Not sleeping well lately? Poor air quality in your home can negatively impact your sleep, physical energy, and cause cold symptoms like teary eyes or sniffles; not to mention the dreadful words like lung disease or cancer.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Seemingly, the air quality within our homes can be up to eight times worse than outdoors, and on specific occasions — say while repainting a wall — way more than that too. Our need for a more secure and confined environment has somehow contributed to this disparity in air quality between the interior and exterior.
Indoor air quality can deteriorate due to activities like cooking, which introduces smoke and other particulate matter. Cleaning and DIY hobbies can introduce Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs). Home building materials and the furniture may also release these VOCs. In the process of trying to secure our homes by locking doors and keeping the windows shut, we may also inadvertently seal in our expiratory carbon dioxide. Furnaces and other wood-fueled heaters produce carbon monoxide. High humidity and damp spaces breed mould.
Here, we have six smart indoor air quality monitoring devices that you should consider having at home, and hopefully help you to fill your house with good, clean air.
Each device may tackle some or most of the home air pollutants. They may also have other secondary functions.
This is an advancement of the traditional smoke alarm. It detects smoke particles and carbon monoxide, and alerts residents of the high CO level with a female voice (before the alarm actually goes off). It also relays the detections to any connected smartphone or tablet. In the center of the device is a big Hush button which can be used to stop the alarm in cases of false detections, like burned toast. The Nest Protect connects with the Nest Thermostat and other Nest Protect devices through your home’s wireless network. It has a central ring that emits a green light as lights are switched off in the room, to indicate that all systems are running fine. When battery level is low, the light turns amber and the female voice provides a battery replacement reminder when someones walks past, instead of the incessant chirp that traditional smoke detectors emit. This low battery level reminder is also relayed to linked smartphones and tablets.
Interestingly, it also works with Dropcam to record and store video feeds should the alarm go off — an incredibly handy feature, especially in cases of fire.
Read our in-depth review of the Nest Protect.
Currently available from Amazon for $99.
The Birdi takes the Nest Protect concept, and improves on it. It comes with extra features like support for multiple languages, open data Air Pollution Index (API) readings, Birdi community alerts during emergencies, plus the ability to remotely reset the alarm via smartphone or tablet in cases of false alarms.
Along the IAQ monitoring path, Birdi tracks dust pollution, pollen, humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels. Compared to the Nest which just senses carbon monoxide levels, the Birdi flies way further.
Pre-orders available at $119 with expected delivery in October 2014
Netatmo Weather Station ($179)
This weather station comes as a pack of two units: indoor and outdoor. The shorter, outdoor station tracks relative humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure and outdoor air quality. All data, plus those from other outdoor stations are analysed with data from local and national agencies. A more accurate weather picture is made available via mobile apps, relevant to that particular location. This aims to help planning of outdoor activities, dressing properly for comfort and choice of the appropriate mode of transportation in real time.
The IAQ monitor is also the home base station. Taller than the outdoor station, it tracks indoor temperature, relative humidity and carbon dioxide levels to give an alternate indoor air quality picture. Netatmo Weather Station also tracks sound or noise levels indoors.
Available from Amazon for $179
Winner of the TechCrunch Hardware battlefield at CES 2014. CubeSensors track almost everything at home that would affect health and efficiency. It monitors indoor temperature, barometric pressure, ambient light and sound levels, as well as indoor air quality and relative humidity.
Pick up a sensor and shake it. If the light changes color to red, find out what the alert is about and its recommended solution by accessing the mobile app from a linked smartphone.
Number of cubes required depends on the number of rooms or spaces at home. CubeSensors comes in packs of two, four or six; along with one base station to connect them.
Available now, ships within EU to USA and EU.
Alima ($215, €169)
Alima is a dedicated indoor air quality monitor. It touts total VOC sensing, detecting over thirty different types of VOCs. It can also monitor carbon monoxide and dioxide levels, humidity, airborne particles up to PM2.5, and of course, temperature.
One unit is supposedly sufficient for a home. It is to be placed on flat surfaces in the kitchen, dining and living area for optimal air quality monitoring. Tracking other spaces like bedrooms is done by flipping the Alima over and back to start a new tracking record at that particular room — yes, it includes an accelerometer.
Immediate visual cues to detections are indicated by color changes. Sensing results and recommendations are sent to the smartphone or tablet app.
Currently available for pre-order at $215 or €169, ships in October 2014.
Withings Home ($219.95)
This security-cum-healthy-living device was just announced early September 2014. It has a 135 degree angle HD video camera with “clear” night vision that will intelligently track movement and people. It also supports two-way high quality audio. The Withings Home doubles as a baby monitor that will even play lullabies, or be used as a security camera. The unit records video, which is maintained on the cloud server as a video diary. A magnetic base facilitates placement of the device on any surface.
As for healthy living, the Withings Home monitors humidity levels, temperature and VOCs. The device will light up red upon sensing conditions that are beyond normal healthy ranges. Alerts are sent to linked smartphones.
Announced, but not available yet.
Bonus entry: Foobot
Foobot is a smart air quality monitor which can be connected to any iOS or Android device to analyze your indoor air quality and help you track down any pollutants. It has sensors for particulate matter, gas pollutants, temperature, and humidity.
Read our full review of the Foobot.
So that’s just a few of the interesting smart indoor air quality monitors. Any of them should be a great addition to your home. Which direction do you think smart air quality monitoring devices should be heading? Why not a smartphone that incorporates IAQ sensors? What’s your opinion on this? Please let us know.