Disclaimer: I was not paid by Awair or anyone to write this review. I did pay 99$ for my Awair Glow (plus shipping, plus duty taxes) and I do not know anyone from that business.
This is part 1 of 2 reviews I will write on intelligent air quality monitors. The other model I will review is the Speck Sensor.
I will no try to compare them because they are like apple and oranges. Awair Glow is an air quality monitor with CO2 and VOC sensors whereas Speck has a PM2.5 sensor. Very different things.
Why monitor CO2?
Although not toxic unless under very high & unusual exposition (> 10,000ppm), too much CO2 can cause drowsiness, headaches & other minor health issues. Something you want to look for at your office. Multiple health organizations suggest more ventilation at levels higher than 1000ppm of CO2.
Why monitor VOC?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) is also bad for health: much worse than CO2. VOC is not a single molecule; it is a measurement of multiple gases in the air. More expensive VOC sensors can detect specific gases, but not the Awair Glow. TLDR; it should be low and otherwise you should investigate what could cause high VOC level in your environment.
Awair Glow review
I purchased the Awair Glow because it looked nice and there is no fan inside so I can use it anywhere, even in quiet spaces. I did not get the regular Awair (the first product they released) because it is a PM2.5 sensor and I already have the Speck.
With the Awair Glow you can also connect an appliance and control it based on the level of air quality. I did not test or used that feature at all yet. I am not sure it will be really useful since most humidifiers, dehumidifiers and other air quality appliances already have built-in sensors nowadays.
- Made in South Korea;
- Packaging is well done;
- The product itself is very well done too; it almost looks like it is made by Apple. There is a minor misalignment of the printing on the product, but I didn’t notice until a week later when I took the photos;
- The setup is done with Bluetooth pairing, it works perfectly for the first use. I was skeptical at first, but it is indeed faster than devices that work with a temporary guest Wifi network;
- I had to search a while to find how to configure it again once I moved it home. You have to press the power button for 5 seconds to reset & enter pairing mode again;
- The onboarding with the mobile app is very well done. You get a live demo of all the options, they show you a demo of the green, orange and red light in real time (see photo).
- There is no web portal yet (possibly coming), you can only view your data on your phone at the moment;
- The touch on top of the device to change the light mode works well;
- You can shut the small indicator LED if you want to be in complete darkness;
- There is no Y scale on the charts, and it annoys me a bit;
- There is no indication of a loading state when the device just got connected or when the data is still loading, a bit annoying too;
- I would be nice to have a « pull to refresh »; currently I am not sure exactly when it does refresh
- When I moved it from my office to my home, I thought it would create a new set of data, but it seems like it is shared with previous data. There is only 1 history per unique physical device. So if you move it often, I am not sure the data about the location over time is kept (it seems like not).
Screenshots from the application
I asked Awair about how their CO2 self-calibration is working and this is their response :
The sensor that we use does have self calibration capabilities. The assumption is that the lowest point it sees will correspond to the lowest point possible ie 400. Similar to Netatmo you can also place your Awair outside if you feel your room has high CO2 levels to help with calibration. But with our rolling 7 day calibration period we’re confident that self-calibration is effective.
I would recommend this device if you want to experiment with CO2 & VOC sensor, it is overall a good product for 99$. An API is coming, but I would like data APIs to be available day one for IoT devices like this recording so much personal data.
If you plan to buy an Awair use this link; I will get 10$ off my next purchase if I decide to buy more units (until May 2017).
Edit 2016-01-12 : I added the calibration part.
Good review and details, thank you. Just a quick comment about the rising CO2 values. We’ve seen similar behavior with Netatmo weather station indoor units. It’s due to drift in the sensor. Netatmo’s recommended solution is to put it outside for a period of time and manually re-calibrate. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the exact details, or find a reference, but I think they were recommending weekly for several hours. The assumption is that outdoor CO2 is 400. Here’s a forum post which describes the calibration steps: https://forum.netatmo.com/viewtopic.php?p=37351#p37351
It’s probably worth your asking Awair what they recommend doing to re-calibrate. How to do it, and how often.
Full disclosure: I work for the CMU CREATE Lab and Airviz, the company which makes the Speck.
Great info, I will ask them! Did you mean COV? CO2 doesn’t seems to drift a lot. Keeping sensors calibrated over time is a very complicated business from what I learn, thanks for working on this.
Ah, sorry, I didn’t read carefully enough. I saw your « I noticed CO2 level at my office… » caption, but was looking at the plot below it with the steadily rising values. Apologies!
Anyway, worth asking Awair about calibration all around. And while you’re at it, perhaps ask about expected life of the VOC sensor. Some low-cost ones we’ve tested fail within a half year or so. Hopefully theirs is better!
I think I will probably open it if it stops working & check what it inside and what it is worth. At a price point of 99$ I guess they are not using the most expensive VOC sensors.
Which low-cost VOC sensors did you test? Is 20$ low cost? http://www.digikey.ca/product-detail/en/ams/AS-MLV-P2/AS-MLV-P2TR-ND/5824405