Ever since I was young, I’ve always been interested in monitoring and figures. Weird I know, but I’m a numbers person. The monitoring interest stems from a radon monitor that all houses on our new estate were sent because we were in a high radon area they wanted to monitor. I was obsessed with checking it, although it never showed anything interesting. So when I was offered the chance to review an indoor air quality monitor, Foobot, I was happy to try it out.
Foobot was developed by a father who wanted to help his child fight against asthma and improve his heath. It’s a data processing smart monitor, enabling you to understand and improve your indoor air quality.
As well as taking the measurements of different parts of air quality, it also makes suggestions on where you can reduce the bad particles and improve the air in your home. Once set up, Foobot scans day and night, measuring various things including CO2, temperature, humidity, VOCs and other measures, logging every 5 minute intervals.
As we live in a rural area on a farm, I was expecting a fairy low reading, although I was intrigued to know how it would cope with the oil fired Aga. We’ve had some issues with ours, running out of oil, and then it switching off (it’s about 30 years old so not surprising really), so have had to fire it up again a few times since having the Foobot. The oil can really stink as it’s lit, so I wanted to see how bad it was for us.
When our Foobot arrived I was pleased to see that it wasn’t an obviously gadget that would stick out in the house. It’s white and minimalistic, and I found it easy to set up with no issues. I did worry that I’ll struggle to get it to connect because our wifi is a bit rubbish, but it all connected first time. The instructions were easy to follow as well.
The only thing with smart devices is how everything nowadays is based around apps. Urgh, it means my phone just gets clogged up with apps I rarely check. But with the Foobot it does get a little addctive. You pair the Foobot to your phone app and can check in whenever you want.
The Foobot flashes orange when it’s measuring a change in air quality. Then remains blue when it’s at consistent levels. I did find the initial brightness too high after set up – every time I walked into the kitchen at nighttime, it was making most of the kitchen glow blue. But it was easily dimmed via the app, and now is a lot more subtle.
Monitoring with the Foobot
You don’t need to be an expert on air quality to understand what the results of the air quality monitoring on the Foobot app. As well as giving you numbers measuring the various levels, you can see what rating your air quality is given, and then tips on improving it. For example, simple things like opening a window for ventilation, using an oven hood and extraction when cooking.
I like that you can also sweep up and see your results by minute, hour, day and week benchmarked against a global score. Nothing like being satisfied when you’re under the line!
Unsurprisingly, mostly our air quality rsults are good-fair. I had put our Foobot in the kitchen on a shelf. It’s just above the toaster, and near the oven, so as soon as I start cooking I can see the orange flashing. What you also never think about is people in the house bringing down the air quality. Just walking into the kitchen increases the readings too.
Everytime I’ve looked at our results, they’ve been positive. Until I started to write this post, checked, and horrifyingly our VOCs was veering on poor. The suggestions for improvements were to look at the chemicals used in cleaning products and potentially change to a more natural choice. But I’m pretty poor at cleaning apart from just wiping down the surfaces, our vacuum cleaners have gone walkies so the house really needs hoovering, and I don’t detergent everything all the time. Dust will also impact air quality.
This seems to have all increased during the hot weather at the weekend, and temperature increases can make a difference to VOCs. While the windows and patio doors have been open for the best part of 3 days there’s not been much fresh air through the house.
Luckily we don’t have any pollution outdoors to come into our house. So it’s a case of trying to work and improve irritants inside. If you’re in a built up area, then you’ll also get pollutants coming in the house from outdoors.
Benefits of the Foobot
Ok, so the Foobot is a nice gadget toy. But there are benefits to monitoring air quality, with easy tips for making changes.
1, Poor air quality can have so many impacts on people’s health – with headaches, eye, nose and throat infections. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, obviously poor air quality affects these too.
2, By monitoring the air quality at home, you learn to recognise patterns of behaviour and trends, and can make changes to improve the air ventilation.
3, We don’t have lots of smart gadgets in our house, but Foobot can connect to smart thermostats and appliances to control temperature through Google Nest, or providing information about air pollutants via Amazon Echo.
4, Foobot’s internal sensors check for pollution from chemicals and particulate matter. These are 5x more common indoors due to people being there,
Foobot is sensitive to:
- PM2.5s – Tiny particulate matter like dust, pollen and pet bits
- VOCs – Volatile organic compounds, toxic gases like formaldehyde and ammonia.
- Carbon monoxide, a potentially dangerous gas
- Carbon dioxide – Exhaled from humans. Not itself harmful, but indicative of poor circulation.
- Humidity – Low humidity can cause irritation. Excessive humidity let mould and dust mites grow.
You can buy your monitor from Foobot for around £170.
Do you use any type of indor air quality monitor in your home? What kind of results would you expect if you used one?
Disclosure: I was sent a Foobot for the purpose of review. All words and opinions are my own.