Some of you may be wondering, what do I actually think of the Oreck air filters? How does the Truman Cell approach to electrostatic charging of particulate compare to good old mechanically blocking particles such as the HEPA filter approach? Which is better? Blah blah blah. Well, here’s my two cents, and more, on various air filters in general and Oreck Truman Cells in specific.
Obviously, I’m an irreverent bloke. I’m not paid to write any of this schnitzel, so I’m not going to force-feed you BS. This is my honest opinion of a real-life user. Not some paid advertisement. Heck, not even remotely linked to Oreck in any way. They didn’t send me a review unit to write this. They didn’t even ask me to write this. I’m not afraid of pissing anyone off. (Mwa ha ha ha!) I have no payment nor continued future business to lose, past or present affiliations, etc.
And what I do have are allergies. Really bad allergies. Lost and lots of allergies. Long ago I used to have asthma, but fortunately I grew out of it in my teenage years. Though I can still feel it a bit, fortunately the constriction is no longer life-threatening air-choking. Just … mildly annoying. Thank goodness. But the allergies, oh how they’ve stayed.
And where as most people when they think of allergies as sinuses and snot, sneezing and running nose, that’s not how my allergies hit me every time. Some things do. Pet dander and dust especially cause me to mucus-up. But pollen, and spores (mold and mildew) don’t make me “sneeze” so much. Some, but not as much. But what the allergens all do other than that is far more insidious. They’re, well, essentially contact poison. On the outside my skin will react, getting not just itchy and red, but when bad enough burning, acid-like pain. And if direct-enough and strong enough contact, big nasty breakouts in hives. Especially dust and dander causing hives. I guess on a scale of one to ten, dust and dander are fifteen. Where as pollen only eight. Mold and mildew spores … I try not to find out. I really really try hard not to, especially since penicillin almost killed me, and it comes from mold. There’s just no need to find out how far I can push that. Really.
So anywhen, if I pet a cat or a hamster, I have to wash my hands (arms, face) after. Whatever was exposed, and if I was stupid enough to scratch my forehead or something while “unclean”. Otherwise my skin goes all itchy, then sore, breaks out in hives, and is just plain really really uncomfortable. I can tolerate under controlled conditions, but I surely wouldn’t want to live with it, not matter how much I’d love to have a cat.
But on the inside, well, imagine the same reaction. In my throat. In my sinuses. In my lungs! Where I can’t wash any of it! And I have to wait for my body to naturally remove the invasion. Do you have any idea how exhausting that is? It’s pain. It’s tiring. Compared to that, sneezing is nothing. And where I can choose to pet a friend’s cat, or visit a family member with a pet when I’m feeling strong and good and capable of taking that hit, pollen is the seasonal killer. You don’t choose pollen. It chooses you.
And on top of that, anything that saps the body’s resources, especially pain, I’ve found, also means exhaustion and a lowered immune response. On top of that, irritated nasal passages, tonsils, bronchial tubes, etc. are that much easier for infection to set in. So not only do allergies make me feel like crap, but they make me get sick easier. For anyone who doesn’t have serious allergies, this is a really important things to read. It’s not just about running noses and buying stock in Kleenex. It’s about struggling to stay alive!
Day in and day out I have to be careful and very in tune with what my body is telling me. I have to pay attention when I feel bad and figure out why. I have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. It’s not as deadly as say diabetes and insulin, but it is a serious and constant health concern in my life. It sucks. But that’s life. (Life with allergies at least.)
So that’s what I’m up against. Pretty much anything living (and if you don’t think dust is living, besides where most dust comes from, there are also dust mites) is poison to my body. That’s what having allergies means.
I’m even allergic to penicillin. (And rose hips, of all things. Which makes Vitamin C supplements and a lot of teas dangerous to me. I have to be very careful about my holistic care.)
But to a certain extent, I’m used to it. It’s something I’ve learned to live with.
The allergens in Portland, Oregon are trying to kill me this year. So I had to arm up in my fight to survive. I really hard to turn up my protection a notch and go back to a product I trust.
Now, I’ve used various air filters in the past. I’ve tried several. Heck, I even have a Rainbow vacuum. Which, for allergy sufferers is expensive, but a good investment. So much so that I need to sidetrack a moment to explain this brilliant armament in the fight against allergies. With a regular vacuum cleaner, you have a bag. Maybe you have a great bag and it filters HEPA quality. Maybe you have some kind of HEPA filter after the bag. But when you change the bag, you still get dust everywhere in the air. It’s just plain inevitable. A normal person might not notice it, but an allergy sufferer certainly will! Now, with the more advanced “bagless” vacuums, they’re an improvement in vacuum performance because the suction of the vacuum doesn’t fail as the bag’s “filter” stuffs up with dust. But, when it comes time to empty that canister, same old problem. Dust in the air. Dust on your skin. Pain for allergy sufferers. In my case a literal need to take a shower both to wash off the dust immediately as well as to use the steam to break up the mucus in my sinuses and chest. Just from regular old vacuuming. This is a day in the life of an allergy sufferer.
Where as the Rainbow vacuum was bagless before bagless was cool. It’s the hipster vacuum. Only you fill the “canister” with water. The water literally traps the dust. It’s amazing! It works. I won’t kid you though, it’s also really really gross. By the end when you dump it on your lawn or down your toilet you essentially have a dust/hair/god-only-knows-what muddy messy smoothy instead of clean water. But that means it’s working. The dust isn’t airborne. The dust isn’t freed from opening the canister. The dust isn’t on your skin and in your lungs. The dust is in the water, washed away. Bye bye. It makes vacuuming such a huge relief to anyone with allergies! Not to mention, just like any good canister vacuum, it has a HEPA filter on the exhaust, so that even if any dust makes it out of the canister, it doesn’t actually make it out of the vacuum and back into the air.
(Keep in mind however, the act of vacuuming itself still vibrates the floor / carpeting. No matter how good the vacuum is, this still will make dust particulate airborne. Anyone extremely sensitive, like me, no matter how good the vacuum, will still be exposed just in the act of “dry” cleaning. Which still can mean a shower afterward, sneezing, coughing, etc. Just not nearly as painful before, during, and after with the right vacuum. And not nearly as deadly when you empty the vacuum. This is a day in the life of a real allergy sufferer. Think about how unthoughtful you are of such regular household activities. Now think of someone with allergies. This is what we have to psyche ourselves up for. It is not fun. And now think about what most people do before inviting people into their home. If you invite an allergy sufferer into your home, please do your vacuuming hours in advance and/or run an air filter afterward, or else in spite of your best intentions, you just made a whole lot of painful allergens airborne. Fortunately you’ll never notice. Unfortunately, we really really will. If we don’t say anything about it, it’s only because we’re being polite, not because we aren’t suffering silently.)
And, in fact, if you don’t mind the noise, the Rainbow makes a good HEPA filter. If you need to clear the air in a hurry … such as if you just vacuumed and put all of that dust into the air … just run the Rainbow base unit without the hose attached and the ingenious device will suck the air clean in a jiff.
And if you’re into it, with a Rainbow you can even add special after-market scents to the water before you turn the thing on, for that extra-special “I just cleaned” feeling.
The Rainbow also has other advantages than just being great for allergy sufferers. If you don’t want to pay for an expensive carpet cleaner, the Rainbow has an attachment for that. It’s not a steam cleaner, but it is a wet-vac. Because the Rainbow is designed to run with water, with the non-electrified wet-vac head for deep carpet cleaning (instead of the stock one with the roller) you can not only wet-clean dug-in carpet stains by soap-cleaning your carpets, but you can also remove those pesky dug-in allergens! Because as any Kirby salesperson will prove, carpet is a freaking magnet for dust and microbes. Regular vacuums just get the top level. If you want the deep-down, you need special hardware. A super vac. A wet vac. A steam wet vac. A chemical dry or wet medium and appropriate vac. Something. The Rainbow is that something.
And, because the Rainbow works on water, and can wet-clean your carpets, it can also serve as a secondary shop-vac if your water heater dumps in your basement or whatnot. It’s not a huge storage capacity, but it is a water-safe vacuum system. I know I’ve certainly needed one a time or two over the years.
Also, for people who hate pushing around heavy vacuums, because the canister/vacuum portion is separated from the head, it makes it easier to move around the room with. I’ve heard from people who know people (and not salespeople either) that many people with medical conditions find this type of separated component vacuum system is easier to use and they prefer buying them. It’s hearsay in my case, but having owned and used, I see no reason to disbelieve. It makes sense.
But even with all of that going for it, be under no illusions, Rainbow vacuums are a freaking expensive gimmick of a vacuum cleaner, sold by pushy salespeople, where money is made in optional extras like the carpet cleaner, like the scents, etc.
All that said, ridiculous price and pushy people taken into account, I still love my Rainbow all the same. As an allergy sufferer, to me, it’s definitely worth the ridiculous price.
But that’s not what this is about. Just as important as any good vacuum, is a good air filter. Especially if you’re adamant on having pets even though you’re allergic. Or you moved out to Portland, Oregon to take a new job and even though the first year was rainy, dreary, and allergen-low, you suddenly find the air is trying to kill you like never before in your life in your second springtime after you’ve uprooted your wife, gotten rid of your old house somewhere healthier, and moved all of your earthly belongings.
Err … yeah.
So you find you need a good air filter.
Over the years, I’ve used many. I’ve paid for expensive models. I’ve bought cheap crap from regular stores. Etc. Tried them all, as it were.
HEPA? Simple HEPA filters work. Okay. I mean yeah, they work, but man do they ever clog-up quick and easy. Filter after filter after filter. And they tend to be noisy. Why are they noisy? Well, think about it. You have a mechanical filter. That means the filter literally blocks particles of a certain size or larger from getting through. In the case of HEPA, that’s 0.3 micron target. Which is really good for clean air. But the filter works by capturing and trapping particles in the holes that the air moves through. This greatly blocks air flow even when it’s completely clean. And the more particles that get trapped into the filter, the more holes are blocked up and the less air can move through the filter afterward. That’s why you have to replace the HEPA filter regularly. (Well, replace and/or clean any mechanical filter, air, water, oil, or otherwise.) So you need a powerful fan for a HEPA filter to work, because a HEPA filter is, by design, one with really really small holes and bad airflow. When built into your central heating/air conditioning system, it’s not so bad because you have a big bad filter and fans hiding where you’re hopefully not going to notice the noise so much or can add lots to block the noise. But when you have independent little filters in someone’s bedroom, in your den, or office or living room, etc. … that gets very noisy very quickly when it comes to HEPA. And with HEPA, if it ain’t noisy, it ain’t moving enough air to actually work the whole room. You’ve got to watch just how much area your filter actually covers.
And on that note, actually, if you have a central heating/cooling forced-air furnace and/or AC, but you don’t have a HEPA filter, you can look into buying allergy-specific replacement filters. You know, those box-like sheets with the funny material that slot in right where your air return duct meets the unit, or if you don’t have an air return system (believe it or not, I’ve seen that), right at the intake vent on the forced air unit. You have to replace those regularly anyway. Usually every six months I think. Now, I’ve never personally run across any that are as good as an actual HEPA rating, but companies like 3M and such do make some of those filters that will catch a lot more than more than just your standard furnace filter. They cost a lot more, but they are worth it, and can be a much cheaper alternative to HEPA if you’re not sure. But just like any mechanical air filter, the smaller the hole, they better they trap, the less air flow you’ll get. Though rare, you may find your fan has to be upgraded to accommodate the decrease in airflow.
And here’s a tip. Even if you don’t have central air, most of those allergen catching furnace filters actually can be cut up and flattened with not much work to be fit into window AC units to replace those useless washable plastic mesh ones they come with. Just be careful as some window ACs will actually ice up if there’s too much humidity and not enough airflow.
In fact, mad scientist enough, there’s really nothing stopping you from replacing a crappy air filter’s “filter” with a cut-out from an allergen-friendly furnace filter. Or for that matter just duct-taping (or bungee-cording) a furnace filter to a standing fan to make your own red-neck air filter. All fine solutions if you don’t need HEPA quality that will save you a bundle on independent units and/or save you from a lot of extra noise pollution by putting something you’re already running to better use for you.
So anywho, mechanical filters like HEPA work, but independent stand-alone units tend to be noisy. I personally really only support HEPA (and mechanical filtration in general) for HVAC systems, or when added to a device that you were already using anyway. It works. It’s also annoying. It’s louder. And you’re looking at replacing those filters frequently, so the after-market cost is up there. Like any printer and ink. Don’t just think about the unit itself, but the after-market costs to keep using it day after day. It adds up. Quickly. If you can’t wash it clean, that means you have to replace it, and that means money.
Now, I’ve tried various “ionizing” filters and whatnot too. Most of them, crap. Plain and simple crap. They’re all gimmick and pseudo-holistic nonsense. They’re more placebo “it works because you believe it works” than they are actual allergen-stoppers. Not that they don’t have a place. Especially if they have a UV filter (more on that later), but they’re not going to give you HEPA quality filtration. They’ll give you better air, but it isn’t going to be enough to someone who seriously suffers.
The one exception to that I’ve ever found? Oreck.
Oreck’s “Truman Cell” blah blah marketspeak, whatever, is the real deal. Long ago I seem to recall something about them having been commissioned and designed for submarines by the military. Blah blah. Don’t quote me on it. It may or may not be true. Though it sounds like a cool story. Can anyone really trust my memory when I’m on cold medication? **LOL** But regardless of any marketing campaign, real, marketspeak/BS, or imagined, the fact of the matter is, they freaking work. Like a dream!
The concept is actually pretty darn simple and ingenious. They electrically charge the air particles as they move through the filter. The charged particles are then pulled onto metal plates. They’re no longer in the air. End of story.
It may sound like some geeky techno-imaginary dream. But it’s real. And I’ll explain in a nice easy way for anyone to grasp. Who hasn’t seen a video of someone who rubs a balloon then sticks it to their friend’s head? (Or a wall? Or a cat?) It’s great fun! Or has unwrapped candy or some such, removing a seemingly ordinary plastic layer, only to have it stick to your hand and not let go even though there’s no glue or anything on it whatsoever? That’s static electricity at work! Some objects if you create a static charge in them and they’re light enough, they stick to things like glue. Fun at parties.
Fun in your air filter too. It’s that simple. Same thing, just balloons that are really really tiny.
HEPA’s target air particle size is 0.3 microns.
Truman Cell’s electrostatic approach targets particles down to the size of 0.1 microns. So little itty bitty allergens, bacteria, viruses, etc. all get caught by Oreck’s Truman Cell-based air filters. Ones three times smaller than even HEPA. Yes, that’s right, by catching the particles with electricity the Oreck filter will grab things that HEPA would have let back into the air.
But do they work? Heck yes, they do. Many years ago I had an early model Oreck filter. Back when I had a “pet room”. In it were various rodentia. Hamsters, guinea pigs, and even a rat. As an allergy sufferer, my wife and I were clear that they were m wife’s pets, not mine. The pets mostly stayed in the “pet room”, and thus the allergens were contained so long as the doors stayed closed. Well … mostly. Forced air system means the air return still circulated the allergens. Not to mention no door is air-tight. But, with the Oreck XL filter running nonstop in that room, it kept the rest of the house safe by catching those allergens in that room, before they could escape and try to kill me. For years it worked.
And the advantage of the Oreck filters is that because the “Truman Cell” is just a bunch of metal and plastic parts, it’s easily cleaned. Warm water will do it most of the time. Sometimes you might want to lightly soap up to remove sticky allergens and whatnot residue. If you feel like spending a small fortune on aftermarket cleaners that you don’t need you can even do that, if it makes you feel better. But you really don’t need to. Just keep the filters clean by washing them. They’re reusable. It’s simple and easy.
They do have two downsides though.
First, The Truman Cell needs to be cleaned or else it gets really noisy. They go ZAP! I don’t mean like keel over dead, zap. I don’t even mean electrocute you zap. I mean they make a popping noise. It’s startling. It’s kind of loud. It’s a little scary to boot, like some primal fear of electricity. It’s like a bug-zapper when the mosquito hits the electricity and gets fried. Essentially, that’s what’s happening. Only it’s not a mosquito, it’s a dust particle getting caught in the wrong place. And on occasion you’ll get that even when they’re clean, too. It is a down side to using electricity to trap particulate. If the noise doesn’t alert you to wash your filter, a light will. Cleaning is easy. It’s free. (Or at least as cheap as warm water and occasionally a little soap.) It’s a no-brainer, really. But the occasional noise is a down side. You could say that regular cleaning is also a downside, but then any HEPA filter needs regular filter replacing, so it’s really no difference there. And unlike HEPA, cleaning a Truman Cell is free.
Now, side track a moment: here’s a sad story, and how I know the Truman Cell really really works. (And how my first marriage didn’t.) My ex-wife destroyed our first Oreck XL by neglecting to clean it for goodness only knows how many months straight until the fan bearings were destroyed by the built up dust inside of the thing. That’s how well the Truman Cell will work. Keep in mind, this was in the “pet room”, where there was a lot of crap in the air. Which was the point of putting the air filter in there. And also keep in mind, this was my now ex first wife. There’s a reason we didn’t have kids together. Her neglect of the air filter in the pet room was just one of many signs of neglect on her part. We were very clear that having the pets was conditional on her taking care of them because I have allergies and just can’t do that many pets, and that wouldn’t be fair to the pets to not keep their cages clean regularly. So they were her pets. It was her “pet room” to look after. It was a room I avoided by necessity. It’s not like we buried pets frequently, so she was taking care of them … I’d assume. But even with a light on and that popping zap noise, that Oreck XL got so ridiculously choked up with dust when I finally found it. (And if you saw a Truman Cell, you’d know there’s a LOT of space between the metal plates, so that’s really darned hard to do!) So much so that the dust built up past the filter and in the fan itself, until the bearings ground down and froze up. I can’t even imagine! The level of neglect it would take to accomplish that is mind-boggling. By far that won’t happen to you. No one can be that stupid. It takes intentional and willful neglect to break an Oreck XL like that. All you have to do is every month wash out the filter. It’s super easy. She probably didn’t wash that thing out for over a year, in a high dust and dander environment. (Food pellet dust. Wood chip dust. Pet dander. Etc.) But even then, even with the light on and the zap noise going on for goodness knows how long in the back of that room, with dust and dirt literally crawling out of the exhaust vent, that Oreck filter kept on trucking and pulling in dust. For goodness only knows how many months after months after months of neglect, it still did it’s job. And meanwhile, in the rest of the house, I was completely oblivious to those allergens and that filter’s death throws. That Oreck XL was a champ for fighting the good fight without being cleaned for over a year in that high-pollution room. And it pisses me off to this day to think of how she could have just let that thing stay dirty for so long when it did everything imaginable to tell her that it needed cleaning, and when cleaning it is so ridiculously simple! It wasn’t something you could ignore. It had to be a passive-aggressive attempt to poison me. Yeah. There are many reasons our marriage didn’t last decades. And the reason that Oreck XL didn’t last even one decade is just one of them. A sad marriage story, and a pretty useless plot against me at that, but nothing speaks to the absolute effectiveness and determination, the sheer quality of an Oreck XL, than that story does. It’s sad. It’s inspirational. It’s strangely funny too.
Really, Oreck builds their products to last. That’s insanely above and beyond the call of duty quality right there.
But that brings me to the second flaw of the Oreck Truman Cells. The wires that run the voltage to charge the air particles are super thin, relatively easy to break, and I think after years of use will probably even burn out until they snap, just like a filament in a lightbulb. (Same concept really, running electricity through a small wire burns it up. Technically big wires too, but big wires are so much bigger that we’ll all be dead and gone before enough has burned up to be a problem.) And likely, I wouldn’t expect that those wires are covered under warranty because Oreck has to make money off of you somehow. (I haven’t checked the paperwork, but I’d imagine they’re expected to burn out. Just like tires, oil and air filters, belts, brake pads, etc. on a car, they’re just expected to wear down and so aren’t covered under warranty.) So it’s something to be aware of. You might break a wire accidentally. One might burn out eventually, after many years of faithful service. A cost will probably come. Eventually. Maybe. With a little care to avoid accidental damage, it’ll take years before it comes.
Even if it does happen though, and even if it wasn’t covered under warranty, frankly, it still beats HEPA. The cost to fix or replace a broken Truman Cell will be a heck of a lot less than having had to replace countless HEPA filters over the life of a Truman Cell. (Like replacing a $5 incandescent bulb with a $20 LED bulb. The lifespan alone of not replacing it makes up the cost, even completely ignoring the energy efficiency.) But yes, fixing/replacing a Truman Cell will cost more than a single HEPA filter replacement. (At least unless you’re mad scientist enough to fix it yourself. It is just a wire after all.)
So even though it’s still far more cost-effective versus a mechanical filter, I’m sure there are some people who will complain, and who will say how bad it is. Just like there are people who complain when their brake pads wear down or their printer runs out of ink or toner or their roof needs reshingling. As if this isn’t any regular part of ownership.
Just be careful when you wash the filter and they’ll last you at least two years if my first Oreck was anything to go by. They’ll probably even last just up to the warranty if you treat them well. Of course they’ll probably break immediately after the warranty. That’s how things are these days, unfortunately. But that’s life.
There is one other weird potential flaw … and this verges on the ridiculous to most people, but it occurred to me theoretically. It’s that any electrostatic or ionizing filter is designed to work electrically. Now, if you watch those ghost hunting type shows, they often talk about how high electromagnetic fields can cause symptoms of hysteria where people think they see ghosts. Or if you’re a believer, maybe actually give ghosts the energy to manifest more often. Whichever way you believe, either way, I do have to wonder what an EMF reading near one of those filters would be like. Maybe if you find yourself paranoid, or seeing (or believe to be seeing) apparitions, it might be something to contemplate. Evil spirits? Maybe it’s your air filter.
But, then again, any fan is a big electromagnet. That’s how fans work. I’d imagine without proper shielding/grounding, any fan can put out loads of EMF, by design. So can your cell phone. So can your wi-fi devices. Etc. Heck, so can the electrical wiring in your house without proper shielding/grounding. That’s what electricity does. EMF pollution is the new black. Or green. Or … err … something like that. But anyway, it’s food for thought. I haven’t got a meter to whip out to test, but maybe if your iPad connection sucks, or you’re about to call Ghost Busters, maybe look at your air filter. Just a random stray thought that may or may not have merit and/or humor.
Speaking of green, one other area of comparison of air filters is … electricity usage. Now, you’d think that an electrostatic or ionic filter like an Oreck might suck up juice. But actually the filter, allegedly, is typically about as “low” cost as a lightbulb. In theory. Granted, I’m sure that’s compared to like an incandescent lightbulb, like a 60W juice sucker, not to some green solution like compact fluorescent or LED. And who the heck leaves a light on all the time like you would an air filter? So it’s a comparison that’s maybe not so applicable today as it may have been in yester-years when we didn’t give a fig about energy consumption and Energy Star wasn’t even a phrase. And people left porch lights on all night in case Bobby came home from shore leave unexpectedly, or whatever.
Still, running the device and using that electricity is relatively small, and a worthwhile price to pay for being able to breathe to any allergy sufferer. It’s less than leaving your Xbox or PS3 idling. (Heck, it might even be less than turning if off but leaving it plugged in if the rumors are true. Gotta love those “energy vampires” Mwa ha ha ha!)
But, you’d be surprised to know that the Truman Cell Oreck air filters actually use less electricity than HEPA fitlers. (And Oreck would know, because they also make HEPA filters.) How is that possible? Well, keep in mind that the Truman Cell works by metal plates, far apart, attracting charged particles. Air flows through that filter extremely easily. Where as HEPA filters block air flow with holes as small as 0.3 microns to physically catch particles. And because they clog up and block air flow even more as they work, they need to still be able to move air even after they’re semi-clogged. Which takes a lot more powerful fan. Not only does that make more noise, it sucks up a lot more electricity to power that uber-fan than the electrostatic method takes to charge and attract the even smaller particles and run a low-powered fan. So it’s not only more effective at trapping particles, but it’s also more energy efficient as well. And more audibly friendly. Something for the environmentally aware allergy sufferer to consider.
And one thing that the Oreck Truman Cell filters are, is quiet. At their lowest setting, they’re almost completely inaudible. Even with one on my nightstand, on low, I can sleep soundly. I barely even register that it’s on, other than the gentle breeze in my face. And this from someone who can hear the electric hum of a computer monitor or laptop when it’s on from a couple of feet away, so much so that he has to turn off his computer monitor from the power-supply switch at the back whenever he meditates in his living room. Yet I can sleep soundly with my new Oreck ProShield running on low.
On medium however, it’s definitely audible. Quiet enough to be okay, except maybe when sleeping, depending on how much you like white noise or prefer silence instead. Certainly you can hear a TV over it easily. But it is audible.
And on high, well, jet engine. But then, that’s okay. You want a jet engine when you need to clear a room quickly. It’s not like you’d leave it running on high any normal occasion. As Microsoft would say, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s there for if you want it. Every other time, a setting that’s quiet is what you want most of the time anyway.
And my new Oreck DualMax is also really quiet. Instead of Oreck’s typical XL/ProShield fan design (which I happen to like) the Oreck DualMax uses those industrial square fans like you see in computer cases. Which, as someone who has a history of intentionally building silent and near-silent PCs with RPM-regulated quiet fans (and as often as possible/affordable/sane completely passive heatsinks) I know just how quiet those fans can run when they’re quality and when you turn down their RPMs. Which they are, and Oreck does. And sure enough, the DualMax is just darned whisper quiet on low too. Even on medium, it’s pretty quiet. That’s what I leave it on most of the time in my living room. The same one where I meditate as well as watch TV. It’s no worry. In fact, even on high I can still watch TV with only a minor volume increase. But, and here’s where it kind of lets me down, I get the impression (not scientifically tested) that on high the DualMax doesn’t actually move as much air as the ProShield does on high. Which is kind of counter-intuitive because it’s like literally twice the size, twice the machine, twice the Truman Cell, twice the air-purifying power, twice the room size. But then again, move too much air and maybe you’re letting dust back into the air by sucking it off of the plates of the Truman Cell. Too much power might be counterproductive. I don’t know. Or maybe not. But I do know the filter works. (And I do know that because I know those fans, to me at least, they’re very user serviceable should a need ever arise.) If I were a betting man though, I’d wager that Oreck is switching to that fan type because it’s probably cheaper for them to just buy someone else’s fans than it is to build/contract their own fans. I don’t know that they do. I’m not saying that’s the case. But I’d put money on it if I put money on anything and had to wager on why they changed fans so drastically. It’s a huge difference in fans.
And another side note, if you don’t mind invalidating your warranty completely, I’d sure feel safer monkeying around with (or even breaking down for parts in some other project) the Oreck DualMax compared to the Oreck XL or Oreck ProShield. It just has that more approachable feel to it. The parts. The enclosure. The layout. Not that this likely matters to most people. But for anyone saddened by failing to see an Oreck product to fit into their home’s forced-air system…
The only real disappointment about Oreck’s air filters is this: their exhaust vents aren’t adjustable. So you can’t direct air to wherever you might want them to blow. It’s a little thing, but especially in the case of the smaller Oreck ProShield units, I really am not so keen on where it blows out its clean air. I’d really have preferred to have been able to adjust that. I can’t recall, but I seem to think my old dead Oreck XL could do that. If so, I wonder why Oreck changed that. Because the design is really not ideal IMHO without it. But oh well. It still filters air. It just makes it a lot harder to find a good place to set it up. They should really make adjustable vents on them.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on air filters.
But what about biological aspect to filters? Namely, UV…
Now if you’re worried about bird flu, swine flu, or whatever blah hyped-up epidemic that will never happen nor never be deadly to many if it does, you can care about those UV stages built into various air filters as well. I’m sure they must work. Just as I’m also sure that the less exposure your immune system has to bugs, the less prepared it is to fight them when it is exposed to them. The immune system works by learning how to kill. There’s literally a learning process to it. That’s why immunizations work. Inject your body with dead (or near-dead, or harmless mutations) diseases, and your body learns how to kill them more effectively so that if you’re then exposed to the real thing, your super-deadly-trained-assassin white blood cells can ninja the disease before it can hunker down into your cells and try to kill you.
So the last thing that anyone should do is take away that training. You don’t want your immune system to send out little old ladies with one course in self-defense to kill off a potentially lethal disease, do you? Heck no! You want your immune system to be well trained. You want your immune system to be a third-degree black belt with a ten foot sword, a rocket launcher, and a sickeningly dark intimate knowledge of pressure points and other vulnerabilities. You want your immune system to be elite!
And that means exposure!
It sounds bass-ackwards. Why would any sane person want to be intentionally exposed to diseases when you could kill all of the little buggers off and live free of them? But it’s true. That’s what you need to be healthy.
So if you have an air filter with UV, I highly suggest you turn it off when you’re not sick.
Now, when you are sick, darn skippy, turn that UV filter on! Or if you or a loved one is highly prone to catching a disease and needs to live in a virtual (or literal) bubble, then heck yeah, use UV.
But when you’re healthy, keep your immune system highly trained. Expose yourself.
(And eat things that also help your body fight bad bugs, like yogurt. The live cultures, literally bacteria, are not only harmless, but create a barrier against the bad harmful bacteria. It’s like hiring body guards and security agents to protect against nefarious evil-doers. Or other pro-and pre-biotics that promote good guys to keep the bad guys away. Promoting good bugs is actually healthier for you than indiscriminately killing all bugs. It’s a symbiotic relationship that works.)
So let me wrap it all up. I have allergies. I have serious allergies. Would I personally spend my own hard-earned money to buy an Oreck Truman Cell air filter? Absolutely. I bought two! They work. They’re quiet. They cost less money to own and operate over a lifetime. They’re greener than HEPA. I love them. What more can I say? If you have allergies and you need a stand-alone filter, I would highly recommend trying one before spending money on any HEPA filter or any gimmicky “ionic” filter. Go hard-core science. Go Oreck Truman Cell. They deliver. You can’t ask for more. Five out of five. Ten out of ten. 0.1 microns out of 0.3. I’m not a customer because I bought into flashy marketing. I’m a customer because I’m an owner. I use them. They work better than anything else I’ve ever bought. And having suffered from allergies all my life, and being no spring chicken, I’ve bought plenty.
And as a side note, if you have a forced-air system in your home for heating or cooling, look into better air filter replacements for allergy sufferers. They cost more, but they work. You’ve already got an air filter that you use regularly. You just maybe don’t know it yet. Maximize it’s potential. Make it work for you.
And Oreck, seriously, consider an HVAC Truman Cell product line. When (if?) I ever buy a home again, I’d like to buy one from you instead of buy a bunch of DualMax units and go all mad-scientist on them.
I’m Arah J. Leonard, and those are my unsolicited unpaid opinions on air filters for allergy sufferers. (If I had one, I’d even stamp a seal of approval.)
This blog entry brought to you by: Breathing. Its underrated, until you can’t. And then you really really miss it. Breathing. Congratulations! Now you can again. Breathing, it’s what’s for dinner.
Or something like that. (See, that’s why I’m a software engineer, not an advertising agent.)
(P.S. I am a little legally medicated right now. Goodness only knows how the allergy medication, cough syrup, etc. are all interacting right now. Bronchitis sucks! But at least it’s not pneumonia! Or oldmonia. Or midlifecrysismonia. Okay. I’ll shut up now.)