Indoor air quality is sometimes worse than the pollution typically found outdoors, but it’s not always easy to tell that something toxic is permeating in a room. French manufacturer Netatmo new product in the Healthy Home Coach functions purely to alert consumers on what kind of bliss or squalor they’re breathing in on a daily basis.
The Canadian government has acknowledged the issues surrounding indoor air quality, particularly as they relate to health and wellness, but remedies for it do vary. Netatmo is aiming to provide clarity with the Healthy Home Coach, a standalone device that basically sits quietly on the sidelines and measures various indoor climate metrics.
The device itself is almost a clone of Netatmo’s Welcome home camera and Weather Station device, with a cylindrical metallic body that stands upright and fits just about anywhere. Tastefully designed with a minimalistic form factor, there isn’t much to placing or using the unit. It’s a lot like a router in that you set it up, and then practically forget about it. Setup involves plugging it into a power outlet, pressing the top button to turn it on, and then doing the step-by-step guide through the iOS or Android app.
Well, you don’t have to forget about it. The Home Coach breaks down its metrics to temperature, humidity, indoor air quality (in CO2) and noise levels. There are three profiles to choose from: babies, children with asthma, and family, with the latter being the one aimed at the most common users, whereas humidity levels can affect the other two more acutely.
It covers a room, reading the metrics in real-time and alerting owners with notifications when numbers go above healthy thresholds. Humidity drops are common in the winter, and the Coach would know if the percentage has gone too low, thereby making residents more susceptible to catching a cold or flu, for example. If the temperature rises too much, it may suggest opening a window or turning on the heat if it drops too much.
A colour-coded chart is matched with obvious terms to indicate status, like Excellent, Fine, Healthy or Poor. Blue is excellent, whereas the closer you get to red, the poorer it is.
While it makes recommendations on what you can do to offset a swing one way or the other, it doesn’t provide context on why the metre has moved either way. The Home Coach doesn’t work together in the same app with the Weather Station. That combination would offer a much clearer picture of what’s happening outside, and what the causation may be inside.
Tapping the rewind icon on the top right of the app pops up a timeline at the bottom showing conditions per hour. The decibel metre is sensitive enough to pop up a notification when music or the TV is playing, or even if someone is close enough and talking at a louder volume. The interesting thing about that is notifications can come in while away from home if something loud is going on — annoying if you have kids, but curious if no one is home.
There is support for Apple’s HomeKit, so the Coach can help trigger an action with another compatible unit, like a thermostat, for example. It’s also enabled to work with the IFTTT app for automating triggers and actions that would be similar to what HomeKit can do, ensuring Android users have some of that functionality as well.
Moving it to another room is easy. It only takes 30 minutes for the unit to get a proper reading when set up in another room, so it’s not a requirement to have multiple units. Still, it is an option if you need to keep more than one unit active to keep tabs on multiple rooms at once.
I found the device useful, particularly for humidity levels, which have a tendency to drop suddenly from one day to the next, depending on weather conditions outside. Air quality was consistently excellent, which was great to see, but it did change on occasions where the window was open too long, or a candle was lit for hours.
Netatmo suggests the device can be invaluable for maintaining optimal conditions for babies or those with asthma, where changes in humidity and CO2 level can be very impactful. Without knowing what causes those shifts, however, the Home Coach is more about reacting to what has already happened, rather than knowing how to prevent it in the first place. If there is a drawback to using this device, that would be it.
At $120, it’s not the cheapest gadget to buy, but if you care about the air you live in, it’s one of the easiest ways to keep tabs on it.