PMS5003 Sensor Accuracy and potentional alternatives

Hello, I came across following research paper and this research paper, which reveals some limitations of PMS5003. I thought I share it here since I find it useful to know how this sensor perform.
Do you know about any PM sensor alternatives which may perform better and which you would recommend?

I think an alternative is the Sensirion SPS30 but I don’t think it performs systematically better.

We chose the Plantower because it is probably the best tested low cost sensor module due to the large number of Purple Air monitors.

If you interested to learn more how we test the performance of the monitor, check out our research page.

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has an air quality sensor evaluation program. You might find this useful:

Here’s a link to the PM sensors that have been evaluated. Note that the evaluations are (mostly) for complete AQ monitoring devices, not the sensors directly. This is because many devices do post-processing of the sensor data to improve the data quality. The sensors used in each unit is often listed in the detailed pages for each device. For example, the PurpleAir units use the Plantower sensors.

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When we say it’s the best performing"low cost" sensor, how much more expensive would would a better performing sensor be?

Is there a gradual curve, or at least multiple levels, in performance and prices, or is it more of a bimodal distribution, with low-cost mass market VS high-cost lab grade?

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Check this blog post. I think it explains it:

Air Quality Monitors: When Paying More Does Not Get You More Accuracy

That’s interesting data, for sure, but it doesn’t actually answer my question. That tells me that we won’t necessarily get a more accurate device by paying more, but it doesn’t tell me how much more would we need to pay for a sensor that is more accurate.

With a proprietary device, you are limited to the hardware they choose, so one of the advantages of the modular, open source design here is that we could swap out individual components if we wanted to, at least in theory.

So, I’m curious how much more it would cost to get a more accurate PM2.5 sensor. For people especially concerned about that aspect of air quality or who expect a particular problem to interfere with this type of sensor but not another more expensive technology, they might want to upgrade. And it might be worth it to pay a $50 instead of a $30 , but maybe not a $300. So, I’m just trying to understand what the market looks like.

I believe the reason why you don’t get more accuracy within the price range I indicated in the blog post is that there are basically no PM sensors between what we use and reference grade monitors that cost 10s of thousands of USD.

I’m only aware of:

  • Plantowers (the one we use)
  • Sensirion SPS30 and similar, e.g. SEN5x (similar performance like Plantower)
  • Alphasense OPC (better in larger size particles like PM10+ but not much more accurate in lower ones)

Well, that’s disappointing, but not not terribly surprising. It seems like a lot of scientific instrumentation goes from “prices that a teacher can buy for the classroom” to “stuff that needs grant money” with nothing in between.