Office Study – Tapping Into The Real World Air Quality Data

Nowadays, it is a privilege to have access to a real indoor environment where you can measure and quantify indoor environmental quality (IEQ). It is not an easy task because most companies keep AQ data private, and we totally respect that. However, sometimes tapping into the real world data is fundamental in order to understand the conditions white color employees and employers work in an effort to improve work conditions and productivity.

The owner of the building and the office granted me access to installing the Atmocube IAQ monitor for two months, in order to figure out what improvements shall apply in their effort to mitigate covid19, improve working conditions and boost productivity. The office is located in Almeria, Spain which is a coastal city.

They don’t have any mechanical ventilation systems, so the indoor conditions were subject to their human actions and whether they opened the windows/doors or not.

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CO2 Trio Side by Side: Single Beam NDIR vs Dual Beam NDIR vs Photoacoustic

So many different types of sensors have become available in the market. For years we have seen and used Single (mainly) and Dual-Beam NDIR sensors for CO2 detection, but now another technology has surfaced, the Photoacoustic.

I decided to do a quick comparison of the different technologies in order to determine which one is the best and what are the differences if there is one. Price always affects the Bill of Material BOM, so we need to make a wise choice depending on the application of the sensor (commercial, real estate, industrial, scientific, etc).

Single and Dual Beam NDIR

CO2 is a gas with an asymmetric molecular structure that has strong absorption of infrared. This is the reason we use a Non-Dispersive Infrared NDIR sensor which is based on tunable diode laser spectroscopy.

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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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AirGradient DIY Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality Monitor

Countless times I have mentioned that we need to monitor indoor and outdoor air quality. This is an essential step in order to have a holistic approach to air pollution that surrounds us in both environments. Unfortunately, not everybody can afford to buy two monitors but thanks to the community and AirGradient there are two DIY solutions that can help us monitor the air quality quite accurately and of course, manage the air we breathe better.

AirGradient’s DIY solution is more appealing than the competition for many reasons. First of all, you can buy directly the DIY Kit with all the electronic components from them including the PCB. The PCB is the board where we will deploy all the sensors, WiFi module, and display. That is a huge benefit because you don’t have to search on the internet and purchase the components one by one. The well-designed PCB will also help us keep the monitor neat and small without unnecessary cables. Secondly, Air Gradient’s DIY AQ Monitor is very customizable allowing us to build an indoor monitor with an NDIR CO2 sensor but another one without a CO2 sensor or display for the outdoor environment. If you don’t want temperature/humidity sensors you can easily omit them too, but I highly recommend them. Moreover, there is software support as a community of passionate people have been improving the firmware constantly. Finally, the solution comes with a web dashboard where you can manage all the monitors and take advantage of the histograms and tools like the alerts.

Additionally, the devices which are connected to the cloud and the dashboard can broadcast the measurements back to a separate display (Viewport) which allows us to see the air quality indoors and outdoors like in the example below. Isn’t that very cool?

It has been a long time since I soldered something, so I was very happy to build the monitor. I built two monitors by following the fairly easy instruction here. There is also a video with the instructions here by Jeff Geerling.

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