Bitfinder, the company behind the Awair air quality monitor, was founded in 2013 and is based in Palto Alto, CA. Key executives include Ronald Ro (Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder), Kevin Cho (Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder) and Bosung Kim (Chief Design Officer). Ronald earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue, with a flourishing career beginning at Boeing.
Somewhere along the line, a daughter emerges for Ronald struggling with eczema, and two sons for Kevin with asthma. Disappointed with the air quality monitors in the marketplace, they set their sails to design a better one. So, in 2015, Awair was launched; and, with much success, it expanded its retail presence in Asia and Europe. Awair Air Quality Monitors are also sold at Amazon and B8ta, a tech gadget store with offices in Austin, Seattle, Santa Monica and Palo Alto. In August of 2016, with lots of orders, Bitfinder closed on a $4.5 million Series A funding platform, led by Altos Ventures and participant Samsung Ventures.
Awair Air Quality Monitor uses intelligent sensors to track CO2, chemicals (VOCs), and dust. In addition, indoor room humidity and temperature. Each sensor is pre-calibrated to a baseline for a higher level of accuracy.
VOCs: 0 to 2014 ppb
CO2 measures the level of carbon dioxide. Higher the level, lower the amount of fresh air. 1000 ppm indicates potential problems with air circulation. 2,000 – 5,000 ppm symptoms could range from headaches to sleepiness to stagnant-stale-stuffy air. Concentration poor, attention level minimal, heart rate increased and slight nausea.
I would avoid treating carpets with anything that could possibly be considered toxic.
CO2: 0 to 4000 ppm,+/- 75ppm
Organic compounds are chemicals found in all living things. Most scents or odors are VOCs. VOCs are discharged from burning fuel (gasoline, wood, coal or natural gas). VOCs can also be released from: solvents, paints, glues. And, other products -- benzene, formaldehyde, solvents such as toluene and xylene, styrene and solvents used in dry cleaning. Paint thinners, moth repellents, air fresheners, hobby supplies, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays and automotive products. Copiers, printers or correction fluids used at the office. Awair also detects cigarette smoke.
Health effects depend specifically on the VOC, level and length of exposure. Long term encounter can wreak havoc to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system, and lead to cancer.
Dust: 0 to 500 μg/m3
This feature measures the level of small particles in the air. The dust sensor in Awair, while sufficient, does not replicate the accuracy of dedicated laser particle counters, such as the Dylos DC1100, which I have found to be a valuable asset in determining indoor air quality.
Humidity: 0 to 95%, +/- 3%
In high humidity, mold may flourish, as well as dust mites and allergy triggering.
Temperature: -40 to +125°C (-40 to +257°F),+/- 0.3°C
For comparison purposes, I found verifying temps with a mercury free digital thermometer did the trick.
Awair utilizes real-time data to deliver personal feedback, connecting with smart products like Nest and Amazon Alexa.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology will get users up and running quickly and securely.
Through an IFTTT channel (If, This, Then That), you can use measurements to cause other actions to happen.
For instance, when humidity spikes above a determined level, you can switch on a dehumidifier. Numerous combinations are available through the app making life easier, or complicated, however you look at it.
Awair supports devices running Android and iOS 8 or later (beware that these devices will change as technology spits out newer and improved models):
Before you set up Awair, you need to install the app from Apple or the Google Play store.
Scientific evidence points out that the air in our homes and buildings can be more toxic than outdoor air. Some people border on spending 90% of their time indoors. Pollution indoors is one danger you can, and should, do something about. This is where the Awair Air Quality Monitor steps in; tracking chemicals and toxins that affect your everyday existence – allergies, sleep, asthma, eczema. Awair offers personalized advice to help you stay safe and clean. Keen sensors identify dust, chemicals, carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature; notifying you when changes happen.
When the colored Awair score starts to drop (zero to one hundred - with 0 being poor and 100 being healthy), practical-advice tips are offered. The more number of dots, less favorable conditions exist.
The trend graph helps you to better understand behavioral patterns as to what’s causing air quality issues as they’re occurring. The monitor displays 24 hours’ worth of data. From my point of view, a 24 hour period just isn’t enough. A longer history, set over multiple days, would have been much more beneficial.
Some gasses are not as dense and tend to rise. Others, CO2, for instance, do not rise. Where should you place your Awair Air Quality Monitor? Best advice in obtaining accurate chemical data, is to position the monitor on a shelf, a table or hard surface at standing head height or lower. Only problem I foresee with this is, one’s cord might not be long enough. Distance the unit at least an inch or two away from any walls, closer to the edge, allowing natural airflow to the sensors. In my kitchen area, I distance the unit from areas where it could get wet or exposed to excessive heat. Avoid moving Awair from room to room as that can temporarily affect accurate room readings. One monitor is ideally suited for a bedroom, living room or kitchen.
Awair utilizes a tin dioxide semiconductor gas type VOC sensor that has a high sensitivity to numerous air pollution sources with a swift response speed. An element in the sensor changes its electrical resistance in the presence of VOCs. The sensor responds to a variety of organic compounds, but individual components, cannot be distinguished from each other. It only tells you what the overall level is. Output from the sensor should be contrived as a guideline of potential presence of pollution, rather than a concentration of any distinct compound.
Awair sensors will last up to five years with proper care and maintenance.
Concerned about cleaning? According to the Awair website, the large vent holes need attention every four to six months with compressed air.
I give the “location” tracker a thumb’s up in obtaining the outdoor air quality index for your geographic area.
Air quality “suggestions”, in my opinion, were a letdown and repetitive. Definite room for improvement needed here.
Why can’t it function without the internet and have an OFFLINE mode? WiFi networks within range, keep me awake with high frequency EMF emissions.
Every now and then a category “flips out” and displays high values, then drops back to normal. Eventually, it got back on track and monitored air quality.
Awair CO2 readings were fairly close in number to my low-cost CO2 meter.
The first thing that captured my wife’s interest was that the Awair Air Quality Monitor was produced with North American walnut. Living out in the country on a dead-end road (with only a school bus or mail carrier to pass by daily), the natural wood construction peaked her interest.
Each timber is dried and handcrafted; some of which may contain slight variations in color and graining due to different sections of the tree the wood came from. But have to congratulate the co-founders for steering away from plastic and going natural.
Once you receive your Awair air quality monitor and are the rightful purchaser, if for any reason you are not satisfied, you may return it – within thirty (30) days of delivery - in its original, unused, condition (including original packaging, wrapped in the same way it arrived to avoid damage during shipping), for a full refund. To return your product you need to contact a customer support rep and request a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number. Said number is valid for 30 days after issuance.
One-year limited hardware warranty. To obtain warranty service; same as above, contract a customer support rep. (see below).
Bitfinder does not warrant against differences in color, mineral streaks, small knots, or grain variations in the natural wood product.
Tech support has a quick turnaround and excellent customer service that stands behind their product.
Gathering information from the front panel is convenient. For situations that require more detail, the app is acceptable. Awair updates quickly when changes to environment are detected. Excellent device for the office where toxicity is in abundance in carpeting, furniture glues, etc.
Air quality monitor with plenty of sensors, but the ability to record additional data would have been beneficial. The app is a little fidgety to use in some circumstances and could be complicated depending on user’s expertise.
There’s a drawback to most products on the market; namely, Awair does not monitor carbon monoxide. This doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel as there’s an array of carbon monoxide detectors to select from in the $20 to $50 range. Take into account that low cost monitors are set in a different class from their counterpart, high end monitors used by professionals, in that they are not as precise or accurate.
Personally, don’t appreciate advertisements / links to purchase other products, but articles and tips from the Awair subscription are noteworthy.
There’s a market out there for devices such as these. Remember, the particle counter is your strongest ally. Let’s hope the next generation will only get better and better.
Awair has another product called “Glow” which plugs into the wall and automatically activates your “non-smart” device the moment air quality deteriorates.
Attractive night light type device, activates by motion, touch or through the Awair app.
Bedrooms, nurseries, and hallway are ideal settings for Glow. Connect a fan, heater, air conditioner, humidifier or purifier to Glow and it will be systematically powered on at the relevant time.
Awair Glow tracks the same items as Awair (CO2, VOCs, humidity, temp) with the exception of dust. Coverage: 1,000 square feet. Amazon Alexa, Google Home and IFTTT smart.