Case Study: Why Air Quality Monitors Are Next Step in Home Automation
Topic: Air Quality Monitors and Home Automation
Industry: Air Quality Technology, Government, Smart Home Technology, Home Automation
Author: Adrian Dybwad
Contrary to popular belief, inside air quality can be worse than outdoor air quality. That’s because air doesn’t circulate as much indoors, exposing occupants to high levels of air pollution for longer periods. As such, there’s an increased chance of contracting illnesses linked to air pollution, such as asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease.
However, advances in air quality technology can help you protect yourself from poor indoor air quality.
With the integration of air quality monitors and smart home technology, you can automate your home devices to limit the circulation of air pollution inside your house. In return, you immediately improve indoor air quality and create a better air quality monitoring system.
In this air quality case study, we’re exploring the integration of PurpleAir air quality monitors with HomeAssistant.io and its implications for indoor air quality.
The Concern About Indoor Air Quality
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. This means that 90% of the air we breathe comes from indoors, which has higher levels of air pollution than you might think.
One study found that pollen levels can be 2-5x worse inside schools and offices than outside. Another study reports that 90% of homes have more than three detectable allergens. These are due to a complex number of factors such as:
Low air exchange rate inside buildings and homes. This especially applies to energy-efficient homes, which are often sealed shut to conserve energy. Because of this, inside air pollution doesn't have a means of escape and is trapped for long periods.
High-polluting indoor activities. For example, cooking and cleaning release high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). While photocopying and printing release volatile organic compounds and ozone.
Furniture, equipment, and the building materials. Asbestos, for one, is often used as an insulation and fireproofing material for old buildings. But it also releases dangerous air pollutants that can lead to debilitating health consequences.
High-polluting natural events. Smoke from wildfires, for instance, can travel through your open doors and windows. Other air pollutants, like secondhand smoke, can also stick to your clothes and pets when you travel outdoors.
With so many factors contributing to indoor air pollution, people spending most of their time indoors are at higher risk of air pollution-related diseases. In fact, the World Health Organization attributes 3.5 million deaths a year to household air pollution.
So, what can we do about this?
Thankfully, air quality monitors for homes have progressed so much that they can now connect to home assistants. One such example is the PurpleAir air quality monitor which can be used with Smart Home Technology.
How PurpleAir & Smart Home Technology Show Indoor Air Pollution
Since the invention of the remote control in 1898, smart home devices have become a regular part of indoor living. Air conditioners and heaters let people maintain comfortable temperatures at home. And smart appliances like vacuum cleaners and dishwashers make cleaning easier.
Today, smart home technology has advanced so much that you can employ home automation with multiple devices and appliances. One such example is HomeAssistant.io—an open-source website that invites community members to build smart home automation. This includes an automation system with PurpleAir air quality monitors.
In 2019, developer Chris Colohan started sharing his configurations so others can integrate their PurpleAir monitors into their Home Assistant. Since then, community developers have contributed to the discussion, adding more integrations and functionalities.
Below are 3 of the latest features:
AQI Conversion. Because AQI scales differ from country to country, Home Assistant users developed a formula that converts the data from their PurpleAir air quality monitor to the AQI of their location. We’ve also published a guide for how to calculate AQI.
Air Quality Monitoring Dashboard. This dashboard allows people who own multiple PurpleAir air quality monitors to see all the data at a glance. As a result, you can compare air quality on a hyper-local level.
Home Automation. Want to set up your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system to turn on when your air quality monitor measures a certain threshold? Do it today, so you can prevent outside air pollution from entering your home when outdoor air becomes too toxic and automatically shut your windows.
Future Implications of Smart Air Quality Technology
As more users add to the integrations of PurpleAir and Home Assistant, the possibilities of advancing indoor air quality monitoring increases. We’re thrilled to see more projects like this in the community that help individuals make decisions to protect themselves from air pollution without having to think about it.
Through these advances, breathable indoor air quality will soon be accessible to all. And at the end of that day, that’s our mission here at PurpleAir.
Since being founded in 2018, PurpleAir has dedicated itself to providing highly precise air quality monitors that track hyper-local air quality levels in real time. In doing this, PurpleAir is empowering community scientists and helping to facilitate social change through accessible air quality data for all. By working together, everyone is more informed and able to make changes in their local communities to improve air quality.