Finally, an air quality monitor that focuses on Radon indoor pollution. Many of you have asked me to review an AQM with a radon sensor and the most famous of all the Airthings Wave which comes in various versions (Wave, Wave Plus). In this review, I am featuring the Airthings Wave Plus.
What is Radon?
For those who hear for the first time about Radon, it comes from the radioactive breakdown aka decay of naturally occurring Uranium found in most soils. As a gas in the soil, it enters buildings through small openings in the foundation. Since radon can easily be trapped inside buildings, indoor radon concentrations can increase to many times that of outdoor levels. When radon gas decays, it emits radioactive radiation in the form of an alpha particle/waves and Airthings Wave can measure those alpha particles/waves. I don’t want to enter into details about the health effects on this post but Radon is found to be the second most common reason for lung cancer (after smoking).
I want to state that the maps above are very roughly designed, just to get an idea. Canada and Alps region are also two high risk regions. Also, there might be large differences even between my home and the neighbour’s home and the official maps are mostly estimates that comes from public tests / surveys in various countries. In some countries there might also be very little information as the government has not funded good analyses.
- Radon Passive diffusion chamber Sensor 0 – 9999 Bq/m3
- CO2 NDIR Sensor 400–10,000 ppm
- TVOC Sensor Temperature Sensor
- Humidity Sensor 0 – 85%RH Air Pressure Sensor
- RGB LEDs Ring
- Alarm (Piezo electronic buzzer)
- Power: 2 AA batteries (16 months battery life)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth & Airthings SmartLink
The device is very well built and cleverly designed. It can be easily attached to the wall or ceiling without any wires or plugs thanks to the magnetic detachable plate. It has an Infrared Radiation movement detection sensor and each time you pass your hand over the device the RGB LED ring will light up indicating the AQI with a colour. I was impressed when I read that it can operate with 2 AA batteries up to 16 months. After a month operating the battery icon on the app still indicates 100%.
The Wave Plus uses the new Senseair CO2 sensor Sunrise which is ultra-low-power and this is the reason the device can operate up to 16 months with just 2 AA batteries.
It features the well known BME680 sensor for temperature, humidity, air pressure and VOC measurements.
Finally, I think the company uses a custom made Passive Radon Diffusion Chamber – Alpha spectrometry using digital detector technology. They take Radon very seriously.
They have built a great ecosystem around all devices and you can access your measurements from anywhere. From mobiles with the native apps for iOS and Android but also from your favourite web browser. On iOS, the app is clean and simple and with a simple glance you have a complete overview of what is going on into your house. You can browse all the sensors and see the air quality and other environmental parameters for the last 48 Hours / Week / Month / Year. Inside the Setting tab, you can update the device in case there is any available update, name your device and turn on the Radon alarm.
I tend to use the iOS app but you can do so much more from the Web Airthings Dashboard. There are some professional tools too, like the ability to export to CSV file all the sensor data and another great tool is the ability to generate radon reports in PDF, click here to see an example from my home. Finally, on the dashboard, you are able to see some outdoor AQI data for comparison which are provided by Breezometer. The dashboard is very customizable.
What do my radon levels mean?
Now you that know what Radon is, keep the numbers below into your mind because they will help you take actions when high concentrations of Radon are detected.
- 0 – 48 Bq/m³: No action needed
- 49 – 99 Bq/m³: Experiment with ventilation and sealing cracks to reduce levels
- 100 – 149 Bq/m³: Keep measuring. If levels are maintained for more than 3 months, contact a professional radon mitigator
- 150 Bq/m³ and up: Keep measuring. If levels are maintained for more than 1 month, contact a professional radon mitigator
I was lucky enough to discover that the soil where I live doesn’t contain considerable radioactive isotopes concentrations. However, I wouldn’t be able to say that with certainty if I didn’t have the device. I so much look forward to examining my parents’ house.
The device needs a smartphone in order to upload the measurements to the web so it is mandatory to install the app as there isn’t a WiFi chip inside. However, the company is planning to launch a new device – the Hub – with Ethernet connectivity and SmartLink, which is a low-power wireless protocol developed by Airthings, this way all the previous devices can communicate with the Hub. That said, I didn’t miss the WiFi on my device at all.
On the mobile app, I wish when I moved the course to see the measured values, it was also capable to display the time of the measurement because it is a bit hard to tell from the timeline.
If you are looking to measure Radon I would highly recommend you to look into the Wave or Wave Plus. They aren’t just indoor AQ monitors because they provide some serious tools especially the Web Airthings Dashboard that can generate professional reposts. Finally, the device serves as a normal AQ monitor providing useful Air Quality information, it is proved that when high CO2 concentrations are present in your house the productivity decreases, so a monitor with a CO2 sensor can always help you to keep your mind sharp.