In this review I look at Airthings View Plus, a device which tracks a wide variety of air quality stats in your home. It comes from one of Norway’s fastest growing tech companies.
Oslo-based Airthings was established in 2008 and it launched its first consumer product three years later. Now with more than 100 employees and four offices, its range of air quality monitors for home use consists of Wave Mini, Wave Radon, Wave Plus and top of the line View Plus. There’s also a House Kit and a few other monitors that you can purchase.
One of the things which distinguishes Airthings products from the competition is their ability to track radon levels. For those not in the know, this is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas. It is formed naturally in the earth as radioactive decay of tiny amounts of uranium.
Needless to say, exposure to this type of radiation is a risk to health. Radon is considered to be the leading cause of lung cancer amongst the non-smoking population. Shockingly, it kills six times more people than home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning combined.
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You are unlikely to find many devices for home use that have the ability to track radon levels. Which means your options are either to pay for a professional to come in and test for radon levels, or to purchase a charcoal test which you’d then need to send to a lab for results. But both of these are one-off measurements.
In addition to radon, View Plus tracks particulate matter, carbon dioxide, VOC (airborne chemicals), humidity, temperature, air pressure and more. It certainly sounds like a complete air quality monitor.
But how does it work in real life and is it worth the $299.99 price tag (check price on Amazon)? Here’s my review.
Airthings View Plus review: Design & hardware
- Looks attractive, streamlined design
- Works with battery or connected to power
- Portable, can mount it to a wall
- A display that never goes dark
The air quality in your home matters. In fact it matters a lot. Did you know that indoor air is five times more polluted than the fresh stuff outside? That’s a pretty big deal considering the average person spends around 90% of their times indoors. The World Health Organisation says that 9 out of 10 people breathe unhealthy air on a regular basis.
Hence the importance of home air quality monitors. They represent a solution that is meant to alert you to any air quality issues before they become actual problems.
Airthings View Plus comes with a simple but elegant design. You could say that it looks a bit Applesque. The dimensions of the device come in at 17 x 9 x 3.3 cm, so about the size of an average person’s hand. With a weight of 360 grams, this is a fairly lightweight device.
There are no colour options – you can only purchase the thing in White. Which is fine as this is a neutral colour that fits in pretty much any surroundings.
Battery-operated or connected to power via USB
I have tested out a few air quality monitors over the years. What I really like about View Plus is that you have a lot of freedom on how to use it. This is because you get the option of choosing whether to plug it into an electricity outlet or use 6 AA 1.5V alkaline (LR6) batteries (included with purchase) to keep it going for up to 2 years.
I prefer the second option as this allows me to move it easily to different parts of the room or other areas of the house. With batteries the device is completely wireless, so you can even mount it on a wall where it will sit quietly out of the way doing its thing. This for me is definitely one of the highlights of the device. Many air quality monitors need to be plugged into an electricity outlet at all times which is severely limiting.
For best results, you should leave the monitor in a place where you spend the majority of your time at home. Preferably, at approximate breathing height. Don’t place it outside, in direct sunlight or in a place that is very damp.
Airthings View Plus
Beautiful Calm Tech e-paper display
Another highlight of View Plus is its display. This is a calm tech screen that is always on. It is large, at night you don’t see it so it doesn’t disturb.
The reason it can stay on at all times without depleting the battery is that this is an e-paper display. It is similar to technology that is used on Kindle devices. The screen updates every 2.5 minutes or more often if you trigger an action.
Interestingly, if you remove the batteries and unplug any power cables – the screen will still keep showing the data. That’s because the Calm Tech e-paper tech does not require power to show an image. Of course, the stats will not update but the last readings when the loss of power occurred will remain visible.
Above the display is an LED light which can shine in one of three colours. Green is an indicator of good air quality, yellow indicates average air quality and red poor air quality. Simple and to the point.
Airthings View Plus review: How to use
- Uploads data via WiFi rather than Bluetooth
- Requires an initial calibration period
- Wave across the screen for more detailed info
There isn’t really that much you need to know about setup. Download the Airthings smartphone app and create an account. Then pull the battery tab from the back of the View Plus in order to activate the batteries inside its compartment. After that simply follow the app instructions to set up the device and pair it. I think it took me no more than 10-15 minutes to complete everything.
View Plus requires Bluetooth for the initial setup and to change and view certain information in the app. But the uploading of air quality stats to the cloud works over WiFi (2.4GHz). Which means that you will be asked to connect the device to your network and enter your WiFi password during setup.
If there’s a problem with your WiFi connection data will not be uploaded. To deal with temporary disconnects Airthings has enabled its device to save the last two hours of sensor data on the device itself. Once the connection is reestablished, this will be synced to the app and dashboard.
I did encounter a hitch when initially setting up WiFi. It took about five or six tries before the app would finally accept the password and connect to the internet. I’m not sure why. But once that initial connection was established, from that point on everything worked seamlessly.
View Plus will start churning out stats right away. However, the company notes there’s an initial 7 day calibration period. The sensors which do not need this are particulate matter, temperature, humidity and air pressure. They are accurate from the start. But the CO2 and VOC tech needs about a week to gather enough data in order to adjust properly to the environment.
For radon measurements, this can take up to a month. The company, therefore suggests, not to perform any radon mitigation action until this calibration period is up. The longer View Plus sits in your home the more accurate the radon measurements.
Display can be customised, wave to find out more
Beyond that there is not really that much to know. You’ll get a reading on the display which shows two metrics. These can be customised in the smartphone app or the website dashboard. I picked a view that at all times shows the temperature and CO2 levels as they are of most interest to me.
Having said that, I would have preferred to be able to see all the metrics the device is capable of producing on View Plus itself. You need to pick two which are of most interest to you.
But what you can do is wave your hand in front of the thing. This will transition into a second (third, etc) display which will either say “Good Air Quality”, or it will spit out metrics which are not currently in the healthy range. You will be able to see their value and a colour-coded assessment on how far off the ideal mark the measurements are.
To make your life easier, View Plus will show a black notification dot at the top of the home page display whenever there’s an air quality issue. The number of dots shows how many readings are outside the ideal threshold. Then you can wave in front of the thing to get more detail.
So if you look at the picture above and below, you can see one black dot on the home display. Wave in front of View Plus and a second screen will open showing that humidity has fallen to 24%, which is significantly below where it ideally should be.
Airthings View Plus review: Data and insight
Data captured, sampling rate
The Airthings View Plus excels as far as the wealth of information captured. I doubt that there is another home device on the market that is capable of producing this amount of data. And all of this seems very accurate.
You will get info on:
- VOCs – these can cause long and short term health effects. They are compounds resulting from human-made chemicals that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. They can also cause difficulty breathing and nausea and cause damage to internal organs.
- CO2 – while harmless in small quantities it can effect productivity and sleep. The more people there are in a room, the higher the CO2 levels. Ventilation and other factors can also influence readings.
- Radon – already discussed earlier in this article. Make sure to let View Plus capture data for at least a month (preferably longer) in order for proper calibration to be done.
- PM or particulate matter. You will get a combined reading and two separate values (in the website dashboard) based on the size of the particles – PM1 and PM2.5. Both are harmful and inhalable and can be a detriment to your health. Air purifiers, cleaning, opening or closing the windows (depending on outdoor pollution) can all reduce PM levels.
- Relative humidity
- Air pressure
As far as the sensors sampling rate, temperature and humidity measurements are captured every 2.5 minutes. Air pressure, VOCs and CO2 readings are taken every 5 minutes, while radon is captured hourly. Some of this can be configured with the app.
It is also worth noting that while the data will always be up-to-date on the device screen, cloud uploads may take a few minutes to update. For the highest updating frequency plug View Plus into an electricity outlet. If it is operating with batteries, the upload frequency depends on the chosen settings. Lower frequency updates (every hour) will keep the batteries going for up to 24 months, higher frequency (every 10 minutes) for around 8 months.
Another option is to plug the device into a power outlet from time to time. This will not charge the batteries, but it will preserve their battery life. As soon as you plug it in, the View monitor will automatically switch to being battery-operated.
I’m actually planning to purchase a set of rechargeable AA batteries. That way, when they run out I’ll just refuel them with an external charger.
The place you can go to for a detailed report on air quality is the Airthings Wave smartphone app. The software shows a summary view, in addition to 48 hour, week, month and annual charts. Each individual metric shows quite a bit of detail and it is interesting to go back and understand how the air quality has changed.
The app also houses a link that takes you through to a website – simply type your location and you will get today’s and tomorrow’s pollen levels. This is separated into sources: Tree, Grass and Weed. Our environment needs pollen as it is the male fertilising agent of flooring plants, but for up to 30% of the population it can cause hay fever. So those people will want to stay informed.
The app also allows you to tweak settings, change location, room and more. You can even set it to alert you if certain readings reach a unhealthy levels so you know when it is time to take action.
Of more use than the app is the website dashboard. Although the data is largely the same, it provides you with a much larger display which you can use to sift through the data.
You do get some additional options such as a 12 hour view and the ability to specify a custom period. Another benefit of using the website is that it can often be quicker to simply open a website dashboard than hunt around for one of hundreds of apps you may have installed on your phone.
Below are some screenshots of the website dashboard. The interface allows you quite a bit of customisation. You can play around and rearrange tiles – and there’s a detailed section on outside weather quality. This displays the Air Quality Index or AQI in addition to a wealth of other data – all of it powered by Breezometer.
That way you can directly compare whether the air indoors will benefit from opening the window and how safe it is to go out. For example, if you live in a big city there may be times when you can do more damage than good by exercising outside. It sounds bizarre but it is true. There have been a few occasions in the past in my country when the official government recommendations were to avoid outdoor exercise.
Airthings View Plus review: Products comparison
It is worth noting that View Plus does not need to be connected to an Airthings Hub in order to work. Not only that, but it functions as a Hub itself when connected to an electricity outlet. This means you can add other monitors to View Plus and they will function from that one central hub.
There are various product options to choose from, including some lower-spec, lower-cost solutions. The table below illustrates some of the products in the range and shows what air quality metrics they spit out. You can expand your system to cover your whole home.
All of these can be placed on a flat surface or mounted on a wall – and work with the same app and website dashboard. They are all battery operated but only View Plus can also work with the power cable option.
The View series also offers a few different choices. There’s View Plus which is the subject of this review. In addition you also have the View Pollution which tracks temperature, humidity and particulate matter and the View Radon. That one keeps tabs on Radon, Temperature and Humidity.
All three devices look and function exactly the same. The difference is to do with the sensors inside. For the full monty, you want View Plus. It is a complete solution and the only product with all seven sensors. It is also the most expensive of the lot.
Finally, also worth a mention are integration options. You can connect View Plus to your smart home by linking it up with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and/or IFTTT. That way you’ll always stay on top of the air quality in your home.
Airthings View Plus review: The verdict
I really like Airthings View Plus. Having gone through a number of air quality monitors, this has become my favourite.
The device is easy to set up, the app is simple to use and doesn’t push you to fork out extra money for subscriptions. The website dashboard is also useful as it provides more detailed info. The fact that the device works over WiFi means you can check the air quality of your home where ever in the world you find yourself to be.
I also like that View Plus can be battery powered or plugged in. This makes it portable, and you can move it and place it anywhere in the house or mount it on a wall.
But this is not where the pros end. The e-paper display is great and I wish more products would tap into that kind of tech. It has the benefit of staying always on.
Most importantly, View Plus captures a long list of air quality metrics and they seem to be accurate. You will struggle to find another device that captures that much information.
One thing I don’t like is that you have the option to display readings from only two of the sensors on the front display. I wish that you could cycle through all the readings without reaching for the app or website dashboard. Having said that, the e-paper display will let you see any sensor data that is outside the ideal threshold.
Another negative is the price. Normally retailing for $299, View Plus is not cheap.
Airthings View Plus
Your health and your family’s health are important. This device is probably the most complete solution to keep indoor air pollution at bay. View Plus will find out levels of Radon, particle matters, Co2, VoC and much more. It is an ideal tool to help you better manage your home.
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