It's probably not often that you wonder about the quality of the air around you until there's a problem. Wildfires, pollution, hotter and colder temperatures than are pleasant, and any number of other conditions all suddenly bring the concept of air quality flying straight into our lungs. While there's not much you can do individually about the air quality outside, there is a great degree of power you have over the air quality in your home.
Awair is hoping to join you in the fight to create cleaner air in your home with its latest product, the Awair Glow C. Launch day, July 24, brought about a special $75 pricing, but the normal MSRP for the Glow C is $89. The Awair Glow C is essentially three products wrapped up in one clever little package, and it's a fantastic complement to homes looking to become a little more automated and a little more healthy.
The concept of the Awair Glow C is deceptively simple: measure the air quality in your home and alert you when conditions become unfavorable. It's the way Awair goes about doing this, in addition to its other features, that makes it a viable and attractive product.
Take the color-changing LED up top, for example. This LED is a new addition over the previous generation Awair Glow, as it can now fully represent the color spectrum. The initial purpose for the LED is to give you glanceable information on the air quality in your home. A green light means things are good or excellent, yellow means improvement is needed, and red means you should get a move on to improve the air quality.
Air quality is measured by taking the temperature and humidity levels of the room, as well as chemicals (VOCs) in the air and combining them into a single Awair Score.
Awair highlights some surprising ways that air quality can take a less than favorable turn, even in your home. During the rampant wildfires in California in the past few years, folks found that the air quality even inside their homes wasn't up to health standards because of all the residual ash and soot in the air from these horrendous events. Air purifiers, filters, and other machines can help alleviate these issues, and Awair can tell you exactly what's needed to fix the problem.
The LED isn't just for air quality though, as it can be configured to always glow a certain color, or turn off entirely if you'd rather not use it. That ambient light is one of my favorite features though, especially if it's in a hallway or other place where it might work as a handy night light when motion is detected. The light will automatically enable the night light feature when no motion is detected for 10 minutes, and that light can be set to come on for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 5 minutes at a time.
Make 'dumb' devices a little bit smart
While the Awair Glow C isn't the smallest thing that will plug into the outlets in your home, it won't take up more than a single port at a time and, as a bonus, can also act as a smart outlet that can power anything plugged into the single outlet plug on the front of the unit. This can be done as a simple pass-through power outlet for any device you need to hook up or, more importantly, can be used to intelligently power devices to improve air quality in your home.
The outlet can be manually turned on or off at any time through the Awair app, but extra settings are enabled when specific devices are plugged into the outlet. Under the "Awair+" section of the app, you can choose between a fan, heater, humidifier, lamp, air conditioner, air purifier, or a dehumidifier to remotely or intelligently control.
Once the proper device is chosen, a set of parameters can be chosen to trigger each device. Parameters include things like humidity, chemicals in the air, or temperature. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to add a specific parameter to trigger each device. Rather, the design is based on presets, and you'll need to select the preset that matches what you're looking to do.
The idea here is to attach "non-smart" devices, like a simple fan or a small humidifier, which can be turned on when air quality conditions fall outside of acceptable ranges. This outlet can be used in conjunction with the movement sensor on the front, so the outlet will only turn on a fan if movement has been detected in the last 10 minutes, for example. This makes particular sense for something like a fan since keeping it on wouldn't do much good if no one is in the room.
This concept is rather nice at night when you're sleeping and can't exactly adjust things while dreaming. If the room gets too hot, the fan will automatically turn you on and keep you comfortable. If the room gets too dry or too humid, it can turn on a dehumidifier or humidifier to, again, keep you comfortable at night. Devices can also be set to turn on or off only during a certain period of time, keeping things from arbitrarily running while away from the home.
Smart devices get smarter, too
It's not just the single device hooked up to the physical power outlet on the Aware Glow C that can be controlled; Awair can also trigger a sizable list of smart connected devices as well. At this time of writing, Awair can natively pair with smart products from Nest, Nest, the Google Home app, and Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant.
iRobot, Google Assistant, Ecobee, Honeywell, Wemo, and Blueair can also be paired with through the app, but are linked with IFTTT rather than native integrations. IFTTT by itself, which is an indirect way of linking many smart home devices together that wouldn't normally work together, is an excellent way of linking additional products outside of the app.
Many of the built-in connections are very intelligently designed and make quite a bit of sense. The iRobot link, for instance, will vacuum the house if lots of dust is detected in the air, or the Blueair purifier can switch on the help as well. Some other connections seem odd at first, but make sense when you dive into them.
The Nest connection, for instance, will turn the system fan on for a specific amount of time when detected chemicals (VOCs) get too high. Initially, it might seem odd that the Awair app doesn't offer a way to do this for humidity or temperature as well. It doesn't take but a minute to realize that Nest already detects temperature and humidity and makes changes on its own, but has no way to detect chemicals in the home. This adds to the already robust Nest feature set and makes the rest of your smart gadgets an even better investment.
It's also got direct tie-ins with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Google Home, adding to the already rich repertoire of actions that are available to these popular assistants, including smart linking functionality with other related apps and services.
The Awair app is a pretty straightforward experience on the surface but has a lot going for it once you peer in. Multiple Awair devices can be added and controlled remotely, including local weather information and air quality, which will then tie into how the air quality in your home is historically recorded. Historical graphs will detail temperature, humidity, and chemicals, as well as the Awair Score.
Notifications will be delivered via the app to alert you of air quality changes when the score crosses the thresholds set, and again once things are back in the green. All the data from the app is simple, useful, and helpful to determine patterns that might be causing air quality problems.
I wasn't so crazy about the seemingly arbitrary behavior types that were selectable in the app, though. In the app's settings, you can choose between 5 different preset behavior types, but the app doesn't explain exactly what these do outside of a fairly general idea. I assume these adjust the thresholds for what's considered a good or unfavorable condition for each thing Awair monitors for, but it would be nice to see it better spelled out.
This setting is presented well in the initial setup but remains rather hidden during regular app use, which means it probably won't see much use outside of the initial setup.
There's also a big issue with some phones running Android 8 Oreo. I was unable to pair the Awair with my phone initially due to a bug present in Android 8 Oreo, which has been fixed in Android 9 Pie. Folks with phones running Android 8 Oreo and no other device that can be used to pair the Awair Glow C might find themselves in a tricky position and could end up having to return the product if they cannot find another device to perform this initial task.
Bluetooth is only used for the initial pairing, so once you get it hooked up to your Awair account, the problem goes away. Still, this is a huge problem that Awair is surely going to see a lot of complaints from given how vast the userbase of Android 8 Oreo is.
What's In a Light?
All in all, it's somewhat expensive for a smart plug, as other plugs retail for around $20-30 on Amazon and can offer the basic functionality of remotely controlling your devices or offering connectivity with your favorite virtual assistant. The real value comes in Awair's ability to monitor the air quality in your home and enact ways of fixing the problem rather than just collecting data and telling you about it.
Folks that suffer from asthma or other similar respiratory issues can find real value here. People who live in particularly humid or dry climates can use Awair to make their homes more comfortable and help put and end to sinus problems that crop up when these air quality values are out of wack. It's even useful in those odd situations where catastrophic conditions that are too close to home for comfort (wildfires, etc.) can have longer-lasting effects on air quality, and can help folks get a handle on what's causing those air quality issues and give ways to solve the problem.
It's also a great night light, and with all these things added up, the product ends up making a lot of sense in the context of a truly intelligent, comfortable home.