Amazon’s Smart Air Quality Monitor evaluation: not good sufficient
Amazon’s $69.99 Smart Air Quality Monitor is the corporate’s first foray into the more and more common class of indoor air high quality screens (IAQs). And, primarily based on my expertise with the product, it’s a bandwagon-jumping transfer. While comparatively cheap and useful due to voice management, the Smart Monitor doesn’t add something significantly revolutionary or helpful to the idea of a shopper air high quality monitor.
An indoor air high quality monitor purports to let you know all about nasties you possibly can’t see floating round in your house (the EPA says indoor air could also be two to 5 instances extra polluted than outside air). You might have heard about unstable natural compounds and different airborne pollution which might be frequent in trendy properties, lots of which might worsen or contribute to respiratory ailments corresponding to bronchial asthma. Common actions in our properties, corresponding to cleansing and cooking (particularly with fuel), add minuscule particulates to the air that may trigger hurt and in addition exacerbate present well being circumstances. And after all, the outside air can creep in, which, for those who dwell close to a busy street or in an space affected by wildfire smoke, could make life depressing.
A wise air high quality monitor can’t solely provide you with a heads up when the air high quality goes down so you are able to do one thing about it (open a window, activate a fan, fireplace up an air air purifier), but it surely also needs to do one thing about it with out you needing to intrude, due to its related nature.
For instance, when particulate matter rises, a related air high quality monitor can inform a sensible plug to activate the fan related to it or direct a sensible thermostat to kick on the HVAC system to get the air shifting and even set off a sensible air air purifier to begin cleansing the air.
Herein lies the issue with Amazon’s cute little $70 good air high quality monitor: it could’t do any of that.
What it could do is ship an alert to your telephone, announce over an Echo speaker, and point out with its LED gentle when your air high quality inside is poor. It can even flip in your heating or AC primarily based on temperature, which may assist transfer some air.
There’s no on-device display screen to point out you precisely what’s mistaken (a characteristic on virtually all of the competitors); as a substitute, it is advisable have a close-by Echo Show to see your readings (or look within the app). The alert it sends simply says the air high quality is poor — no different information. Other screens I’ve examined will ship particular alerts — corresponding to “CO2 levels are high, time to air this place out” or “Humidity is a bit high, consider running a dehumidifier.” While Amazon’s system does provide you with an early warning, that’s about it. But for individuals who don’t need to shell out a small fortune to observe their air, this can be a first rate possibility.
Price is the most important promoting level for the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor. It’s a a lot inexpensive solution to monitor your indoor air, with most competing merchandise costing between $100 and $300.
The $300 Awair Element and Airthings View Plus are the leaders right here for individuals who need to get critical about their air. On the inexpensive aspect of issues are the $99.99 Eve Room, which is HomeKit solely, the Netatmo Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor for $119.99, and the $45 Aqara’s TVOC Air Quality Monitor (which requires a hub beginning at $30), each of those additionally work with Alexa and may hook up with HomeKit.
The Amazon Smart AQ Monitor measures PM 2.5 (particulate matter sufficiently small to penetrate the lungs), VOCs, carbon monoxide, humidity, and temperature. It’s lacking a carbon dioxide monitor, which some opponents provide. This might help establish poor airflow in a room and doubtlessly warn you to the chance of indoor COVID transmission. (High ranges of CO2 can point out that extra of the air in a room is made up of different folks’s breath — and no matter germs that breath carries.) But the Smart Monitor does provide extra sensors than the equally priced Aqara sensor, which doesn’t measure PM 2.5 or carbon monoxide.
As with most shopper IAQs, the Smart Monitor presents up an easy-to-read rating of your air high quality. Its onboard indicator gentle additionally turns inexperienced for good, yellow for reasonable, pink for poor. The rating seems within the app on a scale of 100, with 0 to 35 being unhealthy and 65 to 100 good. It’s probably primarily based on the air high quality index, developed by the EPA to assist common customers perceive air high quality (I’ve reached out to Amazon for affirmation of this). In my testing, my rating hovered round 89, except I used to be cooking on my fuel range when it nosedived to round 23.
You can see the rating within the system’s dashboard within the Alexa app or on an Echo Show. Here you additionally get a breakdown of what’s contributing to it and what, if something, is making it worse. Each of the 5 sensors has its personal line, highlighted in inexperienced, yellow, or pink, indicating its standing.
In the dashboard, you possibly can dive right into a sensor’s readings in separate tabs, the place you possibly can see historic readings for the final hour, day or week. I used to be in a position to evaluation a month’s price of knowledge.
The Smart Monitor is a nice-looking system. It has an oblong puck-like design, with rounded corners, matte white plastic, and a small grille for the air to maneuver by. It’s additionally considerably smaller than many of the competitors and gained’t look misplaced in a lounge or kitchen. It does should be plugged in by way of a micro-USB cable and wall plug (included); there’s no battery backup.
The monitor takes seven minutes to calibrate earlier than it reveals an IAQ rating, and Amazon says it could take about two days to regulate to your air. Because of the calibration time, it’s probably not suited to shifting round your property, as you must unplug it, which resets the calibration. Interestingly, all of the opponents have the choice to only use battery energy, which helps with portability, however most additionally want time to regulate to correctly learn your air.
I arrange the take a look at unit in my kitchen, and glancing on the pink gentle was a useful reminder to show my range hood on after I was cooking on my fuel range. But it could be even higher if the Smart Monitor may simply activate the fan robotically if I had a related vary.
The system carried out comparably to different good IAQ screens throughout testing, with solely minor discrepancies in readings. The fundamental characteristic it presents that others don’t are voice alerts by a suitable speaker. While not on by default, you possibly can go into the Smart Monitor’s settings within the app and allow push notifications and / or Echo bulletins when the air high quality drops to poor. These are restricted, nonetheless, solely telling you when it’s poor. I might have preferred a follow-up telling me when every little thing was again to regular.
You can even ask Alexa for an replace in your air by saying “Alexa, what is the indoor air quality?” Responses embody poor, truthful, and good, alongside along with your air high quality rating. (Note: for those who say “Alexa, what is the air quality,” you’ll get a report from AirNow.gov of the outside air high quality index rating in your location, no monitor required.) You can even ask what the indoor temperature or humidity is, however you possibly can’t get CO, PM, or VOC readings by voice.
Amazon tells me you can too ask for the readings in a particular room for those who add the system to a Group within the app. This could be helpful for those who had a few these in varied rooms round your home. But in my testing I saved getting the response “That’s not supported yet.”
While I’m not a proponent of a number of apps, this system deserves a standalone app. It takes 4 faucets by a number of menus and with a lot scrolling simply to get to the monitor’s dashboard, which isn’t a user-friendly expertise.
As alluded to earlier, my different grievance is the shortage of dwelling automation. This is a brilliant air high quality monitor that’s simply not very good. It works with Alexa Routines (automated shortcuts that assist your related units work collectively), however the one set off it presents is temperature — there are 5 sensors right here, however just one can inform different units in your house to activate or off. (This can be true of all the opposite air high quality screens that may hook up with Alexa, which signifies Amazon has some platform work to do to allow it).
If the Smart Monitor may additionally act on humidity, VOCs, CO, and particulate matter, it could be a lot simpler to suggest. Amazon has mentioned it’s engaged on including this performance, however till it arrives, this system is proscribed as a sensible air high quality monitor.
I arrange a Routine that activated my HVAC system’s fan if the temperature within the kitchen rose above 75 levels between 5PM and 8PM, when I’m often cooking. I had the Routine wait 20 minutes after which revert the fan to auto, which labored nicely.
Another use case for the temperature set off is as a room sensor for a sensible thermostat that works with Alexa, such because the Amazon Smart Thermostat. But in comparison with different room sensors for good thermostats (corresponding to Ecobee and Nest), performance is proscribed. You can’t set circumstances exterior of time, corresponding to solely having the Routine run if movement is detected within the room or the lights are on, which implies you can find yourself heating or cooling an empty room.
The Smart Monitor is basically a companion system for an Alexa / Echo dwelling slightly than a standalone air high quality monitor. Amazon designed this to make use of primarily with voice and visible indicators slightly than the app. This strategy is okay in case you have an Echo Show however much less useful if not. (Amazon presents worth bundles that embody the Smart Monitor and an Echo Dot or Echo Show 5).
If you’ve gotten an Amazon Smart Thermostat or comparable, an Echo Show, and an curiosity in how excessive your particulate matter is, chances are you’ll get some use out of the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor. Otherwise, there isn’t any compelling motive to select this up because it doesn’t do a lot — but.
Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / freelancertamal