LifeWise Air Purifier - A Radio Shack Brand

The LifeWise air purifier is a good example of what happens in the consumer marketplace when products become extremely popular and sales increase.

Many manufacturers of air purifiers have been producing their specific models for as long as twenty years. Most of the best air purifier products sold today have been in development and tested for quite some time.

When a product becomes a standard rather than a luxury or fad item, companies jump on the bandwagon. The Sharper Image Ionic Breeze is one such item and the LifeWise air purifier is another example of the phenomenon.

In the consumer marketplace there are branded products, re-branded products and generic products. This is a re-branded model product manufactured by KAZ, Inc (a/k/a Honeywell) and sold by Radio Shack Corporation.

The LifeWise air purifier brand is exclusive to Radio Shack and follows the corporation's practice of offering popular consumer electronic items that are not manufactured by Radio Shack but are re-branded with their logo. The design used is unique to Radio Shack but quite similar to other Honeywell air purifier designs.

It is difficult to find good reviews of this air purifier because it is sold exclusively in the retail outlets of one store chain. The advertisements claim the LifeWise air purifier is effective but fail to give specific ratings for the product.

According to the AHAM (Assn. of Home Appliance Manufacturers), the clean air delivery rates (CADR) for this unit are 69 dust, 80 smoke and 88 pollen while the unit is rated for a very small room. The CADR listed is not impressive and an indication that air flow through the filter is weak.

One point made repeatedly by the sales page is the lack of a HEPA filter that must be frequently replaced. Instead, this unit uses an electrostatic collection grid rather than a filtration system.

Though you might like the idea of not having to replace expensive filters, this is not a low maintenance or no maintenance product. It is true the collection grid can be cleaned and reused indefinitely - but equally true that it must cleaned frequently.

Air Cleaning Process

In an electrostatic air purifier room air is cycled through a prefilter meant to trap lint, pet dander and hair. This prefilter does not capture or hold small particulates as they easily pass through the plastic grid.

Charging wires add voltage to the air passing through the unit and ionize particles in the air. Those ionized particles are then attracted to the IFD collection grid. The IFD quickly loses the ability to capture particles if not kept extremely clean.

The grid can become useless after only a week in a normal room and in a room with very dirty air may be useless in a couple days unless it is frequently cleaned by the homeowner. The ability to clean the air of particulates is greatly reduced long before the indicator on the machine warns that a cleaning is needed.

The LifeWise air purifier also utilizes UV light to cleanse air in the room but the seller fails to provide data showing the level of protection provided by the UV lights for the air cleaner. Savvy consumers know the only reason specific data is omitted from advertising is because the data itself is weak.

Disadvantages

Thus the LifeWise air purifier is advertised as "effective" but CADR results are not listed. The benefit of UV technology is mentioned but testing results for the unit are not provided.

Weak UV light is often added as a lure for consumers to convince buyers they are getting the latest in technological advances. To be effective, UV light must meet certain levels of brightness and the LifeWise air purifier does not meet those standards.

Noise levels are not a problem for the this product. This is mainly because fans pulling air through a HEPA filter create more noise than those flowing air over simple collection plates.

UV light that escapes from an air purifier can be detrimental to the eyes. The brochure for LifeWise air purifier products mentions the user might notice a faint blue glow at the front of the unit but does not reveal how much UV light is escaping. Also no mentioned is what the exposure level to UV light might be for someone in the room.

There is toxic mercury vapor in the UV bulbs so care must be taken to avoid break the thin glass bulbs. Electromagnetic fields created by the ionization process can create health risks. To its credit, the units clearly state the potential for health hazards rather than avoid mention of them as some manufacturers are prone to do.

Advantages

Radio Shack has a decent reputation for providing good quality products at prices that can be significantly lower than similar branded models. While there are serious questions about the air cleaning effectiveness of the air cleaner, the low price is fair for the product. This air purifier is basically the same one sold by Honeywell and similar to popular brands like Ionic Breeze.

The printed information about the units is honest and straightforward when it comes to ozone production of the ionization process. Consumers with asthma or other respiratory challenges are advised to seek advice from their physician before using an ozone producing air cleaner.

Current Availability

Though the replace bulbs and parts are still available online from sites such as eBay and Amazon, the compact air cleaner is no longer being sold by Radio Shack. The product has been taken off the market for now and there is no indication the product will be offered again in the future. Radio Shack has replaced this brand of air purifier with a full line of Honeywell air cleaners in its offline and online stores.

Summary

You may find a LifeWise air purifier offered for sale on an auction or large retail site online. The product has been discontinued by the manufacturer though the technology used for this air cleaner can still be found in other brands.

Originally re-branded by Honeywell as a Radio Shack air purifier, this single air purifier has now been replaced by the store chain with a variety of Honeywell air purifiers.

Replacement UV bulbs and part for this air purifier can be still be purchased online. However, consumers who buy this unit should expect a deep discount in the original $100 price to reflect the purchase of a discontinued item.

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