Tech Talk: Airthings Wave Plus
As an asthma sufferer I’m very aware of the problems that poor air quality can cause, making sure to keep my house clean and dust free in order to breathe-easy at home.
Or, so I thought – blissfully unaware of a silent threat lurking in the air in what I believed to be a safe environment.
I’m talking about radon, a colourless and odourless natural radioactive gas formed by the decay of the small amounts of uranium that come from rocks and soils.
It is found in the air at very low levels outdoors, but it can sometimes rise to high levels when trapped indoors and can increase the risk of lung cancer long-term.
Cancer Research UK scientists have found that exposure to indoor radon gas is linked to four per cent of lung cancer cases in the UK.
Step forward Airthings, a Norway-based tech company which has made raising awareness of and eradicting radon risks in the home its mission.
Now, the average level of radon gas in UK homes is low, but levels can vary across the UK. You can find out your radon levels on the UK radon map.
As such, Airthings have now introduced its Wave Plus to the UK and are also partnering with the British Lung Foundation.
Its Wave air quality monitor – the previous model to the Wave Plus – was the first to provide real-time radon detection.
The Airthings Wave Plus builds on that products foundation monitoring not only radon, but also CO2 and total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) with temperature, humidity and air pressure sensors.
Its smoke-detector style design allows it to be hidden away in the room of your choice, with Airthings advising installing the sensor at least three feet from windows or vents – I opted for the kitchen.
Once out the box all you need to do is place the Wave Plus wherever you fancy and remove the battery tab – the unit already has AA batteries preinstalled – then launch the Wave companion app to start the pairing process (I used the iOS app.)
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This took a couple of minutes and was pretty straighforward. You do have to wait around an hour until it gathers the first reading, but there is a handy timer built into the app to save you clock-watching.
The unit itself takes around a week to fully calibrate and get used to its surroundings, with the built-in LED on top eventually glowing green if the air quality is good, yellow if the the air quality is approaching maximum recommended levels, or red if one or more of the sensors are detecting high levels.
I believe the LED should glow if you simply wave your hand over the unit, however this never seemed to work for me but Airthings have been great and have arranged to replace my unit.
The app breaks the sensors down for you so you can see your readings – and if you need to let a little fresh air into your home, updating with the latest data whenever your phone is nearby.
I will say that I'm still trying to figure out what is triggering the high TVOC readings – albeit only a small number – with an unknown source causing spikes at certain times.
Having tried out similar products, I feel some ‘handy tips’ on the app may give a novice user like me some ideas on how to make their air quality better or what could be making the air quality poor.
However, I do like the ease of reading the air quality indicator in the app in which it is clearly set out into categories, such as humidity and temperature along with the radon, TVOC and carbon dioxide levels.
Luckily, my radon levels stayed very low according to my historical data, accessed by swiping right to look over the last 48 hours, week, month or year.
All in all I think the Airthings Wave Plus is a great gadget for monitoring your air quality.
Are there similar products on the market? Yes, so I’d say do your research.
For me the unit is a little pricy at £239, but if you’re after something that can help you manage and monitor environmental changes such as CO2, TVOCs and air pressure which can make us more susceptible to illness, such as colds, I’d say go for it.