Airthings Wave Mini Review Battery-Operated VOC Temperature Humidity Monitor

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Households and workplaces have become hazardous traps! Thanks to ongoing health and climate issues more people than ever before are awakening also to the mental and physical impact of being locked up indoors all day. We are designed to be active creatures but, due to 9-to-5 lifestyles and "indoor mandates" we are forced into a sedentary life, which isn't healthy primarily because of "indoor air pollution". Smart devices such as the Airthings Wave Mini (seen pictured) are designed to help you monitor the air pollution indoors, which is caused by a range of things, some of them seemingly benign such as central air conditioning and central heating.

The Airthings Wave Mini is a simple, easy to use gadget with a small footprint (8cm in diameter and 2cm high) and lightweight (140 grams). It is made of plastic and equipped with three sensors: temperature sensor, humidity sensor and VOC (Volatile organic compounds) sensor, which measures gas emission from things such as paint removers, aerosol solvents, flame retardant chemicals (chlorine), carpets, household cleaners and chemical offgassing from pressed particle board wood (used in furniture), laminated/vynil wood flooring. Wood itself is not toxic. It is the chemicals applied to the wood such as formaldehyde glue, lacquer finish and other chemical flame retardants that make many wood products toxic.

Wave Mini is powered via three removable AA batteries (included). The battery compartment has a magnetic back plate, which is dual purpuse: battery compartment lid and metal mount attachment. The magnetic back plate makes it very easy to access the battery compartment by simply lifting the back plate from the body, using your fingers. The magnetic attraction is strong enough to keep the backplate securely attached to the battery compartment. There is no worry that it can be accidentally detached. Wave Mini also comes with a detachable plastic kickstand, which allows Wave Mini to stand upright like a retro alarm clock.

There is a large RGB led indicator and proximity sensor seamlessly embedded on the front of the unit and can only be seen when the led lights up. The led will light up green (good air quality), yellow (fair) or red (bad). The led indicator can be triggered manually by waving your hand over it or by triggering it via the Airthings Wave app. Setting up Wave Mini is very easy. Simply pull off the plastic tab from the battery compartment, launch the Airthings Wave app and follow the in-app instructions. The Airthings Wave app requires an account registration as well as granting access to your phone's location.

Aside from displaying temperature and humidity readings, the Airthings Wave app displays a numerical representation of the current VOC ppb level in the room. 0-250 ppb indicates low VOC. 250 to 2000 ppb indicates fair VOC levels and above 2000 ppb indicates very high VOC levels. The VOC ppb level should always be less than 250 ppb, which is the safe level.

The Airthings Wave app also integrates two other features - a mold risk indicator and pollen level indicator, which the app pulls from a third party data aggregator. The Mold risk indicator takes 2 days to generate and estimates the likelyhood of mold appearing based on temperature and humidity only. 

The VOC sensor inside the Wave Mini is not a mold sensor so, it cannot detect mold particles in the air. Mold tends to appear in warm, damp, non ventilated areas (e.g. bathrooms); hence those would be the best places to position Wave Mini. The mold risk indicator ranks from 0 (lowest risk) to 10 (highest risk).From the Airthings Wave app, you can also enable other features (e.g. turn on push notifications, turn off led indicator) and access device settings (e.g. firmware updates).

The VOC sensor re-calibrates itself everytime the unit is moved to a different location. The VOC sensor only measures gas emissions. It is not designed to monitor fine particulate matter (PM) like dust particles. For that, you need an air monitoring device with a PM2.5 sensor (e.g. View Plus). Something else you won't find inside Wave Mini is a Wifi module, which means you cannot monitor Wave Mini remotely via the Internet. 


Wave Mini communicates with the Airthings Wave app via bluetooth connection, which has a short range (12 meters). Wave Mini supports IFTTT and voice command (amazon alexa and google assistant). However, you will need to own an alexa device or google home device. You will also have to download the respective apps and connect your Airthings account to the respective voice asssitant (alexa or google).

VOCs can cause asthma (e.g. shortness of breath during sleep) and allergic reactions such as itchy eyes, sneezing and stuffy nose. Opening windows is a quick and easy way to get rid of VOCs, although it may not be a viable option if you're disabled or live somewhere with high outdoor pollution. In such case, the alternative is to use an air purifing device such as an ionizer, himalayan salt lamp or a regular air purifier with dual filtration (HEPA filter + activated carbon filter). You can buy the Airthings Wave Mini from amazon.

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