Review: Aqara's affordable TVOC Air Quality Monitor for HomeKit
Though it's not a premium offering, Aqara's TVOC Air Quality Monitor is an inexpensive option for HomeKit fans.
While you're probably used to checking the conditions outside before leaving the house, you might not be quite so tuned into the conditions inside your home. Aspects like air quality, temperature, and humidity can all affect your overall health and wellbeing, though you might not have much of an idea about how your home fares.
Thankfully, you can set up various HomeKit accessories that can provide you with more information about what's going on inside your home, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Aqara has been rolling out its various HomeKit-enabled devices over time, and its TVOC Air Quality Monitor is a handy and affordable way to keep tabs on indoor conditions.
Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor
Bottom line: For most people, having an approximate air quality, temperature, and humidity readout are all you need. Aqara's TVOC Air Quality Monitor provides that in the Home app plus on a sharp E-ink display for glanceable info.
- Easy to pair
- E-ink display
- Compact size
- Not always instant to update
- Plasticky design
- Requires latest Aqara hub
Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor: Price and availability
Aqara is gradually expanding its product lineup across the various markets in which it operates. The Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor specifically is available in the U.S., UK, Canada, and European markets. The best place to buy Aqara gear in the U.S. is at Amazon, though Newegg also offers a selection of Aqara products, including the TVOC Air Quality Monitor.
Aqara's TVOC Air Quality Monitor retails for $45, which is super affordable for sensors that can provide air quality, temperature, and humidity readings for HomeKit users.
Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor: What's good
Aqara's smart home devices are straightforward to set up and use within the Aqara app and Apple's Home app. The TVOC Air Quality Monitor requires a hub, like the Aqara Hub M2, to set it up and use with HomeKit. Assuming you already have your hub set up within the Home app, you can add sensors to your setup via the Aqara app.
For the TVOC Air Quality Monitor, it's as easy as selecting the accessory type in the Aqara app and holding a button on the device itself. Once paired, it will automatically appear in the Home app in the same room as your hub, though you can change this afterward.
The Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor is capable of reporting the TVOC, temperature, and humidity. While you're likely familiar with the latter two, TVOC refers to Total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
VOCs are airborne emissions that can be harmful if concentrated in an enclosed space — like inside your home. These emissions are released during everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, decorating, and even unpacking products like furniture.
An air quality monitor like Aqara's can let you know if VOC levels are too high in a space in your home, as well as help you keep tabs on temperature and humidity. It's important to point out that it does not detect carbon monoxide.
One great aspect about air quality in HomeKit is that it can be used to trigger automations.
I can't speak to its accuracy per se, as I don't have another sensor to compare it to, though I did get a good chance to test out the TVOC sensitivity as I happened to be painting my living room during my testing period. The air quality in my home was 'Excellent' before cracking open the paint and soon dropped to 'Inferior.' It sat at 'Fair' for a few days as the paint dried.
One great aspect of air quality in HomeKit is that it can be used to trigger automations. Unlike temperature or humidity, air quality can be used to set another smart device into action. You could, as an example, have your air purifier turn on automatically if your air quality monitor detects poor air quality.
The Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor display shows all three measures by default, though you can customize this a little. The TVOC rating is a score out of five 'leaves,' with five shaded leaves being excellent air quality. This can be changed to the accurate numeric air quality rating if you want, or you can switch the display to show only temperature and humidity. Double-clicking the top button switches between display modes.
The design is basic, but the E-ink display is worth praising.
The air quality monitor defaults to Celsius out of the box for temperature. You can swap it to Fahrenheit in the Aqara app settings.
Design-wise, the Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor is nothing to write home about but the E-ink display is worth praising.
Not only is it sharp, high contrast, and readable in all lighting situations, it's also better for battery life, meaning that the sensor itself is capable of running off two (included) CR2450 coin batteries for as long as a year. Given how affordable this sensor is, you couldn't really expect much more from its design.
Aqara includes a magnetic mount with the TVOC Air Quality Monitor, but the device itself is so small, with square edges, that you can stand it pretty much anywhere in your home and forget it's even there.
Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor: What's not good
Though the Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor is super affordable, it does require one of Aqara's latest hubs in order for it to work. HomeKit users will want to have either the Aqara Hub M2 or Aqara Hub M1S set up prior to purchasing the TVOC Air Quality Monitor, so factor that $60 extra into your buying decision.
If you have other Aqara sensors and switches, it's still cheaper overall than most competing systems, but if you only want an air quality sensor, then it may be worth looking at alternatives.
Given its low price, you're not getting a premium product here. Though the display is great, the overall build quality is on the lower end with plastic construction. That being said, you're probably not going to think about it too much once it's in situ.
It also doesn't update the TVOC, temperature, and humidity readouts in the Home app instantly. During testing, I kept the Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor on my desk and periodically compared its reading to those in the Home app and Aqara app and often found three different sets of data.
If you need up-to-the-second readings, then you might want to find another solution.
These usually weren't that far apart, but it suggests that the information from the sensor itself isn't being relayed immediately. It's not a huge deal, but if you need up-to-the-second readings, then you might want to find another solution.
Though you can use air quality readings as a trigger for HomeKit automations, you can't use temperature or humidity for that purpose within HomeKit. This is an Apple problem and not an Aqara problem, and there are workarounds in order to create a temperature-based automation, but it's worth noting regardless.
Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor: Competition
While there are a few HomeKit-enabled air quality monitors available now, the market is still pretty small. The main competition for the Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor is the Eve Room.
There are some subtle differences like the Eve Room's wired power option and more premium look and feel. However, the product serves the same function by measuring air quality, temperature, and humidity like Aqara's sensor. It also retails for $100, which is more than twice the price of Aqara's offering.
Another potential competitor is the VOCOLinc PureFlow Smart Air Purifier. Not only is it a HomeKit-connected air quality monitor, but it also functions as an air purifier so it can rid your home's air of any nasties when it detects high levels of them. It's not cheap at $400, though.
Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want an affordable air quality, temperature, and humidity monitor for HomeKit
- You want to trigger automations based on air quality readings
- You want a sensor that lasts a long time on battery power
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't have the latest Aqara hub
- You want instant air quality, temperature, and humidity updates in the Home app
- You want a premium design
If you just want a little extra information about the conditions inside your home, the Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor is a smart buy for HomeKit users. It's more affordable than competing products, especially if you already have or plan to add more Aqara devices to your home.
That being said, it's not perfect. It has a great display but leaves something to be desired in the overall build quality and the speed at which it updates the data in the Home app.
Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor
Bottom line: Those looking to have glanceable data on the conditions inside their home should consider the Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor. It's one of the most affordable options for HomeKit and provides a decent, if not perfect, user experience, which will be enough for most people.