Buying the best indoor air quality monitors might not seem like a glamourous purchase for your home, but it’s important for the overall health of your family. You never know what’s in the air, which makes this an essential addition to your house – especially if you have an older home.
Our expert air quality advisor, Richard J. Bartlett, has selected these five products as their top choices to detect air contaminants. These options are versatile in what readings they provide, they’re affordable, and most importantly, they’re accurate. He chose the Airthings 2930 Wave Plus as his top choice because it checks many of the boxes we’re looking for in the best indoor air quality monitor. Read how he chose the top 5.
Air quality is incredibly important for our overall health, and many of us aren’t aware of the contaminants we’re breathing in on a regular basis. Having an air purifier can be a great way to circulate air throughout the home and ensure you’re getting the fresh air you need to keep your family happy and healthy.
Our Expert’s Top 5 Indoor Air Quality Monitors
Here are the top picks from our expert. Compare the ratings and features of different models.
|Airthings 2930 Wave Plus
|Langkou Air Quality Monitor
|SAF Aranet4 Home
|Best For Smart Home
|Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor
|Best For Travel
|Vivosun Air Quality Monitor
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Buy an Indoor Air Quality Monitor
- Homeowners – As a homeowner, no one is going to check your air quality for you, so you’ll need to make sure you have an air quality monitor. There are a number of things that can be a hazard to your health including radon, CO2, lead paint, and asbestos.1 Without an air quality monitor, you could be inhaling all these things without even realizing it. Even if you’re not a homeowner yet but are currently searching for a home, get a portable monitor and bring it with you as you’re walking through other people’s houses.
- Frequent travelers – Whether you stay in fancy 5-star resorts or hostels in the middle of town, you’ll want to have an air quality monitor with you to look out for your health. This is something that a lot of people don’t think about, but as a frequent traveler, you can find yourself in areas of the world that don’t have the same building standards as we do in the States. Many buildings can have a high concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and extended exposure to these contaminants can damage your health.
- Real estate investors – While there are no laws requiring you to test for radon and other airborne hazards, it’s a good idea to have an air quality monitor if you’re a real estate investor. Checking the air quality while you’re shopping around for smart investments can help you save time and money down the road. If you’re new to the investing game and want to quickly figure out if there are dangerous contaminants in the air, this is a great way to do it.
- Caregivers – If you’re responsible for an elderly or disabled person, you may want to consider getting an air quality monitor. Devices like this can help keep them safe in their homes while providing peace of mind to their friends and family. Many of them also come with alarms so caregivers can be alerted before the air quality reaches a dangerous level.
Who Should Not Buy an Indoor Air Quality Monitor
- No one – To be honest, there’s really no situation I can think of where I’d tell someone they don’t need an indoor air quality monitor; however, it’s important to note that consumer-grade air quality sensors may lack some of the advanced technology that contractors and builders require.2 For example, you’ll need a commercial-grade device to detect things like lead paint and asbestos, but for the average homeowner or renter, our picks will get the job done.
Research Tips (from an Air Quality Expert)
No matter what, bad air quality can be a hazard to anyone’s health. No one is immune, and the scary part is that most of the contaminants are odorless and invisible, so you don’t even know you’re breathing them in. That said, there are some factors you’ll want to keep in mind when settling on the best indoor air quality monitor for your needs. Think about the following points before purchasing one:
- Accuracy – As mentioned above, consumer-grade air quality detectors are not as precise as their commercial-grade counterparts, but that doesn’t mean you should go out and buy the cheapest one you can find. You’ll want to pay close attention to the PM ratings as this refers to the size of the particles it can detect. For example, an average human hair is 70 microns thick, yet most air quality detectors can detect down to PM2.5, or 2.5 microns.3 The key is whether the readings are accurate.
- Simplicity – Most homeowners are not scientists, so these devices need to be easy to set up, simple to understand, and quick to provide details about what the reading means. Most consumer air quality monitors are compatible with smartphones, which in turn makes the device a lot easier to use.
- Versatility – We want a device that offers the most bang for our buck. This means you shouldn’t have to buy a separate air quality detector for radon, CO2, and VOCs. Ideally, you’ll want to buy one unit and have it provide a reading for all those airborne contaminants. While that is the case with some units, it’s not the case with all of them. Keep that in mind.
- Response time – The response time refers to how quickly the unit can take the reading and provide your results. Bear in mind that many consumer-grade CO2 monitors that you hang on the wall actually take a few hours to pick up on high levels of gas. By that time, you may have already inhaled a dangerous amount and may be feeling the effects. Most of the dedicated air quality monitors take readings every few minutes and provide instant results and warnings.
- Power – How does the unit get power? Some run on disposable batteries, some run on rechargeable batteries, and others require you to plug them in. What makes the most sense for you? There’s really no right or wrong choice, it’s simply important to understand the various options. Pay attention to battery life and if you worry about the unit dying while you’re asleep, perhaps you’d prefer one that plugs in?
How Much Do They Cost?
There’s a pretty big disparity in terms of price and the interesting fact is that it’s hard to understand why. Most units do the same thing and provide the same readings, yet one can be as low as $50 or as high as $250. It’s a good idea to lean toward the more expensive units, as they’ll provide you with the peace of mind you need.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Safe Smart Family
As an air quality expert, I’ve been in a lot of homes and provided families with plenty of advice about the quality of the air they breathe. The most important thing to remember is that this can truly be a life or death situation, so it’s crucial that you take it seriously and don’t wait to purchase an air quality monitor. – Richard J. Bartlett
The Best Indoor Air Quality Monitors: Full Reviews
There are a few important features you should expect to find in the best indoor air quality monitors. Accuracy, versatility, simplicity, and affordability. This offering checks all of those boxes. For starters, the Airthings 2930 Wave Plus offers accurate radon results by continuously measuring radon levels in the home.
You also get versatility through the various sensor options. This includes radon, CO2, toxins, chemicals, humidity, and air pressure. All these factors combine to provide an overall look at the air quality in your home. Keep in mind that air quality is more than simply toxins in the air, but the Wave Plus keeps everything simple to understand. All you need to do is wave your hand in front of the device to receive an air quality rating of green, yellow, or red. It also integrates with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so you can receive alerts on your smart device when the air quality drops.
- Offers ratings for a variety of different toxins
- Simple and easy to use
- Smart home integration with smart devices
- Easy to install and operate phone app
- Issues with smart home integration
- Not a reliable source for VOCs
When you think of indoor air quality monitors, the term “budget-friendly” doesn’t always come to mind. However, the Langkou Air Quality Monitor can keep your family safe while also looking out for your wallet. This air quality tester comes with an infrared detection sensor that tracks CO2, PM2.5, PM10, and PM1.0. In addition, you can also track humidity, temperature, and overall air quality.
This sensor operates as a standalone unit that runs on battery power. The battery lasts for 10 or more hours and the unit can also be powered via a micro USB cable. However, the feature that really impresses me is the rapid readout time of 1.5 seconds. It’s easy to use, provides a quick and accurate reading, and does all this for an affordable price.
- Provides quick and accurate alerts
- Offers a variety of data and reading options
- Simple and easy to use
- Can be left plugged in to prevent the battery from dying
- Cannot be set to provide specific readings
- 10-hour battery life isn’t long enough (most people will leave it plugged in)
There are few features more important in the best indoor air quality monitors than accuracy. If you can’t feel confident in the reading you’re getting, the unit is useless, let’s face that. The SAF Aranet4 Home gives you peace of mind by assuring pinpoint accuracy, versatile settings, and fast readings. The unit is simple to read by providing a color-coded display. Green means the air quality is good, yellow is average, and red is unhealthy. Best of all, the Aranet4 has a four-year battery life and doesn’t require you to plug it in.
This unit also comes with a smartphone app that you can download and calibrate with your unit so you can receive readings when you’re away or at home on your smartphone. One of my favorite features of the unit is the fact that you can make adjustments to your liking. This is something that a lot of monitors lack. You can decide if you’d like to receive readings every 1, 2, 5, or 10 minutes. Overall, this monitor is easy to use, accurate, and effective.
- Offers versatile settings that put you in control
- Four-year battery life without a plug
- Simple and easy to set up and read
- High quality design
- Only provides readings for CO2, temperature, humidity, and pressure
- Can’t use for VOCs or radon
For most of us, seeing the word “Amazon” in front of the name of a product has a good or bad effect. Either you love their products and think they’re making a difference in the way we shop and do business or you hate their products and think they’re pumping out nothing but garbage. Either way you look at it, the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor is a great option for smart home integration when it comes to air quality in your home.
It doesn’t feature a microphone or speaker and you’ll need to integrate it with your smart home devices that are sold separately. It does, however, provide readings for a large number of air quality factors like PMs, VOCs, CO2, humidity, and temperature. The color-coded LED display makes it easy to read and you can receive air quality notifications directly to your phone and from Amazon Echo and Show devices. The unit itself is small and stylish and comes with a Micro USB port that you’ll use to plug it in. The one big complaint about this unit is that it doesn’t provide enough information. It basically just gives you an air quality rating without being more specific about what is causing the rating.
- Integrates with Amazon Alexa devices
- Provides five different air quality readings
- Easy to use color-coded display
- Smart, compact, and stylish looking
- Limited information about air quality ratings
- Concerns and issues over accuracy
One thing we never think about when we travel is the quality of the air we’re breathing in hotels, Airbnbs, and hostels. Much of the time, these rooms barely come with a CO2 detector but you’ll be pleased to see that the Vivosun Air Quality Monitor tests for much more than that. This monitor provides 24-hour readings for VOCs and PM1.0, 2.5, and 10. It even detects various levels of formaldehyde in the air. The unit is portable so it’s easy to bring with you on a trip and the readings provided are simple and straightforward so anyone can use the device.
It comes with a battery and charges using a type-C USB cable. It only has a battery life of about 3-4 hours and takes around 3 hours to charge. That said, it’s not as much of an issue with this unit because it’s designed to be used when you arrive to a new location, test the air, get your reading, and then shut it off if everything is okay. What’s most important is that you receive an accurate reading and for the most part, this one seems to provide accuracy within reason for the price you’re paying.
- Portable and easy to carry
- Provides readings on many different contaminants
- Highly affordable
- Built-in alarm to war, you of dangerous air quality levels
- 3–4-hour battery life
- Display is a bit cluttered and can be hard to understand
Frequently Asked Questions
Are indoor air quality monitors worth it?
How can I monitor air quality in my home?
Can an indoor air sensor detect mold?
How do indoor air quality sensors work?
Safe Smart Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Demers R. Overview of radon, lead and asbestos exposure. Am Fam Physician. 1991;44(5 Suppl):51S-52S, 55S-61S.
- Smith D. The three types of commercial air quality monitors. Learn.kaiterra.com. Published October 31, 2019. Accessed May 23, 2022.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. Particulate matter (PM) basics. Epa.gov. Accessed May 23, 2022.
- Smith D. Can air quality monitors detect mold? Learn.kaiterra.com. Published December 4, 2019. Accessed May 23, 2022.
- Kaiterra. The 3 types of particle detectors: how we see the invisible. Learn.kaiterra.com. Published September 17, 2017. Accessed May 23, 2022.