Life

These Air Quality Monitors Track Indoor Pollution — So You Know When To Blast The Purifier

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Indoor air quality monitors can track dust, mold, and pollution levels in your home, which can help guide your air purifier use, as well as let you know when it's a good idea to open or close the windows. The best air quality monitors measure pollutants with the most potential to do harm and have easy-to-read screens that give you important information at a glance.

Air quality monitors typically measure a few different pollutants, but two of the most common and potentially harmful ones are particulate matter — like dust, dirt, and mold — and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases emitted from certain household products and furniture. Each of the picks on this list measures both VOCs and particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5), which have the most potential to cause health issues.

I’ve also included options that measure humidity (which can lead to mold), carbon dioxide levels (which may affect your cognitive performance), and formaldehyde (which can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat). Your best choice will depend on how much information you want.

While these air quality monitors don’t get rid of air pollutants — you’ll want to open windows for ventilation or get a high-quality air purifier to do that — they can help keep an eye on pollution in your house, so you can breathe easier and come in both desktop and handheld models to suit you and your home.

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1
The Overall Best

My pick for best air quality monitor measures PM2.5 and VOCs, along with humidity, carbon dioxide, and even temperature. The monitor is compatible with Alexa and Google Home, and it also syncs to the Awair app to provide real-time feedback, tracking, and tips to help improve the air quality in your home. However, you can also just check the air quality score on the device itself if you don't want to use the app or a smart home hub.

This pick scores major aesthetic points, too: The design-savvy monitor blends in seamlessly with any aesthetic, and the LED screen displays easy-to-read air quality scores.

  • Power source: USB (must be plugged in)

According to fans: “The app is well made and offers a lot of useful information. recommendations and a widget for a quick view of the air quality. There are also push notification is the event air quality changes for the worse."

2
The Best Budget

This affordable air quality monitor checks for three air pollutants — PM2.5, VOCs, and formaldehyde. It also provides an air quality index (AQI) score to measure overall pollution. This model doesn’t offer Wi-Fi connectivity or an app, but it’s a good choice if you just want a simple device to check air quality levels on an easy-to-read screen. It's USB-rechargeable, and lasts for six hours on one charge, so it can be used in spaces without nearby outlets. Reviewers note that the screen is rather bright and can't be adjusted, which may disturb you at night if you plan to keep the monitor in your bedroom.

There's also a more affordable model that only measures PM2.5 and displays AQI, as well as a pricier Wi-Fi-enabled monitor that measures PM2.5, VOCs, formaldehyde, and AQI.

  • Power source: USB-chargeable (can also be plugged in)

According to fans: “It responds quickly to changes in air quality (blow out a candle and it goes crazy!) and with the built in battery it is easy to move around your house to check each room.”

3
A Cute Portable Monitor

Featuring large icons and a prominent indicator light, this portable air quality monitor makes it super easy to check air quality levels at a glance, no matter where you are. It measures VOCs and both PM2.5 and larger PM10 particles, like dust, pollen, and mold. With the press of a button, the display switches from icon mode to graph mode for more detailed information on air quality measurements, and the battery offers about 10 minutes of run time before needing to be plugged in and recharged. However, there’s no Wi-Fi connectivity or app, and reviewers note that the display is not brightness adjustable.

You can also opt for a more affordable version of this air quality detector that only measures PM2.5 and PM10, or a more comprehensive monitor that also measures humidity and temperature.

  • Power source: USB-chargeable (can also be plugged in)

According to fans: “I've had other air quality monitors that I've returned because they clearly weren't accurate, but I'm impressed with this one and would recommend it to anyone who wants something that is simple, easy to use, and portable."

4
The Most Comprehensive

The most comprehensive option on the list, this handheld air-quality monitor measures PM10, PM2.5, PM1.0 (which commonly results from vehicle exhaust), formaldehyde, VOCs, temperature, and humidity. The screen displays a lot of information at once — which can be overwhelming — but there’s an easy-to-read color-coded section that shows the overall air pollution level. And here's a unique benefit: If the monitor detects dangerous levels of air pollution, an alarm sounds and the screen changes color. The monitor works for up to six hours in standby mode. However, there’s no Wi-Fi connectivity or app.

  • Power source: USB-chargeable (can also be plugged in)

According to fans: “Super easy to understand, green is good, and gives a numerical score … Great product, easy to understand but has a ton of advanced features if you’re one of those super nerds that want to get into the details of air quality.”