a woman combating hay fever

How to combat hay fever and summer allergies with your smart home

Learn how air quality monitors, smart plugs, IFTTT and smart air purifiers can work together to keep your allergies entact during the spring and summer months.

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As the warmer weather of spring turns to summer, hay fever sufferers everywhere will be reaching for the medication, closing the windows, and resisting the constant urge to rub their eyes.

Being allergic to pollen and other airborne particulate matter is no fun. Along with pollen being brought in from outside, having windows open on a warm, sunny day is likely to move dust around your home, increasing the likelihood of hay fever-like symptoms developing.

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But along with the usual supply of tablets and nasal sprays, we at GearBrain think the smart home might be able to offer a solution.

Of course, not much can be done about the air outside. But there are smart air quality monitors, purifiers, smart plugs, Alexa, and IFTTT (If This, Then That) applets that can help form an automated solution for keeping your hay fever at bay.

First up, here are some air quality monitors to consider:

Afloia Smart Air Purifier - $220

a photo of Afloia Smart Air Purifier in a room with UV-C light onAfloia Smart Air Purifier GearBrain

Do you have a big room where everyone likes congregating in your home? Or do you have an open floor plan and need a smart air purifier to clean the air for a large indoor area? Afloia can help. This smart, controlled air purifier can help clean the air in any large room up to 1500 square feet. It can detect in real-time allergens, pet hair, smoke, and any particles as small as 0.1 microns, including pollen and dust. It can even filter pollution from wildfires. It also comes with a True HEPA H13 filter, an activated carbon filter, a fine preliminary filter, and a UV-C light. This smart air purifier also has a 4-stage purification system that can filter out 99.9% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. (Read our full review here.)

Toshiba Smart Air Purifier

a photo of Toshiba Smart Air Purifier with Alexa Voice SystemToshiba Smart Air Purifier with Alexa Voice Control GearBrain

Toshiba Smart Air Purifier (CAf-Z40US) is a smart air purifier with a Wi-Fi connection with the Amazon Alexa voice platform. It comes with real-time air quality monitoring, a visible filter lifespan progression bar, and an indicator light that alerts users when to replace the air filter.

And when it comes to air filters, Toshiba Smart Air Purifier has two: an H13 True HEPA filter and a carbon filter to help remove airborne contaminants down to 0.3 microns in size, including pollen, dust mites, mold spores, viruses, and more. It also comes with a child safety lock which can turn off the air purifier when the front grill is removed when operating. This is good to have since the device is rather tall.


Awair ElementsThe Awair Elements 2nd Edition air quality monitorAwair

One of our favorite air monitors, the Awair, is a smart box with a simple LED arrangement for displaying a live score out of 100; the higher the number, the better the surrounding air quality. Now in its third generation, the $209 box also shows temperature, humidity, CO2, chemicals, and dust scores. Although it cannot measure pollen directly, the device's dust reading can trigger a fan or air purifier, helping to remove the hay fever-like symptoms dust can cause.

We reviewed the Awair Element in early 2020 and then the 2nd Edition in 2021. We liked its design, how it works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, and its precise, real-time ambient air quality readings. However, the 2nd Edition's price is relatively high, but it some similar to the first-generation Awair with its wooden construction.

Read the GearBrain review here.

Blueair Aware

picture of Blueair Aware air monitorBlueair Aware air monitor.Blueair

Like the previous two options, the Blueair Aware monitors particulate matter, VOCs, carbon dioxide, temperature, and humidity and logs this data every five minutes. As with the others, this data can be viewed on Aware's iPhone and Android smartphone app.

Where the Awair needs to tap into IFTTT (more on this later), the Aware can talk directly to Blueair's air purifiers, like the Classic 205. This setup was reviewed by GearBrain in 2017 and scored four stars out of five. We suggest you look at the new family of air purifiers called the DustMagne. These devices not only clean the air but also double as small pieces of furniture.

Buy on Amazon

Coway Airmega 250

Coway Airmega 250 air purifer is a large air monitoring and purifying device.Coway Airmega 250 air purifier review GearBrain

This $400 smart air purifier is designed to clean the air of spaces measuring up to 930 square feet. It monitors and cleans the air, and the good news for hay fever sufferers is that the HEPA filter clears out 99.7 percent of particles, including dust, pollen, and smoke.

We reviewed the Airmega 250 and praised its quiet operation in its least intensive mode, competitive price, and simplicity. It can be tricky to measure how well these devices are working, but we like how the Coway measures air quality as it cleans, and we noticed how the earthy smell of food containing a lot of plants was reduced when the purifier ran. However, it misses out on smart and connected features and can get quite loud in its most intensive setting.

Buy Coway Airmega 250 air purifier


The Airthings Wave Mini and Airthings smartphone appThe Airthings Wave Mini and Airthings smartphone app GearBrain

Airthings sells a range of air quality monitors, and while these don't clean the air, they can help alert you to problems like spikes in CO2 and radon. It is useful for hay fever sufferers if Airthings recently updated its smartphone app to include local pollen data-pollen data. This isn't the most advanced of systems, but the app now shows how much tree, grass, and weed pollen there is in your area, giving each metric a score out of five.

More than that, the app also breaks down tree pollen into four different categories, and as I write this, I can see that my area of London scores a 3/5 for tree pollen, with birch causing that, not oak, pine, or olive. This can be useful information if you know what sort of pollen causes your hay fever.


Illustration of devices connected by IFTTTIFTT devices can help youi solve hay fever in your smart home iStock

We write a lot about If This, Then That at GearBrain, because it has the power to make smart home products and services work together in ways they couldn't do before. The platform's so-called applets can be created in just a few seconds and are how devices trigger each other into action.

For example, an IFTTT applet can be written to switch on a Samsung air purifier when a Blueair Aware detects high levels of particulates. With a tweak of the applet, this could be used with an Awair. Similarly, the applet can be modified to take control of other smart home devices, like a WeMo air purifier or Tado air conditioner.

IFTTT can also make devices react to the weather forecast or alert you to a high pollen count. For example, an applet can send you an email or other notification when Weather Underground reports a high pollen count for your area, reminding you to take your hay fever medication. Or, an applet could take that same forecast and switch on your air purifier before the pollen affects you.

A simpler early-warning system could take the forecast and turn a Philips Hue smart light red when the pollen count is above a certain number. You could configure this so that your bedside lamp turns green on low pollen days and red when the count is higher - and set it to change the lamp's color when you return from your morning shower.

However, IFTTT introduced a pricing structure in 2020 whereby users who choose not to pay can only use three custom-made applets at a time. If you require more than three applets (and if you are a smart home enthusiast, then you probably will), you'll need to pay $2.50 monthly for IFTTT Pro or $5.00 per month for IFTTT Pro+. You can read more about the differences between the free and Pro tiers here.

Smart plugs

picture of tp-link smart plug in the wall in a bedroom.TP-Link

This is a low-tech solution, but if you can find an air purifier or conditioning unit that switches on and starts working as soon as it receives power from a wall outlet, it could be just as effective as a more complex, automated system.

That's because a smart plug can switch on when IFTTT tells it to – either because an air quality monitor like the Awair Element has recorded a rise in the particulate matter or because the local weather forecast predicts high pollen for the day. (Learn more about smart plugs here: Smart plugs and switches: The complete guide.

You could also use this system for switching on a fan plugged into a smart plug to circulate air or even activate a motorized window blind when the room's temperature reaches a certain level.

As we said above, the air purifier, conditioner, or fan must work when it receives power and does not require pressing a button - because if it does, the smart plug will have no effect. You should also buy a HEPA filter purifier and learn how often the filter needs replacing - this can be as often as three months in some cases.

Air purifiers with Alexa

Stepping away from IFTTT - and thus taking a less automated approach - there are now air purifiers with their own Wi-Fi connections and Alexa skills. This means you can set the purifier to work at certain times of day via the Alexa Routines function or have the device to switch on when you ask Alexa out loud.

Here Air purifiers we found on Amazon that Alexa can control include:

You could also invest in a product from Dyson, like Pure Hot+Cool. This is an air quality monitor, purifier, heater and fan in one. It cannot actively cool the air like an A/C unit, but the bladeless fan is quiet and powerful. At the same time, the heating element works well, and the purification system is automated, ramping up the fan when dirty air (such as while cooking nearby) is detected. You could take manual control on a day when the pollen count is high to help clear the air and address any allergies you might have.

Dyson recently expanded its air purifier range with a model that also identifies and destroys formaldehyde. Called the TP01 Cool and the HP01 Hot+Cool, the two devices also work as air quality monitors, HEPA filters, and cooling fans, with the latter also operating as a heater.

Buy on Dyson

What does the future hold?

For now, most smart air quality monitors do not offer specific pollen measurements and instead group them into their particulates reading. We would like to see extra granularity here in the future, allowing hay fever sufferers to know more clearly when pollen in their home is high.

The future will also see smart homes open and close their windows to regulate their temperature and humidity and to expel excessive amounts of carbon dioxide. The Velux Active, a motorized window system powered by Netatmo, was launched in 2019 to automatically control windows, blinds, and shutters based on the weather and indoor conditions. We hope to see this system, and others, take particulates, dust, and pollen into account in the near future.

With all these devices and services, a smart home where the windows automatically close and air purifiers switch on when high pollen levels are recorded is much closer than you might think.

Check out The GearBrain; our smart home compatibility find engine to see the other smart devices and compatible products that work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

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