Airthings Wave Mini review: This is a great entry-level air quality monitor

The radon-detecting Wave's little brother is a great way to start checking for airborne irritants.

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Airthings
At a Glance

With its Wave and Wave Plus air quality monitors, Airthings’ made clear its mission to raise awareness of radon, the naturally occurring gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking. Its latest product, however, is designed to detect other types of indoor air pollutants.

With the Airthings Wave Mini, the company is trying to increase the likelihood that you’ll monitor your air quality at all by offering a device that is slimmed down in both complexity and price. The logic, it seems, is that once you experience how easy it is to get insight into common airborne irritants—in this case TVOCs (total volatile organic compounds) as well as temperature and humidity changes—you’ll be willing to invest in their more expensive flagship product to monitor for more dangerous pollutants. After using it, I can say that’s a safe bet.

As its name tips off, the Mini looks like a miniaturized version of the Wave Plus. It measures 4.1 x 4. x 1.8 inches and weighs a hair under 5 ounces. Like its bigger brother, it features an LED in the center that glows different colors to indicate air quality, and pair of sensors are located near the bottom edge. The only difference is the surface of the Mini is smooth rather than pocked with tiny holes.

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You can place the Wave Mini on any flat surface by snapping on its L-shaped stand.

The Airthings Wave Mini is powered by three AA batteries, which come preinstalled. All you need to do is remove the battery tab to power it on. Once you download the Airthings companion app and register or log in to an existing account, the app will prompt you through the pairing process. The Mini can be mounted to a wall, or you can snap on its L-shaped stand and set it on a flat surface like a desk or shelf. In either case, it’s recommended you place it at least three feet from windows or vents for accurate readings.

It takes about an hour after setup to start getting accurate air quality readings. The heart of the Wave is still its simple operation—you just wave your hand in front of it to get an immediate air-quality status. If the LED glows green, your air quality is “good.” Yellow means the air quality is approaching maximum recommended levels—time to open some windows and let in some fresh air. If the LED glows red, high levels of some pollutant are being detected and you need to check the app for more details.

The app provides the same color-coded statuses as the device, but contextualizes them with the current readings for TVOCs, temperature, and humidity. Tapping on any of these takes you to historical data for that reading, including 48-hour, weekly, monthly, and yearly averages. You can also view this data by logging into the Airthings website from a web browser. This allows you to review readings from multiple devices/rooms side-by-side and export the data as a CSV file. For additional context, you can add a tile that uses your device’s location to display outdoor air-quality data. This can enhance your understanding of your indoor readings.

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The Wave Mini’s affordability makes it easy to get one for every room of your house—not a bad idea as air quality can vary from room to room.

I used the Wave Mini in my bedroom, where I also have an indoor thermometer/hygrometer. The Mini’s readings were consistently within a degree/percentage point of that device. My TVOC readings fluctuated between good and not so good, following the historical trend displayed when I’d previously used the Wave Plus. When the air quality dipped, an infusion of fresh air was usually all it took to get my readings from yellow to green.

Google Assistant and IFTTT

Like all Wave products, the Mini supports some smart home integration. Pairing it with Google Assistant allows you to use voice commands to check your air quality levels. There are also a handful of IFTTT applets that enable you to be notified of air quality changes via email, text, or push notification or to have them logged in a spreadsheet. There is less on offer here than for the Wave and Wave Plus, for which you can find applets to integrate those devices with other smart products, such as Philips Hue lights and WeMo smart plugs, but that seems in line with the Mini’s emphasis on simplicity.

airthing wave mini app Michael Ansaldo/IDG

Status updates are easy to understand in the Airthings app.

Should you buy it?

Given that 96 percent of homes have at least one type of indoor air quality issue, I can heartily recommend the Airthings Wave Mini to everyone. Given its affordability, it’s safe to say Airthings is hoping you’ll by several to distribute throughout your home, and that’s not a bad idea as air quality can vary wildly room to room.

No matter how many you buy, once you get the hang of it I’d strongly suggest you add the Airthings Wave Plus for complete ecosystem monitoring. It’s one of the only air quality monitors that actually improve your safety as well as your comfort, so it is well worth the bigger investment.

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At a Glance
  • The Airthings Wave Mini is a great entry level air quality monitor and a perfect compliment to the Radon-detecting Airthings Wave Plus.

    Pros

    • Monitors indoor TVOC levels, temperature, and humidity
    • Simple installation
    • App contextualizes air quality readings

    Cons

    • Monitors for relatively few air pollutants
    • Fewer smart home integration opportunities than what the pricier Airthings Wave and Wave Plus provide
  
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