Being couped up indoors during the pandemic for many has really brought the subject of air quality up to the forefront. And as the mercury plummets we once again find ourselves spending a significant time in enclosed spaces, often wondering, “Am I actually breathing in clean air?”
Some of the headaches, chest congestion, coughs and feeling fatigue amongst other symptoms could be signs of bad air which could potentially negatively impact our long-term health.
To “see” what’s floating in the air, climate-tech company Sensibo launched a new product – Sensibo Elements – Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor. It’s a small and sleek gadget with companion app designed to monitor select harmful contaminants and alert you so you can take action.
Monitors Pollutants & Live Air Quality Score
It monitors pollutants such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) a pool of various pollutants, PM2.5 – tiny particles that can get into our lungs and Ethanol. It can also track temperature, humidity and then calculates a total overall air-quality score in real-time using its own algorithms.
There are no instructions in the box but it’s easy to set up. Download the iOS or Android app or use the web. Select add a new device. It’ll guide you to plug in the device with the included USB-C cable and charger then scan the QR code on the back of the device or key in the QR number then follow the instructions. If you have multiple devices you can use the same app to set up different locations.
Sensibo Elements is cleverly designed to sit vertically. It comes with a small removable lightweight plastic frame that doubles as a stand so you can keep it on your desk or remove it and mount it on a wall. The vertical orientation along with a tilt adjustment which allows for the sensors to better sample the air for a more accurate reading. There’s a colour light at the front that will glow green or change to red when air quality is poor. This light can also be turned off.
Triggering a high level alert will cause the app to send an alert to your phone and offer a tip. For example, a high TVOC reading will appear as a text message on your phone with a suggestion to open a window to circulate some air. I guess that’s fine as long as it’s not winter here in Canada.
Easy Dashboard Monitoring
You can keep tabs on your air quality through the app dashboard. It gives you individual readings for each element it’s monitoring and total Air Quality score. You can also view detailed pollution graphs of each element by hour and by day to see changes over time. Weekly and monthly stats require a Sensibo Plus premium subscription.
Sensibo Elements gives additional automation capabilities if you’ve already invested in the Sensibo ecosystem by way of an air purification system or AC controller. When Elements triggers an air quality alert, utilizing the Sensibo’s patented PureBoost technology you can have your air purifier turn on its fan or signal your Sensibo AC controller to turn on your AC fan so you can automatically circulate more air.
Toxic air is a real thing in our homes and not just something we see coming out of smoke stacks. We’re exposed to it on a regular basis – particularly from dust and pollen or building materials, cleaning products and even some of the air freshers we spray and candles we burn. So, beyond the obvious when we can actually smell something, having a device like Sensibo Elements to help us know when we’re at risk from bad air is just sensible.
Overall, Elements is a neat little device with the capability sensing some of the more common pollutants and immediately alerting you. The detection of ethanol (which my home seems to have) is an added bonus sensor which I have yet to see on other air quality monitors.
It has a nice compact form factor measuring 115mm long x 115mm wide x 29 mm high. (147 x 130 x 65 mm with stand) It does not require a hub but does require you to be in close proximity to an electrical plug.
The app is helpful in that it not only helps you monitor the various elements via the dashboard, it also gives you graphs so that you can keep an eye on the trends.
While I can appreciate the need for an additional revenue stream, I think that given the full retail cost of the unit, and the fact that not everyone looks at their devices every single day, charging a premium for all data beyond a day is a bit of a stretch. Maybe charging for beyond a month might be more in line but shouldn’t detract too much from this cool little device.
Sensibo Elements comes with a desktop stand and power adapter. It retails for $320 US ($435 CDN). It’s currently offered as introductory / holiday price of $170 ($235 CDN) which the company says is reduced right now for the foreseeable future. They’re hoping with high demand they’ll be able to keep the price there.
Premium subscriptions are $6.49 CDN per month or $3.33 CDN per month if billed annually. As an added bonus, yearly subscribers also get a two-year extended warranty.
You can order one directly from Sensibo.com.
Air Quality Elements
- CO₂: can induce headaches, fatigue & loss of focus
- PM2.5 or Dust can cause eye, nose, throat & lung irritation, shortness of breath, coughing & sneezing
- TVOC: Found in many household cleaners exposure can result in nausea, dizziness, fatigue, headaches & irritation
- Ethanol: Too much exposure can induce coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, drowsiness & nausea
- Temperature” Extreme high or low temps can be harmful to children, elders, pets and plants.
- Humidity: Like temperature, high humidity can be extremely uncomfortable and if left unchecked can result in mold growth.
- Air Quality: Get a live aggregate air quality reading – the Elements calculates a total air quality score based on a number of factors so that you can understand the overall quality of your air. – Courtesy Sensibo
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Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.