How to Monitor Air Quality at Home

How to Monitor Air Quality at Home

You may be thinking that while Indoor Air Quality may be a topic of concern in some households, there is no way that there would ever be an issue with your own home. Even if you have read that poor indoor air quality may lead to negative personal health effects, it always feels more comforting to not worry about it. However, the quality of air that you breathe may be more important than you realize.

For example, an EPA case study has shown that the accumulation of CO2 can lead to negative health effects for students pertaining to classroom applications. 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 absence due to respiratory infection, allergic diseases, biological contaminants, or adverse reactions to chemicals used in schools.” By monitoring overall indoor air quality factors like carbon dioxide levels, in a home, office, or classroom setting, you can actually increase your occupant comfort, focus, cognitive learning, and productivity through proper monitoring and effective mitigation.

When we look at the effects of monitoring air quality at home, not only are there positive effects on personal health with proper monitoring, 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?

An average CO2 monitor typically includes the ability to measure only carbon dioxide concentrations. Additional advanced models also include measurements for temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, or particulate matter. 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 directly interfere.

Once you have placed your device on a firm surface or mounted it to the wall, ensure that there is power supplied to the device either through a wall plug or the devices built-in batteries. The devices need the proper power supply to ensure accurate readings. Once the device is powered on, the user may notice a standard 30-second countdown or warm-up period, dependent upon the device. This 30-second countdown will confirm that the sensor is stabilized and ready to take accurate readings.

You will now be ready to measure and view the concentrations of carbon dioxide gas, which will be displayed in the "ppm" value.

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.

*Note: 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. Proper ventilation at this level is needed -  immediately.

Types of Air Quality Monitors

IAQ MAX CO2 Monitor and Data Logger

In most homes, offices, or classroom environments, desktop CO2 monitors like the IAQ-MAX CO2 Monitor and Data Logger should be utilized to monitor carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity, or barometric pressure levels as they would be experienced by occupants indoors. This means the monitor should be set on a desk, tabletop, or any flat surface. In addition, some desktop IAQ monitors such as the IAQ-MAX provide data logging capabilities and save data logs for up to 30 days for continued analysis.

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 or mount the device in a location where visitors will not congregate.


An example of a wall-mounted CO2 monitor is the WiFi 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.

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. 

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 compressed CO2 being stored or produced.

The difference between these safety devices, and indoor air quality sensing solutions, is that these 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.

CO2 Sensing Technologies can be divided into 3 main groups:

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) or HVAC industries = 1% CO2

Restaurant, Beverage, Agriculture, Safety = 0-5% CO2

Industrial, Medical, Scientific, Fire Suppression = 10-100% CO2

Indoor Air Quality solutions, will not accommodate these requirements.
View the Remote CO2 Storage Safety 3 Alarm or CM-7000 CO2 Multi-Sensor System for a carbon dioxide (co2) safety alarm reference.

Which CO2 Monitor is Right for You?

First, you must consider 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 or 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, speak to an expert today: Sales@CO2Meter.com 


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