Countless times, I have said that it is very important to monitor our indoor air quality side by side with the outdoor air quality. A collaboration between Airthings and Airly brought the best of both worlds, ambient air quality and indoor air quality monitoring in one place. Unfortunately, this solution is available only to the business customers but we can always hope that the demand will drive the feature to the consumer clients as well.
Why in & out AQ monitoring is important?
Our indoor air quality depends on many factors like building material, furniture, and indoor activities (cooking in a home or printing documents in an office, the perfumes people wear, etc). All of these factors will determine indoor air quality from the inside but indoor air quality is subject to outdoor conditions too. Vehicle traffic, marine traffic (in case you live near a port), wood-burning, industrial activities in the area, and wildfires are some of the reasons that will affect indoor air quality as buildings need to breathe or ventilate if you want.
By monitoring both worlds we or the automated systems can make better decisions when it comes to ventilation and energy consumption.
Scenario #1: A private building (could be a school) hasn’t got a central ventilation system with air filtration and the rely on window ventilation. For how long do they need to keep windows open in winter in order to ventilate properly the indoor spaces without losing too much heat? Or how do they know when it is safe to open the window to ventilate in the first place? The location of a building is like an AQ figure-print as it can reveal a lot about the indoor air quality in such scenario. Did you know that scientists believe that pigeons find their way home not only due to the magnetic fields of the earth but also from the chemical makeup of the air in the area the birds recognize as home?
Scenario #2: An office building with an HVAC system. By knowing the outdoor air quality the system knows the limitations of the filtration system and if outdoors AQ is below a predetermined threshold, it can lower the introduction of ambient air due to high contamination and it will keep filtering indoor air. Gas pollutants like NO2, SO2, etc are very hard to capture efficiently. In an office building it is unlikely to have gas stoves inside for NO2 to be emitted. On the other hand, particulate matter is much easier to filter out as HEPA filters are very efficient.
Airthings & Airly
Once you have been given access to the Airthings Dashboard, it is very easy to add new devices from both companies. As we can see in the pictures below, there are many devices to choose from. Once you select the one you want to deploy you just add the serial number or ID number and you are ready!
Then you can build your personal dashboard layout with the data points that matter to you. It supports both real-time and historical air quality data. In case you don’t have an outdoor monitor, you can always use BreezoMeter’s Tile, which combines information from various sources (official AQ stations, Satellite data, and more) for outdoor AQ location.
Airthings Dashboard works wonders as the reports and building management tools allow professions to deploy and analyze AQ data fast and easily. They have introduced new tools like the direct annotations onto the historical graphs for air quality events that may give a better understanding why AQ was improved or depleted (e.g. better filters were installed). The annotations are available when you export the reports and you share them with your clients or the HVAC experts. Their platform evolves and it reminds me more of an operating system like iOS or Android OS rather than a static conventional software because they keep adding new features as they listen to the feedback. (7 days have passed since I wrote the article and I see there is a new feature already!)