Breathing unhealthy air outdoors has become an inevitable part of daily life for many of us. Microscopic particles too small for the eye to see are released into the air from cars, trains, power plants, factories and other sources. This is particularly an issue for those living in urban areas.
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But indoor air quality is just as important, especially when you consider that we spend up to 90% of our time inside closed doors. Most people don’t know that the air they breathe in their homes can be up to five times worse than outdoors!
The quality of air you breathe can deteriorate with activities such as cooking, cleaning and painting to name a few. These activities can introduce Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs). Home building materials and furniture may also release these particles. In the process of trying to secure your home by locking doors and keeping the windows shut, you may also inadvertently seal in unhealthy air.
The concentration of CO2 (carbon dioxide) has long been used as an indicator for indoor air quality and can be measured by low-cost sensors. However, there is more than just CO2 that should be measured.
Luckily, there is an increasing range of connected devices that allow you to monitor your home for air quality and alert you to take action when necessary.
The Awair Smart Air Quality Monitor keeps track of the air around you, measuring temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, toxic chemicals, and dust. You tell the app what’s important to you — allergy concerns, sleep quality, or productivity— and it will make recommendations based on its readings and learn your preferences as you interact. The LED display offers a quick snapshot of your current air quality and can be set to multiple modes, including an optional clock feature.
Awair’s TrueSense technology uses dedicated monitoring and complex analytics to achieve greater accuracy and control. TrueSense analyzes data from sensors integrated into the device to individually measure temperature/humidity, dust, VOC levels, and CO2. The Awair Score (0 to 100 scale) and colors communicate like a stop light. Green is for Good, yellow for Fair and red for Poor.
For those that care about the quality of air they and their families breathe, Awair is a complete solution. In our review we found it was exactly the experience we had hoped for inside a lovely, unobtrusive package. There’s also a cheaper edition that comes in the form of Awair Element.
The French company Netatmo sells a fully featured air quality monitor. Its Healthy Home Coach measures the air quality level, humidity, temperature, noise of your home and alerts you when things start to get out of hand. All of your data is recorded online and made permanently accessible to you, on your smartphone, tablet or PC.
The gizmo comes with a simple to use app which lets you know at a glance if the air in your home is healthy or not. Plus you’ll get advice on how to fix any potential problems. If you want to track multiple rooms, the app lets you connect several Health Home coach devices from one central location.
You can also check the health environment without using the app. Just tap on the top and Healthy Home Coach will light up to give you immediate insight into the air quality of your home. The sleek and elegant device also works with Apple HomeKit.
Eve Room 2 comes with significant improvements over the original. It looks more modern, its much smaller, there’s a new e-ink display on the front and it’s now rechargeable via USB.
The upgraded MEMS sensor detects and measures VOCs such as alcohol, aldehydes, ketones, organic acids, amines, as well as aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. Organic compounds are not only byproducts of human metabolism, but high concentrations of VOCs can be found in everyday objects and remain hidden to CO2 sensors.
Eve Room 2 takes these measurements and presents them as a star rating giving you a simple way of understanding your home’s air quality. This is in addition to getting the exact parts-per-million value of the air quality in the smartphone app. The device also measures humidity and temperature.
The gizmo connects directly to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth Smart technology, without requiring a hub, gateway or bridge. The device is HomeKit enabled and works with Siri.
Atmotube is another crowdfunded device. We were one of the first ones to receive and test the product, and can say that this is one of those rare crowdfunded projects that has delivered on (nearly) everything it promised.
The device was created to raise awareness about both indoor and outdoor air quality, so you can make the right choices every day and live healthier. It is especially helpful to asthmatics and lung disease sufferers, but is also useful for parents of young children and the elderly.
Atmotube goes with you wherever you go, and monitors VOC, carbon monoxide, humidity and temperature. The major problem with the first generation device is that battery life lasts only about 6-7 hours. This has been extended to around 7 days on Atmotube Plus.
All real-time measurements are accessible from the app on your mobile phone – together with your personal Air Score that motivates you to avoid the most polluted places and live healthier. The app also displays a map with all your readings and readings from other Atmotube users around the world.
One of the problems with smart air quality monitors is that users typically need to open up an accompanying smartphone app to view the readings. AirVisual does away with that, and instead provides a built-in, always-on 5-inch color display which you can use to check the readings at a glance.
Detecting everything from bacteria to, humidity, temperature, PM2.5 concentration and CO2, you’ll also receive real-time alerts right on your smartphone. AirVisual was designed according to medical-grade standards to specially benefit those who suffer from asthma, COPD, lung cancer and high blood pressure.
The air outside your home is just as important. This is why AirVisual provides detailed figures on six key pollutants for over 8,000 locations in more than 35 countries. The display compares indoor readings with outdoor data from the nearest official station, so you know when to ventilate, go outside or stay inside.
Wynd Plus is different from the competition in that it doesn’t purify all air, just the air around your head. It does this by using a clever combination of a detachable particulate matter sensor, bottle sized purification unit and accompanying smartphone app.
The entire device is 17cm tall and 7.1cm wide at the base. Despite its relatively small form factor, the company says Wynd Plus can deliver over 8 liters of clean air per second. While the device is marketed as portable, it works best when set up in a small, enclosed space.
The medical-grade filter removes particulates, cat dander, mold, bacteria, and pollution in a matter of minutes. The detachable particulate matter sensor monitors the quality of air around you, and automatically adjusts the purification level as needed.
In our review, we found Wynd Plus to be a really well thought out product. A lot of work has clearly gone into packing lots of great functionality into a small package.
Plume Lab’s Flow is another portable air quality monitor. Similar to Atmotube, it monitors the full spectrum of pollutants indoors and out. This includes PM2.5 (particulate matter and dust), NOx (exhaust fumes), Ozone (irritating gas), VOCs (household chemicals), temperature and humidity.
Use the accompanying leather strap to attach it onto your bag and let it warn you whenever you are breathing in unhealthy air. Users can then learn how to avoid exposure while mapping their city to find clean air hotspots. You can also share the air quality data you collect to help others avoid polluted areas.
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