Best Affordable Air Quality Monitors

A few weeks ago, I published a post on the best affordable carbon dioxide monitors. to accompany my full blog article on the topic, which can be found here:

Today, I want to do the same, but for air quality monitors. With the increasing interest in air quality monitors, it seems pertinent to have a post on affordable air quality monitors. While I already have an overall post on my favourite air quality monitors, which can be found below, I know many people are particularly interested in affordable choices, which is deserving of its own post.

Let’s get started!

Best Air Quality Monitor <$50

When it comes to monitors that cost less than $50, I see only one option: the IKEA Vindstyrka.

Now, this category is difficult for manufacturers to compete in since the sensors that these monitors use often cost $10 - $20 alone - even when purchased in bulk. If you, as a consumer, try to buy these sensors, you’ll be looking at significantly more! Of course, that’s just for the sensors, and it doesn’t include any other components, manufacturing, or distribution costs. For this reason, I recommend staying away from monitors in this price range, with this one exception.

IKEA is a big enough customer that it can negotiate extremely good prices for components. Although this monitor costs less than $50, it uses a sensor comparable to many higher-end monitors. In addition, IKEA saved a lot of costs by going for an all-in-one sensor (the Sensirion SEN54) that monitors particulate matter, VOCs, temperature, and RH. These two factors, among others, have allowed IKEA to create what is a quite decent air quality monitor overall, and definitely a great one for this price.

It does have disadvantages, like the fact that you need other IKEA smart home equipment to make the most of it and that it only shows very vague VOC readings (increasing, decreasing, or stable, but this is common across many low-cost sensors). However, there is no other monitor in this price range that can compete.

That said, avoid the even cheaper IKEA Vindriktning, which shows exactly why cheap monitors should not be trusted.

Best Air Quality Monitors < $100

While $100 isn’t cheap, this is the first category that I consider there to be decent air quality monitors in (outside of the aforementioned IKEA monitor).

The first monitor in this category is also one of my favourites - the Qingping Air Monitor Lite. This monitor costs around $80, and it’s an extremely well-built monitor, not only for the price but overall. This is actually one of three Qingping air quality monitors that I’ve tried, and all of its products have always impressed me with quality.

This monitor is a small cube, and it features an internal, albeit quite small, battery that will last around eight hours. While this isn’t really enough battery for me to consider it ‘portable’, it is super handy if you want to investigate different rooms around your house or if there is a power outage.

This monitor uses a range of sensors, including sensors from the following brands:

  • CO2 sensor: SenseAir (S8) or Sensirion (can change depending on model and availability)
  • PM sensor: GrandWay
  • Temperature & relative humidity sensor: Sensirion

Overall, both SmartAir and I have found these sensors to perform well. Even though the GrandWay sensor is on the cheaper end of PM sensors, it does a good job. The notable omission is a VOC sensor, but it’s important to note that many of these have limited usability due to their relative nature anyway.

Unfortunately, for the moment, this is the only monitor between $50 and $100 that I feel comfortable recommending, as I haven’t yet personally tried any other good monitors in this range. With that said, I do have a few upcoming reviews, and these monitors might also interest you:

Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor: This monitor currently goes for $70, and it has good reviews. I’ve only spent a few days with the device, so I can’t comment on it yet, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

The Figaros sensors used for NO2 and CO in the monitors have quite low resolution and accuracy (1ppm for CO, where competition often has as low as tens of the parts per billion (0.0x ppm)). However, the Sensirion SEN44 used for other measurements is likely decent if it performs similarly to the SEN54 in the IKEA monitor.

Temptop M series: These monitors look to use decent PM and CO2 sensors, so they could also be worth consideration. I have an M10 on the way, but I haven’t yet tried it.

Best Air Quality Monitors < $150

Admittedly, we are approaching the upper limit of ‘affordable’, but I think this price range is worth considering because it’s where we really begin to see a lot of quality offerings. Let’s discuss a few of them.

Firstly, I want to mention the Qingping Air Quality Monitor. This is the big brother of the QP Lite monitor, and there are two versions of it. The first version retailed for around $130, and the updated version goes for $150. If you want to know the difference between the monitors, please find them discussed in this post: Qingping Air Monitor 2 (vs Qingping Air Monitor)

Whichever monitor you choose, both are fantastic for the price and have best-in-class displays and usability. If you want a monitor with a good screen and user experience, I think you will struggle to beat these devices, even at much higher price ranges. When it comes to accuracy and sensors, they also perform well. Here are the sensor brands (exact models differ) for the V1 monitor:

  • CO2 – Senseair OR Sensirion (both are used)
  • tVOC – Sensirion
  • PM2.5 – GrandWay

I believe version two uses a Sensirion sensor, but I will need to confirm that. Either way, the monitors use an array of decent sensors, and they have accuracy to match.

Another option in this price range is the AirGradient monitors (outdoor and indoor), depending on what suits your needs. Since this post has mostly focused on indoor air quality monitors so far, let’s keep the theme and discuss the AirGradient ONE.

Now, I do need to disclaim that I now work with AirGradient (I did not when I first reviewed its monitors), but this is because I wholeheartedly agree with its philosophies of making low-cost, open-source, and backed-by-science monitors. I’m also allowed to discuss anything I want about its monitors - even the downsides - as we both want to remain transparent and open.

That said, the AirGradient ONE is a great air quality monitor in this price range because it is open-source, open-hardware, and even available in a DIY kit, bringing the cost of what would otherwise be a far more costly monitor. If you don’t want the DIY kit, it will cost you around $190, but since the DIY monitor costs around $130, I want to include it here.

The monitor measures PM, CO2, VOCs, NOx, temperature, and humidity and can be accessed via a web dashboard. Unfortunately, there is no app, but the web dashboard is very quick to load (although a bit hard to navigate).

While this monitor definitely comes across as an ‘enthusiast’ product or something for DIYers, the kit is exceptionally easy to put together and requires nothing other than an included screwdriver.

Another option, but one that I have not yet tried, is the Apollo Air-1. This shares many of the same strengths as the AirGradient ONE (open-source, open-hardware, DIY, etc.) but does so in a smaller form factor and with a customisable sensor arrangement. However, it also doesn’t have the same science-focused backing, so both monitors have significant upsides and are worth considering.

This concludes my list of the best affordable air quality monitors I’ve tried up until now. However, there are also a few other monitors that fall ever so slightly outside the back, but that might be worth considering if you have more specific needs.

One of these is the Atmotube Pro, which, at $159, isn’t really ‘affordable’ anymore. However, since it’s only slightly more expensive than some of these other monitors but a truly portable option, it’s worth mentioning. If you want a portable monitor, this is not only the best option at the price range, but I would consider it the best overall.

Full Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor review (another budget option):