Closeup of the buttons on Sharp Air Purifier (FPK50UW)
Sharp Air Purifier

Why We Made a Home Air Purifier Part of Our Travel Lifestyle

A minimal design, compact size, and true HEPA filter make Sharp's FPK50UW Air Purifier an affordable clean-home solution for travelers.


Because she’s immune-compromised, we’ve always been extra cautious of Kelsey’s health. This pandemic has made those concerns even more important. That means not only taking precautions while we’re traveling but when we return home too.

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Before this COVID-19 mess started, we were looking into air purifiers for our apartment. After countless hours of research, we learned that HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are pretty much the gold standard for air purifiers. According to the EPA, they “can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm).”

“COVID-19 has made our health concerns even more important. That means not only taking precautions while we’re traveling but when we return home too.”

Many entry-level home air purifiers feature a HEPA-like filter, but that’s not the same. We knew we wanted a true HEPA filter. The problem is that purifiers with true HEPA filters are often expensive.

To be honest, the whole research process proved too confusing. I learned a whole lot of jargon and plenty of buzzwords, but nothing meaningful about which home air purifier we should actually buy.

Fast-forward to a month ago when Sharp reached out to us — somewhat serendipitously — with an offer to do an at-home test of the Sharp Air Purifier (FPK50UW). They didn’t pay for this review. They just sent us a sample, no strings attached. In return, all I promised them was an honest review.

Here’s what we found …

The Skinny on the Sharp Air Purifier (FPK50UW)

Sharp Air Purifier (FPK50UW)
Sharp Air Purifier (FPK50UW)

Here are the most important bullet points according to Sharp:

  • Recommended for Medium Room Areas up to 259 sq. ft.
  • Long-Life True HEPA Filter Lasts Up to 2 Years
  • Plasmacluster® Ion Technology Eliminates Microscopic Pollutants That Traditional Filters Cannot Trap
  • Proven Effective in Reducing Certain Germs, Bacteria, Viruses, Mold, and Fungus
  • True HEPA Filter Captures 99.97% of Particles That Pass Through The Filter as Small as 0.3 Microns
  • True HEPA Filtration is Ideal for Removing Common Household Allergens
  • Three Manual Fan Speeds Plus Express Clean
  • ENERGY STAR® Rated, AHAM Verified Tested, California Air Resources Board (CARB) Certified
  • CADR: Smoke (167)/ Dust (171)/ Pollen (188)

Our Honest Take on Sharp’s FPK50UW Air Purifier

I should preface this by saying that we have no way to test a product like this in a scientific laboratory with beakers and Bunsen burners and graphs. These are only our subjective impressions based on using the FPK50UW in our apartment. It’s been running almost non-stop since we received it more than a month ago.

Setup was simple. The air purifier is a standalone unit that comes preassembled. We dropped in the two included filters, plugged it in, and turned it on. The entire process took five minutes.

Sharp bills this as an air purifier for “medium-sized rooms” of around 260 square feet. We set ours up in the master bedroom which is smaller than that.

Closeup of the button panel on the Sharp FPK50UW Air Purifier
Button panel on the Sharp Air Purifier (FPK50UW)

This purifier is dead-simple to use. The photo above shows a close-up of the only buttons on the unit. After setup, we turned it on and hit the Express Clean button. This is like a “maximum” mode that activates Sharp’s own Plasmacluster technology.

According to the company, this:

… mimics nature’s own cleaning process, by splitting water molecules into positively and negatively charged ions, which spread throughout the room and actively break down pollutants like germs, airborne and surface-adhering bacteria, fungus, mold, viruses and clinging odors, and then return to the air as water vapor.

Sharp Plasmacluster Ion Technology

The purifier turns off this mode automatically after an hour. The air in our bedroom immediately smelled crisper, cleaner, and less “heavy” (for lack of a better word). We use this mode every other week or so, especially on days where we’ve had the windows open for a few hours and want to “scrub” the pollen and other allergens from the air.

On most days, we use one of the purifier’s main modes (indicated by the fan icon in the photo above). During the day, we run it on “low” mode which is very quiet. We can hear it running if we stand next to the unit, but the noise is low enough to sleep with if we needed to.

At night, however, we switch it to “night” mode. This turns off the indicator lights on the front of the purifier (which are normally quite bright) and switches the fan to its lowest setting. In this mode, it’s almost completely silent. I’m a pretty light sleeper and it doesn’t keep me up at all.

After more than a month of almost non-stop use, it’s still running quietly and consistently. A week or so ago, the red maintenance light on the front clicked on. This happens after a certain number of hours of use. I vacuumed the filter with our regular house vacuum, reset the light, and that was that.

Thankfully, I don’t have problems with allergies, so whatever is in the air rarely bothers me. But, both Kelsey and our cat do (we suspect the cat is allergic to herself — is that possible?). Since running the purifier, Kelsey noticed a significant decrease in her allergy symptoms. She also takes less Benadryl most nights. Lizzi the cat was having occasional sneezing fits for years — especially when the seasonal allergens really kicked up. Now, she has virtually none.

The Bottom Line

With its minimal, user-friendly design, compact size, and built-in true HEPA filter, Sharp’s FPK50UW Air Purifier is an affordable clean-air solution for health-conscious travelers.

Pricing + Availability

The FPK50UW Sharp Air Purifier officially retails for $229.99. Amazon often has it (along with other Sharp purifiers) for less.

[amazon box=”B081256JRG”]

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