Air Quality Sensor Comparison – Which one should you use for your Arduino / Pi Project?

With so many air quality sensors with different features and functions out in the market, it is hard to pick which air quality sensor will fit your Arduino / Raspberry Pi project the best. No worries, as by the end of this guide you will learn about and compare various air quality sensors functions, applications, accuracy, and many more to find the best one for your indoor project!

Today guide will cover and compare these few various air quality sensors which fall under 2 categories:

  • PM 2.5 Air Quality Sensor
    • Grove – Laser PM2.5 Air Quality Sensor for Arduino – HM3301
    • Particle Sensor 2.5PM and 10PM – SDS021
    • PM2.5 Air Quality Sensor – PMS5003
  • Air Quality Sensor Modules
    • Grove – Air Quality Sensor v1.3 – Arduino Compatible
    • CCS811 Sensor Breakout
    • SGP30 Air Quality Sensor

Difference between PM 2.5 Air Quality Sensor and Air Quality detector modules

Before we move on, we must know which TYPE of Air quality detectors we want before we purchase one. So what is the difference between the PM2 5 air quality sensor and the air quality sensor modules?

PM 2.5 Air Quality Sensor

Firstly, PM2.5 refers to particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller in diameter. Dust is often not that bad but really small particles 2.5µm and 10µm in diameter can enter your lungs and cause health problems. This sensor uses laser scattering to radiate suspending particles in the air, then collects scattering light to obtain the curve of scattering light change with time.

After that, the sensor will then calculate equivalent particle diameter and the number of particles with different diameters per unit which determines the air quality. These sensors are normally integrated with a fan to maintain constant airflow across the sensor.

Air Quality Detector Modules

These air quality detector modules are installed with sensor modules that can detect a wide range of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and are intended for indoor air quality monitoring. They are able to respond to carbon monoxide, alcohol, acetone, thinner, formaldehyde, and other slightly toxic gases.

These modules are often cheaper and smaller in size than PM2 5 sensors. However, these modules are unable to sense small particles like dust unlike them. The PM2.5 sensor is more suitable for applications such as air conditioners, intelligent air purifiers, etc while these air quality detector modules are more suitable for applications such as an air quality monitor, auto spray refresher in your bathroom or auto air cycling systems.

Without further ado, let us jump right into the comparison guide:


PM 2.5 Air Quality Sensor

Seeed’s Grove – Laser PM2.5 Air Quality Sensor for Arduino – HM3301

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Firstly, we have Seeed’s PM2.5 Air quality sensor for your Arduino project.

The Grove – Laser PM2.5 Sensor (HM3301) is a new generation of laser dust detection sensor, which is used for continuous and real-time detection of dust in the air. With its stable output, low noise, and ultra-low power consumption, it is suitable for air conditioners, intelligent air purifiers, and other air quality-related IoT projects.

Different from the traditional pumping dust detection sensor, the HM-3301 innovatively uses fan blades to drive air, and the air flowing through the detection chamber is used as a test sample to perform a real-time and continuous test on the dust of different particle sizes in the air.

This module is a perfect choice for dust detectors, intelligent air purifiers, intelligent air conditioners, intelligent ventilation fans, air quality testing, haze meters, environmental monitoring, and relative products and applications.

Here is a video of the sensor in action:

Specfications

Operating Voltage3.3V / 5V
Operating Temperature-10~60℃
Operating Humidity10%~90%RH (non-condensing)
Particle Size3 channels– 2.5µm, 5µm, 10µm
Range 1~500µg/ m3 (Effective range)
1000 µg/ m3 (Maximum range)

Particle Sensor 2.5PM and 10PM – SDS021

Image result for sds021 sensor
Ref: aqicn

Next up we have the SDS021 sensor. It is connected through a four-pin interface cable to a platform. This sensor requires 5V to operate so you would require a board that supplies 5V like an Arduino UNO.

This sensor is also equipped with a fan to maintain constant airflow across the sensing chamber.

Unfortunately, this sensor often sells in bulk which is hard to get if you are only needing one for your Arduino project.

Specfications

Operating Voltage5V
Operating Temperature-10 ~ 50℃
Operating Humidity70%RH (non-condensing)
Particle Size3 channels– 2.5µm, 5µm, 10µm
Range 0.0-999.9 μg /m3

PM2.5 Air Quality Sensor – PMS5003

Ref: aqicn

Similarly to the above sensor, it has to be wired to a breakout board for it to work. It also requires 5V to operate so you would require a board that supplies 5V like an Arduino UNO. You’ll need to hook this up to a microcontroller with UART input or wire it up to a USB-Serial converter and parse the data on a computer.

This sensor comes at a slightly higher price tag compared to the above 2 sensors and has similar specifications compared to the other sensors.

Specifications

Operating Voltage5V
Operating Temperature-10 ~ 60℃
Operating Humidity0-99%RH
Particle Size3 channels– 2.5µm, 5µm, 10µm
Range 0.0-999.9 μg /m3

Which one to pick?

So which PM2.5 sensor should you pick for your Arduino / Raspberry Pi project?

Personally, it would be Seeed’s Grove – Laser PM2.5 Air Quality Sensor for Arduino – HM3301. Not because it is our product, BUT this sensor is the most cost-effective compared to the others while offering similar specifications. Not to mention, it will be perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to get rid of jumper wires and soldering as it is equipped with our Grove connector for you to easily plug and play into your Arduino.

In addition, sensors like the PMS5003 are not very well documented as they are all in Chinese which is not very friendly for non-chinese speakers. We have a wiki page for all our products including this PM2.5 sensor. You will be able to find tons of information there from specifications, applications, hardware overview, the working principle and also a tutorial on how to get started with the sensor together with an Arduino! Able to be powered with 3.3V and 5V as well, it makes things easier for you where you can power it with a 3V device like an Arduino Pro Mini.

Need inspiration for project ideas or project tutorials? We have them as well!


Air Quality Sensor Modules

Grove – Air Quality Sensor v1.3 – Arduino Compatible

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Grove – Air quality sensor v1.3  is designed for indoor air quality testing. It can respond to carbon monoxide, alcohol, acetone, thinner, formaldehyde, and other slightly toxic gases. Compatible with 5V and 3.3V power supply, it can work with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. With its long-term stability & low power consumption, it would be a perfect choice for air quality monitoring. With a tiny outline as well, you can easily integrate it into your air quality monitor or system.

This sensor performs better in providing qualitative results over a wide scope of target gases. Over time, do note that if this sensor is exposed to highly polluted air for a long time, it might weaken its sensitivity greatly.

Specification

SensorMP503
Operating Voltage3.3V, 5V
Detecting Range10-1000ppm(Alcohol)
InterfaceAnalog

To find out more information about this sensor, you can view our wiki page.

CCS811 Air Quality Sensor

The CCS811 is a low power digital gas sensor solution which integrates a metal oxide (MOX) gas sensor to detect a wide range of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) for indoor air quality monitoring with a microcontroller unit (MCU), which includes an Analog-to-Digital converter (ADC), and an I²C interface.

The integrated MCU manages the sensor drive modes and raw sensor data measured while detecting VOCs. With a I²C digital interface, it simplifies the hardware and software design, enabling faster time to market.

CCS811 supports multiple measurement modes that have been optimised for low-power consumption during an active sensor measurement and idle mode extending battery life in portable applications.

This sensor is then implemented on a breakout board like the one you see above done by Sparkfun where you can use it as an I2C device.

Specification

SensorCCS811
Operating Voltage3.3V
Detecting Range400ppm – 8192ppm
InterfaceI2C

To find out more information about this sensor, you can view its datasheet.

SGP30 Air Quality Sensor

The SGP30 is a digital multi-pixel gas sensor designed for integration into air purifiers, demand-controlled ventilation, and IoT applications. Sensirion’s CMOSens® technology offers a complete sensor system on a single chip featuring a digital I 2C interface, a temperature-controlled micro hotplate, and two preprocessed indoor air quality signals.

As the first metal-oxide gas sensor featuring multiple sensing elements on one chip, the SGP30 provides detailed information about the air quality. It also comes in a small 2.45 x 2.45 x 0.9 mm3 DFN package and enables applications in limited spaces.

Similarly to the CCS811, they are implemented on a breakout board like the one you see above done by Adafruit where you can use it as an I2C device.

This sensor is able to detect a wide range of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and H2 and is intended for indoor air quality monitoring.

Specification

SensorSGP30
Operating Voltage3.3V, 5V
Detecting Range 0 ppm to 1000 ppm
InterfaceI2C

To find out more information about this sensor, you can view its datasheet.

Which one to pick?

So which Air Quality Sensor Module should you pick for your Arduino / Raspberry Pi project?

If you are finding an affordable air quality sensor module without breaking your wallet, we would recommend the Grove – Air Quality Sensor v1.3 – Arduino Compatible. Priced at only $9.90 its price is half of the CCS811 and SGP30 sensors.

However, if you are looking for a more powerful air quality monitor to measure VOCs and H2, the CCS811 and SGP30 would be a good option.


Conclusion

So what do you think of these air quality detectors? Which one would you pick? Want to see any other air quality sensors inside this list?

Let us know in the comments below!

If you do not know which gas sensor to pick, we have our Seeed Gas Sensor Selection Guide to help you choose the gas sensor that best suits your project needs.

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