Are we all tired of talking about coronavirus yet? It has been the topic of conversation for most of 2020 – and rightly so, given the situation in recent months. And it seems like we will be talking about it for some months to come. We are staring down the barrel of increased restrictions, and facing a winter where Covid will be an ever-present threat.
While we wait, we can keep doing as advised: wash our hands, wear a mask, limit our contacts and hope that we don’t get a call from the HSE to say we have been in close contact with a confirmed case.
But what about the times when we can’t keep our distance? Or where ventilation is poor? Air quality is an issue when it comes to the transmission of Covid-19.
There are a number of options out there to try to disinfect the air, but not everything is suitable for continuous use around more vulnerable people. That is where Irish company Novaerus has stepped in, with the Protect 200.
The device claims to not only clean the air of harmful bacteria and pathogens such as viruses, mould spores or other volatile organic compounds, it kills them. And, as an added bonus, it also works on odours.
The Protect 200 keeps things simple. There are no apps to monitor, no remote controls, or displays to show you how the device is cleaning the air. You simply flip the switch on, and let it do its thing.
So what exactly is its “thing”?
Novaerus calls it NanoStrike technology, which makes it sound a bit sci-fi. But what it means is that it uses plasma technology to kill viruses and pathogens in the air. The air in the room is pulled into the machine, over plasma coils that deliver an atmospheric plasma discharge similar to that found in lightning strikes, killing and deactivating any harmful airborne micro-organisms.
It does that on a molecular level, perforating the cell walls of the pathogen, destroying the DNA and protein within the cell wall and causing the entire cell to burst. It all happens in a very short period – sub-second, according to Novaerus – and the pathogen is completely deactivated. Bad air goes in, good air comes out.
Novaerus has built this technology into a few devices. The smallest is the Protect 200, which is the one reviewed here. The next level up is the Protect 800/900, which is suitable for larger offices or classrooms. At the top end is the Defend 1050, which is used in hospital settings, senior facilities or childcare settings.
The Protect 200 is compact and simple to operate. There is no filter to remove, teeming with viruses. There are no ongoing maintenance costs to deal with.
It has a single fan, so it is quiet, making it ideal for use in a bedroom: you would barely know it is on. Unlike a more traditional fan or air purifier, there are no speed settings to mess about with. Switch it on, switch it off – there is no in between.
This device isn’t cheap – €1,815 for the Protect 200, which might be a little expensive for the average home user. But in recent weeks, while we’ve had building work carried out in our home, I’ve left the Protect 200 plugged in upstairs in the hall. It has given me a certain peace of mind, even if there is no actual threat of Covid being brought into the house.
The technology itself is the most important thing. There is a certain level of trust involved here. I am not a lab specialist, so I can’t independently verify the results of running the Novaerus NV200 in a room where Covid-19 is present. However, the company has had it independently tested at a lab in the United States, and claims that it has been proven to kill 99.99 per cent of MS2 bacteriophage, which is a surrogate for the virus that causes Covid-19.
The technology has also been used in healthcare settings around the world, including in hospitals in Wuhan, the original epicentre of the virus.
At home a monitor I installed to keep an eye on air quality logged improved air quality when the Novaerus device was running during those building works, so it was clearly doing something.
The Protect 200 is quiet and portable, so you can bring it where you need it most. It can be wall-mounted, too, so it doesn’t have to take up desk space. Everything is very simple; there are no complex controls or filters to worry about.
The independent lab testing of the device may also bring you peace of mind.
The €1,815 price tag may put this out of reach of home users, but may be more attainable for home offices. And if you are looking for something with a fancy design, the Protect 200 is more functional than high fashion.
The Protect 200 is just one of a range of devices aimed at keeping your air as clean as possible. It is only designed for small spaces, so if you have a larger space, you will need to upgrade to the next version – and with that comes added expense.
If you can stretch to it, the Protect 200 could bring peace of mind.