Updated June 2022: to add and remove some monitors based on performance data and market changes.
Most people don’t consider the importance of the quality of air in their homes.
When left unchecked, poor air quality can lead to some fairly serious health concerns. Exposure to substandard indoor air quality can result in dizziness, headaches, and fatigue in the short term, all of which can lead to respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease in the long term.
Thankfully, air quality monitors can detect different types of pollutants in the home, thanks to multiple in-built sensors. These sensors detect pollutants by drawing the air in and passing it through a sensor that detects carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, radon, and more.
Typically, you can find three different types of air quality monitors on the market:
- Tabletop or floor models,
- Wall or ceiling-mounted models
- Smart-app support including the ability to export data
- Portable, handheld models that can be carried from room to room
We regularly use air quality monitors as part of air purifier testing and we use a Purple air indoor sensor and an Airthings Wave Plus. This means we are able to compare air quality monitors against proven sensors to compare accuracy, sensor type, and smart functions.
Based on our internal testing and evaluation of the currently available air quality sensor on the market, these are what we think are 3 best air quality sensors as of 2022:
1. Purple Air Indoor sensor – Best Overall
This air quality sensor is unlikely to win design awards as it looks like a 3d printed block with a sensor stuck in the middle – but the quality of the sensor and smart features are what make these sensors our top pick for 2022.
This is the same sensor we use when performing our hands-on air purifier review tests as it allows us to track PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 every few seconds. It also tracks temperature and humidity which is quite a feat considering this sensor only needs a USB power supply and is one of the smallest devices on our list. What I love about this unit and why we use it for our testing, is that it allows you to very easily export data so you can make graphs of air quality over time which is perfect for our particular use case.
Below is the data we exported from our Purple air indoor sensor when we tested the Levoit 600S.
It needs no hub and with a few steps filled in you will be seeing air quality data you also have the choice to share this with the Purple air community which has the most community-supported air quality sensors in the world. We were able to use this data source when publishing our study on the world’s best towns and cities for air pollution.
This device is a little techier than others on this list so if you don’t want to do any technical steps this sensor might not be the best option.
2. Airthings 2930 Wave Plus – Best for VOCs
The only real downside to the Purple air Indoor sensor is its lack of VOC, CO2, and radon sensors.
The Air things Pro fixes this gap and with this and combined with the Purpleair Indoor sensor you unlock the ability to know exactly what the air quality is at a given time. This is why here at HouseFresh we use both sensors when testing air purifiers.
The Airthings 2930 Wave Plus is an indoor air quality monitor with Radon detection. It is a smart, battery-operated unit with sensors that continually monitor humidity, temperature, air pressure, CO2, and VOCs. Since almost 90% of our time is spent indoors, and when you consider that the air inside your home is often two to five times worse than the outside air, then having a continuous air quality monitoring system is a good idea.
The award-winning Airthings 2930 Wave Plus is the ideal solution for any homeowner wishing to get an insight into six contributing indoor air factors:
• Airborne chemicals (VOCs)
• Carbon dioxide (CO2 )
• Air pressure
The unit measures 4.75” x 4.75” x 1.4” and weighs just under eight ounces. It has a free App for both Android and iOS to connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The included battery has a life expectancy of 16 months.
• Pollutants it can detect: Radon, VOC, CO2, Pollen levels, PM2.5
• Completely battery powered
• Six individual sensors
• Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT
- What we love
- The Wave plus has multiple sensors and the user interface is easy to read
- The Airthings app works flawlessly
- The latest model has a display, USB-C charging, and an easy app/web connection
- Because it runs on batteries, you can change location if you think there’s a problem area
- We don’t like this as much
- The App connects via Bluetooth so it has to be within range to function
3. Airthings 4200 House Kit.
The Airthings 4200 is a complete house kit that contains everything you need to begin monitoring the air quality in your home. The house kit comprises of an Airthings Wave, Wave mini, and the Airthings HUB. The Wave is their Smart radon detector, the Wave Mini detects VOCs, temperature, and humidity levels, and the HUB connects them all together.
The Wave radon is a battery-powered, smart radon detection unit that provides continuous monitoring of your home’s exposure to radon. The Wave mini, is also battery-powered tracking temperature, humidity, VOCs, and whether there might be a risk for mold. The HUB required two connections to function. It is not a battery-powered unit, so it should be situated close to a 120v wall outlet, and it needs an Ethernet cable connection to either your modem or wireless router.
Once the HUB is connected to the internet, the Airthings Wave app will take you through the installation and setup procedures. When installed, the app will give you real-time data via its dashboard, plus it allows for smart home integration.
• Pollutants it can detect: Radon, VOC, Mold risk.
• Wi-Fi data access.
• IOS and Android App.
• Smart home integration.
What we love
Setup is easy, from unpacking to downloading the App, just follow the instructions and you’re up and running
Being able to access the data from almost anywhere is a bonus
Not only does it monitor the air quality, but it will alert you when levels go beyond safe limits
This is not a plug ‘n play item. It goes through a 7-day calibration period to make sure the readings are accurate
We don’t like this as much
The Airthings HUB has to be “hard-wired” to your modem/router to enable the other parts to function on Wi-Fi
The following air quality sensors include previous recommendations for older years that have been surpassed by the latest models and units that are good but not quite good enough for our top 3 recommendations this year:
4. Huma-i (HI-150)
The Huma-I (HI-150) air quality monitor is a completely portable unit, measuring 1.6 x 3.6 x 1.5 inches, weighing approximately 2.1 ounces, and is touted as one of the best air quality monitors money can buy. This monitor gives the user a choice between viewing the air quality in the form of a graph, or as icons. The icon mode shows you a “smiley face” when the air quality is good, and a “masked face” when the quality of the air is bad. When used in graph mode, the information provided is more detailed, displaying accurate levels of each measurement taken.
At the touch of a button, you can monitor the surrounding air quality, and the built-in fan efficiently draws in the air around you, giving real-time results. Through the use of its advanced sensors, this monitor provides you with the data necessary to understand your home’s air quality.
The HI-150 is the same unit that we use here when doing our situational reviews and worked perfectly to give us an idea of the performance of air purifiers for our study that looked into the best air purifiers for vaping.
Number of Sensors: Five – CO2, VOC, PM2.5 & PM10, Temperature and Humidity
Battery life: Approximately one hour
What we love:
- It can be used anywhere due to its small size
- It has a high-quality OLED display
- Many meters measure PM2.5 only, but this unit measures PM10 as well
- The power button also operates the six-screen navigation
We don’t like this as much:
- It doesn’t have a “memory”, so any readings taken are not stored when switched off
- The battery could last longer
5. EG Air Quality Pollution Monitor.
This air quality pollution monitor from EG is their latest model and accurately measures the current concentration levels of formaldehyde (HCHO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and fine particulate dust matter (PM2.5/PM1.0/PM10), plus temperature and humidity levels.
It can be used as a hand-held unit or left on a desk or countertop for continuous monitoring. The rechargeable lithium battery (included) provides power to the unit when the 5V DC micro USB cable is not connected. Information relating to all the sensor functions is displayed on its 320 x 240 pixel (2.8”) color LCD screen, so you can see at a glance the overall quality of the air in your home.
To be able to give the most accurate readings, this monitor has a total of five sensors. There is a laser sensor to test for dust particles (PM2.5), a secondary electrochemical semi-conductor sensor that tests the levels of formaldehyde, a VOC sensor, plus two other sensors for temperature and humidity. All these sensors working continuously and in conjunction with each other will give you real-time information for you to take any appropriate action.
Although the unit is calibrated before being shipped, as with any monitoring product, this unit should be re-calibrated when first switched on to ensure subsequent readings are accurate.
• Pollutants it can detect: Formaldehyde, VOC, PM2.5
• Battery powered
• Hand-held portable monitor
• 2.8” color LCD screen
- What we love
- It is easily portable, extremely sensitive, and accurate
- The instruction booklet is very thorough in explaining all the numbers
- The display is big enough to be easily read
- The built-in fan draws the air in quickly and quietly to analyze the air quality
- We don’t like this as much
- Users report the battery life is from 15 minutes to under an hour before needing to be recharged
- MULTIFUNCTIONAL & SCIENTIFIC – As our newest model, this indoor air quality monitor accurately assesses temperature in Celsius, humidity level, and multiple measures of air quality including concentrations of formaldehyde, total natural & synthetic volatile organic compounds causing most odors (TVOC), and fine particulate dust matter (PM2.5/PM1.0/PM10) which travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lung alveoli.
- PORTABLE TESTING – Spot check indoor air quality anywhere or leave device on for continuous monitoring. This easy-to-carry air quality tester can help monitor air quality at home, in the car, and in hotel rooms. The lithium battery provides portable power when DC 5V micro USB charging is not available. Information is displayed on a clear 2.8” 320 x 240 pixel color LCD display.
- ADVANCED FAN & SENSORS – This air quality monitor has a built-in fan to quickly draw in ambient air to allow REAL-TIME measurements. It incorporates a laser sensor to measure levels of dust particles and has a second electrochemical semiconductor sensor to test air quality including formaldehyde and natural/synthetic organic compound levels.
- HEALTHY HOME? – Is your family suffering from sick building syndrome? This air quality tester detects organic compounds like formaldehyde which has suspected links to nasal cancer and lung cancer emitted from many household materials. By measuring particulate pollution, an air pollution monitor can also help you know when asthma may worsen and when to change your home’s air filter.
- ORIGINAL DESIGN & USA BASED SUPPORT – We have Midwest-based technical staff including a chemist to answer any questions you have. Also included will be a 20+ page eBook on Gas and Air Quality Hazards. We have worked with the supplier that holds this air quality detector’s design rights so you can be confident this item is tried and tested.
6. INKBIRDPLUS Indoor Air Quality Monitor.
The Inkbirdplus indoor air quality monitor is a premium, multifunction monitor which can detect the current concentration of CO2 with an outstanding degree of accuracy. The onboard detector utilizes an NDIR (nondispersive infrared) CO2 sensor and is the most commonly used type of sensor for measuring CO2 levels. It has been designed with three CO2 concentration stage levels. Normal, which is between 400 and 700 ppm (parts per million), a warning stage of 700 to 1500 ppm, and a danger stage of 1500 to 5000 ppm. A built-in alarm will sound to alert you when the level of CO2 goes above the safe level you have selected.
In addition to monitoring CO2 levels, this unit also displays the current temperature and relative humidity level in the room where the unit is placed.
Before you use the Inkbirdplus monitor, it must be calibrated to ensure the results are accurate. It is recommended that the calibration process be done in the open. The temperature and humidity are displayed at the bottom of the large, distinct LCD color screen, which has an optional backlight for viewing data.
• Pollutants it can detect: CO2
• Long standby battery
• CO2 alarm
• Fast calibration
What we love:
It has a bright and easy-to-read display
The battery will last a couple of days if you don’t have it plugged in
Temperature is displayed in either your choice of Fahrenheit or Celsius
If you want it situated permanently in one spot, you can mount it on a wall
We don’t like this as much
There have been reported problems charging the battery with it lasting only 10 minutes or so.
- 🏕️🏕️【PREMIUM DETECTOR】 This multifunctional air quality monitor can accurately detect the current CO2 concentration, temperature, and humidity in the air. It can help you understand indoor air quality at a glance.
- ⏰⏰【CO2 CONCENTRATION STAGE & SOUND ALARM】 This CO2 detector is designed with 3 stages of CO2 concentration—normal stage (400-700 ppm), warning stage (700-1500 ppm), and dangerous stage (1500-5000 ppm). It will alarm you when the detected CO2 concentration is beyond the safe value you customized.
- 🛣️🛣️【CONVENIENT CALIBRATION】 To ensure the accuracy of measurement, this CO2 monitor supports the calibration function. Press three buttons at the same time in an open environment and let it stand for 200 seconds to calibrate this CO2 meter easily. This CO2 detector uses the NDIR CO2 sensor.
- 🔋🔋【LONG BATTERY STANDBY】 A 2400 mAh lithium battery is embedded inside the indoorCO2 monitor, supporting a long time of continuous use, before it adopts a large and distinct LCD screen for ease for temperature or data viewing. display based on your need.
- 🚗🚗【WIDE APPLICATION】 A hanging hole is designed on the back of this portable CO2 detector so that you can hang it up to the wall for easy viewing. The indoor CO2 meter for grow tents is ideal for use in grow room, offices, kitchens, schools, kitchens, schools cellars, and cars.
7. IQAir Pro Air Quality Monitor
The IQAirVisual Pro air quality monitor will give you the most accurate readings of the air quality in your home available on a consumer device. To achieve this, it incorporates the latest laser technology combined with air-flow control and calibration algorithms. Once you have the unit set up and connected to your Wi-Fi network, navigate through the various menu options to program your location and pollutant safe levels. If you want to have the outside air quality displayed, then you have to choose the weather station closest to your address.
The main function of this monitor is to constantly check the levels of CO2, and PM2.5 particles in your home. The home screen on the unit will display the air quality index, CO2 level, the current time, temperature, and humidity level, plus historical data for the AQI & CO2. Both readings are shown with graphical images in differing colors, from green for good, to brown for hazardous so you can see instantly the quality of the air you are breathing.
The free Airvisual app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices will allow you to monitor the air quality remotely. The monitor measures 4” x 7.25” x 3.25 and weighs just over 1.5 lbs.
• Pollutants it can detect: CO2, PM2.5.
• Wi-Fi connectivity
• Internal Li-ion battery
• 5” LCD screen
What we love
You can monitor the air quality via the app when you’re away from home
It monitors the air inside your home and compares it with the air quality in your neighborhood
It will advise you when to open windows or if you need to keep them shut
It’s impressive how easy it is to set up and connect to Wi-Fi
We don’t like this as much
Users have reported problems with the battery swelling up, distorting the side of the unit
- Professional grade, highly accurate air quality monitoring system
- Displays real-time indoor air quality readings plus temp & humidity
- IFTTT (If This, Then That): Set your AirVisual Pro to act, based on certain parameters. For example, if your AirVisual Pro has a high CO2 reading, then you get an alert.
- High precision laser technology for PM2.5 sensor, industrial grade CO2 sensor
- Connects to Wifi: view your readings via mobile app or desktop. Unable to ship to PO Boxes.
8. Qingping Air Quality Monitor.
This indoor air quality monitor from Qingping is a modern-looking, stylish unit that will blend in with any home’s décor. Available in black or white, it is a small unit measuring approximately 4” square and 3” high. Yet despite its size, it is a very powerful and accurate device. The “home” screen shows the current time, outside temperature, and air quality for your location, the date, and the weather.
Below the time are the all-important readings for inside your home. PM2.5, VOCs, CO2, temperature, and relative humidity levels are displayed with color-coded bars below the numbers to show the quality of the air inside. The 3.1” high-resolution touch screen has an adjustable brightness level and incorporates a retina IPS display with a large viewing angle and high contrast.
The included instruction manual is easy to read, explaining how to view different screens, expand any of the readings, and various other functions needed to take advantage of this top-of-the-range air quality monitor.
By installing the QingPing app on your smartphone, you can monitor all the detected metrics as long as the device is connected to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. It is important to note that the device will not connect to a 5GHz Wi-Fi router, but may work if the router has a combo 2.4GHz/5GHz output signal.
• Pollutants it can detect: CO2, VOC, PM2.5.
• Smart Wi-Fi device
• Corded electric or battery-powered
• High-resolution touch screen
What we love
Set up takes only a few minutes, and the settings are very easy to change
It is a quality-made monitor with accurate readings of the important data
It has been well thought out to be extremely user-friendly
The best part about this Is the screen because it is so clear and informative
We don’t like this as much
The outside air quality is measured only in a few large U.S. cities, not locally
- 【Award-winning Multifunction Air Quality Detector】Qingping Air Monitor shows a full picture of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by monitoring PM2.5, CO2, TVOC, temperature, and humidity. It provides real-time data of weather forecast, AQI, and UV index (forecast of AQI and UV is not available in the US). You can also check the date, calendar and time on the screen (need to connect it to the network to access the right time zone). The product with elegant design has won an iF and a Red Dot design awards.
- 【Accurate and Reliable Measurement】The product is fast-responding and sensitive with a 1.2GHz 4-core A7 chipset. The product has top-level sensors built-in, along with the multi-mode compensation algorithm, the measured data is accurate and reliable. The innovative design of the vents enables sufficient contact between the air and the sensors to improve efficiency. The evaluation and colorful bar under readings help you to interpret the indoor air quality.
- 【High-resolution Touch Screen】The 3.1'' IPS touch screen with 328 PPI is ultra-clear. The brightness can be adjusted automatically. Each metric is with a color indicator under the number, so you can understand the indoor air quality and the temperature/humidity level of your room at a glance. You can touch the numbers or slide to switch the interfaces, all the operations are smooth and easy.
- 【Smart Wi-Fi Device, Supports Qingping+ app】You can monitor the 5 metrics remotely in Qingping+ app when the device is connected with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi (it doesn't require a hub). You can also check or export the historical data of the last 24 hours and 30 days. The product has a smart operation system, it supports firmware upgrades for new features and optimization. Please download the English version user manual from the product description page to get more details if needed.
- 【Important Notes】1) the product cannot measure Formaldehyde; 2) for the first time use, the initialization of TVOC may take around 4 hours; 3) the product is powered by a supplied USB-C charging cable, it can work for 4 hours after fully charged, so please keep it connecting to the power supply in daily use. The charger is not included in the package, the power input should be 5V ⎓ 1A; 4) the product may have faint sound when the fan is working to accelerate the air exchange.
9. Temtop 4 in 1 Air Quality Monitor.
The Temtop M10 model is a four-function air quality monitor, designed to specifically provide accurate readings of PM2.5, VOCs, HCHO (Formaldehyde), and AQI. To make this device easy to use, there is one button that controls all the functions, On/Off, switching between sensor readings, and automatic cycling of the results. The calibration function for the formaldehyde sensor is also operated by the multifunction button.
The air quality indicator function is simple to interpret by looking at the colored LED at the top of the unit. It will show one of three colors depending on the air quality from healthy to unhealthy. Green for Good, yellow for Fair, and red/orange for Poor. It is recommended that before using the monitor for the first time, or if it has been stored for a long period of time, it is placed outdoors or in a well-ventilated area for three to six hours to allow the sensors to calibrate themselves.
Measuring a little over three inches square, this monitor will fit almost anywhere in your home. A full-size USB port at the back of the monitor is used for charging the battery, and also to power the unit when left plugged into an electrical outlet.
• Pollutants it can detect: PM2.5, VOC, Formaldehyde.
• One button operation.
• 12-month warranty
• Three-color LED air quality indicator
What we love
You can have all the readings displayed in sequence automatically
Designed to be plugged into an outlet, however, you can move it around using the battery power
The display is large enough to be seen from across the room
Very easy to use, easy to read, and the results are accurate
We don’t like this as much
A longer battery life would be much better because with the included battery it is too short
- [4 in 1 Multifunctional Monitor] This smart air quality meter provides accurate monitoring of PM2.5, AQI, HCHO, TVOC. Conveniently offer measures 4 important indexes for indoor air quality.
- [Professional High Tech Components] Adopting Temtop core technology industrial-grade PM2.5 laser sensor, British Dart formaldehyde sensor. Professional high-tech components to ensure the ultra-precision and professionalism for detecting needs.
- [Easy to Use] Only use one single button to realize ON/OFF, interface switching, and auto-loop function. 3 color led light to indicate the air quality from healthy to unhealthy. The calibration function for HCHO sensor is also available.
- [Why Temtop] Professional air quality expert with 10 years R&D in PM2.5 sensor and cooperates with other professional sensor suppliers worldwide such as Senseair/Sensirion/ Renesas.
- [What You Get] M10 air quality monitor, charging cable, reset pin, user manual, Temtop 12-months warranty & 24/7 customer support access via email and phone.
10. Air Quality Monitor Accurate Tester.
Knowing the quality of the air you are breathing in where you live is important to us all. This air quality monitor with built-in DART electrochemical sensors will accurately detect the presence of harmful pollutants and chemical substances in the air like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, dust, smoke, and more.
It has a large 5.5-inch LED screen that displays all four critical pollutant readings, plus the air quality index simultaneously and in real-time. As the air quality changes, each reading is updated within approximately five seconds, allowing you to take corrective action. For example, if the reading for CO shows any number over 400, then there is carbon monoxide present in the area at potentially dangerous levels.
Measuring 4.9” x 3.1” x 1.3” it is a compact unit designed to blend in with any room. The included 2000mAh rechargeable lithium battery can last up to ten hours of continuous monitoring after fully charging it via the included USB cable. To make it very user-friendly, there are only three buttons on the front to control all the functions—calibration, ON/OFF, and data reset.
This detector is well worth looking at if you’re concerned about the air quality in your home.
• Pollutants it can detect: CO2, CO, VOC, Formaldehyde.
• Eight to ten hours of battery life
• Large 5.5” LED screen
• Total readings display
What we love
The LED screen is easy to read from a distance and from any angle
It is solid, well made and the controls are easy to use
Having all the vital readings displayed at the same time gives you the whole picture
It reacts very fast to changing conditions like when you open a window
We don’t like this as much
A Wi-Fi connection would be a nice improvement with an app to set alarms with trigger limits
11. BLATN Smart 128s Air Quality Monitor.
The BLATN smart 128s is a 5.5” high hand-held air quality monitor designed to automatically test the quality of the air and provide real-time results on the display screen. Its laser air quality sensor measures the dust indoors, with two channels – a 6-channel tiny particle detector (particles per liter) PM0.3, PM0.5, PM1.0, PM2.5, PM5.0, PM10; and a three-channel particle matter detector (μg/m³) PM1.0, PM2.5, PM10.
It also has an NDIR non-spectral infrared CO2 sensor which self-calibrates, and an electrochemical formaldehyde sensor with automatic calibration to give you the most comprehensive air quality test results at the push of a button. From the main display screen, multi-level menus are available and the information for each reading can be expanded for a more detailed view.
As with all air quality monitors, this unit requires calibration before first-time use. It is recommended that it be placed outdoors or in a clean well-ventilated area for eight hours to release any gases that have been absorbed from the packaging while in transit. The CO2 sensor has a 72-hour automatic baseline calibration.
One useful feature this monitor has is the ability to store the reading data and by using a card reader the data can be exported to a TXT file and then imported into Excel to analyze the data, which will show one reading every minute.
• Pollutants it can detect: CO2, PM2.5, VOC, Formaldehyde.
• Catalytic and electrochemical sensors.
• Hand-held, battery-powered.
• 128Mb memory card included
What we love
You can download ten days of information to analyze the data
The display is clear and easily understood
The built-in alarm can alert you to open a window to get fresh air into the room
It’s hand-held so you can walk from room to room checking the air quality.
We don’t like this as much
The sensors may give slightly inaccurate readings after prolonged use requiring re-calibration
- FINE PARTICLE DUST LEVEL -- Laser air quality sensor can measure indoor dust level in real time. 6-channel tiny particle number detection (Number of particles/liter)--PM0.3, PM0.5, PM1.0, PM2.5, PM5.0, PM10; 3-channel particulate matters quality detection (μg/m³)--PM1.0, PM2.5, PM10
- CO2 & HCHO SENSOR -- NDIR Non-Spectral Infrared CO2 Carbon Dioxide Sensor with self-calibration, Absorption chamber Optical Coating; Electrochemical formaldehyde HCHO sensor with automatic calibration, double platinum catalytic electrode, strong anti-interference ability
- TVOC CHEMICAL POLLUTION -- Semiconductor TVOC meter can test a variety of volatile organic compounds TVOC VOCs, such as benzene, toluene, xylene, aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes, hydrogen sulfide etc., captures the change in molecular concentration of organic compounds at the thousandth level
- DATA LOGGING UPGTADE -- Smart air quality monitor indoor upgrade in 2021: Support data storage and export of all 12 testing items, with date and time, frequency: once every 1 minute. MAX storage capacity can be expanded to 8G, which can store up to 400 days of records
- PROFESSIONAL & ORIGINAL -- air quality alarm base on US standard; 2200 mAh rechargeable lithium battery; stereo air convection sampling and active air interactive system; Silent fan without noise; Anti-fall PE soft shell
FAQs about Air Quality Monitors:
How can I monitor air quality in my home?
You’ve probably heard it said that the air inside your home can contain up to five times more pollutants than the outside air. The only way to accurately monitor the air quality in your home is to invest in a good quality air quality monitoring device.
An indoor air quality monitor by definition does exactly what the name implies: it monitors the quality of the air inside your home, either continuously or periodically, depending on the type of monitor.
If you are concerned about the quality of the air in your home, then get a monitor that tests for nearly all the pollutants found indoors. Almost all monitors test for particulate matter, chemical pollutants, and humidity. Some will test for radon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, and some test for formaldehyde. The better monitors will sound an alarm if the levels of any of the test results go above a designated level.
How do air quality sensors work?
The air quality sensors available to consumers give an estimated measurement of particulate matter, or gaseous pollution in the air, often based on a reading of a different, but easier to measure, substance that is related to the pollutant. For instance, a sensor may be designed to measure the amount of light that particulate matter scatters, which more often than not increases as the levels of pollution rise. These results are then interpreted by the device and shown on a scale of low to high, sometimes with associated colored bars or LEDs.
The most basic air quality monitor is one you probably already have in your home—a smoke detector—which uses a binary scale and signals if smoke is present or not.
What are the six levels of air quality?
Air quality is measured by the EPA using the U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI), and it has six categories corresponding to different levels of health concerns. Each of the six categories has its own color to make it easier for the public to know if the air quality is approaching unhealthy levels. The colors and categories are:
• Green – Good
• Yellow – Moderate
• Orange – Unhealthy for sensitive groups
• Red – Unhealthy
• Purple – Very unhealthy
• Maroon – Hazardous
According to the CDC, “The EPA has identified six pollutants as “criteria” air pollutants”.
These six air pollutants are:
1. Carbon Monoxide.
Breathing in high levels of CO can cause confusion, unconsciousness, and death.
Lead in the air may have an adverse effect on the nervous system, kidneys, immune system, and cardiovascular system.
3. Nitrogen Oxides (NO2).
Breathing air with high levels of NO2 can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma and can become severe.
Increased levels of ozone in the air can cause coughing, damage your airways, and make the lungs more vulnerable to infections.
5. Particulate Matter.
This pollutant contains solids or liquid droplets so small they can only be seen under a microscope and if inhaled can cause serious health problems, getting into your lungs, and even into your bloodstream.
6. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2).
Exposure to SO2 can cause harm to your respiratory system and make it difficult to breathe. Asthmatics and young children are at particular risk.
Are air purifier sensors accurate?
It all depends on the technology the sensors use, the type of sensor, and lastly, the incorporated display method. Many middle- to high-end air purifiers have at least one integrated sensor. The most commonly found sensor is a PM2.5 sensor, which is capable of detecting particle matter up to 2.5 micrometers. They are normally the cheapest to manufacture and provide you with only basic readings and results. PM2.5 sensors found in air purifiers mostly use infrared technology, and while they do what they are supposed to do, the measurements are not very accurate. Laser beam technology, on the other hand, gives more precise air quality readings.
The display method used by the air purifier to show the quality of the air is also an important factor in determining the accuracy of the sensors. Most of them use a color scale to show the quality of the air—green for good, up to red for bad—which may look appealing, but it doesn’t tell you much. A display that shows the air quality index as a number, or a series of numbers, is more accurate.
What is a PM2.5 Sensor?
PM2.5 is the measurement given to fine particulate matter (PM) that has a thickness of less than 2.5 micrometers. To put that number in perspective, a grain of sand has a diameter of 90 micrometers, and a human hair measures 50-70 micrometers.
A PM2.5 sensor works by counting these fine particles suspended in the air. As air is sucked into an air quality monitoring device, particles in the stream of air pass through a laser beam, which causes the light to diffract. The diffracted light will land on the sensor, which is placed at a right angle to the laser beam. The changes in the light intensity that the sensor picks up means that individual particles can be counted.
Are VOC sensors accurate?
VOC is an acronym for Volatile Organic Compounds and is an extremely broad classification of carbon-based chemicals. Consumer-related devices with integrated VOC sensors have become more and more available in the past few years, but they are relatively low-cost sensors that can only give a general reading as to the total amount of VOCs in the air and cannot pinpoint with any accuracy exactly what VOC it is detecting. They cannot differentiate between VOCs that are harmful and those that are not. There are some sensors on the market specifically designed to detect particular VOCs. For example, you can get a sensor that will detect formaldehyde, one for Carbon Monoxide, another for Radon, and some high-end devices have multiple sensors built-in to cover all major VOC detections, with some degree of accuracy, but they tend to be a bit pricey.
Do air quality monitors really work?
The short answer is, yes they do. In the majority of cases, you should consider a monitor that can detect the air pollution you consider the highest risk to your home and family.
Air quality monitors, available to the consumer, can be a single-pollutant sensor, such as radon, or carbon monoxide, or a sensor that will detect multiple pollutants, like VOCs, humidity, temperature, formaldehyde, as well as radon, carbon dioxide, and particle matter (PM2.5).
If you are thinking of buying an air quality monitor, then you should consider a monitor that can detect several toxic gases, not just one. Look carefully at the specifications of the monitor, and read any sample results that are provided. Check whether any of the monitors need calibration on a regular basis to produce accurate results.
How good are PurpleAir sensors?
The PurpleAir air quality sensors, have been tested by various consumers throughout the country and have received glowing reviews as to their accuracy. One reason for the high praise is that they are industrial-grade sensors but priced at a level that is affordable to homeowners. They don’t come with a smartphone app, but the data they provide is vast, and they can be integrated into smart home devices.
These sensors employ different technology to evaluate the microscopic particles in the air, and although it is not as reliable as regulatory-grade monitors, Lawrence Berkeley Lab tested them and found that the PurpleAir sensor performed better than most.
What is the best air quality app?
Depending on your smartphone’s operating system, two of the best air quality apps are:
For Android users, the IQAir AirVisual app gives you historical, real-time, and forecast air quality data for your area. It provides live information on the six “criteria” air pollutants, with health recommendations.
For Apple users, then the Air Quality Reader is an excellent choice. With this app, you can switch between the air quality data from the EPA and the air quality index readings provided by PurpleAir on their website.
Last update on 2022-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API