Do you want to monitor the quality of the air you breathe? There are devices for that! For this reason, we have chosen for you the best air quality sensors on the market.
If they have been brought to the fore by Covid-19, 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 your risk by breathing as healthy air as possible. However, it can be difficult to know what is wrong or to receive alerts when dangerous thresholds are exceeded.
That’s why air quality detectors are useful accessories for monitoring what you’re breathing. However, they do not all measure the same substances or offer the same functions. To help you orient yourself, we have selected the most interesting ones, focusing mainly on the connected models.
Looking to improve your health and comfort at home? We recommend that you 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 is still a benchmark in the field. As always with Netatmo, the design is careful and we are entitled to a device clad in aluminum. The exterior module works with batteries while the interior will be connected to the electrical network through a USB connector.
All these little people will also have to be connected to the Wi-Fi network. Once the station is installed and the app is downloaded, you will be able to access the temperature, the level of air humidity and the CO2 concentration. A sound level meter completes all this and you can access the information through the application. The latter is practical to use and we particularly appreciated the ability to create alerts when certain thresholds are exceeded. There’s also Amazon Alexa compatibility for voice assistants.
The kit is scalable since you can add up to three additional interior 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 when it is regularly on sale.
The Netatmo Smart Weather Station in a nutshell:
- Dual use, weather station and air quality
- a clean look
- The value for money
Airthings View Plus: the sensor to monitor radon
If you live in Brittany, Auvergne or Corsica, it is very likely that you have heard of radon. This radioactive gas, produced by the uranium present in the earth’s crust, is particularly present there.
A true Rolls Royce of air quality measurement 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 run on 6 AA batteries or be connected to 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 amazing is in terms of sensors where it is a success. Measure temperature, humidity, VOC, CO2, PM2.5 and even radon! Keep in mind 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 panel. It is also a complete box in the support of third-party services since we find Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTT.
For those who want to keep an eye on their air quality, it doesn’t get much better than this Airthings View Plus. An excellence that, however, has a cost: no less than 299 euros. Yes, it hurts, but if you’re in an area affected by radon contamination, the game might be worth it.
Airthings View Plus in a nutshell:
- Detects all types of contaminants
- 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 you’ve already heard of Eve. This former branch of Elgato (yes, streaming accessories) is one of the benchmarks in the HomeKit universe, with a wide range of connected products.
The Eve Room is the brand’s air quality sensor and is therefore only compatible with iOS products. To ensure information feedback through the network, it will also be necessary to have a HomePod or a 4th generation Apple TV.
With its compact size and ultra-sleek appearance, Eve Room is particularly discreet, the electronic ink screen is not very large, but it is perfectly readable. On the measurement side, we are entitled to temperature, humidity, and VOCs. Too bad, however, that CO2 is absent subscribers. This will be a problem if you also want to monitor the transmission rate of Covid-19.
Autonomy is about six weeks and charging is done via micro USB. Too bad Eve didn’t take advantage of this update to switch to USB-C.
If not the most advanced sensor on the market, the Eve Room shines with an elegant design and above all absolutely perfect compatibility with the Apple ecosystem.
The Eve room in a nutshell:
- very compact
- an elegant design
- Home Kit integration
Therm PTH-5: the air quality sensor with the 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, bypassing the connected functions.
Among the dozens of models available, we have chosen this one from the firm Therm. It is relatively compact, capable of networking on micro USB or 18 hours on the internal battery. This can be useful for those who intend to take it to the office, for example.
On the measurement side, it’s the bare minimum, with temperature, humidity, and CO2 concentration. Everything is displayed directly on a particularly legible screen. If it’s not about breaking all three legs of a duck from a functionality point of view, this sensor is reliable, mobile and especially affordable.
The Therm PTH-5 in brief:
- Usable on mains and battery
- Display readability
- an attractive price
How air quality sensors work
What do air quality sensors detect?
Not all air quality sensors are the same. Almost all of them measure CO2, humidity and temperature. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are also among the items that are frequently measured. Among the least considered pollutants are PM2.5 and radon. The most frequently measured contaminants:
- CO2 : carbon dioxide is a gas produced, among other things, by respiration and photosynthesis, harmless in small quantities, however, it can cause concentration problems or headaches. It’s also a pretty good marker for measuring how fresh the air is in a room. Its normal concentration indoors ranges between 400 and 1000 ppm, above this threshold, the negative effects will increase, reaching death above 40,000 ppm.
- the VOC : Volatile organic compounds include a multitude of substances capable of easily changing from a gaseous state to a liquid state. While some of them come from natural processes, the most dangerous come directly from human products. Therefore, we indicate solvents, thinners, degreasers or hydrocarbons. Many of them are toxic, some like benzene are carcinogenic.
- PM2.5 : Behind this term (Particulate Matter) are actually fine particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 µm. Produced mainly by heaters and vehicles, these are particularly bad for breathing and asthmatics.
- Radon : Radon is a radioactive gas produced naturally by the disintegration of uranium and radium contained in the earth’s crust. In particular, it can cause lung cancer. However, their presence varies greatly geographically. In France, Brittany, Auvergne and Corsica are particularly affected. IRSN provides a map of risk areas at the 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 thing: 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 face a busy road, avoid rush hour to limit pollution from cars.
Also check that the mechanical ventilation (type VMC) is functional and in good condition, in particular the filters. Do not block the air vents under any circumstances and clean them regularly. Also avoid incense, candles, and other household fragrances.
Finally, the use of an air purifier can be useful in some cases, but this option is more expensive.
How to measure Covid with an air quality detector?
In fact, it is impossible to directly detect the Covid-19 virus through an air quality sensor. However, the first investigations found that the presence of the virus was related to the concentration of CO2 in the air that was breathed. According to some epidemiologists, the benchmark for a low transmission rate is a CO2 level of less than 600 ppm.
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