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Tools for environmental monitoring

Why use tools for environmental monitoring?

Today I had someone ask what tools for environmental monitoring we had. Instead of rattling of a list of equipment I decided to take a step back and consider what needs monitoring and then progress from there.

In this particular case it was in regards to trying to decrease power consumption and minimise our environmental impact. The building is a university campus.

Trade-offs in controlling a building’s environment

Air quality and temperature

When it comes to air-conditioning the trade-offs are:

  • Temperature (setting the air-conditioner to a higher temperature uses less power) versus personal comfort. Though what is interesting about this one is that often the airconditioning is too cold and people are rugging up in summer.
  • Avoiding external air (which is too hot or cold). At home this is all about keeping doors and windows closed (“Close the door. Were you born in a tent?”) and in commercial buildings it’s about switching between recirculated air and external air. The ability to control a fixed amount of air is much more efficient than trying to control all the air in the world.
  • Air quality – not having fresh air significantly impacts on air-quality
  • External light through glass

Air-quality is impacted by:

  • People will exhale CO2 and is the best indicator of air-quality in heavily populated buildings or rooms
  • Volatile Organic Compounds are given off by many products, especially new ones. A new building or recently renovated building (new carpet, paint, furniture) will have a build up of VOCs
  • Carbon Monoxide from fumes. So CO is the critical factor in car parks.
  • Specific pollutants (e.g. welding, cleaning, etc)

So the best logger actually depends upon the condition that you are most likely to be impacted by.


When it comes to lighting, I have written a couple of blogs , or more importantly the total cost of ownership for the various types of lights. It’s basically addressing the poor performance and environmental impact of compact fluros and how they were a poor substitute for incandescent light bulbs. The answer is LED lighting.

I think the factors to consider for lighting are:

  • The brightness of the light, especially at the work station
  • The “quality” of the light (flickering in particular is a huge issue to the quality of lighting)

And only once are these acceptable can you consider:

  • The power rating of the lights (not the voltage, the power. You pay for power!)
  • The number of lights
  • The number of hours they need to be on
  • The purchase price
  • The number of hours they last

Temperature and humidity monitoring

For temperate and humidity we have a number of options including Logtag, Thermochron, KeepAlert, Tempsen, Abacus, Wireless Tag, and Minnow.

If all you wanted was temperature and humidity I would point you towards Logtag ( or if you want a totally automated system the new Wireless Tag ( . The wireless tags are sensors only (so must be communicating with the tag manager) but are only $70 each.That’s very impressive when it comes to monitoring temperature.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

An awesome product is the KeepAlert Desktop Logger ( which for only $195 will log temperature, humidity and CO2 levels. Note that it is a mains powered unit and needs external power. It is not a standalone logger. We do sell standalone loggers but they are $820.

Sound and light

The sound and light units are shown at

VOC and Oxygen

Not listed on our web site at the moment, but hopefully coming soon are our range of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) monitors and oxygen monitors. We sell them, we just haven’t put them on our web site yet.

Best tools for environmental monitoring

So what are the best tools for environmental monitoring? Unfortunately the answer depends upon two questions:

  1. What is the biggest risk or problem that you are concerned about?
  2. What is your budget?

But we will gladly discuss your application and see how we can help.