Are low-cost sensors good enough for IAQ controls?
Over the past few years there have been advances in sensing of some pollutants, primarily particles, that might lead to ventilation controls based on direct sensing of pollutants – particularly those relating to health. In this study we evaluated low-cost (about $200 US) IAQ monitors that measured PM2.5 - the most important health-related pollutant in indoor air. Controlled laboratory tests were carried out with known sources of particles (cooking, cleaning, candles, cigarettes) and by comparing the IAQ monitors response to research-grade and reference measurement methods. The results show a wide range of performance with the better IAQ monitors able to detect most particle sources/events and the worst ones detecting almost none. The best devices perform well enough to reliably operate a ventilation or filtration system but do not always report the correct magnitude of PM2.5 so there are restrictions on their use for calculating health effects.