While air quality monitoring is one of the most important aspects of our daily lives, the concept has yet to really have its breakthrough moment in North America. We are slowly getting there though, as time passes and technological advances occur, air quality monitors have made their way into more and more devices and platforms, including Apple’s HomeKit. Currently, there are about a handful of devices on the market, and if you have ever researched them, you have probably ran into Kaiterra, and their Laser Egg line. I have always been intrigued by these monitors, and Kaiterra in general due to a quote that I read once on their website “Kaiterra – We exist so that one day, we won’t have to“. However, my relative lack of knowledge surrounding air quality has always kept me from making the investment despite always wondering what I was missing. Sure, I have air purifiers set up in all of the bedrooms, and the living room of my home, but I will be the first to admit that I am terrible about changing their filters, and that my family and I mostly use them as white noise machines at night.
Kaiterra’s latest entry into the Laser Egg series, dubbed the Laser Egg + CO2 is set for release today, September 24th, to be exact, and I recently had the chance to take a look at the powerful little device. As you might have guessed by its name, the Laser Egg + CO2 packs in the same air quality sensors from the previous iterations of the Laser Egg, but it adds in carbon dioxide monitoring as well. If you are anything like me, with just a passive interest in air quality, you may be wondering to yourself, why would Kaiterra would put a carbon dioxide sensor in their latest version? This metric is quite simply one that doesn’t get a lot of attention, and thus is something that I never gave any thought to. However, my thought process surrounding this changed almost instantly after powering on the device, quickly becoming something that I felt compelled to correct. Let’s dive into what makes Kaiterra’s latest Laser Egg a fantastic resource for the home.
Unboxing the Laser Egg + CO2 was an interesting experience, as the company uses a unique design that places an outer sleeve with all of the sensors capabilities that must be “peeled” open to reveal the actual box. Inside the box is the Laser Egg unit itself, a USB charging brick, micro-USB cable, and of course, the assorted manuals and regulatory information. The hardware itself was well packed, with no room for movement and potential damaged, showing that Kaiterra cares about the importance of good packaging, which is nice to see.
Having never owned a Laser Egg before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as size of the device goes. Looking over pictures of previous versions always led me to believe that these monitors were a little bulky, however, I was pleasantly surprised upon laying my eyes on the new model. The monitor is compact, and has a clean, white design, with a silver ring surrounding a large LCD screen in the center. Behind the silver ring is an inlet that allows the monitor to measure temperature, humidity, air quality, and carbon dioxide, but is only noticeable if you turn the unit to the side and are actively looking for it. The design of the device actually makes it a really nice accessory to place just about anywhere in the home, matching the look of a nice clock. The Laser Egg also includes a rechargeable battery built-in, making it easy to move the unit to another room along with you as you go about your day. On the top of the device rests two buttons, one for toggling the device’s power, and the other acting as a way to switch what information is displayed.
After plugging in the included cable and charger, the LCD screen came to life, displaying information on how to start the set up process, but it can also be used without further intervention for those that just want a plug and play monitor. Of course, I wanted all the HomeKit goodness that is available with the Laser Egg, so I immediately downloaded Kaiterra’s App. After just a screen or two asking for the location of where the device is being set at (general city, not specific location of your iPhone), HomeKit pairing was ready to go with HomeKit code being displayed on the LCD screen (by pressing the “hamburger” button down for 2-3 seconds). A quick scan of the code with our device’s camera, and allowing it to connect to our Wi-Fi network began the process, which all told, took about 2 minutes from firing up the app to having it added to HomeKit. This was of course, after I remembered to switch to my 2.4ghz Wi-Fi network after the first attempt failed as the device, like most HomeKit accessories, does not support 5.4ghz.
I do want to mention that I did notice one slight issue during the location assignment process, which was that the city that I currently reside in not being an option to select. Since this portion of the app pulls in air quality data that is provided by various stations around the world, mostly only available in larger cities, I was not surprised to find my location unavailable. However, I do not see this as a deal breaker, as this data is merely shown to provide you with an overview of the outside world, and since I live in a somewhat rural area, outdoor pollution isn’t really a concern. I am more focused on what is floating around in the air inside my home, so I essentially would have dismissed this information even if it was available.
Kaiterra’s App features a rather clean design, with bright colors used to represent each tab or page. The app also relies heavily on the usage of charts to display your home’s data, which is handy, but I did find it a little hard to determine actual readings throughout the course of the day. The App also provides what looks to be an overall score for your home’s air quality above the charts, but it doesn’t really give you a breakdown as far as what the number actually means, and doesn’t provide you with a reference point to put things into perspective, other than a vague statement, such as “unhealthy“. Below the condition, the App will show the primary reason for the status, however, I would have liked to have seen a comparison between data from other homes around the country, state, or city. I assume that this is for privacy reasons, although I would probably opt in if asked and if it was completely anonymized.
Speaking of privacy, you may have noticed that I did not mention having to set up an account to get things going. This was absolutely fantastic to see, as I have always been leery of providing personal information just to view the data in my own home, and I applaud Kaiterra for not making one required. You can connect the Laser Egg to the “cloud” if you would like, but I did not see much in the way of benefits other then adding in support for IFTTT so I refrained from doing so. I am pretty sure that you can set up the device completely free of Kaiterra’s own App as well, but for the sake of the review, I used it to see if there was anything that I would be missing when compared to the Home App. The App offers things such as notifications when your device reads levels above defined setpoints, as well as firmware updates (which there was not one as of yet), so I will be keeping it around, but you can definitely get by without it.
Moving over the the Home App, all four metrics measures by the device are available to review independently (but are grouped together into one “tile” by iOS 13). The Home App, when set up, can display the overall condition of the air quality and CO2 sensors, in simple phrasing as well, such as “Abnormal” on the favorites screen. Since the device is mainly used to monitor your air, it isn’t an accessory that you will be interacting with, in either the Home app or Kaiterra’s App, so don’t expect to be toggling things like other HomeKit devices.
Now its time to talk about performance. As far as connectivity goes, I have yet to see any issues with response or it failing to update data. In fact, I have been really impressed with how quickly it sends data to HomeKit apps, which looks to be almost in real time. During the course of my testing, and even writing this review, I have had apps such as Eve for HomeKit and Wallflower running as a “screensaver” of sorts or in split view, as a way to see how quickly it reacts to changes in my home’s condition. I found this to be incredibly useful, despite the devices passive nature, as I was alerted to one big air quality issue almost instantly after setting it up, which was, as you may have guessed by now, carbon dioxide, and I wanted to keep an eye on it.
Before I talk about CO2, I wanted to mention that I fully expected to use the Laser Egg as strictly a way to see how the actual air quality was in my home, and didn’t expect to ever look at CO2. I was planning on using the device was a way to determine how or if my air purifiers were actually doing their intended job, using the data to justify their value or to invest in replacement filters. The Laser Egg + CO2 measures fine particulates in the air, and mentions PM 2.5, which has to do with the size and type of matter in the air. To my surprise, I found that the air in my home was pretty much clean and free of major issues, but I was perplexed as to why the App and the Home App both listed it as the phrases that I have previously mentioned “inferior” or “abnormal“.
It turns out that this was due to the sheer amount of carbon dioxide within the bedroom that I set the Laser Egg up in. The initial, and subsequent readings throughout the first day it was running ranged from 1,500 ppm all the way up to 2,500 ppm. Naturally, I wanted to learn a little bit more about CO2 and what high levels meant, so I began researching it only to find out that it can negatively impact our physical and well being. In case you are wondering, anything above 1,000 ppm can lead to effects such as headaches, lack of focus, dizziness, fatigue, and elevated heart rate. Of course, I immediately looked for ways to improve the levels in my home, and found that it is pretty simply to handle, through actions like opening up windows, especially if you haven’t done so in a while. So with this in mind, I wanted to see just how sensitive and responsive the Laser Egg was, and in just seconds after opening up my bedroom window, I began to see the CO2 levels decrease. After about 30 minutes, the carbon dioxide levels had dropped dramatically, putting then back into “normal” range, and down below 500 ppm.
Needless to say, that I am impressed with the Laser Egg + CO2 and am glad to have been given the opportunity to review my home’s air. Not only does the device work as advertised, it has brought a level of awareness to me that I did not have before, and has me thinking more proactively about my home’s air quality. I have already begun the journey to looking into additional ways to improve the amount of carbon dioxide in the air when the windows are shut, and will be adding things such as specific plants, something that I never thought I would have in my home, to help. With my newfound knowledge at hand, I plan to move from room to room within my home to review potential issues, and take action as needed, which again can be accomplished thanks to the Laser Egg’s built-in battery.
Note: This product was provided by Kaiterra for review purposes. No other compensation was received and the opinions and views expressed in this review were our own.