The Awair Element ($299) is a tiny yet powerful air quality monitor designed for use in homes, offices, and even schools. After using one of these monitors for the past three years, I wanted to share a long-term review of this fantastic device.
I will cover the pros and cons of owning an Awair Element and who I think will benefit the most from it.
Most importantly, I’ll provide a simple guide to help you decide if it’s worth the $299 expense for you.
Let’s dive in!
Awair Element Overview
The first thing that’s worth noting about the Awair is how compact it is.
Unlike some other smart air monitors like the Netatmo ($119.99 as of this writing), the Awair Element has a low profile. This is important if you ever intend to use it in small spaces, such as a pocket office, bathroom, or even a workshop.
It’s also designed to look a bit like an alarm clock, with a digital display that you can customize to show details about the air — or even just the time.
This design — paired with the whisper-quiet fan that moves ambient air across an array of lasers — helps it to keep a low profile.
There hasn’t been a single moment in the past three years where the Awair Element has called attention to itself.
That may not seem like much, but it’s a big deal if your goal is to keep an eye on the air quality in your home 24-hours a day.
After all, how likely are you to keep a monitor in a heavily-traffic area if it’s constantly getting in the way or making strange noises?
Air Quality Monitoring
Of course, the most important aspect of any air quality monitor is how much data it collects and how accurate that data is.
The Awair Element has an advanced suite of sensors capable of detecting fine dust (PM2.5), Chemicals (VOCs), and CO2 levels. It can also track the ambient temperature and humidity levels around the device.
In several years of real-world testing, I found that the Awair Element can detect changes in air quality surprisingly quickly. It provides a real-time look at the air you’re breathing in, not just looking back at historical patterns.
When I worked out of a tiny apartment office for several months, I sometimes had to close a curtain in order to take a Zoom call.
Whenever I did, I could see the Awair Element display the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. A few minutes after reaching high levels, I would start to get a headache.
Eventually, I learned how long I could keep the curtain closed for before I started to suffer from the poor air quality. And it quickly became apparent that it was something that I probably shouldn’t be doing.
Without the Awair nearby, I might never have put two and two together.
Which brings me to the main reason that I recommend this device:
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Simply put, monitoring the air quality in your home or office helps you to be more aware of the changes happening around you — and to you.
(Come to think of it, that’s probably where the name comes from.)
Is that afternoon brain fog because of the lunch you ate, or does the air your breathing just have high levels of carbon dioxide?
Is that recurring cold from a virus, or because the furniture and carpet in your house is off-gassing toxic VOCs?
I liken knowing the quality of the air in your home to knowing the temperature. Imagine if your thermostat never told you the exact temperature, but just had buttons for up or down.
You could probably make due just going by how you feel, but being able to see the exact temperature gives you a layer of information that can be extremely helpful.
You might learn that you like to sleep two degrees colder, for instance, or that you like it set at a certain temperature in the winter versus the summer.
The Awair Element helps you in a very similar way. You might learn that running a vacuum, making toast, or closing off a room dramatically changes the quality of the air you breathe in.
Once you know that, you can start to make better decisions. Decisions that ultimately lead to a healthier environment for you and anyone else that you live with.
But the best part is that, even if you only have one Awair Element, you can still learn about the quirks of every room in your home or office.
Simply set it up in one room, leave it there for a few weeks, then move it to a different room.
You’ll quickly get a picture of how humidity levels change, when air particles are the worst, and where pockets of hot or cold air exist.
The Awair App
The Awair Element comes with a simple yet informative app for both iOS and Android.
The default home screen shows you a snapshot of your Awair score (their propriety blend of temperature, humidity, and airborne particles).
It’s great if you just want to pull it up and see your air quality at-a-glance.
Switch over to the Trends tab and rotate your smartphone, and you can see the historical trend of each type of data that the Awair tracks.
For example, here’s my Awair score over the past week (improving!):
And the carbon dioxide levels over the past week:
As you can see from these examples, the Awair app does a good job of presenting just enough information to be useful. But it avoids becoming overwhelming.
The highs and lows are called out in each chart, helping you to identify when each score was at its worst and best during the time period you’re looking at.
A good example is the screenshot above of the carbon dioxide levels over the past week. The high point on this chart is 820ppm, which is right below the point where it can start to create drowsiness and headaches.
And it peaked a day or two after having several people over for the afternoon.
By having the Awair in the living room at the time, I’m able to see that having guests over actually changes the CO2 concentrations in that room for several days.
This tells me that I should do a better job of ventilating the space, or perhaps move an air purifier into the room.
But is the Awair Element really worth the eye-watering $299 price tag?
Here’s how to tell if it’s right for you in about 90 seconds:
- Count the number of rooms in your house or office (most houses have about 6 main rooms)
- Multiply that number by 36 (assuming a three-year lifespan of the Awair)
- Finally, divide the price tag (299) by the number you came up with.
This will give you the monthly cost of knowing the air quality in each room for the next three years.
For example, say your house has 6 rooms (which is the average). That multiplied by 36 equals 216.
Take the cost of the Awair (299) and divide it by that number (216) and you see that it costs about $1.40 per month per room over a three year period.
If that number sounds a little steep to you, it may be worth looking into an alternative like the Netatmo, which is almost a third of the price.
But if that number sounds reasonable, then I recommend picking up the Awair Element. It’s quiet, reliable, has an adjustable display that can show you air readings or the time, and it can be moved around to get a true picture of the air quality in the spaces you spend the most time in.