What does indoor air quality mean and why it is important to check the air quality in your home?
In current times, the air outside is getting more polluted due to the industry, cars, wildfires, and other factors. So, we are retreating indoors to try to limit this exposure. But, also the air in your home can be dangerous for your health if it is polluted. The easiest way to check the air quality in your home is to use a tester.
The air quality testers have different pollutants they test, functions, accuracy, connection methods, battery life. In conclusion, we need to go into some details about them so you will understand what to look for.
The most important pollutant that the tester measures, is PM 2.5 – particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers. For example, these particles are from the smoke generated by a running engine. A second alternative would be smoke generated by heating equipment with poor insulation. These particles are very dangerous. They can go into your lungs and create respiratory diseases.
Another important pollutant an air quality tester can detect is formaldehyde in the air (HCHO). Examples are building materials, furniture, household items, they all generate HCHO.
Testers can also detect TVOC. This is Total Volatile Organic Compounds coming from paint, gases, usually what you can smell. Of course, not all volatile compounds are dangerous in long term. For example, pollen from flowers will not generate a long term affection, but the short term can have an impact. Irritated nose, eyes or trough, even shortness of breath.
Read more here.
Best indoor air quality monitor
It is important for your health to test air quality. For this task, there is a wide variety of equipment with a price range from 50 to 5000 dollars, also including different functions, accuracy, and designs. We are going to focus on equipment for home use.
Our best overall is a mid-range unit by EG with good performance and a rechargeable lithium battery.
This unit can detect:
- PM 2.5
- PM 1.0
It is using the air intake fan on the back, to quickly draw ambient air and with the help of the laser and sensors, gives real-time accurate readings.
The unit has a rechargeable battery providing 8 to 12 hours of standby. With dimensions of 5.9″*2.8″*1.7″ and a good handheld design, the unit is easily portable and can be used in your home, car, or office.
Also, there is a stand on the back and with the help of a USB charger, the unit can be used to constantly monitor the air quality in a specific room or region of the house. Thresholds can be set for the alarm if any of the pollutants measured get too high.
Also in the package, there ia a 20+ pages ebook on Gas and Air quality Hazards for a better understanding of how your health is impacted.
Runner up to the best indoor air quality monitor
This unit is also by EG can detect:
- PM 2.5
- PM 1.0
It uses a laser system for PM detection and a special sensor for HCHO. It has a smaller 2200 mAh battery that can be recharged using a USB cable. The support on the back and the cable can be used as a permanent monitoring unit.
Due to its a slightly higher price it gets a close second position.
The best unit under 100 dollars to check the air quality in your home
The unit chosen for the best under 100 dollars is Temtop M10.
This unit can detect:
- PM 2.5 particles
The unit is light weight and has a dimension of 3.23*1.22*3.23 inches
The unit has a small square design that fits well anywhere in the house. It uses a laser diode to measure the PM 2.5 particles, an electrochemical sensor for the HCHO, and it is pre-calibrated to maintain stability. Also, the unit has a fan intake to keep the flow of air constant.
Using a 2200 mAh rechargeable battery, it makes this unit easy to transport with long battery life.
A big con is that before using the first time, it has to stay 6 hours in a ventilated environment (indoor or outdoor). The same procedure applies also after a long time of storage.
Best portable air quality monitor
A portable air quality monitor is one that fits in your pocket. At this category have Huma-i (HI-150) a unit with dimension only of 1.6*3.6*1.5 inches and weighing around 2 ounces.
- PM 2.5
- CO2 (carbon dioxide)
Huma-i has a built-in fan to easily draw air in the unit and with its advanced sensors can give out accurate testing.
A good example of the practicality of this unit, you can take it to the office to monitor air quality in the building without attracting too much attention to yourself.
Due to Huma-i basic display, it is easy to use. By pressing 1 button it changes between the graphs display to symbol display. Also, there is a signal light to show the current status of CO2, VOC, and PM.
A big plus for the unit is the CO2 detector, but a minus is the lack of HCHO detection.
Smartest air quality sensor
In this section, we have an indoor Air quality sensor from uHoo.
uHoo is a 9 in 1 Smart sensor ideal for technology enthusiasts that also care to check the air quality in their home.
First, lest talk about its aspect. The unit has an elegant design, measuring 3.4*3.4*6.5 inches and 7.4 ounces.
uHoo is a similar size to a coffee mug and can fit easily in your home design.
For set up, you have to connect the unit to WiFi and install the dedicated application on your phone. The good news is that it supports iOS and Android operating systems. Also, the device connects to air purifiers, thermostats, and other appliances. Using this feature you can program schedule cleanings of the air. Data can be stored in Google spreadsheets for further investigation determining trends and propose improvement methods.
uHoo has 9 built-in air quality detectors to evaluate:
- Carbon Dioxide
- PM 2.5
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Air pressure
uHoo doesn’t have an internal battery, this being its biggest disadvantage. You will be stuck near a power supply.
An alternative to test air quality in your home
If none of the above proposals soot your needs there is an alternative to the presented devices. It is called an air quality tester kit. This kit is 1 time do it yourself tester, easy to use. These testers usually tale samples of air. After that, you have to send it to a specialized laboratory for results. A good example is the “Indoor air test” from Home air check.
With this product you can measure:
TMVOC is the total mold volatile organic compounds. This is the first time we are discussing mold since non of the above equipment can detect.
The air tester covers 2000 sq. ft. area. It contains a small sampling pump and one or more sampling tubes that attach to the pump to collect samples. Once the air samples are collected you have to mail the pump and tubes to an accredited laboratory for analysis.
You will receive the result by email. Several graphs for the detected pollutants will be provided also the interpretation of the graphs and improvement proposals.
There is also a helpline for any questions regarding the use of the test or interpretation of the results.
Air quality is how good or bad is the air you breathe. It is monitored using the Air Quality Index or AQI.
AQI is color-coded from green to Maroon and level of concern from Good to hazardous. Five pollutants are taken into the calculation and the outcome is a score from 0 to 500.
More details in the post “Air quality”.
Air quality has both good of bad effects on your health.
Good effects are easy breathing, a good sleep, eliminate odors, and no allergens or pollutants hazardous to your health. For more details on how to achieve good air quality, check the post “Air quality improvement”
Bad effects fall into two categories:
Immediate effects like irritation of eyes, nose, or throat, dizziness, or headaches.
Long-term effects are caused usually by continuous exposure to pollutants and can lead to heart disease, respiratory disease, or even cancer.
When using home testers and you are not sure where to put them, use your eyes and nose. Look in general for signs of mold or strong odors.
A second indicator is allergic reactions. If you start sneezing or you have eye irritations then it is a good reason to check the air in that room or region of the house.
Put the device in the selected area and let it do the work. If reading looks ok, then live it there for a longer period to record more data. If the unit doesn’t have auto data storage, just use a pen and paper and write indicated data on a determined time interval.
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