Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Awair Air Quality Monitor Review

Awair Air Quality Monitor
This post is a bit tricky for me to write.  My Awair air quality monitor is one of the most expensive gadgets I've purchased but it's impact has been the most subtle.  Usually when I buy a gadget, it's impact is much more dramatic like smart switches from Insteon, endless jokes and device control from Echo, temperature/humidity readings from Sensorpush, or automated sprinkler control with Rachio.  With Awair, however, the impact was more subtle.

One of the main reasons the impact was subtle was that my air quality was actually pretty good.  CO2 levels were good, humidity was mostly good, dust wasn't too bad.  Only VOCs (volatile organic compounds) were consistently high.  Not too high, they're usually at 2 but sometimes spike to 3.  What does the VOC measurement mean?  I don't know except that Awair puts a 2 or a 3 at not good orange (not horrible - that would be red).  So what do I do?

So, here's the thing.  I'd been thinking about air quality for a while.  Over the last few years my allergies seem to be getting worse.  Congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, etc.  Living in Arizona, we tend to get ozone pollution come over from the west (thank you very much California).  So how do I clean the air I breathe?  Do I even need to?  These are the questions that got me to purchase the Awair in the first place.

I also purchased it for the advice it gives.  Of course one of the first bits of advice it gave was to open the windows to clear out the VOCs.  Well, I live in Arizona and when it's 112 degrees outside, I am NOT going to open my windows.  So what are my other options?  Well, the Awair suggested that I get a peace lily and/or a snake plant absorb VOCs.  That sounded good so I bought a couple of those.  They're not big but I have to start somewhere.  I've had them for a couple of weeks and they're not dead (if you know me and my reverse green thumb, you'll know that's an accomplishment) but they haven't reduced the VOC counter either.  So I keep looking.  Maybe in October when the weather cools down I'll try opening my windows.  Until then, I'll keep watering my plants and keep an eye on things.

So, my verdict on my Awair is mixed.

It lets me know my air quality which is good.  It let me know that I don't have terrible air quality - also good.  It's cool to be able to check it at any time and see how my air is doing.  It's great that it's portable and I may try it out in my office or in other rooms of the house to see how they are doing.  The display on it is very cool and gives me the information I need at a glance (no need to pull out my phone to see how my air is).  It gives me advice and help on how to improve my air quality.  It actually got me to buy plants for my house.  Life changing?  No.  Pretty cool?  Definitely.  Has it prodded me to make a few subtle changes and to pay more attention to my air quality? Yes.  Is it worth it?  Yes, I think it is.

Is it perfect? No.  There are a couple issues that I have.  First, the Android app crashes occasionally on startup.  It's not a big deal, I just start it again and it's fine.  What bothers me more are the stats.  The stats screen is great and shows everything but it only shows it for that day.  What if I want to see yesterday?  Last week?  What if I want to see trends over time?  Nope, not there.

So, overall I like it.  It gives me good, accurate (I hope) information about my air quality.  It's given me the extra push to actually get some plants in my house.  It's been a subtle nudge to improve things.

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