Review: Airthinx IAQ for Homeowners

This review is dedicated to the end-users (homeowners) as I present the tools (Smartphone app) and functionalities of the device for the average user and some basic features on the dashboard. Later on, I will review the same monitor for businesses where we will have the chance to see and analyze the more advanced tools which are present on the dashboard for all.

Airthinx IAQ is an Air Quality Monitor (AQM) that was built for experts with many communication protocols in order to ensure that users will be able to access air quality measurements from anywhere and air quality sensors that matter in the indoor environment.

Technical Specifications

  • PM1 / PM2.5 / PM10 Sensors (0~500 μg/m3)
  • CO2 Sensor (0~3000 ppm)
  • CH2O Sensor (0~1 mg/m3)
  • TVOC Sensor (1-10ppm of EtOH) (0-1ppm of Isobutylene)
  • Temperature Sensor (-10-85°C)
  • Humidity Sensor (25-90 %RH)
  • Barometer Sensor (300-1100 hPa)
  • Cellular (GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA)
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Zigbee
  • GPS
  • Accelorometer 16g (13-bit resolution)
  • 2 Micro-USB Power Ports

Hardware

Design

Let’s begin with the design of the device. I was surprised to see so many communication protocols and sensors in such a compact device. The device is really small 11cm/4.3in x 6.6cm/2.6in x 3.0cm/1.2in, it fits in the palm of your hand. It has two micro-USB ports, one on the bottom of the device and the other on the back. The reason for the two ports is simple, to allow users to hide the cable or not in case it is placed somewhere temporally. If your house is modern enough to feature USB ports on the walls, then you can easily hide them by plugging the USB cable in the back, that way you have just a slick AQM on the wall.

It also comes with a wall support rotation mechanism that allows you to attach it easily on the wall, and thanks to the levels, you can be sure it is set straight.

wall support
Wall support plate, I have used some double tape

The monitor has a stripe of LED light that changes colour between Blue (Good AQ), Yellow (Moderate AQ), and Red (Poor AQ). You can have the light always on, or you can set it to turn on only when there is a change in AQ, or you can turn it completely off.

Sensors

The PM sensor measures PM1, PM2.5, and PM10. This specific sensor is well-known to evaluates better the particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5μm or lower.

The monitor has a VOC sensor that is a totally different story from the competitors as it calibrated to specific gases, as a result, we are able to measure the concentrations for VOC (Ethanol (C2H5OH)) and VOC (Isobutylene (C4H8)) separately.

VOC Airthinx Alcohol
Here is a typical example where I used a hand sanitizer with alcohol, and we can see the evaporation triggers only the VOC Ethanol measurements and not the Isobutylene.

A dedicated sensor for Formaldehyde (CH₂O) gives us an overview of the concentrations of this specific VOC indoors, new furniture, carpets, and paint gas off this kind of toxic chemical.

The CO2 sensor seems reliable and works the same way as many other AQMs that use nondispersive infrared technology (NDIR).

The humidity and temperature sensors correlate very well, and this very important for an indoor air quality monitor as a few degrees of difference can make all the difference, especially when energy is spent in cooling or heating a room.

Connectivity

As I have already mentioned the monitor has a multitude of communication protocols. If you are in a remote location where ADSL/Optic cables don’t reach you, you are able to use the device directly out of the box without any struggle thanks to the 3G/4G module. Just unbox it and plug it on the USB power adapter or USB power bank of your choice. There are other communication protocols though a standard WiFi (802.11 b/g), Bluetooth 4.0, and finally for more experts, Zigbee, which is low-power and wide-area network protocols.

The device handles the connection protocols automatically and it is able to switch from one to another. My monitor uses the 3G/4G cellular network of (Movistar in Spain) and my house WiFi.

Airthinx comes with Assisted GPS (A-GPS). Traditionally, standalone GPS devices depend solely on information from satellites. However, A-GPS uses cell tower data to enhance quality and precision when in poor satellite signal conditions, especially in urban areas and indoor locations.

Software

App

airthinx app

Having an app on your phone allows you to check the air quality very fast. Once you launch the app you will have a complete overview of the AQ and highlighted the areas you need to address. In my case, high temperatures!

Once you click on the pollutant or environmental parameter that interests you then you will be able to see the historical graphs for an individual pollutant or a general AQ. The most important feature there is the Exposure Time as it calculates how many minutes or hours you were exposed to Poor, Moderated and Good AQ.

EXPOSURE TIME Airthinx
CO2 exposure time during a week

Last but not least, you can set up alerts for the pollutant(s) that interest you, that way you have complete control. The app will notify you when the air gets worse or it gets better (recovers). In my case, I have set up only CO2 and PM2.5 alerts as I have the device in the bedroom.

DashboardAirthingx dashboard

In this review, I will scratch the surface of the dashboard as it has many tools. Once you have logged in Airthinx’s dashboard, you can dive deeper and compare on the fly one pollutant with another. As you can see from the screenshot, I can compare the CO2, PM2.5, and VOC (Isobutylene) graphs at the same time, which allows me to determine the possible source of pollution. The combinations are countless.

Thanks to the dashboards, I can download reports or raw data for further local analysis. However, you can further analyze the data inside the dashboard, but I am not going to cover that in this review.

Another great feature is the customer support. Via the dashboard and the smartphone app, you can contact a support team via a live chat and they can help you to resolve any issue immediately.

My Experience

My experience with the product was pleasant, and even when I contacted the support team for a test, they came back to me very soon. I think this is particularly important for end-users because if you don’t have the experience of how technology works and you have an issue, then you want a solution as soon as possible and not going back and forth with emails.

I use the app only when I get a visual indication from the device that something is wrong with the environmental conditions around me. In general, I avoid activating notification on the phone, but as I can customize the alerts, I have tailored them to my needs.

Conclusion

Airthinx IAQ isn’t cheap simply because it is designed for a different class of users. Users that need quality and support. You will discover from my upcoming review that is a product for Businesses but as some users don’t want to compromise, the company decided to make it available for all and apparently they offer the tools for both categories.

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