Adjustable air beds came on the scene in the late 1980s, and they’ve been gathering loyal fans ever since. It’s easy to see why. Imagine changing the firmness of your mattress at the touch of a button. It’s a feature that’s especially useful for sleepers who suffer from back or joint pain and couples who have very different mattress firmness preferences.
Relative to other mattress categories, like innerspring, memory foam, and latex, adjustable air beds make up a small share of the market. The best-known brand is Sleep Number, but Saatva recently introduced the Solaire precision adjustable air bed. How do they compare? Here’s a closer look at the key differences between Solaire and the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed.
(Read Consumer Reports’ Solaire vs. Sleep Number comparison for more information on these mattresses.)
With traditional innerspring or memory foam mattresses, you pick your firmness level up front and stick with it. But what if, several months down the line, you want your bed to be just a little bit firmer or softer? Adjustable air beds solve this dilemma by allowing you to adjust the firmness of your mattress using a remote-controlled pump, increasing or decreasing air pressure according to your preference.
But that’s just the beginning. Adjustable air beds are a world away from the no-frills inflatable mattresses made for occasional use. Instead, they offer permanent comfort night after night, with multiple layers of foam, padding, and other luxury materials surrounding the air chambers.
How many comfort settings are possible?
Sleep Number: 20
The bottom line: The more firmness settings you have to choose from, the better able you are to find your ideal comfort level. Solaire offers 50 distinct firmness settings, as measured by the scientific pressure standard of millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
Sleep Number uses its own scale of 1 to 100, measured in increments of 5, for a total of 20 possible firmness settings.
How is the mattress controlled?
Solaire: Included remote controls
Sleep Number: Smartphone app or wireless remote (sold separately)
The bottom line: Most adjustable air beds are operated by remote controls that allow each sleeper to adjust the level of air pressure on their side of the bed. Those controls can be integrated into the bed, like Solaire’s, or separate like Sleep Number’s.
Depending on bed size and the number of chambers, Solaire includes one or two tethered remotes with LED display. Because they are attached to and powered by the bed, they don’t require batteries and are always within arm’s reach.
The Sleep Number i8 uses wireless remote controls that must be purchased separately for $39 each. Because they’re wireless, they require batteries and can lose their connection to the mattress periodically. Sleep Number also offers a smartphone app that uses either a WiFi or Bluetooth connection to control the bed. (Here’s why experts recommend not keeping your phone in your bedroom.)
What comfort layers are in the mattress?
Solaire: Premium memory foam, 5-zone natural latex
Sleep Number: PlushFit comfort foam
The bottom line: There’s more to a luxury adjustable air bed than air chambers. What makes a truly premium air bed is the number and quality of comfort layers that rest on top of the inflatable core.
Solaire has two dedicated comfort layers: a 2-inch layer of cooling gel-infused memory foam and a 1-inch layer of 5-zone natural latex for lumbar support.
Sleep Number has one dedicated comfort layer: a 3-inch layer of PlushFit polyurethane foam.
Does the bed provide individual comfort controls on each side?
Solaire: Yes (queen and larger sizes)
Sleep Number: Yes (queen and larger sizes)
The bottom line: One of the major benefits of an adjustable air mattress is that for larger sizes at least, dual air chambers allow for different firmness levels on either side of the mattress. That makes this type of bed ideal for couples who don’t share the same comfort preference. It’s a feature that should be standard in any queen size or larger adjustable bed.
Considering that adjustable air beds are among the most expensive mattress options, you want to be sure that you’re getting a quality product, made with premium materials and precision-engineered components that will stand the test of time.
Is the pump integrated?
Sleep Number: No
The bottom line: The air pump is the key mechanical component, and where it’s located affects the bed’s appearance, noise, and overall function. Solaire’s air inflator is integrated into the Power Edge enclosure at the foot of the mattress. That eliminates any external components, gives the mattress a streamlined design, and ensures quiet operation.
Sleep Number’s pump sits outside the bed frame with visible hoses.
Is the mattress cover organic?
Sleep Number: No
The bottom line: Naturally cool and breathable, organic cotton has the added benefit of being produced without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers, which means it’s hypoallergenic and unlikely to irritate sensitive skin. Like all of Saatva’s mattresses, Solaire has an organic cotton cover that is certified by OEKO-TEX® to be free of harmful chemicals.
Sleep Number’s cover is made from a synthetic blend of polyester and polypropylene. It is not organic.
Are the components protected from moisture?
Sleep Number: No
The bottom line: Precision components need protection. Under certain circumstances, mold and mildew can form inside air bed components. To prevent the bed from environmental moisture, Solaire includes a moisture barrier between the air chambers and the memory foam layer.
Sleep Number does not have a separate moisture barrier.
Are the mattress foams eco-friendly?
Sleep Number: Not disclosed
The bottom line: The foam in some mattresses can contain VOCs, a group of compounds that includes chemicals like formaldehyde and perfluorocarbons. Eco-friendly foams use renewable plant-based ingredients, such as soybean oil, in place of some of the petroleum derivatives. Solaire’s foam carries the Certi-PUR® label, which means it is certified to be lower in VOCs and contains no formaldehyde or heavy metals.
Sleep Number does not disclose the contents of its foams.
Last but certainly not least, we come to value. When you’re buying a new mattress, cost is often one of the biggest factors. But to decide whether you’re getting the most for your money, also consider comfort guarantees, delivery policies, warranty terms, and customer service.
How much does the mattress cost?
Solaire: $3,595 (queen)
Sleep Number: $3,899 (queen)
The bottom line: Solaire’s pricing is less than Sleep Number’s. That’s because, unlike Sleep Number, Saatva mattresses are sold exclusively online so there is no retail markup; the price you see is always the price you get.
How is the mattress delivered?
Solaire: White glove delivery and setup
Sleep Number: ComfortService Home Delivery
The bottom line: A sophisticated product like an adjustable air bed requires professional setup. Saatva products come standard with free white glove delivery, setup, and old mattress removal. Sleep Number offers home delivery services for an additional $199 charge.
How long is the risk-free trial period?
Solaire: 365 nights
Sleep Number: 100 nights
The bottom line: It sometimes takes a while to get used to a new mattress, especially if it’s a type of mattress you haven’t slept on before. At 365 nights, Solaire’s trial period is longer than Sleep Number’s. If at any point during the trial period a customer decides to return their Solaire mattress, Saatva will pick it up and refund the purchase price, less a $99 processing fee. Sleep Number requires you to sleep on your mattress for 30 nights before initiating a return. If after 30 days you would like to return the mattress, Sleep Number will pick it up and issue a refund, minus a $199 fee.
How long is the warranty?
Solaire: Lifetime warranty with 5 years full coverage
Sleep Number: 15 years with 1-year full coverage
The bottom line: Unlike conventional mattresses, air beds have mechanical components, which means parts can wear out or even break—so you’ll want to choose a mattress with a long warranty. (The upside of a bed with parts that can be replaced is that you can get more life out of your mattress.)
Solaire carries a lifetime warranty, while Sleep Number comes with a 15-year warranty. Solaire fully covers the costs of components and repairs for the first five years (as well as all labor costs for the first 15 years), whereas Sleep Number only covers these costs for the first year.
What about customer support?
Solaire: Noncommissioned sleep guides are available in Saatva’s New York operations center to answer questions about Solaire 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Sleep Number: Phone support from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays as well as 24-hour chat support.
The bottom line: Concierge service is the Saatva standard. Call or chat with us anytime, day or night. Our representatives are always at the other end of the line.
Improve your sleep with Saatva's Solaire mattress
Solaire Adjustable Firmness Mattress
Featuring precise 50 firmness settings on each side of the bed for personal customization. Natural latex and gel-infused memory foam layers provide luxurious comfort and support.
Still haven’t made up your mind? Read our reviews. Ready to buy a mattress? Head on over to saatva.com now.