2020 UV Steriliser Comparison – Haenim 3G+ Smart View, Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic, Lollababy, LoveAmme LoveClean Compact, LoveAmme LoveClean Pro

1. Introduction

It’s been 3 years since the last UV Steriliser Comparison Review, and it’s time for an update! This round, there will be five tabletop UV Sterilisers from three brands, plus a short overview of a new brand that is not in this comparison. 

2. General Overview

The official pricing is taken from the authorised distributors’ pages. You can find better deals at Mummys Market baby fairs that are held a few times throughout the year. Prices range from $199 to $429 on sale.

  • Haenim [Warranty Form]
    – 5 year warranty on UVC LED lamps
    – 2 year standard warranty that starts from the baby’s DOB, date of purchase or delivery, whichever is later).
    – Manufactured in South Korea. Place of manuafacture listed on website, packaging and product.

  • Lollababy [Warranty Form]
    – 1-year warranty on material and workmanship defects that exist at the time of manufacture.
    – 2-year free UV lamp replacement service
    – Manufactured in China. Place of manufacture is not listed anywhere, but Lollababy replied via Instagram that it is made in China and tested in Singapore.

  • LoveAmme [Warranty Form]
    1-year
    warranty for defects on any part of the that is defective except for tubes, blades, cups, knobs, handles, cover and glass, and other parts subject to wear and tear.
    – Manufactured in China. Place of manufacture is listed on their product but not on their website or packaging.

Safety Tests:

All brands have been tested by TUV SUD to be effective at killing 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.For Haenim, it has passed tests from Korea Testing and Research Institute in addition to TUV SUD in Singapore.

Accessories

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – Detailed warranty instructions provided 
    – Comes with a water tray to collect excess water and prevent water stains in addition to two stainless steel racks

  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View
    – Detailed warranty instructions provided
    – Comes with a stainless steel rack and a basket

  • Lollababy
    – Power cable cannot be detached
    – Sticker on top of the specifications label reminds users to register warranty for free 2-year lamp replacement service
    – Comes with a stainless steel basket

  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Has a power cable that cannot be detached. 
    – Comes with a stainless steel basket 

  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Comes with a stainless steel rack and basket

Exterior

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – No visible defects observed
    – Fingerprints are not obvious due to the colour and finishing

  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View 
    – No visible defects observed
    – Fingerprints are not obvious due to the colour and finishing

  • Lollababy
    – No visible defects observed
    – Fingerprints are not obvious due to the colour

  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Obvious scratch at the back
    – Badly welded stainless steel basket
    – Fingerprints remain visible on the set due to the colour

  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Poor moulding with plastic fibres sticking out 
    – Rough edges around the set

Best QC: Haenim, Lollababy
Worst QC: LoveAmme

Interior

All the UV sterilisers use SS304 stainless steel for its interior. SS304 is considered food grade. Both Haenim sterilisers have identical interiors.

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – Smooth stainless steel interior for easier maintenance and efficient sterilising. Smooth surfaces allow the UV rays to reflect without causing distortion
    – Water tray collects stray water droplets and minimises water stains
  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View 
    – Smooth stainless steel interior for easier maintenance and efficient sterilising. Smooth surfaces allow the UV rays to reflect without causing distortion
 
  • Lollababy
    – Textured bottom with raised lines and upper protective plate distorts the reflection of UV rays leading to possible blind spots. 
    – Inner filter cover cannot be removed
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Textured bottom with raised lines and upper protective grille distorts the reflection of UV rays leading to possible blind spots.
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Smooth interior but the protective grille may affect reflection of UV rays.
Easiest to Clean: Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
Easy to Clean: Haenim 3G+ Smart View, LoveAmme LoveClean Compact, LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
Hardest to Clean: Lollababy 

3. Features

All the sterilisers come with basic Auto, Dry, Sterilise and Storage functions but both Haenim models have extra features.

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – Turbo mode with extra drying power
    – Extra Smart function that monitors temperature changes over 24 hours and runs automatically and activates 1 min each of sterilising and ventilation when the door is opened and closed.
    – Clean function calculates usage and alerts you when it is time to clean the steriliser.

  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View 
    – Turbo mode with extra drying power
     
  • Lollababy
    – Basic auto, dry, sterilise and storage functions

  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Longest Auto mode at 41 minutes
    – Basic auto, dry, sterilise and storage functions. 

  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Basic auto, dry, sterilise and storage functions 
Most Functions: Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
Least Functions: Lollababy, LoveAmme

UV Lamps & Maintenance

UV sterilisers typically use standard UV lamps that need to be replaced regularly. Haenim has upgraded to UVC LED lamps that do not need to be replaced, with a 5-year warranty for the UVC LED lamps in case anything happens. 

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – 9 UVC LED lamps
    – Unobstructed UV rays
 
  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View 
    – 9 UVC LED lamps
    – Unobstructed UV rays 
 
  • Lollababy
    – Two UV lamps
    – UV rays obstructed by protective plate
    – Difficult to clean the underside of the plate as it cannot be dismantled 
    – UV lamps to be sent back to manufacturer for replacement when an error is displayed. However, according to Philips, the lamps should be replaced yearly
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Single UV lamp
    – UV rays obstructed by protective plate
    – Difficult to clean the underside of the protective plate unless it is removed *risk of injury*
    – The reflective cover needs to be pried open in order to replace the UV lamps. Please be careful as there is a risk of cutting yourself or scratching the appliance. [Video]
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Two UV lamps
    – UV rays obstructed by grilles
Easiest Maintenance: Haenim (no replacement required)
Most Complicated Maintenance: Lollababy (it’s a tough choice between risking sliced fingers or the inconvenience of sending it back to the distributor

Door Opening

A bigger opening gives you better access to the steriliser. Both Haenim sterilisers have the widest opening at 180° rightward while the Lollababy has the narrowest opening at 70° upward. 

Widest door opening: Haenim
Narrowest door opening: Lollababy

Display

All the sterilisers feature a digital display panel that show the remaining time, but both Haenim and LoveAmme LoveClean Pro also display the temperature. 

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – Largest display – both the remaining time and temperature can be seen from a distance away
    – Inbuilt temperature control prevents the steriliser from exceeding 45°C so items will not be too hot to touch after sterilising
 
  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View 
    – Small digital display but the remaining time and temperature are in two different colours for easy differentiation
    – Inbuilt temperature control prevents the steriliser from exceeding 45°C so items will not be too hot to touch after sterilising
 
  • Lollababy
    – Display is on the top so you need to walk right up to the steriliser to know how much time is left
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Display can be viewed without having to go right up to the steriliser 
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Display can be viewed without having to go right up to the steriliser 
    – Remaining time and temperature are in the same colour
Best Display: Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic 
Worst Display: Lollababy

Filters & Vents

The purpose of a filter is to prevent dust from entering the steriliser. As such, it should be fine enough in order to be effective. Depending on the model, you will need to replace the cotton filters every 3-6 months. 

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – Finely woven nylon microfibre filters
    – Wash under running water monthly
 
  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View 
    – Finely woven nylon microfibre filters
    – Wash under running water monthly
 
  • Lollababy
    – Cotton filter
    = Replace cotton filter every 3 to 6 months, or “when it turns black”.
    – Replacement filter cotton can be purchased through its website.
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Cotton filter
    – Replace cotton filter every 3 to 6 months
    No option to purchase filter on both its official website or distributor’s website.
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Mesh filter
    – Wash under running water monthly
    = Large gaps that are wide enough for small insects to pass through (refer to photos)
Best filter: Haenim
Worst filter: LoveAmme LoveClean Pro (large ineffective filter), LoveAmme LoveClean Compact (nowhere to buy filter)

Ventilation

Behind the filters are air vents that aid in circulating the air within the steriliser. The bigger the air vent and fans, the better the air circulation.

  • Haenim
    – Both sterilisers feature a heated air vent for inflow on the left and ventilation vent on the right for outflow. The fans are visible from the back.
 
  • Lollababy 
    – Single air vent on the edges and an exhaust cover on the top.
 
  • LoveAmme
    Both sterilisers have single air vents at the back.
Best Ventilation: Haenim
Worst Ventilation: Lollababy (because its ventilation doesn’t seem to be working if you refer to the Temperature test)

4. Tests

Capacity Test

The user manuals usually state that the sterilisers are able to hold a certain number of bottles. Do note that it refers to the bottom part of the bottle without the accessories (teats, cap, collar) which will need to be spaced out when sterilising as well. 

  • Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic
    – Large capacity
    – Stainless steel rack can be removed to accommodate larger objects
 
  • Haenim 3G+ Smart View 
    – Large capacity
    – Stainless steel rack can be removed to accommodate larger objects
 
  • Lollababy
    – Small and short
    – Cannot fit standard sized water bottles for children
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Compact
    – Small and short
    – Cannot fit standard sized water bottles for children
 
  • LoveAmme LoveClean Pro
    – Stainless steel rack can be removed to accommodate larger objects
Largest Capacity: Haenim 
Smallest Capacity: Lollababy and LoveAmme LoveClean Compact

Temperature Test

All the UV sterilisers in this comparison use PTC heaters. In the temperature test, I measured the temperature of the hot air produced by each steriliser after 30 minutes in Auto mode. Although the duration of Auto modes differ, I chose 30 minutes as that is the length of the shortest Auto Mode. 

  • Lollababy clocked the highest temperature at 58.2°C, more than 16.8°C difference from Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic.  
  • Both Haenim models have a low heat drying function that ensures the heater stops at 45°C to prevent damage to the items placed inside.
Highest Temperature: Lollababy (58.2°C)
Lowest Temperature: Haenim 4G+ Smart Classic (41.4°C)
 
The highest temperature recorded by Lollababy in a separate test was 62.3°C.
 

Bottle Test

Due to the high temperature, the bottle that was retrieved from the Lollababy steriliser was hot to squeeze and I had to put it back. The purpose of using a UV steriliser is to zap germs via the UV lamp. If it’s that hot, you might as well use a steam steriliser.

5. Customer Service/Information

What entails excellent customer service? To me, it’s making sure that customers are able to find important information without having to call or message. Prompt replies to social media enquiries (within 24 hours on a working day) is a standard to me, because in emergency cases like equipment breakdown, you wouldn’t want to be kept waiting.  

Availability of Information

 
 
  • LoveAmme [Website] [Facebook] [Instagram]
    – Prompt replies on social media, new posts every 4-5 days
    – There’s a mobile number provided on their Facebook page for urgent enquiries.

Time taken from Order to Delivery

  • Haenim
    – 4G+ Smart Classic ordered on 27th July, received 29th July (2 days) 
    – 3G+ Smart View ordered on 4th August, received 6th August (2 days)
    Urgent courier option available at $15
 
  • LoveAmme
    – LoveClean Compact ordered on 23rd May, delivered on 6th June (14 days)
    – LoveClean Pro ordered on 23rd May, received on 19th June (25 days)
    – No updates even after a week, only replied when chaser messages were sent

6. Personal Observations

After comparing multiple brands over two reviews, I have made a few observations.

  • Replacement of UV lamps should be kept fuss-free for users, who are likely to be busy parents.  Lollababy needs to be sent back to the distributor when the UV lamps are due for replacement (yearly, as that’s the lifespan of UV lamps). LoveAmme LoveClean Pro needs to be unscrewed while LoveAmme LoveClean Compact and Lunavie that have the same design poses a danger of cutting the user with its sharp plates and/or damaging the steriliser in the process.
  • Haenim has proven again why it remains popular among parents. With its large capacity, upgraded feature to UVC LED lamps that require no maintenance and large filters, it’s not hard to see why. It’s in use in KKH wards as well. I’ve been using Haenim since 2015. I’m still using my 3rd Gen with Bluetooth set to zap the kids’ water bottles and masks.  

If you’re looking for something value-for-money with long mileage, there’s no other choice in my opinion. 

UV Steriliser Comparison – Cimilre vs Haenim vs Hanil vs uPang

*** Information correct as of 03/07/2018

UV or Steam Steriliser?

Many parents use steam sterilisers to sterilise baby products while some prefer the traditional method of boiling bottles in hot water.

UV sterilisers for home use are relatively new to Singapore, but Koreans have been using UV sterilisers at home for years. If you’ve been to Korea, you’ll notice them at food courts where they are used to sterilise and store metal utensils and cups. Clinics use them for their equipment and childcare centres use them to sterilise toothbrushes! What gives a UV steriliser more mileage than the steam steriliser is that it can be used way after the baby has weaned for cutlery, combs and brushes, manicure accessories, stuffed toys, spectacles, toothbrushes and even electronics like your remote controls and mobile phones. :O


I chose a UV steriliser over a steam steriliser because I didn’t want the hassle of having to take out the bottles to dry after sterilising, or having to descale the steriliser every now and then. Also, steam sterilisers consume a staggering amount of power at 650W! Without a domestic helper, every bit of time saved counts. A UV steriliser seemed like the most convenient choice – just rinse, flick away excess water, press the button and leave till next use. There was zero risk of getting scalded by steam or boiling water. None of my bottles (MAM, Hegen PPSU) or pump equipment warped or changed colour either. 

REGARDLESS OF STERILISER USED, this is how often you should change your bottles and teats:

  • Bottle teats: 3 months
  • PP bottles: 3 months (PP material does not take high temperatures well, thus it tends to yellow)
  • PPSU bottles: 6 months to 12 months (PPSU is of a higher quality plastic which withstands UV sterilisation well) 

Mine was a Haenim 2015 model which I bugged my husband to hand-carry back from Korea. It was a basic set with digital timer display, 2 Auto modes, 1 UV mode and 3 Fan modes. Since then, more brands have been brought in by local distributors. What advantages do they have over my old set? Instead of comparing the brands through website reviews and photos, I decided to do a thorough, first-hand review of the Korean brands currently available in the market. 

Yeap. Purchased them all.

1. BASIC INFORMATION

A) Main Distributor & Pricing

Brand Model Main Distributor Price Stockists Baby Fair Organiser
Cimilre
est. 2016
CW-T300 Posh Baby Shop
*No longer selling UV Sterilisers
$389 Pupsik
Haenim
est. 2013
HN-03 thelittleonesinmylife $399 Niche Babies
Kulily
Toddlership 
Mummy’s Market
$329 ($299 for preorder)

(Free 2pcs UV lamps)
Hanil
est. 2011
HBS-900SG JER Enterprise $369 BabyNatureCo
Gaia
Motherswork
1010
Agape Babies
Little Baby
Toddlership 
Supermom
$369
uPang
est. 2008
UP701-Y BingBling $349 Pupsik
Kiddy Palace  
Mummy’s Market
$349
(Free replacement kit, cutlery holder)

B) Warranty

Warranty for ALL brands

  • DOES NOT cover consumable parts like UV and infrared lamps (only Haenim‘s warranty covers consumable parts)
  • Must be registered within 14 days
  • Not transferable
  • Void for issues due to misuse, abuse and alteration by unauthorised persons

C) Power Consumption / Maintenance

Most expensive to replace: Hanil (S$92)
Least expensive to replace: Cimilre, Haenim (S$36)

Filters must be brushed/washed regularly. For maximum efficiency, replace consumables annually (also depends on usage frequency). It’s time to replace the lamps when they start to dim at both ends. For Cimilre and Haenim, only the UV lamps need replacing as they use PTC heaters with a longer lifespan. 


2. PURCHASE EXPERIENCE

A) Availability of Information (Facebook, Website, News articles) & Customer Service

Cimilre * Facebook page closed, sterilisers unavailable on website. 

  • Cimilre Singapore‘s Facebook page: 416 likes
  • No information about baby fairs or promotions.
  • Newer Facebook page with 16 likes
  • Less than 3 reviews on Naver 
  • Tardy replies on Facebook Messenger: Took 4 days to reply to the first message, stopped replying since 13th June (page with 416 likes)
  • MISINFORMATION: There was no link to replacement UV lamps on Posh Baby Shop.

Haenim

  • Haenim Singapore‘s Facebook page: 1,518 likes
  • Updated frequently with reviews, giveaways and product information
  • Many blog reviews in English and Korean with detailed product photos
  • Fast replies on Facebook Messenger with to-the-point answers (within a day, including weekends)

Hanil

  • Hanil Singapore‘s Facebook page: 1,369 likes
  • Relatively up-to-date with event photos, product photos and those of the factory in Korea
  • Some English and Korean blog reviews
  • Link in About page leads to its distributor’s website with no information on authorised re-sellers. No list of authorised re-sellers listed on Facebook. 
  • Relatively fast replies on Facebook Messenger

uPang

  • uPang Singapore‘s Facebook page:  1,089 likes
  • Updates are sporadic but up-to-date.
  • Purchase link is listed in the About page. Pinned post shows the list of brands that the authorised distributor carries.
  • Many reviews in Korean but only 1 in English
  • Fast replies on Facebook Messenger

C) Delivery

  • Each brand only had my email address and house phone number in order to test response speed of email replies
  • Haenim called my house phone and was the first to send the steriliser
  • Cimilre was responsive via email and fulfilled shipment after confirming the delivery date and time slot
  • Hanil delivered the steriliser to my place after calling my house phone
  • uPang delivered the steriliser twice – neither my neighbour nor I was at home at the first delivery attempt, so they rescheduled another date.
    Vague delivery timeslot: 10am to 5pm was too long for us to “confirm that we will definitely be at home at that time”. Received steriliser the 2nd time with a free cutlery holder.

3. STERILISER COMPARISON

A) Appearance

→ Packaging, Manufacturing Dates

Manufacturing dates do not affect warranty start dates but they give us an idea of how well the product sells. Haenim and Hanil sent newly manufactured stock whereas the other two brands sent sets which were manufactured a few months earlier. 

→ Close-up


Cimilre

  • Physical buttons located on top (Safety hazard if operated with dripping wet hands)
  • 1 UV lamp is located at the bottom (Risk of short-circuiting if excess water drips onto the lamp)
  • Items can be placed on top of steriliser
  • Detachable 3-pin plug

Haenim

  • Touch sensor buttons located on the door at the front
  • Dual UV lamps located inside at the top
  • Items can be placed on top of steriliser
  • Detachable 3-pin plug. 

Hanil

  • Touch sensor buttons located at the front
  • Extra step of opening HEPA filter inlet to activate functions
  • Unable to place items on top as HEPA filter takes up too much space
  • Dual UV lamps and 1 infrared lamp located inside at the top
  • Fixed 3-pin plug

uPang

  • Physical buttons located at the front (Safety hazard if operated with dripping wet hands)
  • Items can be placed on top of the steriliser
  • Dual UV lamps and 1 infrared bulb located inside at the top
  • Fixed 3-pin plug

A minor issue was that Hanil and uPang created uncomfortable screeching noises when the bottom trays were pulled out. This did not happen with Cimilre and Haenim.

Size

All bottles were NUK wide-neck bottles and only the main compartments were used.

Largest: Haenim (16 bottles)
Smallest: Hanil (9 bottles)

B) Features

→ Doors 

Though neither stainless steel nor plastic hinges will rust, metal hinges are less likely to break than plastic hinges. Doors which can open fully are less restrictive. 

 

Functions, Display

Most sophisticated: Haenim
Digital displays, mobile application, most number of modes

No-frills/Fuss-free: uPang
No display, 1 mode each

All sterilisers beep between cycles and revert to standby mode after completion.

Cimilre

  • 3 Auto modes, 1 UV mode, 3 Ventilation modes, no Storage mode
  • Digital timer display

Haenim

  • 3 Auto modes, 2 UV modes, 3 Dry modes, 1 Storage mode
  • Drying mode uses UV & fan instead of fan-only
  • Digital timer display, temperature indication (heater shuts off for a while if the temperature exceeds 45°C )
  • Bluetooth function to link phone with steriliser via app to control remotely (app monitors time left on each cycle and alerts when UV lamps need replacing)

Hanil

  • 1 Auto mode, 1 Sterilisation mode, 1 Clean mode, 1 Storage mode
  • LED light-up display

uPang

  • 1 Auto mode, 1 Sterilisation mode, 1 Ventilation mode, no Storage mode
  • No display

C) Filters



4. UV STERILISER TEAR-DOWN/DISMANTLING

Cimilre

  • Incomplete casing (obvious gaps along the screw tracks, may breed insects)
  • Wires messily taped onto casing

Haenim

  • Well molded casing with no holes 
  • Wires neatly braided around main cable holder, no loose dangling wires.

Hanil

  • Well molded casing with no holes
  • Wires secured with wire clips
  • Dirt marks and scuffs observed on the exterior, only dirt marks could be erased
    Though these superficial marks do not affect the functioning of the steriliser, one would expect a brand new item to be without defects

uPang

  • Well molded casing with no holes
  • Wires secured with wire clips, main wire holder 

→ Drying Type, Power Consumption, UV lamps

Sterilisers have a sterilising element (UV lamps) and a drying element (heaters/infrared bulbs).

Infrared bulbs are commonly used in heaters and require timers to prevent overheating. Lamps have to be replaced annually.
PTC (ceramic) heaters are incapable of overheating due to an inbuilt thermostat (safer for certain baby products which have temperature limits). Due to a longer lifespan, PTC heaters do not need to be replaced as often.

Cimilre

  • PTC heater consumes 20W, more than advertised 17W total (dishonest manufacturer?)
  • Estimated total should be 30W~40W

Haenim

  • PTC heater does not indicate power consumption (averages 20W to 50W)
  • Estimated total of 80W seems accurate due to technology used (Bluetooth function)

Hanil

  • Infrared lamp consumes 50W, more than advertised 50W total
  • Estimated total should be 60W

uPang

  • Infrared lamp consumes 30W
  • Estimated total of 35W seems accurate

→ Sterilising Efficacy

All brands report 99.9% sterilising efficacy with their lab tests and I should think so because the sterilising part depends on the UV lamps from OSRAM or Philips. The lab standard is to test on one baby bottle and 1 teat but only Haenim conducts its tests using 9 bottles and 9 teats.  


5. DRYING CAPABILITY TEST

A) Experiment #1: Auto Mode 1 

  • All sterilisers set to Auto mode 1 (1 press of the Auto button)
  • 3 bottle caps with 1ml, 2ml and 3ml of water (total 6ml) in middle of the main compartment
  • Skewed experiment as sterilisers have different settings
    i.e. Haenim‘s Auto mode 1 runs for 30 minutes (40 minutes for the other brands) with shortest drying cycle of 20 minutes. Cimilre has the longest drying cycle of 35 minutes.

Despite the differences in cycle times, Auto mode 1 was tested because it is the most commonly used mode. 

→ Results

1st Place: Hanil (dried 2.5ml, left 3.5ml)
Haenim was 2nd place, but its drying time was the shortest at 20 minutes. 

Last Place (tied): CimilreuPang (dried 1ml, left 5ml)
Cimilre‘s result was not ideal as it had the longest drying time of 35 minutes.

B) Experiment #2: Auto Mode (30 minutes)

  • Haenim set to Auto mode 2 (2 presses of the Auto button)
  • 1ml of water each in 6 milk bottles (6ml total in 4 NUK bottles, 2 Medela bottles) in the main compartment, 2 wet teats each in bottom compartment
  • Standardised drying duration (30 mins) for all sterilisers with Auto mode 2 
  • Stopped after 30 minutes

→ Results

1st Place: Haenim (dried 2ml, left 4ml)
Last Place (tied): 
Cimilre, uPang (dried 0.5ml, left 5.5ml)

Excess water should be flicked away from bottles before sterilising, therefore all sterilisers should dry bottles effectively in typical circumstances.


** CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES ***

A) Hanil: Are 3M HEPA filters safe to use?

In July 2016, 3M Korea was found to have produced and supplied HEPA air filters containing Octylisothiazolinone (OIT), a toxic chemical linked to respiratory diseases. This did not only affect Hanil UV sterilisers which use them but other major brands using 3M filters for their air-conditioners (cars, residential, offices) and air purifiers.

3M Korea claimed lab tests showed that only a minute amount of substances were released into the air and there were no harmful effects to the human body and that in order for OIT to cause harm, a baby weighing 5kg would have to consume 250ml of OIT, or about 65 bottles daily. Hanil Korea then implemented a voluntary recall and refund of their sterilisers. HOWEVER, it was reported in March 2017 on a Korean consumer news website that a man purchased Hanil UV steriliser from a Korea departmental store in July 2016 (part of the affected batch when the issue first occurred) and used it for his child until March when the baby developed a skin condition. He appealed for damages as he believed it was due to 3M’s HEPA filter.

After the recall, 3M Korea stopped production of the affected products while maintaining its stance that the OIT levels were not harmful to the human body. The affected Hanil UV steriliser models (which included HBS900SG – Singapore model) were listed on Hanil Korea’s website as well as other news articles. Subsequently, HBS900SG was subsequently REMOVED from Hanil Korea’s page and Hanil Singapore denied that the Singapore model was affected. They did, however, offer a replacement of HEPA filters to their customers. 

!!!

3M Korea was also fined in January 2017 for overly exaggerating the antibacterial properties of their 3M HEPA filters which were used in car air-conditioning systems, the most among the 3 other firms who were fined. The advertisements claimed to reduce fine dust by 99% and 3M Korea was fined 1,700,000won (S$ 20,670) by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission.

SO is it safe to use now!?

The set I received from Hanil Singapore contained a 3M HEPA filter. Using the above screenshot I found on Facebook, I told them that I wanted some reassurance that the sterilisers were safe to use.

The screenshot was of a lab test report dated January 2013, more than 4 years ago! The steriliser I received was manufactured in March 2017 so while the steriliser does NOT come from the affected batch, it still uses a HEPA filter from 3M Korea. 

It really would have been better if a clarification like the above message was posted on Hanil’s (Korea/Singapore) social media platforms to reassure customers instead of deleting posts related to the issue. So the answer, according to Hanil Singapore, is yes, its sterilisers are safe to use as 3M Korea removed OIT from its filters.

TL;DR: 
3M HEPA filters containing OIT found in Hanil sterilisers
Hanil denied SG set was affected & replaced filters with new ones though Hanil Korea did a voluntary recall and refund
3M Korea insisted OIT levels in its filters are not harmful BUT a consumer’s child contracted a skin disease
3M fined S$ 20,670 for over-exaggerating its filter’s ability to block out 99% of particulates
Hanil is now safe to use (OIT-free filters) 

B) Haenim: Did Haenim use the same name as Haenim Toys in an attempt to mislead people into thinking they were the same company? What about ST Electronics Co. Ltd & ST Electronics? 

Haenim Toys is a Korean brand most popular for its plastic play yards. When Haenim Baby was introduced in Singapore, many people were confused between the two companies and alleged that Haenim Baby intentionally copied the name to confuse people who didn’t know any better. In Korean, Haenim Toys is written as ‘햇님토이’ and Haenim Baby is written as ‘해님베이비’. Both refer to the Sun. To English speakers who are not proficient in Korean, this may seem confusing as the English name is romanised the same way. 

Reply from Haenim Singapore’s FB

From the company’s reply, the name was chosen as the UV rays resemble sun rays. I’ve also read comments about people getting confused between Haenim’s parent company, ST Electronics Co. Ltd and ST Electronics (ST Engineering). This seems to be limited to non-Korean speakers as searching “ST Electronics” in Naver displays Haenim’s website as the main result.

TL;DR:
Haenim is not related to Haenim Toys
ST Electronics Co. LTD is not related to ST Electronics (ST Engineering)

6. ROUND-UP/CONCLUSION

After comparing all 4 brands, I’ve decided to stick with Haenim. Though it is the most expensive brand among the four on normal days, it is the only brand with a drastic price drop during baby fairs and pre-orders (as low as $299).

Reasons

  • Most functions
  • Cheaper to maintain yearly
  • Largest in size, door opens wide
  • Dual ventilation fans, digital displays
  • Fast and responsive customer service 

Cimilre has more functions than the other 2 brands and also costs $36 annually to maintain. However, it is my least favourite as the filter was tiny and the incomplete casing with messy wires, combined with a Facebook admin that went MIA on me didn’t give me a good impression. Plus, it blatantly advertised its power consumption at 17W when the heater itself already consumes 20W. -_- 

It also doesn’t make sense to rank it over Hanil with its storage mode, HEPA filter (OIT-free…?) and touch sensor buttonsuPang would have been ranked higher if it had a digital display and its door could be opened wider. Nevertheless, it is a no-frills, basic steriliser. 

I hope this in-depth review will help you in making your choice when purchasing a UV steriliser!

** This review is an overview of 4 brands and its distributors. It is NOT written with the intention to defame and much effort has been made to ensure that the statements are substantiated by facts. If you are the local distributor of a brand mentioned and would like to clarify any point in this review, please contact me. I received an investment from an independent investor for the purpose of such projects and chose to work on this subject as a start. **