Want to keep an eye on the quality of the air you breathe? There are devices for that! We have therefore chosen the best air quality sensors on the market for you.
If they have been brought to the fore by the Covid, air quality sensors are not only used to limit the risk of contamination. With lung disease more prevalent than ever, it’s more important to minimize risk by breathing as healthy air as possible. However, it can be complicated to know what is wrong, or to be alerted when dangerous thresholds are exceeded.
That’s why air quality detectors are useful accessories for keeping tabs on what you’re breathing. However, not all of them measure the same substances or offer the same functions. To help you find your way around, we have therefore selected the most interesting of them, focusing mainly on the connected models.
Looking to improve your health and comfort at home? We advise you to consult our various guides on the subject:
Netatmo Smart Weather Station: the best sensor for air quality
Although it is no longer young (it has been available since 2013!), this kit consisting of an outdoor weather station and an indoor module remains a benchmark in the field. As always with Netatmo, the design is neat and we are entitled to a device dressed in aluminum. The outdoor module works with batteries while the one for the interior will be connected to the mains via a USB connector.
All these little people will also have to be connected to the Wifi network. Once the station is installed and the app downloaded, you can access the temperature, the air humidity level and the CO2 concentration. A sound level meter completes all this and you can access the information via the application. The latter is practical to use and we particularly appreciate the possibility of creating alerts when certain thresholds are exceeded. There is also compatibility with Amazon Alexa for voice assistants.
The kit is scalable since you can add up to three additional indoor modules, but also enrich the weather station with an anemometer and a rain gauge. Versatile and efficient, the Netatmo weather station is all the more interesting as it is regularly on sale.
The Netatmo Smart Weather Station in a nutshell:
- Dual use, weather station and air quality
- A neat look
- Value for money
Airthings View Plus: the sensor to monitor radon
If you live in Brittany, Auvergne or Corsica there is a good chance that you have heard of radon. This radioactive gas, produced by the uranium present in the earth’s crust, is indeed particularly present there.
A real Rolls Royce of air quality measuring devices, the View Plus is packed with sensors, capable of detecting radon and is the most complete model in this selection. Equipped with a small screen, it can be fixed to the wall or simply placed on a piece of furniture. On the power side, it can work with 6 AA batteries or be plugged into the mains via a USB-C connector.
It connects to your Wifi network and therefore does not require a particular hub (even if one is available as an option). But where the View Plus proves to be stunning is in terms of sensors where it is a hit. It measures temperature, humidity, VOCs, CO2, PM2.5 and even radon! Note that the device will need a week for its sensors to be perfectly calibrated and for the radon and CO2 measurements to be accurate.
Among its great strengths, there is also a very good mobile application and even a web dashboard. It is also full box on the support of third-party services since we find Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTT.
For those who want to keep an eye on the quality of their air, there is no better than this Airthing View Plus. An excellence which however has a cost: no less than 299 euros. Yes, it stings, but if you are in an area affected by radon pollution, the game may be worth the effort.
The Airthings View Plus in a nutshell:
- Detects all types of pollutants
- Flawless connectivity
Eve Room: the detector for HomeKit enthusiasts
If you’re a fan of HomeKit, Apple’s home automation ecosystem, it’s a safe bet that you’ve already heard of Eve. This old branch of Elgato (yes, streaming accessories) is one of the benchmarks in the HomeKit universe, with a wide choice of connected products.
The Eve Room is the brand’s air quality sensor and is therefore only compatible with iOS products. To ensure a feedback of information via the net, it will also be necessary to have a HomePod or a 4th generation Apple TV.
With its compact size and ultra-sleek look, the Eve Room is particularly discreet, the e-ink screen is not very large, but perfectly readable. On the measurement side, we are entitled to the temperature, humidity and VOC. Too bad, however, that the CO2 is absent subscribers. This will be a problem if you also want to monitor the rate of transmission of Covid-19.
Autonomy is about six weeks and charging is done by micro USB. Too bad Eve didn’t take advantage of this update to switch to USB-C.
If it is not the most advanced sensor on the market, the Eve Room shines with an elegant design and above all an absolutely perfect compatibility with the Apple ecosystem.
The Eve Room in brief:
- Very compact
- An elegant design
- HomeKit integration
Therm PTH-5: the air quality sensor with the bare minimum
If your budget is more limited, or you are really only interested in the CO2 level of your home, there are simpler and more affordable sensors, skipping the connected functions.
Among the dozens of models available, we have chosen this one signed Therm. It is relatively compact, capable of operating on mains in micro USB or 18 hours with the internal battery. This may be useful for those who intend to take it to the office for example.
On the measurement side, it is the bare minimum, with temperature, humidity and CO2 concentration. Everything is displayed directly on a particularly readable screen. If it does not come to break three legs to a duck from a functionality point of view, this sensor is reliable, mobile and particularly affordable.
The Therm PTH-5 in brief:
- Usable on mains and battery
- Screen readability
- An attractive price
How Air Quality Sensors Work
What do air quality sensors detect?
Not all air quality sensors are created equal. Almost all of them measure CO2, humidity and temperature. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are also among the points often measured. Among the pollutants more rarely taken into account are PM2.5 and radon. The pollutants most often measured:
- CO2 : carbon dioxide is a gas produced among other things by respiration and photosynthesis, harmless in small quantities, it can however cause concentration problems or headaches. It’s also a pretty good marker for measuring how renewed the air in a room is. Its normal concentration indoors ranges from 400 to 1000 ppm, above this threshold, the negative effects will increase, going as far as death above 40000 ppm.
- VOCs : volatile organic compounds include a multitude of substances capable of easily changing from a gaseous to a liquid state. While some of them come from natural processes, the most dangerous come directly from human products. We thus note solvents, diluents, degreasers or hydrocarbons. Many of them are toxic, some like Benzene being carcinogenic.
- PM2.5 : behind this term (Particulate Matter) in fact hides fine particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 µm. Mainly produced by heaters and vehicles, these are particularly bad for breathing and for asthmatics.
- Radon : radon is a radioactive gas naturally produced by the disintegration of uranium and radium contained in the earth’s crust. In particular, it can cause lung cancer. However, its presence varies greatly geographically. In France, Brittany, Auvergne and Corsica are particularly affected. IRSN provides a map of risk areas at municipal level.
How can I improve the quality of my ambient air?
Knowing that your air is of poor quality is one thing, but you still have to be able to remedy it. Fortunately, there are relatively simple actions to improve things.
First of all: ventilate! Open your windows as much as possible every day, especially in bedrooms and rooms where you stay most often. Be careful though, if your windows overlook a very busy road, avoid rush hour to limit car pollution.
Also check that the mechanical ventilation (VMC type) is functional and well maintained, in particular the filters. Do not block the air vents under any circumstances and clean them regularly. Also avoid incense, candles and other home fragrances.
Finally, the use of an air purifier may be useful in some cases, but this option is much more expensive.
How to measure the Covid with an air quality detector?
In fact, it is impossible to directly detect the Covid-19 virus via an air quality sensor. However, early research found that the presence of the virus was linked to the concentration of CO2 in the air breathed. According to some epidemiologists, the standard value for a low transmission rate is a C02 level of less than 600 ppm.
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