How to Pick the Best Air Quality Monitor in 2023

Best Air Quality Monitors in 2023

They say that prevention is better than a cure. While often quoted in the medical context, the same can be said when it comes to poor air quality.

Exposure to poor air quality has been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, neuropsychiatric problems, and even cancers. Studies have also shown that air pollution has contributed to the death of 7 million people yearly.

But how can you reduce the effects of poor air quality on your health?

Simple, invest in the best air quality monitor for you to reduce your exposure to poor air quality.

By choosing an air quality monitor that meets your needs, you can better identify the levels of air pollution and take the right steps to address it. Beyond this, you can make more informed decisions on improving the air quality at home.

Today, we’ll be sharing tips on how to pick an air quality monitor as well as cover the types of air quality monitors.

Types of Air Quality Monitors

Before you go on a shopping spree, you need to first determine which type of air quality monitor you want to buy, an outdoor or indoor air quality monitor. Here are the most common types and their purpose. However, some high-quality ones can do both.

#1 - Outdoor Air Quality Monitor

Outdoor air quality monitors need to accurately and consistently record air quality data outdoors. But to do that, they also need to withstand extreme weather conditions, record data offline, and have a power source. It should also be sturdy enough to bear up against all kinds of elements and temperatures.

For example, our PurpleAir Classic air quality monitor is designed specifically for outdoor use.

PurpleAir Classic Air Quality Monitor

#2 - Indoor Air Quality Monitor

Because indoor conditions are less intense, indoor air quality monitors don’t need to have a weather-resilient casing. They also can do without memory cards as a Wi-Fi connection is usually available. Often, they can also show you the air quality in real-time with a light, for example.

The PurpleAir Touch is an example of an indoor air quality monitor that does this.

PurpleAir Touch indoor air quality monitor

While there are differences between indoor and outdoor air quality monitors, there are also air quality monitors for both indoor and outdoor use, like our latest PurpleAir Zen. The only difference is that they’re sturdy enough to work in harsh weather. At the same time, they’re compact enough to fit into your home.

PurpleAir Zen air quality monitor

Now that you know the different types of air monitors, it’s time to understand the must-have features of high-quality air quality monitors.

6 Tips for Choosing an Air Quality Monitor

Not all air quality monitors are of the same quality. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that there are no standard criteria for air quality monitors. As such, it’s important to pay attention to the air quality monitor features before purchasing.

To help you find an air quality monitor for all your needs, here are 6 questions to consider:

#1 Does it measure dangerous air pollutants?

Ideally, you want an air quality monitor that measures harmful air pollutants like particulate matter. Plus, you want one that can measure pressure, temperature, and humidity, as these affect your air quality. More importantly, you should check if the monitor follows the Air Quality Index, so you can act accordingly if air quality reaches unhealthy levels.

#2 Who uses this air quality monitor?

Like any product or service, you should look at who uses it. This way, you’ll know if the product is all it claims to be. You can also take this a step further by reading the reports by air quality researchers and climate scientists.

For instance, the Berkley Lab experiments on different models and brands. These objectively tell you the strengths and limitations of each. It also gives you a better idea of the quality of the air quality monitors as they are compared to professional-grade ones.

#3 Are there integrations and additional features?

Air quality monitor technology has advanced so much that most now have multiple integrations and features. One of which is the ability to connect to your smart home devices, so you can automate your home. While it’s not necessary, it’s a nice additional feature to look for.

#4 What are the limitations of this air quality monitor?

While air quality monitors are now more commercially available, some still have limitations. For instance, extremely cheap air quality monitors only detect a single air pollutant. Others don’t work when temperatures reach freezing point.

We highly recommend investing in the most accurate one that will work in any environment. Otherwise, it’s simply not doing the job to inform you of poor air quality—putting you and your loved ones at risk.

#5 Does the air quality monitor show real-time data?

An air quality monitor can’t help you see your air quality in real-time if the data is only updated hours later. By that time, the harmful air pollution might have already affected your health. That's why you should look for an air quality monitor that shows real-time data.

#6 Does this air quality monitor have certifications?

Because no international standards exist for air quality monitors, it’s crucial to look for proper evaluation from scientific organizations and labs. One example is the Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC). AQ-SPEC tests and evaluates devices based on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and other accuracy and performance requirements. 

As air quality monitors are one of your first lines of defense against air pollution, it’s imperative to find an air quality monitor that does its job well. Never sacrifice the quality of your air quality monitor over a few extra dollars. By following these steps, you’ll be able to find an air quality monitor that truly helps you make the right decision to protect yourself from air pollution.

Worried About Your Air Quality?

Monitor the particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home.

Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.