consumer electronics.

Since 2003, Sharp Plasmacluster Air Purifiers have become top sellers in Japan. Sales in South Korea, China, Canada, Australia and UK are significant.

These purifiers are being positioned for a global market, with the North American segment, where Canada and the US had different Sharp air purifiers, about to be unified with the FPP series.

Sharp Electronics has significant US air purification market penetration, with customer service handled from English-speaking Romeoville, Illinois.

US customer service has presented problems for many Japanese companies, and Sharp is no exception. But when many builders marketing air purifiers today are gone, I think Sharp will still be in the business.

Sharp Plasmacluster FPP60CX, marketed outside the "price inflexible" US allergy shop distribution channel, is sold for widely varying prices. The usual price fall after a new model premium is past, and a manufacturer rebate expired recently. Occasional sales at prices under $300 sell out quickly.

Sharp has periodically offered $100 mail in rebate coupons on the older FPN60CX and FPN40CX. The recently expired rebate on FPP60CX was $30. Patient and alert web surfers can find deals.

I like this modern machine, and continue to endorse the Sharp Plasma clusters without compensation: "Sharpest air purifier".

However, amid the recession of 2009, there are reports of a shortage of replacement filters for the FP-P60 Sharp: see Sharp FP-P60CX Replacement Filter Cut Backs

Sharp Plasmacluster FPP60CX:

Air-Purifier-Power Rating,

91, best ionizer

Each of 10 factors gets up to ten points, 100 is perfect and never awarded

1. "First do no harm"; minimal out gassing and ozone.

Score: 7 of 10, every manufacturer claims their ozone levels are "safe", FP-P60CX maintains the standard for ionizers set by FP-N60CX.

2. Serious gas and odor removal is a requirement if health benefits are expected: air purifiers with real carbon VOC capability rank higher.

Score: 10 of 10, washable one pound carbon filter combined with ion-oxidation system actively oxidizes chemicals.

3. Quality construction; gaskets, case, seals, and precision fitting eliminate bypassing and assure high efficiency at filtering sub-micron particles.

Score: 9 of 10, No bypassing around HEPA filter basket, two years continuous running has produced no issues.

4. The design extends the lifespan of each filter stage by allowing independent replacement. Ideally this is combined with electronic filter monitoring.

Score: 10 of 10, filters independent, though now sold as a set.

5. Purifier has long filter life, low maintenance requirements, and reasonable operating costs.

Score: 10 of 10, total cost to own less than lower priced units.

6. Purifier produces low sound levels and useful air flow rates relative to noise.

Score: 10 of 10, champ of quiet cleaning.

7. Manufacturer has a track record, with many machines in the field and a reputation for supporting what they sell. Warranty period and average service life are long.

Score: 8 of 10, warranty is shorter than filter life.

8. Purifier has high price/performance ratio. Every price rangeshould be included, “models above $1,200 are best”, while true, is not useful to most consumers.

Score: 10 of 10, amazing value at a middle price.

9. No dirt; unit and manufacturer should be devoid of class-action suits, recalls, high returns, consumer complaints, and legitimate negative consumer reviews.

Score: 8 of 10, some consumers of Sharp TV's have complained of poor customer service.

10. Unit is portable, stylish, comfortable, and convenient for consumer use.

Score: 10 of 10, handy remote, easy interface.

Air-Purifier-Power Numeric Rating; 91, Top Ionic Air Purifier.

For my FP-NP60CX Photo essay, depicting very similar internals, see:Sharp Plasmacluster Ion FPN60CX Photo Essay

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Sharp Plasmacluster FPP60CX Review

by Edgar V. Sherbenou

posted 10/16/07

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