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Dogster Review: We Put Sharp's Air Purifier to the Dog Stink Test

Ace stinks sometimes, but the KC-850U made our home smell like ... well, nothing, and that's good.

 |  Sep 24th 2013  |   1 Contribution


Ace’s doggie stench has been the topic of a previous product review. I could write indefinitely about eau du Ace; her smell is one of my favorite topics. Sometime it’s salty, like the beach where she plays during weekdays with her dog walking pack. Sometimes it’s medium-doggy, a body odor that’s not totally unpleasant. There’s also the foul, inescapable grossness that emanates from her short coat after she’s rolled in something suspicious.

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Sometimes, much to Ace's dismay, only a bath can get rid of her stink.

But you know what else smells pretty bad? Humans. We are also just stinky mammals, despite the perfumed body products and compulsive hand washing. Let me be the first to admit that I sometimes smell bad, and so does my house. Sure, I can blame some of that on the company I keep –- a certain athletic, semi-reformed poo-munching canine –- but I’m also guilty as charged.

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When I received a sample of the Sharp KC-850U Air Purifier with Humidifying Function ($399), I knew just where to test it out –- in the bedroom. I suspect several factors converge to make this the funkiest-smelling room in our apartment: It is small, it has little light, the door is often closed, it sleeps two humans and a small dog, and it is where we keep Ace’s crate, which she snoozes in during part of the time my partner and I are at work. The Sharp KC-850U includes a HEPA filter, deodorizing filter, humidifier, and something called Patented Plasmacluster Ion Technology to reduce odors and allergens in indoor spaces. 

One caveat to this review: Neither my partner or I suffer from pet dander allergies, so I can’t provide feedback on the Sharp KC-850U’s ability to reduce the presence of pet-related allergens in the air. I also do not have environmental allergies, and the plants that cause my partner to get stuffy and sneezy are graciously withholding their pollen during this time of year, so I also cannot comment on how this filter works for reducing the symptoms of other allergies.

However, I hope by now I’ve convinced you that I know a thing or two about gross smells, and I can say with great certainty that the Sharp KC-850U has made our bedroom smell fantastic. That is to say, the room smells like nothing at all –- no stinking humans, no stinking dogs. Let me assure you that this is a significant improvement!

There are other aspects of the Sharp KC-850U unit that I like. I think its greatest attribute is also the absence of something negative -– it is quiet. Of the variety of fan speeds, I have mostly left the unit on “auto,” and allowed it to run continuously day and night for the past three weeks. Usually the noise is barely perceptible, though when the Sharp KC-850U detects impurities in the air the fan speed increases. It is eerie how sensitive the Sharp KC-850U is to changes in the air. For example, when I let Ace out of her crate to greet her upon my return from work, the fan speed increases. I imagine all those little smelly dog particles being sucked into the filter.

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The dust monitor turns from green to yellow when it detects impurities in the air. The "76" indicates 76% humidity in the air, thanks to the humidifier feature.

I also like how the Sharp KC-850U is designed from an aesthetic perspective. I noodled around the Internet to compare this purifier with other units, and I think this is the nicest looking, all things considered. The unit is white with a textured front panel. The front monitor indicates the level of humidity, whether you are using the Plasmacluster function, and also displays a dust monitor that moves and changes colors depending on the air purity. While I think the dust monitor is mostly for entertainment, it does achieve this objective –- I have become entranced watching it change from green (“clean”) to yellow and even red (“very impure”) depending upon how much dust I kick up as I move about. I am very glad for the option to dim or turn off this display, otherwise it would distract me as I try to fall asleep (the front monitor is quite bright and colorful in a dark room).

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The control panel is simple and clear.

The main unit’s array of buttons, which control the filter’s multiple functions, is arranged logically and labeled clearly so that it is simple to use. I think the Sharp KC-850U presents more options for fiddling with its performance than I would care to use, but people who like playing with gadgets might enjoy trying out all the different functions.

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The Sharp KC-850U is a little bigger than I would like.

I noticed some relatively minor drawbacks to the Sharp KC-850U. I find the unit to be fairly large, and had some difficulty locating a place for it to rest on the floor in my small bedroom. This particular unit is advertised to work best in a medium-sized room of up to 254 square feet, which is larger than my bedroom, so take that into consideration. Regarding the humidifier, I found it somewhat awkward to fill its tank. The tank pulls out from the side of the unit rather effortlessly, but then you have to flip it upside down to unscrew the opening. Because the tank is a long rectangle, it was awkward to fill up in my sink. I used the sink’s hose nozzle, but I might try filling the tank in the bathtub next time.

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Although the replacement filters are a bit expensive, they were easy to install. The white filer is the HEPA filter, and the black filter in the lower right corner is an odor filter.

Although it has many useful features that function well, the cost of the Sharp KC-850U might be prohibitive. I found it offered by various online retailers for between $335 and $399. In addition, the replacement filters are expensive, though two of them are replaced after up to five years (HEPA and odor filters, $109.99 and $59.99) and one is replaced after up to two years (humidifier filter, $34.99).

Dogster Scorecard for the Sharp KC-850U Air Purifier with Humidifying Function

  • Quality: The Sharp KC-850U appears well made and durable, and the controls are simple and easy to use.
  • Style: Sharp makes this air purifier look about as nice as a big electronic box can look.
  • Function: The Sharp KC-850U made my bedroom smell less like a funky dog and more like ... nothing, which is exactly what I want the room to smell like. 
  • Creativity: I’m a sucker for the brightly colored dust monitor –- like a lava lamp, it is strangely compelling.
  • Value: The Sharp KC-850U is an investment that may be worthwhile depending on your needs –- if you can manage the expense.

Bottom line

If you are in the market for a high-quality air purifier to reduce the smells that come with owning a dog, you should check out the Sharp KC-850U.

Hey Dogster readers, how do you manage the smelly side of owning a dog? Share your favorite products, tips, or tricks in the comments section!

Read more reviews by Ace's Mama:

About Ace's Mama: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its micro-climates, farmers' markets, and secret stairway walks. When she's not walking with, talking about, or kissing the face of her Boston Terrier, Ace, she blogs about Ace's adventures. Product reviews writer and guinea pig at Dogster.

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