GeekDad Review: Airthings Wave Mini Indoor Air Quality Monitor

One of the worst issues with winter (at least where I live) is indoor air quality. The cold and snow are a problem, of course—although they at least can be fun sometimes—but the cold means the furnace and fireplace are running while the windows are closed. The air in the house can get a bit stale and dry. And poor quality air is never fun. It can result in lethargy, headaches, sore eyes, and other problems. A few months back, Airthings sent me its Wave Mini indoor Air Quality Monitor to try out, and that was just in time for the “sealed indoors” winter experience.

Airthings Wave Mini review
The green light means indoor air quality is good. (Photo by Brad Moon)

What the Wave Mini Measures

Indoor air quality sensors are becoming big business. I’ve tried out a half dozen of them in the past year alone. The Airthings Wave Mini doesn’t offer the comprehensive coverage that some of the other do, focusing instead on three variables: temperature, humidity, and VOC.

Airthings Wave Mini review
Wave Mini sensor readings. (Image copyright Airthings)

The first two are probably familiar, but the third deserves explanation. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These are produced by a wide range of sources such as burning candles, fireplaces, new carpets and furniture, room deodorizers, glue, paint, cooking fumes, and cleaning products. VOC aren’t good for you and their effects range from eye and throat irritation right up to the risk for serious damage to various organs if exposed to high concentrations for an extended time.

If you’re interested in more comprehensive monitoring the Airthings Wave Plus has additional sensors to track Radon, air pressure, and CO2.

Portable + Simple Operation

The appeal of the Wave Mini is that it lacks the intimidation factor and complexity of many other monitors. This is a small disk that can be wall mounted with a single screw or snapped onto a stand. I have it sitting on my desk. You can easily move it from room to room. That’s the “mini” part of the name. The “wave” part is its operation. Simply wave your hand in front and an LED will light up and give you an indoor air quality reading: green (good), yellow (warning), or red (danger).

Airthings Wave Mini review
This is a portable device that takes up little space and can easily be moved from room to room. (Photo by Brad Moon)

Those ratings are based on a combination of the three air quality measurements being tracked. When it’s green, all is good and you probably won’t care about details. If it’s yellow or red, fire up the mobile app (the Wave Mini connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth), and you get detailed measurements for each of the three variables. You can quickly see which is a problem, how bad it is, and how long it’s been like that. You can check readings going back a year to look for patterns.

Power is supplied by three AA batteries, and they are supposed to last three years before needing replacement.

It couldn’t be easier.

If you want to add a little more challenge, Airthings says the Wave Mini is Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT compatible, so you could integrate it with third-party smart products and create custom alerts.

What Good Does This Do You?

The Airthings Wave Mini is meant to be a visual warning that it’s time to open the window. A yellow or red light means you will benefit from fresh air. From there, if you wish you can look for patterns in the app data (which goes back 12 months) and try to address causes. If you’re seeing a lot of red, you’ll definitely want to take action.

Airthings Wave Mini review
The mobile app—for iOS and Android—gives more detailed and historical info. (Screen capture by Brad Moon)

Maybe someone is doing a lot of painting in the house without adequate ventilation. Maybe you need a humidifier running in the winter. Maybe there’s a crack in the chimney.

As mentioned, I have the Wave Mini in my office. Any time I’ve noticed an orange light (no reds at this point, knock on wood), cracking the window has immediately made me feel more awake. Doing so quickly results in that sensor going green as well. Poking around the app, I’ve noticed I can easily pinpoint the cause of yellow warnings caused by VOCs (it’s always been VOCs in my case). It always comes down to one of the three things: someone using a frying pan and burning whatever they’re cooking, someone burning a candle, or someone burning an artificial log in the fireplace. Burning real wood does not usually trigger it, so those fake logs are obviously big VOC emitters.

Not much I can do about those issues other than chopping more firewood and working with the kids on the difference between lightly browned and burnt, but it’s still useful to have the visual reminder to crack a window now and then. At $79.99 and with such a compact form and simple interface, the Wave Mini is a useful home wellness/home safety addition that adds a little peace of mind.

Disclosure: Airthings provided a Wave Mini for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.

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