I love having a fresh, clean smelling home. But, I don’t like the idea of having to put any effort into making it happen. So, in my never-ending quest to automate these sorts of petty tasks, I decided to look into smart diffusers.
I found three fully done-for-you products and two other options that are more on the DIY side.
Pura has a large variety of high-quality, familiar fragrances. They’ve partnered with existing fragrance brands to recreate the scents for their compact, affordable smart diffuser. I found that the Pura was the best blend of outstanding fragrances, low cost, and quiet operation.
Aera uses their own Microdroplet technology to diffuse their fragrances without adding heat. It’s phenomenal at creating long lasting, high quality aromas. However, the added moving parts to make that process work mean you are going to pay significantly more for their unit. It also makes a subtle purring noise when it’s running that could be annoying to some people.
Moodo also uses a cold diffusion process to diffuse their fragrances, but that’s not what makes it unique. With Moodo, you have the option to load up to 4 different scents into the base. Then, using the app, you can vary the intensity of each scent to create a scent that is perfectly suited to your nose.
Sierra Modern Home WiFi Diffuser – There are a number of low cost WiFi diffusers available on Amazon that are all fairly similar. This one from Sierra Modern Home is one of the most popular. To use it, you buy your own essential oils and mix them in water. Then, the diffuser uses ultrasonic vaporization to diffuse the oils.
Smart Plug – The last option is to simply take any candle warmer or scented plugin and add a smart plug. This option is cheap, easy, and gives you lots of flexibility when choosing your scents. My favorite smart plug to use is the one from Amazon. Since I already have an Alexa account, the plug comes pre-configured. All I have to do is plug it in and its ready to go.
Why Use a Smart Diffuser?
Nobody wants to live in a perpetual stench of dirty laundry and fried food. Until now, my wife has had no problem taking on the task of scenting our house. Her preferred products are candles and the scented plugins. Though they do work, they each have their own shortfalls
Candles are nice. The warm glow makes the place feel homey, and there’s an endless variety of scents to choose from. However, they’re also dirty and somewhat inconvenient. Burn enough candles and soot will start to accumulate on your walls and windows. Plus, if you forget to put them out, they can be a fire hazard.
A cleaner and safer solution is a candle warmer or other plugin air fresheners. The main problem I’ve experienced with these is forgetting to turn them off. They don’t pose the same safety risk as a candle so they seem to be much easier to forget about. When you inevitably forget to shut them off, the next morning there’s a heavy scent blanketing the room and the expensive scent liquid is all used up.
Using a smart diffuser solves each of these problems.
A smart diffuser can provide a safe, clean way to scent the home and includes an easy way to schedule the scenting or turn it off when nobody’s home.
Is Diffusion safe?
I’m not an authority on the science and safety of scent diffusion. However, my research says that these devices are generally quite safe. On rare occasions, some people may experience irritation after extended exposure.
These adverse reactions can be reduced by using high-quality natural ingredients, and avoiding the use of high heat in the diffusion process. You can start with a 100% natural essential oil, but once you add heat, the oils can begin to break down and the result can be trace amounts of harmful VOCs.
Pura uses naturally derived scents from plants, herbs and fruits from around the world. The diffuser uses low-level heat to evaporate the fragrance.
Aera scent capsules contain ethically and sustainably sourced high-quality fragrance and essential oils. Aera is completely transparent about the ingredients in their fragrances. You can find complete ingredient lists for each capsule right here. The Aera diffuser uses their own Microdroplet technology to create ultra-tiny droplets fifty times smaller than typical aerosol droplets. This allows for a very efficient use of the expensive oils without the addition of any heat.
Moodo also uses a cold-air diffusion process so there is no risk of creating the harmful chemicals that are a natural consequence of high heat diffusion.
The Sierra WiFi diffuser works using ultrasonic vaporization. This process sends vibrations through the oil/water mixture which cause tiny droplets to be ejected into the air. Therefore, it works without adding heat. However, it’s not as effective as Aera and Moodo. The result is a less efficient use of oils.
How big of a room will it cover?
The Aera uses a fan to disperse the scent. With the fan assisted air movement along with the super-small droplets created by their Microdroplet technology, you can quickly get broad coverage in a large room. Covers up to 1000 sqft. Each fragrance capsule lasts for 800 hours at medium intensity (level 5 out of 10) and the aromatherapy capsules last on average 500 hours.
Moodo has an adjustable speed fan as well. However, the scent coverage seems doesn’t seem to be as robust as Aera. Therefore, unless you crank the Moodo up to it’s max setting, it doesn’t cover as much area. And if you do crank it up to the max setting, you’ll burn through the scent in a hurry. At max intensity, the Moodo will cover up to 600 sqft but then each capsule will only last for 60 hours.
The Pura diffuser does not have a fan. Instead, it relies on air currents to spread the scent. It can cover a large area as well, but takes a little longer than the fan-assisted models. Covers up to 600 sqft. Each capsule will last for about 350 hours.
The Sierra WiFi diffuser works for a small room such as a bedroom. But, unlike the other three, it doesn’t have automated control over the intensity of the scent. Instead, you control the intensity by adjusting the amount of oil you mix with the water.
Scent quality and variety
In my opinion, the Pura diffuser has the best smelling scents. It may be because they use familiar scents from existing brands such as Nest, Volcano, Brooklyn Candle, and many more (see all). If you happen to already know those scents, you can buy the Pura scents without wondering what you’re going to get. Also, each Pura diffuser can be loaded with two fragrance capsules. You can use the app to switch between each fragrance, but you can’t mix the two.
Aera’s scents seem to be a little more perfume-ish. Additionally, it’s not obvious what each one smells like and since you’re ordering online, you’ll just have to read the description and hope for the best. The best of the Aera scents are the “Good Riddance” varieties. Each one of these scents is designed specifically to eliminate a certain type of odor such as kitchen, bathroom, or smoke.
Moodo’s scents could also be described as perfume-ish. However, Moodo’s distinguishing feature is not the quality of its scents. Instead, it’s the variety of scents available. Currently, they have 32 different scents for sale. But, at any given time, you can load four different scents into the Moodo. Then, using the app, you can adjust the intensity of each fragrance to create your very own fragrance. The combinations are basically infinite. Of course some combinations may be terrible, but that’s why Moodo sells four packs of scents that go well together.
The WiFi diffuser does not use capsules like the other models. Instead, you buy any essential oil (or whatever else you want to diffuse) and put a few drops into the diffuser. You can mix and match to create your own fragrances. You aren’t limited by what the manufacturer sells in their capsules.
Smart home integration
For me, the most important feature of a smart diffuser is voice integration. Most of the time when I want to freshen up the house, it’s for a one-off event. For example, if my wife and I are having friends over for dinner, I want to be able to say, “Alexa, make my house smell nice.”
Pura does not currently have voice integration. They do have a scheduling feature and a geofencing feature. You can use the app to choose which of the two scents loaded in the device will play, and to control the intensity. It also has a night light that can be set to any color and intensity.
Aera actually sells two different models of their diffuser: one with WiFi, and one without. The smart version gives you app control of schedules and intensity as well as Alexa integration.
Moodo works with popular smart home platforms such as Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and SmartThings. The SmartThings integration gives you the opportunity to play with more advanced automation (if that’s your thing). You can use the app to set schedules and create your own fragrance mixtures. You can also set different mixtures to “play” at different times.
The Pura device is attractive with its low upfront cost. In fact, the scent capsules are pretty cheap too. However, they don’t last as long as Aera and Moodo. This could be a negative because you’ll have to change them more often, but that could also be a positive because you won’t be “locked in” to one scent for 800 hours like with Aera.
The Aera Smart is a well made machine that produces a high-quality, long-lasting scent. The key to Aera’s long lasting scent is their Microdroplet technology. They use a cold air diffusion process that creates droplets 50 times smaller than typical aerosol droplets. Smaller droplets means better, quicker coverage and longer lasting scents.
You can load up one scent capsule and expect to get up to 800 hours of “play”. If you’re running it constantly that’s up to one month. In practice, I’ve found I don’t need to run it constantly, so a single capsule easily could last months.
The drawback to their technology is that it’s somewhat noisy. When in operation, the Aera Smart creates a subtle purring noise that is fairly noticeable. If you’re someone that enjoys a bit of white noise, it shouldn’t be a problem for you. But, if you prefer silence, I would steer clear of the Aera.
In my experience, the best use for the Aera is in the kitchen. It has the power to quickly cover a large room like a kitchen. Their “Good Riddance” kitchen scent works great to eliminate cooking smells. Also, the sound the unit makes is way less noticeable in a busy and often noisy room like the kitchen.
Pura smart diffuser
The Pura is a convenient and affordable smart diffuser. It’s price is low enough to purchase one for each “problem” room, and the wide variety of available scents makes sure my wife can have a “seasonally appropriate” smell wafting throughout our home year round.
It’s low cost but it’s not cheap. Pura has partnered with existing fragrance brands to supply the Pura with a wide variety of high-quality well-known fragrances. Brands like Volcano, Nest, and Brooklyn Candle are a few of the notable ones.
Each Pura unit holds two scents. You can switch between them using the app. You can also use the app to control the intensity. Each fragrance refill is about $15 and will last about 110 hours at an intensity level of 5.
It also has a night light, which is controlled by the app. You can schedule it to turn on/off at your desired time and also choose the color and intensity.
The main thing holding Pura back is a lack of voice assistant integration. There’s nothing I hate more than having to open an app for day-to-day control of a smart device. According to their website, they are working on it, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer.
For more info, see my full review of the Pura Smart Diffuser.
Moodo has to be one of the most fun smart home devices I’ve used. Its unique feature is the ability for you to craft your own scent.
You can load four different scent capsules into the Moodo. Then using the app, you adjust the intensity of each scent to create your own blend. You can also schedule different scents to be used at different times.
Sierra Modern Home Wifi diffuser
For me, the main feature of a smart diffuser is the ability to either schedule on/off periods or turn the diffuser on/off using a voice controlled scene. These simple WiFi connected diffusers can do that.
However, they don’t come with their own scents. That gives you a little more freedom to experiment with any scent you want, and potentially save a little money. With the other smart diffusers, you are required to buy their scent capsules which limits your choice (and the price you pay) to whatever they have to offer.
To use it, you buy your own essential oils and mix them in water. Then, the diffuser uses ultrasonic vaporization to diffuse the oils. This process tends to be less efficient than the methods the other models which means it will use more oils to get the same amount of scent.
In addition, ultrasonic vaporization will push any impurities in the water into the air. Over time, these impurities will settle nearby and cause a layer of white dust to form. To avoid that, you can use distilled water instead of tap water.
DIY: Smart plug with plugin scent capsule
The wall plugin scent capsules are a perfectly acceptable way to make your home smell great. However, like I said earlier, they’re easy to forget about. A super simple modification is to plug them into a smart plug. You can do the same thing with a candle warmer or any other plugin scenting device.
Smart plugs are low cost and almost any brand you choose will easily integrate into the smart home platform of your choosing.
I prefer the Amazon smart plugs. Since I already have an Alexa account, Amazon will ship me the device pre-configured. I just plug it in and it automatically recognizes my WiFi network. There’s almost no setup. I just give it a name, set up any routines, and it’s ready to go.
The Pura smart diffuser is my current favorite. The cost is low enough to put one in every room that needs it, and the large variety of high-quality scents make it a no-brainer. Plus, my wife loves how easy it is to freshen up the house when we have people over.
The Aera also provides high-quality and long-lasting scents, but at a significantly higher price. I just couldn’t stomach spending $200 for an air freshener. However, if you need something powerful to frequently eliminate a persistent odor, I do recommend the Aera. It’s significantly more expensive up front, but its “good riddance” scents can get the job done quickly.