The ultimate torture test for anything that calls itself an air cleaner may be the offices of Cigar Aficionado. You’ve seen other products put through their paces by comparable conditions: cars baked in ovens or parked in deep freezes; doors opened and closed a million times; an automatic plunger that presses a button on a electronic device until it breaks. Our smoked-filled confines do the equivalent to air cleaners.
Over the years, we have scrutinized virtually every type—air clearers, air fresheners, smoke removal devices—whatever the manufacturer prefers to call them. Machines with the word ion or ionizer in its brand name have always failed miserably, invariably because they left the distinctive odor of ozone, which for some of us is a deal-breaker. Still others have been undone because their fans sound like jetliners revving up on the runway for takeoff. Some simply couldn’t keep up with the daily assault from cigar smoke.
So when the Sharp Plasmacluster Ion Generator arrived, skepticism prevailed. First of all, it sounds like a device that got dropped off from some twenty-third century “Star Trek” episode: “Spock, bring me the plasmacluster…” Then there were the words Ion Generator in its brand name. But our skepticism quickly turned to admiration.
The device for a small office is about the size of a twin-pack of wine bottles. Its sleek design is available in colors that include white, black and burgundy. The fan is audible, but does not overpower normal office noises. But what truly amazed us was there was not even a whiff of ozone. And, it seemed to extract all kinds of odors from the room, not just the smoke from our cigars. We’ve left it running nonstop, even over the weekends, so when we walk into the office on Monday morning, the air truly seems crisp.
The manufacturer’s handbook says the machine will run for up to two years without replacing the ion generator. It does recommend vacuuming the filter every two weeks or so. If there’s any change in the performance over the next year or so, we’ll let you know. The suggested retail price is $350. That seems a bit high, but then again you’re getting a compact, truly efficient air cleaner that may keep the complaints down from anyone nearby who doesn’t like your cigar smoke.