The Awair Element is the latest indoor air-quality monitor from Awair, a company that has consistently put out some of the best products in this category. (Its Awair Glow C is the current top pick in our buying guide.) Though the name might suggest this is an entirely new device, it’s more of a cost-reduced version of the Awair 2nd Edition.
Most of the update is reflected in the monitor’s design. The Element retains the retro-radio aesthetic of the 2nd Edition, but there’s a light-gray plastic enclosure where the other model is fabricated from wood. The plastic model also has rounded corners, where the wood panels on the original are joined at 45-degree angles. Measuring 6.1 x 1.8 x 3.3 inches, this model is slightly smaller than the 2nd Edition, but still optimally sized to be placed on a bookshelf or side table.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best indoor air-quality monitors, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.
The front of the device is unchanged. The display still uses a set of LEDs shining through a grid of holes to form the bar graphs and numbers indicating various air-quality levels. The Element tracks five factors that influence the quality of their air inside your home: temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), and PM2.5 (atmospheric particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns).
The current level for each of these factors is displayed on a scale of 1 to 5 dots. A single dot indicates that factor is at healthy levels, while 5 would indicate levels are unhealthy. An overall air quality score is displayed as a numerical value of 0 to 100 on the far right. These scores fall into three tiers: a score of 0 to 59 is “poor,” 60 to 79 is “fair” and 80 to 100 is “good.” A single LED indicator in the upper right of the front panel uses a green-orange-red color code to correspond to the good-fair-poor scale.
You can use the Element in this way to get at-a-glance readings right out of the box. The LED display, however, consists of white lights against a white panel, so it can be hard to read. You can get better visuals, and deeper insights into your indoor air quality, by pairing the device with the Awair Home companion app.
To get started, just download the app and create or login to an account. When you tap the plus-sign button at the top right of the home screen, the app searches for and connects to the Element via Bluetooth, and then asks you to select and sign in to your Wi-Fi network.
Next, the app asks you to choose from a list of “interests.” These are essentially customized settings that optimize monitoring for productivity, sleep, allergies, babies, and general comfort. Neither the app nor the user manual explains how these monitoring modes…