Airthings Wave Mini review: A simple way to track airborne nasties

This little puck has something to say about the air you're breathing

Airthings Wave Mini
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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the air you’re breathing probably sucks. That’s ok, you’re not alone, and with the rise of home air quality monitors, it’s now easier to know which harmful toxins you’re breathing.

The Airthings Wave Mini is a smart air quality monitor that tracks chemicals, temperature, mold and humidity. It’s tiny, and beyond a signal light on the device, all information is sent to your smartphone – and Google Assistant, should you connect it.

The Wave Mini won't actually clean your air, mind – for that you'll want to check out our guide to the best air purifiers.

But even for quality trackers, this is becoming a crowded market, so how does the Wave Mini stand out? Here’s our full review.

Update: We first published this review in late 2019 but we've updated it to now include details of the mold sensor, which was added to the package this year.

Airthings Wave Mini review:

Airthings Wave Mini: Design and setup

The Wave Mini is indeed quite tiny, easily the smallest air monitor we’ve put in our home. Built of white plastic, the Mini has a round shape that measures 4 inches in diameter.

The Mini can be mounted to a wall, but there's a clip-on stand that can be used to prop it up instead. Because it’s powered by batteries, there’s no need for any messy cables, so if you do decide to put it on a wall it won't look ugly (looking at you, Google Nest Mini).

The three AA batteries you need are included in the box, and should last for up to two years, the company says.

The only other design feature to know about is that there's an LED hidden behind the plastic, which will indicate the current air quality when you wave a hand in front of it. If it’s green, you’re clean. If it’s yellow, you should open a window or switch on a purifier. Red? There’s a high level of pollutants in the air – check the app and take action.

Setup requires the Airthings app, but it's fast to get up and running. Once that's complete, the Wave Mini will need to calibrate to its surroundings, a process that takes around seven days.

When you go to your phone to see your readings you'll need to be in Bluetooth range of the Wave Mini. Data will be stored and saved on your phone once it's synced but you do need a live connection for real-time and recent readings.

You can get easier access using Airthings SmartLink with the Airthings Hub but that means an extra $79.

Airthings Wave Mini review:

Airthings Wave Mini: Features

The Wave Mini can't clean your air, but it can give you some helpful real-time, and longer-term, insights into the quality of air in your home.

The app dashboard has four measurements: TVOCs, humidity, temperature and mold risk. TVOC means Total Volatile Organic Compounds and is a measurement of the total concentration of multiple VOCs in the air at any one time.

For the average person who doesn’t know how many ppbs (parts per billion) are lethal, the TVOC number is also surrounded by a a colored ring – green, yellow, or red, again – so you can see your safety level, at a glance. There's also a reading for the entire room, which makes its air quality judgement based on all three of the above metrics.

It’s quite interesting looking at the graphs over time, and you can swipe your finger along the lines to get the exact reading at any time. Just the other day, the TVOC reading went from 40ppb to 186ppb to in just a couple of hours. We at first wondered why this was, but then remembered it was the first day we’d had rain for several weeks, and so we'd kept the windows closed.

The mold risk score, which was added to the platform in 2020, is based on the ASHRAE mold index - the leading global organization focused on setting standards for health and safety through air quality.

Exposure to mold spores can have direct adverse effects on our health, ranging from common irritations and allergic reactions to more serious issues such as asthma attacks or an increased risk of long-term lung damage.

What the Mini doesn't offer is radon detection, something you'll get with Airthings' Wave and Wave Plus models. The Mini is the new entry point to the family, and as such its sensors aren't as advanced. No CO2 detection either.

Airthings recommends placing the Wave Mini within three feet of of your windows or vents so that it can get an accurate reading of the room. So it's not got a huge range, and Airthings surely hopes you’ll buy several of these for placing around the house, particularly if you live in a larger home.

Our other criticism is that although the app looks nice and is pretty accessible, it's too simple and doesn't contextualize the data as well as it could. One thing we love about the Awair app is how it lets you choose your primary reason for monitoring air quality – sleep, productivity, allergies etc – and will then use that information to determine what alerts and advice you get.

The Airthings app doesn't do a lot beyond dishing up the data and pushing you to its website to answer questions like, "What are contaminants?"

If you’re a Google Assistant user, you can connect the Wave Mini and have Google read the latest reading out to you. There is an Alexa Skill too, but it only works with the other Airthings Wave products for now.

There are some pretty good IFTTT applets too, including one that will text you when radon levels or humidity are too high, while another will flash your Philips Hue lights instead.

Airthings Wave Mini
There are more advanced monitors out there, capable of tracking radon and CO2, and the Wave Mini looks lightweight by comparison. But it's a more affordable way to track some of the nasties in your air, and it looks good doing it - and the fact that AirThings added mold tracking to the mix really sets it apart from its rivals.
  • Blends in; simple design
  • App is easy to use
  • The wave indicator is cool
  • No radon or CO2 detection
  • App needs more info
  • Alexa doesn't work

TAGGED    smart home

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