My daughter, Rachel, has asthma, so a clean environment can be a great help in keeping her lungs in good shape. She has allergies to various pollens and foods that can trigger asthma episodes. Every time she gets a cold, she also has problems. Dust can also cause a lot of problems for her. Dust itself doesn’t cause her to wheeze, but it causes a lot of congestion and irritation. Our hope is that minimizing her normal level of congestion can minimize the frequency and severity of wheezing episodes. Using an air filter in her room is a good way to minimize dust and allergens. When Julie offered the team the Oreck ProShield Plus Air Purifier, I asked if I could give it a try.
The Oreck ProShield Plus is a compact unit made of black plastic. I noticed a plasticizer smell when the box was opened. This smell lessened after a couple of days of use, but it still remains. It smells a little like chlorine. Rachel says it makes her room smell a bit like an indoor swimming pool.
Color – Gunmetal
New Technology – Helios Shield ™
Odor Control – PCO – Ultraviolet light (UV-A) Odor Control
Filtration – Truman Cell ® (never needs replacing)
Efficacy – Cleans and re-circulates the air in a 12 X 18 ft room twice every hour
Orientation – Dual (can lay flat, or stand vertically)
Noise Level – Whisper Quiet (on low setting)
Energy Efficiency – 60-watt bulb equivalent
Warranty – 3-year limited warranty, lifetime warranty on the Truman Cell
Dimensions – 10.5” X 4.5” X 18”
The Oreck ProShield Plus unit should be used only on a hard surface. The instructions say to place it on a table or desk, and it should be placed where it will not be drawing dirty air across your face while you are sleeping. We put it on a chest in Rachel’s room. The chest is across the room from her bed, and oriented so that it should not be drawing air across her face. The “front” side shown in the top picture is actually the air intake. Air exits from a vent on the right side of the unit (as you face it) when used in the vertical position, or from the top of the unit in the horizontal position.
The Oreck ProShield Plus comes with a remote control. The remote has a power on/off switch. You can also control speed, dim or turn off the night light, and turn the UV odor control function on/off with the remote.
When we look inside the ProShield Plus, we see three filters. The first picture shows the Pre-filter. This filter has a plastic mesh with a relatively large grid. The pre-filter removes large particles, such as dust, hair, and lint.
The next filter is the Truman cell. (It has been pulled out of position for this photograph.) The Truman cell is a proprietary product. Oreck says the Truman cell “is designed to electrostatically charge and collect smaller particles such as dust, smoke, pollen, bacteria, molds, viruses, and fungi.”
Next we see the Oreck ProShield Plus air purifier. This piece is not removable. It contains internal UV lights. Some of the documentation seems to call this device the Helios Shield ™. Oreck says the “Helios Shield™ utilizes ultraviolet light (UV-A) to instantly eliminate household odors while neutralizing harmful volatile organic compounds. This type of cleaning power gives the Oreck ProShield™ Plus the ability to reduce many viruses, neutralize volatile organic compounds, and eliminate odors as it circulates air through its system.” You can turn the UV lights off, if desired, but the manual warns that the odor and VOC removal capability will be greatly reduced.
You can also see the “Catalytic Ozone Converter” in this picture. It’s the silvery plate mounted in the right side of the plastic housing, at the end of the Truman cell slot. Oreck also calls this the Catalytic Oxygenator. It is permanent and can’t be replaced.
The front panel controls and lights are shown here. The left button (house with circling arrows) turns the internal UV lights in the non-removable ProShield Plus air purifier on/off. The horizontal lighted blue bar to the left of this button shows the UV lights are currently on. The middle button (with the fan blades) is the power and fan speed button. Press this button repeatedly to move through the speeds. The right button (glowing light bulb design) controls the nightlight. Light levels are normal, dim, and off. The row of five bars under the control buttons indicates the selected fan speed. At the lowest speed, only the center bar is lighted. Medium speed lights the middle three bars, and all five are lighted at the highest speed. Turning off the nightlight turns off all these lights, as well as blue lights at the bottom of the unit. At the far right is a Truman collector cell warning light. When the Truman cell needs cleaning, the blue “Collector Cell” area will turn red.
Oreck calls the lowest fan speed the “Silence” mode. They say their “Silence Technology® cleans the air as effectively but more slowly than the other settings.” The unit is very, very quiet at the lowest setting. It is so quiet it doesn’t interfere with watching TV or listening to music at all. If the nightlight is turned off, I think it would be possible to forget the unit is even on unless you were to stand close to the Oreck.
The medium speed is noisier, but it doesn’t seem to bother Rachel. She likes to sleep with a white noise generator of some sort in her room, and the medium speed makes a great white noise. It’s much better than the fan she sometimes uses, because the plain fan just blows dust around. At medium speed, air flow is great enough that papers on a near-by table are ruffled by the movement. This noise isn’t go great that you can’t hear music, but you do need to raise the volume a bit.
High speed is for maximum cleaning. This is the speed that can clean the 12 X 18 ft room twice in two hours. This speed is loud. It’s too loud to enjoy listening to music (without using headphones, at least), and it is too loud to be considered white noise. We decided the best way to use the Oreck ProShield Plus is to use it on high during the day when Rachel is at school, then turn it to medium when she’s doing homework or sleeping. We can maximize air cleaning when the noise isn’t a problem.
There’s a warning sticker on the door that opens to reveal the filters. It says “Snap Goes Pollution!” and it warns that you will hear a snapping or “arcing” sound when large particles enter the ionizing cell. It’s a very startling noise! It sounds a little like a bug zapper. The first time it happened, I whirled to look at the unit, and I could actually see little orange sparks inside when the particles fried. The snapping happened most frequently during the first few hours of use. There were occasional snaps as the days went on, most frequently when the forced-air furnace was running.
Of course, filters must be cleaned periodically, and Oreck includes a cleaning schedule in the manual. We left the Oreck ProShield Plus running 24 hours a day for a couple of weeks before checking the filters. (Oreck recommends cleaning the pre-filter and Truman cell every two to four weeks.) You can see in the pictures that the pre-filter and the Truman cell both show a collection of dust. You clean the pre-filter by rinsing in warm water. The Truman cell can be soaked in warm water (with or without a mild liquid detergent), then rinsed and dried well. Oreck also sells a special cleaning product for the Truman filter, if you prefer. Oreck has included a brush to clean away dirt in between the air-direction grills. You should also periodically lightly vacuum the catalytic ozone converter.
The Oreck website says that the ProShield Plus removes 99% of airborne particulates. Unfortunately, 99% isn’t true HEPA filtration, which must remove 99.97% of all particulates 0.3 microns. True HEPA filtration is recommended for people with allergies and asthma because it removes more of the allergens.
However, the Oreck ProShield Plus did obviously clean dust from the air in Rachel’s room. We have a vacuum with a HEPA filter, so I feel the ProShield Plus does a good job of keeping dust out of the air – and therefore out of Rachel’s lungs – between vacuumings. And her room smells nice. When Rachel entered her room after the ProShield had been running for the first day, she said “it smells good in here!” It does smell good – not like a fragrance, just like the clean smell after a rain. (We used the UV lights constantly, so hopefully they actually were removing odors from the air.) Although it isn’t a true HEPA filter, I do like thinking that the Oreck ProShield Plus air filter does make Rachel’s air a bit cleaner.