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How to Monitor Air Quality at Home

How to Monitor Air Quality at Home

Your house is clean. You use air fresheners and change your furnace filters regularly. You open the windows on pleasant days. While you've read about concerns over indoor air quality, you are confident that there is no way this would ever be an issue in your own home.

You may be wrong.

A growing body of evidence reveals that even in the cleanest homes, schools, hospitals and offices, poor indoor air quality leads to negative personal health effects. While it always feels more comforting to not worry about it, the quality of air you breathe indoors is more important than you realize.

Take school classrooms for example. An EPA case study has shown that the accumulation of CO2 indoors can lead to negative health effects. The study states,

“Recent research suggests that a school’s physical environment can also play a major role in occupant and student academic performance. Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can increase absenteeism due to respiratory infection, allergic diseases, biological contaminants, or adverse reactions to chemicals used in schools.”

While your home is not a classroom, how much different is it when your family gets together for dinner or to watch TV at night? Monitoring indoor air quality factors like carbon dioxide levels can increase your family's comfort, safety, cognitive learning, and productivity.

When we look at the effects of monitoring air quality at home, not only are there positive effects on personal health, there are also clear benefits in energy savings too.

A key study from the ASHRAE Journal says

“Buildings that have properly installed carbon dioxide-based demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) systems, can reduce over-ventilation, saving money on energy costs.”

The demand for environmentally friendly and HVAC ventilated CO2 monitors is increasing more than ever before. Customers now are taking a stand to reduce unnecessary over-ventilation and also looking at more cost-effective solutions, making carbon dioxide monitoring a vital component.

How to Monitor Air Quality?

A basic carbon dioxide (CO2) monitor has the ability to measure only carbon dioxide concentrations. Advanced models include measurements for temperature, relative humidity and particulate matter. While these additional features are useful, think of CO2 as the "canary in the mineshaft." High levels of CO2 indicate potentially high levels of dust, mold, bacteria and airborne pathogens

In order to monitor air quality properly, it is important to ensure you are familiar with what would define "poor indoor air quality levels".

For reference, we have included the CO2 classification guide below:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Classification Guide

  • 400ppm – Normal outdoor air level.
  • 400 ~ 1000ppm – Typical value level indoors with good ventilation. If CO2 levels are low when the building is sealed and occupied, check for over-ventilation (too much fresh air = energy wasted).
  • 1,000ppm – the OSHA/ASHRAE recommended maximum level in a closed room. Considered maximum comfort level in many countries.
  • > 1,200ppm – Poor air quality – requires ventilation to the room.
  • 2,000ppm – According to many studies this level of CO2 produces a significant increase in drowsiness, tiredness, headaches, lower levels of concentration, and an increased likelihood of spreading respiratory viruses like colds, etc.

More information: 5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home.

Types of Air Quality Monitors

IAQ monitor

In most homes, offices, or classroom environments, desktop CO2 monitors like the Aranet4 Home Indoor Air Quality Monitor should be utilized to monitor carbon dioxide, temperature, relative humidity, or barometric pressure levels as they would be experienced by occupants indoors.

In addition, some desktop IAQ monitors such as the Aranet4HOME provide air quality monitoring directly from the e-ink display with wireless connectivity to connect your smartphone and view data via the Aranet4 app (iOS or Android). 

An example of a wall-mounted CO2 monitor is the CO2, Temp, and RH Indoor Air Quality Monitor. These devices are best used where a single space or multiple spaces with common occupancy patterns are being ventilated. Indoor Air Quality monitors are the perfect solution for intelligent buildings, intelligent house systems, and air quality collection systems.

air quality monitor

Additionally, individuals can take advantage of Portable, Handheld CO2 Solutions for Indoor Air Quality applications - such as the CM-501 GasLab Plus Carbon Dioxide Handheld Gas Detector. The CM-501 can be used as a portable and "on-the-go" solution to measure CO2 gas concentrations in IAQ and HVAC industries, gain audible indication should levels exceed normal concentrations, and offers data logging capabilities from a 16GB SD card. 

Using an Air Quality Monitor

One should understand that when using an air quality device whether it is a desktop, wall-mount, or handheld unit, you should never place the instrument near an air conditioner vent, open window, or anywhere that ventilation can have a direct effect.

When discussing wall-mounted CO2 mounted IAQ devices, these should be mounted at the same height as a thermostat - about 48 inches from the floor.

Like your thermostat, the CO2 sensor should not be mounted or set near outside doors or windows as this can make space appear to have more fresh air than it actually does. 

Another key factor when choosing a location for your CO2 monitor is that people breathing on the device will negatively affect the reading. You will want to take that into consideration and mount the device in a location where visitors will not congregate.

Safety vs. IAQ Monitoring

Many industries utilize compressed carbon dioxide and it is important to recognize the difference between an indoor air quality monitor vs. a carbon dioxide safety alarm.

Industries such as brewing, restaurants, and cultivation facilities require a carbon dioxide safety alarm as opposed to an indoor air quality monitor due to the levels or amount of compressed CO2 being stored or produced.

The difference between these safety devices and indoor air quality sensing solutions is that safety devices have stricter CO2 monitor installation guidelines and are often required by state and local fire marshals. In addition, IAQ monitors are designed with different CO2 sensors that are not designed to measure CO2 in safety ranges.

  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) or HVAC industries = 1% CO2
  • Restaurant, Beverage, Agriculture, Safety = 0-5% CO2
  • Industrial, Medical, Scientific, Fire Suppression = 10-100% CO2

Which CO2 Monitor is Right for You?

Your first consideration should be the requirements of your application. Are you monitoring air quality levels for health and indoor air quality, or for safety purposes? If the answer is indoor air quality, the next question is wall-mounted, portable, or desktop?

One of the most common phone conversations we have with customers is the surprise they get in overall benefits from their new CO2 meter in homes, school and offices. They've found that high CO2 levels indoors can have a direct impact on their quality of life, overall productivity, and attention span.

Looking for more information in regards to Indoor Air Quality solutions? Contact us. We're here to help.

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