What is the current air quality in your living space? Chances are you don’t have any idea. Aura Air, a smart air purification system, aims to irreversibly correct that by not only cleansing the air, but also by monitoring and reporting detailed air quality metrics 7×24. In our in-depth review, learn how Aura Air can be a valuable asset in ensuring your home’s air is free of allergens, bacteria, germs, and viruses (yes, even Covid-19) by virtue of its 4-stage purification system and Air Quality Index (AQI) tracking.
Aura Air is a consumer-centric product from Aura Smart Air Inc., an Israel-based tech startup. Recently, the company launched its Aura Business arm, where they are offering the same Aura Air products to businesses and institutions. An enterprise-level Aura Control Panel system can be used to manage disparate locations and large numbers of Aura Air purifiers. Furthermore, the Aura Air Mini is offered to consumers, suitable for on-the-go purification and smaller spaces. It offers similar features to the standard Aura Air.
Aura Air: Out of the Box
Aura Air is designed to be wall- or ceiling-mounted, and its large size is the first indicator it means business when it comes to improving air quality. Measuring nearly 15-in. across and 6-in. deep, the white and gray polymer housing mounts with a trio of included screws and wall anchors. Each Aura Air can cleanse up to 600 SF, so you would need multiple units if you intend to cover all of the living spaces in homes larger than that. However, you can begin by mounting the unit in a kitchen or main living area to get you on the way to cleaner air.
Before mounting, you’ll need to remove the device cover and large HEPA filter (branded the Ray filter, which resembles an automotive air filter) to expose the base. A handy mounting jig makes drilling the needed holes easy and accurate for proper placement.
Since Aura Air is powered by an electrical wall adapter, you’ll need to mount it nearby a suitable outlet. The power cable snakes though a channel on the back of the base, exiting from the bottom en route to your outlet.
The base includes the filtration system fan, a setup button, a Wi-Fi radio for connecting to the Aura app, and other smart components—various sensors, a UV-C (Ultraviolet C) LED setup, and an air ionizer (branded as the Sterionizer). The replaceable Ray filter attaches to the base, followed by the device cover, a pre-filter element, and a front cover.
Aura Air: Holistic Filtration and Detection
The onset of the Covid-10 pandemic has elevated indoor air quality concerns to unprecedented levels for homeowners. Even as the pandemic recedes into its more endemic phase, these concerns are not likely to diminish. But doesn’t your home’s HVAC system already ensure delivery of high quality air? The answer is: Probably not.
The residential HVAC systems typically installed in new homes are likely doing little more than a cursory cleansing of particulate matter from the air you breathe as an occupant. These single-filter systems are integrated with the HVAC system air handler unit, and are designed to bring filtered fresh air into the home, as well as filtering the existing air as it is recirculated during heating or cooling.
Enhanced Air Filtration
Aura Air is designed to augment standard HVAC systems, and brings with it a much more holistic cleansing and filtration process. This includes the following features:
Pre-filter: This first layer of filtration tackles large particles, including dust, pollen, insects, and animal hair.
Ray filter: This patented component includes 3 antibacterial layers that tackle fine particles (PM 2.5 and 10), germs, odors, bacteria, viruses, fungus, and mold spores.
The Sterionizer: This feature produces fresh, purified air by releasing positive and negative ions and removes remaining harmful pollutants.
UV-C LEDs: These special Ultraviolet C LEDs are designed to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites by destroying their integral membrane protein.
Adding Air Quality Index Detection
But wait, there’s much more to Aura Air. In addition to filtration, it’s also able to detect and measure myriad air quality index (AQI) metrics inside (collected by Aura Air) as well as report on those outside (based on the U.S. EPA AQI data). These are manifested as Indoor AQI and Outdoor AQI, each measured on a zero to 500 scale. As the gold standard in air quality measurement, AQI has been established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The individual metrics examined by Aura Air include:
One of the key indoor AQI metrics tracked by Aura Air are VOCs, an important figure for understanding the amount of nasty chemicals that may be present in your home and a bellwether measure for green/sustainable homes. Per the Aura Air website: “Total Volatile Organic Compounds are a large group of chemicals that can be found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released or ‘off-gassed’ into the indoor air we breathe. VOC levels are measured in ppb (parts per billion).“
Certainly, you want VOCs to be as low as possible and a range of zero to 250 is considered excellent. Without Aura Air or some other type of AQI monitor, you really have no idea how unhealthy your home environment may be. Gaining insight into this metric alone may justify the $499 cost of Aura Air for many people. During our several months of testing, Aura Air reported the VOCs in our lab home in the range of 25 to 50 ppb—very good news indeed.
Aura Air App: Mission Control for AQI
So while Aura Air is busy cleansing and filtering your inside air, it’s also measuring all of the AQI metrics and capturing them in the Aura Air app. The app is used for all things related to Aura Air, ranging from initial installation and pairing, to AQI metrics reporting, to lifestyle guidance based on AQI, and in-depth insights on each individual AQI metric it tracks.
The app can support multiple locations (say, a primary residence and a vacation home), and within each location multiple Aura Airs can be paired. These will appear on the Home panel, along with the recommended replacement interval for the main Ray filter (see Screen 1 above).
Tapping an Aura Air image on the Home Screen displays the real-time AQI wheel screen, which will become your go-to information center on air quality both inside and outside your home (see Screen 2 above). Here, indoor and outdoor AQI are a very low 20, about as good as it gets.
Dragging left over the summary panel displays the Recommendations panel, which is customized to your specific health and activity situation predicated on an AI-based “interview” with Heidy, Aura Air’s onboard digital assistant. In our case, we told Heidy we were most concerned about Asthma and Allergies, so she then made daily recommendations based on realtime AQI around those concerns. Overall, Heidy seems like a worthwhile feature, but it does seem rather half-baked at this time. We expect she will continue to develop over time.
If you are looking for individual drill-down on a specific AQI metric, Aura Air delivers. For example, tapping the PM 2.5 button under Indoor AQI gives the current reading (see Screen 4 above). Furthermore, granular tracking by hour, daily, and weekly is visible in the Activity charts (see Screens 5 and 6 above).
Aura Air: Smart Home Integrations
Aura Air is also well-integrated with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. For example, once connected to Google Assistant, a “Talk to Aura Air” voice command opens up an Aura Air Action channel for conversation. Then, a command such as “What’s the air quality in Kitchen” can get the current indoor AQI metric. You can also link Aura Air to IFTTT.
Another feature we liked was the integration with Google Calendar. Once your Google Account is connected, meeting invites can have the Outdoor AQI for the meeting destination appended to the Calendar invite. In the example below for a meeting in Dallas, the “AQI-30-Good” text was automatically added to the Calendar event. This is visible to both the meeting organizer and attendees.
Aura Air: The Bottom Line
Aura Air elevates the cleansing and monitoring of the air in your home to new levels, and provides insights into AQI that can prove valuable to the long-term health and wellness for you and your family. It’s one of those investments you probably didn’t know you needed, but given the fact that so many of us stay indoors most of the time it may be well worth the $499 per unit cost.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.
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