In the last years, air quality has emerged as a significant concern, especially in larger cities with high population densities. However, many people are still unaware of air pollution levels in the places they live.
At Air Purifier First, our primary focus is on testing air purifiers, which is the thing I have been doing since 2016. But, over the past few years, I have also purchased and evaluated numerous air quality monitors. This article will highlight the top five air quality monitors that, in my opinion, are the best buying options.
Table of Contents
- In a Hurry? Here Are the Best Air Quality Monitors!
- Top 5 Air Quality Monitors
- What You Need to Know Before Buying an Air Quality Monitor
- How do I test Air Quality Monitors?
- FAQ on Air Quality Monitors
- Final Thoughts
These compact devices are capable of detecting various air contaminants, including particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO2, radon, and more, as confirmed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While they are primarily designed for indoor use, some models are also suitable for outdoor environments.
Why do I recommend buying an air quality monitor? Simply, having such a device can significantly increase your awareness of the air quality in your environment. It also encourages you to invest in a device such as an air purifier that cleans and improves air quality in many homes these days, which is a small yet crucial step towards enhancing your lifestyle.
However, not all air quality monitors are equally effective in every situation. Some are great at detecting particulate matter, others are better at identifying VOCs, and some are more suited for outdoor use. Keep reading and find out which air quality monitors I picked as the best options and for what situations.
In a Hurry? Here Are the Best Air Quality Monitors!
- Awair Element – it’s the best air quality monitor you can buy. It measures temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, VOCs, and PM2.5 particles.
- Temtop M10i – it is a portable air-quality monitor with a large display placed on the front. It has only two sensors, one for the VOCs and another for PM2.5 particles.
- IKEA VINDSTYRKA – This is the most affordable air quality monitor on the list, which is also smart. It detects particulate matter, VOCs, temperature, and humidity.
- Atmotube Pro – it is the only personal air purifier on the list, but it isn’t less powerful than others. It detects VOCs, PM1, PM2.5, PM10, temperature, humidity, and pressure in real-time.
- Airthings Wave Mini – An innovative air quality monitor with a mold risk indicator feature. It detects VOCs, temperature, and humidity, works with a smart app, and is a really minimalistic device.
*If you click any of these links and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Top 5 Air Quality Monitors
To make your decision easier, I have made a list of the top five air quality monitors I’ve tested to date.
Each air quality monitor I tested underwent a rigorous evaluation process, containing accuracy testing, features review, and an overall performance rating.
Awair Element – Best All-in-one Solution
Awair Element Keypoints
- Awair Element detects temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, VOCs, and PM2.5 particles.
- It uses a feature-rich smart app for more in-depth air quality readings and better control of your device.
- The Awair Element shows an accuracy of about ±13.68% in my tests.
- This air quality monitor comes with a 1-year warranty.
The Awair Element stands out as the best all-in-one solution thanks to its four integrated sensors that accurately measure five key environmental factors: temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, VOCs, and PM2.5 particles.
Not only is the Awair Element a very stylish device that will easily fit into almost any ambiance, but it also features a smart app. This app makes it easy to control the device remotely and to check air quality readings in real time or even for past periods.
What makes the Awair Element the best choice for indoor air quality monitoring is its high accuracy and the fantastic results it made in my tests. I tested its accuracy for PM2.5 particle reading over a 7-hour period, using a government outdoor sensor as a reference. I then compared these readings with those from the Awair Element. Incredibly, this air quality monitor showed a deviation of just about ±13.68%. See the chart below for more insights into the testing.
In addition to the PM2.5 sensor, there are three more sensors inside this air quality monitor. The accuracy of these sensors is listed in the specifications by Awair and is the same as shown in the table below.
|Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor sensor (CMOS)
|0 – 90°C (32 – 194°F)
|Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor sensor (CMOS)
|0 – 100% RH
|Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
|Non-Dispersive Infrared Sensor (NDIR)
|400 – 5,000ppm
|±75ppm or 10% (whichever is greater)
|Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC)
|Multi-pixel metal oxide gas sensor
|20 – 36,000ppb
|Fine Dust PM2.5
|Laser-based light scattering sensor
|0 – 1,000 µg/m³
|±15 µg/m³ or 15% (whichever is greater)
Another notable feature is that you don’t need to calibrate this air quality monitor, as its sensors are factory-pre-calibrated. All in all, the Awair Element is undoubtedly the best air-quality monitor you can buy.
|6.1 x 3.3 x 1.8 inches (15,4 x 84,7 x 4,5 cm)
|Temperature, humidity, CO2, VOCs, and PM2.5
Temtop M10i – Best for Simplicity and Ease of Use
Temtop M10i Keypoints
- Temtop M10i is a smart air quality monitor with plenty of advanced features.
- This air quality monitor measures VOCs and PM2.5 particles.
- It has a huge display on the front.
- The M10i showed excellent performance in my tests with an accuracy of ±14.96%.
- It comes with a 1-year warranty.
The Temtop M10i is another air quality monitor I tested that performed extraordinarily well, particularly in measuring PM2.5 particles in the air.
This device is designed for simplicity and ease of use, with some smart features accessible through its app. Unfortunately, I encountered issues connecting the device to the app.
It has two built-in sensors – one for VOCs and another for PM2.5. Temtop stated that the M10i PM2.5 sensor has an accuracy of ±10%. In my tests, it demonstrated an accuracy of ±14.96%. While this is a slight deviation, it still confirms the device as a relatively reliable air quality monitor.
Temtop is known for producing great air quality monitors, which is why I use the Temtop LKC-1000S for air purifier testing. It’s incredibly accurate, making it ideal for my needs, though I did not include it in this list as it is less practical for continuous use and better suited for periodic air quality checks.
A feature I particularly appreciate about the M10i is its battery-powered design, which allows for easy mobility between locations without the need to remain in one room or spot all day. The battery lasts about 6 hours.
The Temtop M10i is highly recommended by several reliable and reputable sources, including Wirecutter, meaning it’s recognized by many, not just here at Air Purifier First. I recommend the Temtop M10i to anyone seeking a portable, battery-powered, and user-friendly air quality monitor.
|3.2 x 3.2 x 1.2 inches (8,2 x 8,2 x 3,1 cm)
|PM2.5, HCHO (formaldehyde), and TVOC
IKEA VINDSTYRKA – Best Affordable & Smart
IKEA VINDSTYRKA Keypoints
- Great price-to-value ratio with the most affordable price on the list.
- It detects particulate matter, VOCs, temperature, and humidity.
- It works perfectly with IKEA’s smart home system, but you have to purchase it separately.
- It comes with no warranty (for the US).
The IKEA VINDSTYRKA is the successor and improved version of the VINDRIKTNING model. IKEA made a huge improvement with the VINDSTYRKA air quality monitor, especially in terms of design.
One of the key features of this air quality monitor is its front display, which presents all the essential air quality information for consumers. The VINDSTYRKA stands out for being affordable, smart, and user-friendly.
Equipped with a SEN54 air quality sensor, the VINDSTYRKA detects particulate matter, VOCs, temperature, and humidity. It is specifically designed for indoor use, and moving it outdoors may impact the accuracy of its readings. Please refer to the table below for detailed information about this sensor’s accuracy.
|Particulate Matter (PM)
A limitation of the VINDSTYRKA is its dependence on IKEA’s smart home to access its smart features. This requirement is suitable for those who already have this system at home. However, for others, it represents an additional investment that may not be worthwhile. Personally, I would prefer paying more for an air quality monitor that includes these smart features that are already built-in.
In conclusion, the IKEA VINDSTYRKA is definitely the most affordable air quality monitor on the market. For its price, it is unlikely you’ll find a better option.
|2 x 2.25 x 3.25 inches (5 x 5,7 x 8,3 cm)
|PM2.5, VOCs, temperature, and humidity
Atmotube Pro – Best Personal
Atmotube Pro Keypoints
- It’s the only portable air purifier on the list, making it ideal for keeping it close to you throughout the whole day.
- The Atmotube Pro measures VOCs, PM1, PM2.5, PM10, temperature, humidity, and pressure.
- It works with an easy-to-use smart app.
- Atmotube comes with a 1-year warranty.
The Atmotube Pro stands out on this list as it’s not limited to indoor use. It’s uniquely designed for outdoor use, ideally worn around the neck or attached to the backpack, making it the best and only personal air quality monitor I have featured here.
This compact air quality monitor is highly popular due to its portability and impressive features. It’s battery-powered and capable of working for up to 10 hours on a single charge, although this duration can vary depending on the frequency of air pollution measurements. The Atmotube Pro pairs with a smart app, which, in my experience, is one of the most user-friendly and effective apps.
It monitors environmental factors, including VOCs, PM1, PM2.5, PM10, temperature, humidity, and pressure. This makes it one of the most universal air quality monitors on the list. For particulate matter detection, it uses a Sensirion SPS30 sensor, which has an accuracy of ±10% for PM1 and PM2.5 particles. Additionally, it uses a Sensirion SGPC3 sensor for VOC measurement, which has an accuracy of about 15%.
Overall, the Atmotube Pro is an exceptional air quality monitor. Its design and functionality are specifically tailored for personal use, ideally worn around the neck, representing the concept of always having your air quality monitor with you.
|3.4 x 2 x 0.9 inches (8,6 x 5 x 2,2 cm)
|PM1, PM2.5, PM10, VOCs, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure
Airthings Wave Mini – With Mold Risk Indicator
Airthings Wave Mini Keypoints
- The Airthings Wave Mini detects VOCs, temperature, and humidity.
- It has an innovative feature that can calculate and predict the possibility of a mold growing in your place.
- It needs 3x AA batteries in order to work.
- Airthing gives a generous 5-year warranty for this monitor.
Airthing is also one big name in the air quality monitors market. While I haven’t tested all of their models, the Airthings Wave Mini stood out due to its simplicity and its popular VOC sensor.
This air quality monitor is straightforward to use but requires a Bluetooth connection to a phone for full functionality. It features a light indicator on the front, which provides a basic visual representation of the current air quality. However, for more detailed information, I’m afraid you must use the Airthing smart app.
The Airthings Wave Mini detects VOCs, temperature, and humidity levels. It also has a catchy feature that is called a mold risk indicator, which is essentially an algorithm-based assessment that calculates the risk of mold growth based on the current levels of humidity, temperature, and VOCs.
The device operates on 3x AA alkaline batteries. While its primary focus is on detecting VOCs, the mold risk indicator feature is a unique feature that justifies its place on this list.
|3.14 x 1 inches (8 x 52,6 cm)
|VOCs, temperature, and humidity
What You Need to Know Before Buying an Air Quality Monitor
Before buying an air quality monitor, educating yourself with some key terms related to air quality readings is helpful. These monitors typically feature a range of built-in sensors designed to detect various pollutants in the air. In addition to pollutant detection, many models also measure temperature and humidity levels.
The most common pollutants detected by these monitors include PM2.5, PM10, and VOCs. Below, I will provide a detailed explanation of what these terms mean. Additionally, some types of these monitors also detect carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, but I still haven’t used any with such a built-in sensor.
PM2.5 and PM10
Particulate matter (PM) is one of the most crucial metrics that an air quality monitor measures. These devices typically measure PM2.5 and PM10 levels, and some advanced models can even detect PM1 particles.
PM2.5 and PM10 refer to airborne particulates of varying types, including particles from cigarette smoke, dust, mold spores, and pollen. For example, a PM50 particle is roughly the width of a human hair, highlighting the minuteness of PM2.5 and PM10 particles.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals usually found in your home’s air when cooking, smoking, etc. Among the many different VOCs, benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and trichloroethylene are the most commonly found.
To illustrate, formaldehyde is a gas typically found in glues, resins, and some building materials, while benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid present in gasoline, cigarette smoke, and certain industrial chemicals.
Indoor VOC concentrations tend to rise during activities like cooking or smoking. Therefore, avoiding these activities indoors or using proper ventilation can significantly reduce VOC levels. Additionally, I strongly recommend using air purifiers to combat VOCs, especially when cooking or smoking.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to high levels of VOCs can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea. It can also cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Also, there is a suspicion that prolonged exposure to high levels of VOCs may be linked to an increased risk of cancer.
How do I test Air Quality Monitors?
On our website, we’ve detailed our process for testing air purifiers and air quality monitors. Unlike laboratory testing, I prefer using these devices in real-home environments while using specialized tools to measure their performance.
However, testing air quality monitors involves an extra layer of complexity. It requires a highly reliable reference monitor against which I can compare the readings of the monitor being tested. To achieve this, I perform tests outdoors, at the place where I live, using a local government air quality monitor as my reference. This government monitor is conveniently located near my home and provides real-time data online.
This method allows me to consistently compare each air quality monitor against the same reference device. However, my analysis doesn’t stop there. I also thoroughly research the built-in sensors, their accuracy, and the smart features of each device.
Combining these factors provides a comprehensive overview of each air quality monitor, helping me to give a precise rating based on every air quality monitor’s performance.
FAQ on Air Quality Monitors
Do air quality monitors really work?
Absolutely, air quality monitors work! However, similar to other electronic devices, the performance varies across different brands. While some are more precise than others, all air quality monitors are functional to a certain extent.
Can an air quality monitor detect mold?
I haven’t personally tested any air quality monitor that directly detects mold. However, the Airthings Wave Mini claims to predict mold growth. This prediction is based on an algorithm that combines humidity levels, temperature, and VOCs in the air, which might not be highly accurate. For dedicated mold detection, I recommend using specialized tools or hiring a mold inspector.
What is the lifespan of an air quality monitor?
The Awair Element and Temtop LKC-1000S are the first ones I got, and I have been using them for more than three years without any issues or indicators that they may stop working. However, some brands suggest the lifespan of such a device is about 3 years.
Can outdoor air quality affect indoor air?
When windows and doors are closed, outdoor air quality has little to no impact on indoor air. However, opening windows can allow polluted outdoor air to enter, which can significantly affect indoor air quality.
Do air quality monitors detect cigarette smoke?
Yes, almost every air quality monitor can detect cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke produces both VOCs and PM2.5 particles, which are easily detectable by air quality monitors, even by simpler models like those from IKEA.
What device do I use for testing air purifiers?
I use the Temtop LKC-1000S for all my tests at Air Purifier First. Although it’s not listed in this article, it’s important to note that it’s designed for periodic air quality checks rather than continuous monitoring. This makes it an excellent tool for my testing purposes but less practical for ongoing indoor air quality monitoring.
If you’ve made your way to this article, it’s likely you’re considering purchasing an air quality monitor. Making such an investment is a wise decision, particularly if you reside in urban areas, regions tending to wildfires, or near industrial zones.
Being informed about the air quality in your surroundings is crucial. To assist you in this, I have rigorously tested numerous air quality monitors and compiled a list of the best options available. My goal is to provide you with reliable information to help you find the air quality monitor that best fits your needs.
The most complete air quality monitor you can get is the Awair Element, which is a reliable, smart, and powerful device that will give you all the necessary information about indoor air in your place.
If this article hasn’t fully answered your questions, or if you have a specific device in mind that you’d like to know more about, please feel free to reach out. Your opinions and suggestions are valuable to me. Please use the comment box below or contact me directly through the contact form.