Air Quality Monitors – Comparison List 2022 Q2

The famous list with all the available indoor air quality monitors is finally updated. In this version there are two tabs. Air quality monitors for consumers (B2C) and for businesses (B2B). As always, I stay away from knockoffs and cheap products. An air quality monitor needs to function properly for 5 to 10 years depending the sensors − gas sensors tend to have a shorter lifespan.

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Review: View Plus by Airthings

View Plus is the flagship air quality monitor from Airthings which was designed to address as many indoor parameters as possible and it complies with Green Building Certification.

The philosophy behind Airthings air quality monitors is simple. They try to make B2C and B2B clients’ life easy. One clear example is that all monitors, including the View Plus, work on simple AA batteries in order to avoid installation fees (from construction workers) and ugly cables running all over the walls.

Specifications

  • Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Laser OPC Sensor 0-500 μg/m3
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) NDIR Sensor 400–5000 ppm
  • Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) Metal-oxide Sensor 0-10000 ppb
  • Temperature Sensor
  • Humidity Sensor
  • Air Pressure Sensor 500-1100 mBar
  • Light Sensor
  • Hand Gesture Sensor
  • Noise Sensor 35 – 120 dBA SPL
  • E-Ink 2.9″
  • RGB LED Indicator
  • 6 AA batteries or USB-C
  • Mesh SmartLink and Bluetooth LE
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Review: Atmocube Air Quality Monitor by ATMO

The need for indoor air quality monitoring solutions hasn’t stopped increasing due to two main factors. The market is constantly demanding tailored solutions to meet Green Building standards and, of course, Covid19. Many have bought cheap and generic indoor AQ monitors from big retail stores, but after a while, they realized that their money went down the drain as there is nothing they can do with the data they obtained for two reasons. The AQ monitors didn’t keep the measurements or the accuracy of the data was poor.

Here comes Atmocube, a new indoor air quality monitor designed entirely to meet occupants’ requirements for indoor air quality. The design language is modern and functional. I underlined functional because you don’t need to be an expert to understand what is wrong with the IAQ and which specific parameter you need to address, I will explain more about it in a minute. Finally, the monitor is full of superb sensors, nine to be exact.

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In & Out – Airthings & Airly

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.

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Comparison: CO2 Monitors – Why do we need them in indoor environments?

I should have written this comparison a long time ago, but I was very busy the past few months. A lot of you have insisted, so here it is.

A CO2 monitor is the number one tool that can help us understand ventilation rates in indoor environments and consequently mitigate the spread of airborne viruses like coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), but let’s not forget the common flu either.

Carbon Dioxide CO2 can decrease our cognitive ability. The correlation between CO2 and productivity has been studied a lot for over 50 years by many academics. Interesting facts, the design standard for CO2 levels in most buildings is 1000ppm but the recommended concentration is below 700ppm. In one of the studies, Harvard researchers have found significant negative impact at 930 ppm.

According to World Green Building Council, they estimate the reduced absenteeism through sick days to be worth ~$35/m2. Again the World Green Building Council estimates that if employees’ productivity improves by even a 5% because of better IAQ, that alone would be worth ~$400/m2.

The monitors are divided into two categories, the ones that can be carried with you (portable/wearable) and the fixed ones and in most cases professional solutions. Each monitor offers different characteristics. Sometimes just because it has more features, it doesn’t mean that it is the right tool for you.

Most of the monitors offer much more than just CO2 monitoring. We spend a lot of time indoors and a more holistic approach is needed sometimes when it comes to indoor air quality (IAQ) or indoor environmental quality (IEQ).

The monitors are:

Analox CO2BUDDY

The CO2BUDDY is the only wearable CO2 monitor that can be used in so many places and for a variety of reasons. Very important for professionals that work in places where the conditions are extreme. Closed or crowded indoor spaces.

Aranet4 HOME

Aranet4 is a small and portable CO2 monitor that surprises people. It can be used as an indicator of productivity in schools and office buildings. It is packed with smart features for those that want to log measurements and share them later on.

Awair OMNI

Awair OMNI is a well-thought product that has one aim, to help professionals see the air and address potential issues. The Awair Display Mode allows users to display any information from the monitor to a big screen inside a bar, restaurant, office, school, etc. It features up to 8 hour battery and logs data on-device. It complies with the most common certifications from WELL V1, LEED, Fitwel, LBC, and RESET.

Ethera Labs TX mini

The Ethera Labs XT Mini ensures quality and competitive monitoring systems with great cloud platforms for all needs and budgets. By connecting the monitor to BMS, they manage to achieve energy efficiency while directly managing the ventilation system, as well as portable air purifiers. It is the only monitor that can be connected to a PC via USB and upload data locally.

Kaiterra Sensedge mini

The Sensedge Mini is a great and accessible choice for those that wish to get or not air quality certification by RESET, LEED, WELL, and others as the monitor complies with their requirements. The removable sensor modules reduce maintenance costs and ensure accuracy, something really important when you want to offer comfort and health to the building’s occupants.

Airthings Wave Plus

Airthings Wave Plus is designed for professionals and homeowners (different plans). It offers a great dashboard that makes air quality data comprehensive. Excellent low power CO2 sensor that runs on two AA batteries for up to 16 months and the colour LED ring can indicate the high CO2 levels. Additionally, it can measure Radon which is a radioactive gas.

Analox Air Quality Guardian

The Air Quality Guardian comes with a large LCD display that provides plenty of clear information for those professionals that don’t have the luxury of time to continually take their phones out of their pockets in order to check the CO2 concentrations and trends. Very loud alarm and great traffic light system🚦 where 3 LED lights will turn on depending on the concentration of CO2 in the indoor environment.

airthinx IAQ

Airthinx IAQ is designed for professionals, however, it is also available to homeowners too. The dashboard offers so many features that can really help you build a solid business model around it as you can rent the device(s) to third parties. The company provides a solid ecosystem of hardware and software, hard to resist.

Quick Comparison

All monitors deliver great CO2 measurements as I have tested them all. They all feature a non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) sensor which is the best among the low-cost sensors because of their accuracy and low-power consumption.

Each monitor has unique features, so read each review individually to discover if it is the right fit for you.

Awair OMNI + Djinn

I love combining technologies and services because this is a great and inexpensive way for companies to expand their businesses and for users to have a better experience. Awair has developed a great B2B air quality monitor the OMNI (hardware) and Djinn has developed a great B2B service (software) that combined together may offer better AQ insights or in other words, they contextualize data.

So I took the liberty to use the API Awair provides to its users and integrate it into Djinn’s platform. The reason is simple, Awair measures a plethora of parameters (temperature, humidity, PM2.5, VOC, CO2, noise, and light), and Djinn provides better insights into the impact those various indoor environmental parameters have on our health, like cardiovascular health risk and allergy risk. However, they also provide the productivity index which estimates the quality of the indoor environment with regard to the influence on productivity.

In real-life situations (offices, classrooms, etc) low-quality indoor environments may result in productivity drop up to 10% and more. Often in such cases, indoor environment quality is not comprehended by a person during the work process. The productivity index is based on research by cognitive scientists from various Universities.

According to the researchers, Human Decision Making Performance may be divided into different cognitive functions. Djinn service is able not only to estimate a general level of productivity, called Integral Productivity Index (IPI) but specify it for 9 cognitive activity areas based on research. An IPI is calculated as the average of all 9 directions. Those different models allow you to tune indoor parameters for optimal productivity according to your needs.

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Review: Awair OMNI – B2B Air Quality Monitoring Solution

Awair is one of the earliest companies in the space of IoT air quality monitoring with great experience and knowledge as they have released a few consumers based air quality monitors like Awair Original, Awair 2nd Edition, Awair Element, and Glow C. Recently they entered the enterprise market with the release of Awair Omni.

I have seen the evolution of the company from the beginning as they have designed some of the most iconic domestic air quality monitors. The design language of Awair Omni is exactly what you expect from an air quality monitor inside a business environment like an office. The simplicity and the elegance of the product blend harmoniously without creating unnecessary distractions to the occupants of the room yet with the right information always available thanks to the dot matrix LEDs.

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Review: XT Mini by Ethera Labs

Managing air quality monitors (AQM) in buildings is not always an easy task especially if you have deployed a lot of them. When there are many rooms that you have to take into consideration it can become very costly, very fast to equip all those rooms. Is there a way to monitor rooms without an AQM?

Well, it turns out there is a way to monitor the environmental and air quality conditions in rooms that do not have physical monitors nowadays. How?

Ethera Labs, which is a French company, with over 10 years of experience in professional IAQ solutions has integrated powerful Machine Learning (ML) algorithms that predict the conditions in rooms where air quality monitors are not installed, yes that’s right, you have read correctly. They have trained special neural networks by taking a lot of parameters into consideration in order to predict accurately the conditions and alerts users in case they need to take actions or even address an AQ/Environmental incident automatically.

By connecting the station to BMS, they manage to achieve energy efficiency while directly managing the ventilation system, as well as portable air purifiers or giving building operator the right information in advance so they can take action at the right time. They achieve two goals, great air quality and energy efficiency.

Hardware-wise Ethera Labs offers an arrange of monitors that can address different building specifications and needs. In this article, I will review the Mini XT Basic (MX-KIT020) and the NEMo Cloud/Supervision Cloud platforms.

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Let’s talk: IoT Wireless Network Protocols for Air Quality Monitors

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of electronic devices (air quality monitors, purifiers, motion detectors, cameras, etc.) that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices over the Internet.

In this article, I am going to describe some of the available networks and physical layers that are used by Air Quality Monitors (AQM), mainly for consumer-based products, and discuss which technologies make more sense in 2021+ for Smart Homes/Buildings and Businesses.

Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11

IEEE 802.11 is part of the IEEE 802 set of local area network (LAN) protocols and specifies the set of media access control (MAC) and physical layer (PHY) protocols for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) Wi-Fi computer communication in various frequencies including 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6GHz.

IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n

This standard wireless network protocol is among the most common protocols for communication between the devices and the internet/cloud. Most devices even today use the ~20 years old 802.11b or 802.11g with a linkrate between 1 to 54 Mbit/s and a frequency of 2.4 GHz for power conservation reasons and good wall penetration. The 802.11n transmits the highest data throughput, but at the cost of high-power consumption at 5GHz.

IoT AQMs do not need a high-speed data throughput because the information they transfer is very little and in the range of a few kilobytes. So protocols like the IEEE 802.11ac and IEEE 802.11ax don’t make a lot of sense because they demand energy and they don’t offer good wall penetration in order to cover an entry house/apartment.

IEEE 802.11ax aka WiFi 6 or 6e

There are some claims that IoT devices will adopt the new WiFi 6e (e stands for enhanced) but I don’t think we will see that happening as bandwidth isn’t relevant for AQMs but the range is more essential and the WiFi 6e is designed to cover approximately 30m/98ft indoors. The 6e operates at 6Ghz, as a result, the highest the frequency the shortest the distance a signal can travel within walls. A positive feature of this protocol is that it supports a Low Power Indoor (LPI) mode. In the multi-user scenario, the WiFi 6 module consumes only one-third of that of the Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) module and they achieve that by shortening wake-up time.

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