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Review: Netatmo Healthy Home Coach is tough to please

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Environmental sensor detects temperature, humidity, air-quality and noise levels.

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NETATMO HEALTHY HOME COACH
THE GOOD: Inexpensive way to quickly get air-quality and humidity readings.
THE BAD: It only identifies problems; noise sensor is kind of extraneous.
RATING: A A A A

I saw a comedian do a joke once about how it’s impossible to please a dental hygienist. Even if you were to floss three times a day, he or she would still find something wrong with your teeth and gums.

I found it funny because it has definitely happened to me. I told my own hygienist about it and she chuckled. She also recognized the truth in it.

I kind of feel that way about the Netatmo Healthy Home Coach. It’s a cylindrical, sensor-laden gadget that gauges the environmental quality of your home. And like the proverbial dental hygienist, there’s just no pleasing it.

The Home Coach monitors four factors: temperature, humidity, air quality and noise. Using the device quickly teaches you that all four are connected and that trying to adjust one in the right direction inevitably skews the others, usually negatively.

I first fired up the Home Coach in my basement, which is also our living room. After connecting it to wi-fi and a smartphone app and waiting a few hours for the sensors to read the room, I got my initial reading.

The temperature and noise levels were fine, but the humidity was high and the air quality was low. You can find this all out within the app or get an overall reading by tapping the top of the Home Coach, at which point it glows a certain colour – in this case yellow, to signal some of the room’s issues.

I broke out the dehumidifier and, after a couple of hours, saw the humidity level head downward. But my dehumidifier makes a ruckus when running, so the noise level shot up. As far as overall ratings were concerned, the two cancelled each other out and I was still getting yellow.

The app suggests opening a window to improve air quality. I did that and the CO2 levels did get better, but the temperature dropped. This will obviously be a bigger problem the deeper into winter we get.

In both cases, the green readout colour of a healthy home seemed unattainable, never mind the blue that signifies a perfectly balanced environment.

I tried the Healthy Home Coach in the bedroom and got an even more surprising result. My wife and I keep our door closed at all times to keep out our cats. I’m allergic and the bedroom is supposedly my sanctuary from them.

Not according to Netatmo’s sensor. It showed us that the air quality in our room is typically terrible – that particular reading was red, sending the room’s overall rating down to orange.

It does make sense if you think about it. Without an open door through which fresh air can circulate, we’re stuck breathing the same stagnant oxygen all the time. No wonder I’m always stuffed up.

We’ve taken to opening the window in the bedroom for an hour every day to get some air in, even if it does lower the temperature temporarily. It’s funny that it took a gizmo to hitch us on to this particular bit of common sense.

I’ve almost made a game of it. I’ll open the window for a bit, then close it and run the heat and the dehumidifier. For about an hour or two afterward, I’ll bask in that perfect blue rating before one or more of the factors once again go out of whack.

The Healthy Home Coach is one of those typical internet-of-things things that can tell you a lot, but which doesn’t really do much for you in the end. Using it over the past few weeks has made me think about how the homes of the future will have such sensors not only designed into them, but connected to other devices that can then act in regard to any issues that may arise.

A Home Coach that automatically opens the window or turns the dehumidifier on and off would be fantastic, but that’s asking a lot at this point. While new, high-end luxury residences are already having such systems built in, it’ll be a while yet before they’re incorporated into average homes.

Considering Netatmo’s device costs only $120 and is a breeze to use, it isn’t a bad stop-gap in the meantime. It can’t make your home healthier for you, but it can give you the data you need – or remind you of your common sense – to do it yourself.

I’m actually considering picking up another Healthy Home Coach so I can monitor both my basement and bedroom. I just have to decide on whether I want to invite yet another dental hygienist into my house.

Netatmo supplied a review unit for the purpose of this review.

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