The wellness smart home is here and that means paying more attention to how we interact with our environment as well as how it affects our moods and our health. If you're raising a family, or you're just more conscious of your own surroundings, you might have found reason to look into an air quality monitor or purifier for your home.
It's a problem of varying degrees depending on where you live. Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air and with four million deaths per year worldwide from indoor pollution, in many cases as a result of poorly ventilated homes, it's a serious matter for millions of people.
Just because the air you're breathing isn't an immediate danger, though, doesn't mean its quality isn't worth thinking about. It can affect everything from allergies to sleep to concentration, not to mention how much of an impact air quality can have if you, your family or housemates suffer from asthma.
What to consider
As part of the wellbeing push from Silicon Valley, tech companies think they can help you to track and improve the air where you live. Air quality monitoring is both a standalone and an add-on feature. Tado's smart thermostats are getting the air monitoring feature later this year, for instance, and we've seen it before on smart home devices like smart security cameras.
Even when it's the main event, it's often bundled in with other sensors that give you information about your home in real time – like motion, temperature and humidity. You might find that you start tracking out of curiosity and this may lead you to get into the purification game, once you see the results. Because what's the point of tracking something if you're not going to do something about it?
Most of us have no idea what's in the air we breathe so you might want to track as many things as possible. But there might also be a particular chemical or particle that you're interested in. Some of the major ones to consider are: dust, pollen, VOCs – which are volatile organic compounds found in household items like paint and candles – CO2 (carbon dioxide) and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) from outside traffic.
When it comes to purifiers, these are typically more a standalone product that's bigger and more expensive, though Dyson's Pure Cool series are both fans and smart air purifiers. Purifiers work by sucking in the air then trapping air particles in a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. That's another area to consider – do you want alerts and stats and graphs in an app that lets you know how your house is doing minute by minute, or are you happier to let a purifier do its work, left alone? Some models, like Dyson's, also offer handy extras like Alexa voice controls, but this probably won't be your main criteria.
We're currently testing a few of the leading devices in air quality monitoring and purifying so look out for reviews. For now, we've rounded up a few products to consider.
Air quality monitors
Netatmo Healthy Home Coach
French smart home company Netatmo makes an affordable all-rounder that goes by the name of the Healthy Home Coach. It's a sleek looking cylinder that's compatible with Apple HomeKit and tracks air quality (CO2), humidity, temperature and sound levels. There's a light on top to give you an at a glance reading and once you've got one, you can add extra units around the house.
In a nice experiment, Netatmo has hooked all of its connected kit up to a Facebook Messenger bot too so you can text your house when you're out and about to turn on or schedule devices like the Home Coach.
A tasty looking piece of smart home kit if ever we saw one, Awair is an air quality monitor with a stylish walnut casing that'll fit right in with your retro radios and classy furniture. It tracks VOC chemicals, CO2, dust, temperature and humidity levels and shows you your air quality score (out of 100) on the device's LCD display as well as the companion app. In the app, you can also see personalised tips based on the readings plus Awair connects to Nest, Amazon Alexa and IFTTT so it should fit right in, no matter your smart home ecosystem.
Also check out the $165 Awair Baby, which comes in an 'ocean blue' or 'baby rose' pink plastic casing and is designed for kids' rooms and nurseries, as well as the $99 Glow, Awair's smart plug/air quality tracker that can power on dumb air purifiers, dehumidifiers and fans when your air quality drops or at scheduled times.
Airthings Wave Plus
This Airthings device is a battery operated indoor air quality monitor that tracks VOCs, CO2, air pressure, humidity and temperature as well as radon (a radioactive gas) detection. You can see room by room data in the companion app for iOS and Android or you can wave in front of the tracker to get an LED light reading.
Nifty smart home integrations include new IFTTT integration so you can set a fan to come on or Philips Hue lights to turn red when radon or pollutant levels are too high. The Wave Plus is actually coming in June 2018, you can pre-order it now or take a look at the rest of the range.
Dyson Pure Cool
Dyson's new Pure Cool fans/air purifiers come in desktop and tower sizes. Dyson claims the devices can get rid of pollution from all manner of sources including pets, pollen, cleaning products, NO2 from traffic outside the house and VOCs from paint and candles, catching 99.5% of air particles down to as small as 0.1 microns. The Glass HEPA filter is 60% larger than its predecessor and there's a separate carbon filter too.
As for features, there's a small, round LCD screen which can give you a real time air quality reading; temperature and humidity sensors and Alexa voice controls so you can say "Alexa, ask Dyson for indoor air quality" and "Alexa, ask Dyson to start purifying." As a fan, it turns 350 degrees and is capable of pumping 290 litres of air a second – sure, why not – and can be set to diffuse air rather than projecting, good for winter. The Dyson Link app takes care of scheduling and remote controls.
Not the best looking air purifier, but worth a look nonetheless as this is known as a solid performer. This Philips device tackles ultrafine air particles as small as 0.2 microns and Philips claims it will purify 99.97% of indoor air, including dust, pet hair and pollen, via its extra-thick NanoProtect HEPA and AC filter. A light on the front gives you the air quality reading via three colours – blue, violet and red – and there's a sleep mode that turns down the noise of the fan.
This isn't the kind of product you monitor via an app – the idea is that its AeroSense technology tracks the air quality, down to tiny changes, and reacts automatically without you needing to get involved.