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Typical CO2 Levels at Home Tester

CO2 Levels at home

Is there a home tester for carbon dioxide?

Measuring carbon dioxide, or CO2 is the current gold standard for measuring indoor air quality in the home. In fact, many individuals measure carbon dioxide to ensure that the home is healthy and proper ventilation is in place. High carbon dioxide levels mean not enough fresh air is reaching indoor areas of a building.

To analyze carbon dioxide in the air, you can use CO2 indoor air quality monitors. These monitors have small sensors that use infrared technology to measure the amount of CO2 in the air. These devices range from $50-$500. 

How accurate is a CO2 home tester?

The accuracy of a CO2 tester depends on its type, model, and usage conditions. 

Most home carbon dioxide testers are accurate within a range of +/- 50 ppm or better. If the carbon dioxide level is 400ppm, the CO2 tester reading can range from 350 to 450 ppm. But factors like temperature, humidity, or airflow can influence a tester's accuracy. 

A CO2 tester is a good way to check indoor air quality, but its accuracy depends on the device and environment.

CO2 Tester for Home Use and Indoor Air Quality

In order to measure CO2 levels in your home, you will need a carbon dioxide monitor or tester. With a CO2 tester you are able to easily and affordably measure carbon dioxide levels in your home. These devices come in several different types including handheld, desktop, or wall-mounted units. Some testers may also measure other parameters such as temperature, dew point, humidity, or volatile organic compounds.

When picking a CO2 tester for home, think about accuracy, range, and how easy it is to use. Look for a device that is easy to maintain and read, to understand real-time CO2 levels. Additionally, you may want to consider the cost and whether the device requires any ongoing maintenance or replacement parts.

To understand the CO2 tester analysis, it's important to know normal and above average CO2 levels.

What is an acceptable level of CO2 in a home?

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) sets standards for recommended indoor CO2 levels in homes. Here is a list of CO2 levels per ASHRAE.

This list will help you understand the levels in your home. You can refer to this list when you read your CO2 monitor. ASHRAE suggests keeping indoor levels below 1,000ppm in schools and 800ppm in offices for better air quality.

 ~400 ppm  background (normal) outdoor air levels
400 - 1,000 ppm  typical levels found in occupied spaces with good air exchange
1,000 – 2,000 ppm levels associated with complaints of drowsiness and poor
2,000 – 5,000 ppm

levels associated with headaches, sleepiness, and stagnant, stale, stuffy air

Poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea may also be present

> 5,000 ppm Workplace exposure limit (as 8-hour TWA) in most jurisdictions.


CO2 Levels and your Health

Normal outdoor air has around 400 ppm. Occupied spaces with good air exchange usually have 400-1,000 ppm. Levels of 1,000-2,000 ppm often associate complaints of drowsiness and poor air quality.

Levels at 2,000 - 5,000 are often indicators of poor air quality and can be associated with headaches, sleepiness, and stagnant or stuffy air. Many professors view this level as a core indicator for poor concentration, loss of attention, and reduction of cognitive thinking in confined classroom settings. 

We recommend staying as close to 400ppm (outdoor CO2 concentration) and below 800ppm.

CO2 Home Tester Experiment 

We tested the air quality in our home using an Aranet4 HOME CO2 monitor. CO2Meter has gained recognition for its expertise in indoor air quality and CO2 monitoring. We selected a friend to test our product and get honest feedback for accurate analysis.

We gathered data and analysis to demonstrate to customers a typical day of CO2 monitoring. This helps them understand the amount of carbon dioxide they may come across on a daily basis.

We used the monitor all day. We got the data. We saved it as a text file. We made a graph in Microsoft Excel. Here's what we learned.

6 a.m.

Woke up and checked the monitor. The CO2 level was 1,380 ppm with two people sleeping in a bedroom and the door closed. This exceeds the safety limit set by NIOSH and the recommended CO2 level for indoor greenhouses.

I opened the bedroom door and thought that if I want indoor plants, I should keep them in the bedroom.

co2 levels in home over a day

7 a.m. 

With the bedroom door open, my CO2 levels at home dropped to 650 ppm. In a home or office with people, the CO2 level should be higher than normal. This is true even if it is above the 400 ppm fresh air level. If my CO2 levels at home were too high, it would mean I wasn't getting enough fresh air. If the CO2 level was too low, it would indicate too much fresh air and wasted HVAC energy. 

8 a.m.

After some time in my home office checking email, it was time to take a morning walk. My new year’s resolution is to actually pay attention to my Apple Watch and get in 10,000 steps a day. The moment I stepped outdoors, the CM-501 dropped to 400 ppm and stayed at that level for the next hour.

9 a.m.

I decided to make a quick trip to the local Starbucks for coffee. Since it was about 70 degrees outside, I didn’t use the heater or air conditioning in the car. However, with the windows closed, over 15 minute drive the CO2 level inside the car rose to 1,900 ppm.

The levels dropped when I opened the door and got my coffee. However, they rose again to 2,400 ppm on the way back.

This isn’t surprising. CO2 levels in cars can rise quickly. SenseAir found that even with fresh air ventilation on, a car with 4 adults can reach CO2 levels of 6,000 ppm. Knowing this is important, as drowsiness is attributed to between 10 and 30% of all automobile accidents.

To combat the high level of CO2, I turned on the air conditioning. The effect was immediate, as you can see in the graph. Within 4 blocks, the cabin air quality dipped to 500 ppm.

10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

I spent the remainder of my day alone in my home office with the door open. My CO2 levels at home varied between 750 and 800 ppm.

The CO2 level in the house rose when two people cooked in the kitchen. It reached its highest point at 1,100 ppm in the family room while they were watching TV before going to bed.

Why CO2 levels at home matter

Although my day was normal, I discovered that unintentional exposure to high CO2 levels at home is easy. This is important for everyone, but especially for students and office workers. Harvard researcher Joseph Allen and colleagues found a link between indoor air quality and cognitive performance in a study.

The study discovered that repetitive tasks were not impacted. However, certain cognitive scores were 101% higher in an office that had good ventilation. For me, this means I must monitor CO2 levels in my home office to achieve maximum productivity in the future. Fortunately, simply keeping the door open works for me.

High CO2 levels at home are important because they indicate potential problems with heating and cooling systems, according to experts.

As CO2 levels rise, the quantity of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors and micro-organisms in the air rise too. That’s why HVAC engineers use carbon dioxide monitors like the CM-501 to regulate airflow in modern office buildings. The same goes for private homes too.

Were my CO2 levels typical for any home?

Perhaps not. The temperature stayed at 70 degrees all day, I shut the windows, and neither the furnace nor the air conditioner turned on. The "tightness" of a house (old vs. new windows, etc.) makes a difference too.

However, the experiment was still interesting, and I'm glad I tried it. Since CO2Meter makes low-cost indoor air quality meters, it is easy for anyone to test their home's indoor air quality.

Best CO2 testers for Indoor Air Quality

There are several CO2 testers that are well suited for measuring indoor air quality in homes, classrooms, and office buildings. Here are just a few options you can consider:

  1. Aranet4 PRO Indoor Air Quality Monitor
  2. TIM10 Desktop CO2, Temp, & Humidity Monitor
  3. cSense Large Character Wall CO2 Monitor 
  4. Portable CO2 Detector and Alarm 
  5. CO2, Temp, and RH Indoor Air Quality Monitor

It's important to note that while there are many different CO2 testers available, each with its own features and capabilities - the best option for you will depend upon your use case, environment, and budget.

10 Tips to Lower CO2 Levels in Your Home

After finding high CO2 levels at home, we wanted to study ways to reduce them.

Below we highlight the top 10 tips we discovered.

  1. Ensure that your HVAC is working properly (replacing your air filters can lower your CO2 levels)
  2. Arrange your home for good airflow by moving furniture away from windows and creating an open space. This will ensure the best airflow.
  3. Limit open flames (smoke releases large amounts of CO2)
  4. Incorporate plants in your home (plants help purify the air)
  5. Invest in a air purifier
  6. Increase airflow while cooking (turning on an extractor can expel CO2)
  7. Use natural cleaning agents and non-toxic paint
  8. Monitor your home's humidity levels (most CO2 monitors have this feature, aim for humidity between 30% and 50%).
  9. Minimize rug use (pollutants can easily get trapped)
  10. Get a low-cost CO2 Monitor (like this one)

For more information regarding indoor air quality, carbon dioxide solutions and your home or workspace - contact us today.

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