As the warmer spring weather turns into summer, hay fever sufferers everywhere will seek out the medicine, shutting windows and resisting the constant urge to rub their eyes.
Being allergic to pollen and other airborne particles is no fun. In addition to imported pollen from outside, opening windows on a hot, sunny day can move dust around your home, increasing your risk of developing hay fever-like symptoms.
But with the usual supply of nasal tablets and sprays, at GearBrain, we think the smart home might be able to offer a solution.
Of course, there is not much to do with the outside air. But there are air quality monitors, purifiers, smart plugs, Alexa and IFTTT (If This, Then That) applets that can help train an automated solution to keep your hay fever at bay.
First, here are some air quality monitors to consider:
The Awair Elements air quality monitor
One of our favorite air monitors, the Awair is a smart box with a simple LED arrangement to show a live score out of 100; the higher the number, the better the quality of the surrounding air. Now in its third generation, the $ 149 box also shows scores for temperature, humidity, CO2, chemicals, and dust. While it cannot directly measure pollen, the device’s dust reading can be used to trigger a fan or air purifier, helping to eliminate symptoms of hay fever that dust can cause.
We reviewed the Awair Element in early 2020 and liked its design, how it works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and its accurate, real-time ambient air quality readings. However, the price is relatively high, but around $ 50 cheaper than the first generation Awair with its wood construction.
Read the GearBrain review here
Blueair Aware Air Monitor.Blueair
Much like the previous two options, the Blueair Aware monitors particulates, VOCs, carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity, and records this data every five minutes. As with the others, this data can be viewed on Aware’s iPhone and Android smartphone app.
Where the Awair needs to tap into IFTTT (more on that later), the Aware can talk directly to Blueair air purifiers, like the Classic 205. This setup was reviewed by GearBrain in 2017 and was released. got four out of five stars.
Buy on Amazon
Coway Airmega 150
Coway Airmega 150 air purifierCoway
This $ 190 air purifier is designed to clean the air in spaces up to 214 square feet. It monitors and cleans the air at the same time, and good news for hay fever sufferers is how the HEPA filter removes 99.7% of particles, including dust, pollen, and smoke.
We reviewed the Airmega 150 and praised its quiet operation in its least intensive mode, competitive price, and simplicity.It can be difficult to measure how well these devices perform, but we love how the Coway measures the quality of the air while it was cleaning, and we noticed how the earthy smell of a food containing a lot of plants was reduced when the purifier was running. However, it lacks smart, connected features and can get quite loud in its most intensive setting.
Buy Coway Airmega 150 air purifier
The Airthings Wave Mini and Airthings application for smartphones
Airthings sells a range of air quality monitors, and while these don’t actually purify the air, they can alert you to issues like CO2 and radon spikes. Useful for people with hay fever though Airthings recently updated their smartphone app to include local pollen data. It’s not the most advanced system, but the app now displays the amount of tree, grass, and weed pollen in your area, giving each metric a score out of five.
Additionally, the app also breaks down tree pollen into four different categories, and as I write this I can see my area of London gets a score of 3/5 for tree pollen, with birch causing that, not the oak, the pine or the olive tree. If you know what type of pollen is causing your hay fever, this can be very useful information.
We write a lot about If This, Then That at GearBrain because it has the power to make smart home products and services work together in ways they couldn’t before. The so-called platform applets can be created in seconds and are how devices trigger each other.
For example, an IFTTT applet can be written to turn on a Samsung air purifier when a Blueair Aware detects high levels of particles. With an applet adjustment, this could be used with an Awair. Likewise, the applet can be modified to take control of other smart home devices, like a WeMo air purifier or a Tado air conditioner.
IFTTT can also be used to make devices react to weather forecasts or alert you to high pollen counts. For example, an applet might send you an email or other notification when Weather Underground reports high pollen count for your area, reminding you to take your hay fever medicine. Or, an applet could take the same prediction and turn on your air purifier before the pollen starts to affect you.
A simpler early warning system could take the forecast and turn a Philips Hue smart light to red when the pollen count is above a certain number. You can set this to make your bedside lamp turn green on low pollen days and red when the count is higher – and set it to change the color of the lamp by the time you come back from your morning shower. .
However, IFTTT introduced a pricing structure in 2020, whereby users who choose not to pay can only use three custom applets at a time. If you need more than three applets (and if you’re a smart home enthusiast, you probably will), you’ll need to pay $ 3.99 per month for IFTTT Pro. You can read more about the differences between the Free and Pro levels here.
It’s sort of a low-tech solution, but if you can find an air purifier or air conditioning unit that turns on and starts working as soon as it’s powered from a wall outlet, that could be it. as efficient as a more complex automated system. system.
This is because a smart plug can be configured to turn on when IFTTT instructs it – either because an air quality monitor like Awair Element has recorded an increase in particulate matter, or because local weather forecasts predict an increase in particulate matter. high pollen count for the day.
You can also use this system to turn on a fan plugged into a smart outlet to circulate air, or even activate a motorized blind when the room temperature reaches a certain level.
As we said above, it is essential that the air purifier, air conditioner or fan works when powered and does not require pressing a button – because if it does, the smart plug will have no effect. You should also look to buy a purifier with a HEPA filter and know how often the filter needs to be replaced – this can be as often as three months, in some cases.
Air purifiers with Alexa
Moving away from IFTTT – and thus taking a less automated approach – there are now air purifiers with their own Wi-Fi connections and Alexa skills. This means that you can configure the purifier to run at certain times of the day through the Alexa Routines feature, or have the device turn on when you ask Alexa out loud.
Air purifiers that can be controlled by Alexa include:
Dyson recently expanded its line of air purifiers with a model that also identifies and destroys formaldehyde. Called TP09 Cool and HP09 Hot + Cool, both devices also function as air quality monitors, HEPA filters, and cooling fans, the latter of which also function as a heater.
What does the future hold?
As of now, most smart air quality monitors don’t offer specific measurements of pollen, but instead group it together in their particle reading. We would like to see additional granularity here in the future, allowing people with hay fever to know more clearly when the pollen in their home is high.
The future will also see smart homes opening and closing their windows to regulate their temperature and humidity, and to expel excessive amounts of carbon dioxide. The Velux Active, a motorized window system powered by Netatmo, launched in 2019 to automatically control windows, shades and shutters based on weather and indoor conditions. We hope to see this system, and others, take into account particles, dust and pollen in the near future.
With all of these devices and services, a smart home where windows close automatically and air purifiers turn on when high pollen levels are recorded is much closer than you might think.
Visit The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility search engine, to see other smart devices and compatible products that work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.