Before I dive into my list of the best ways to test for radon, I’d like to preface it with this: I am not including professional radon tests in this list. Why? Well, they’re costly and they aren’t always available for people. Now, I am in no way recommending against getting professionals to come in and test, but this list is just for the DIY radon tests that people can do at home.
Now, onto the question, what is the best radon test you can get to test your home for radon?
The best method for testing your home’s air for radon is to buy a radon detector that measures (and archives) radon levels year-round. Detectors that do not keep track of year-round data and radon tests that aren’t in your home for a whole year do not provide you the information you need to make an informed decision.
With that in mind, the best DIY way to test for radon at home is to invest in a radon detector. The Corentium Home radon detector from AirThings is one of the best radon detectors on the market, especially for its price point. It keeps track of your home’s radon levels and does so over a long period of time–both things that you have to have before you can figure out if you need to invest in a radon mitigation system or not.
But, before you go and buy the AirThings radon detector, I’d recommend that you at least gloss over my top ten list so you can be confident in your purchase! (I’d also recommend that you use my link and discount code to the AirThings radon detector to get a big discount off its retail price, should you choose to get that one!)
The Top Three DIY Radon Tests for Your Home
The top three radon detectors and test kits on the market are as follows:
- AirThings Corentium Radon Detector
- First Alert Radon Gas Test Kit
- AirThings Wave Smart Radon Detector
To round this list out, here are the radon test kits and detectors that would have made a top ten list, but didn’t measure up to my top three. These other options are still great units, but the three selected for this list are better, in my opinion.
Here’s the list of honorable mentions:
- SafetySiren Pro Radon Detector
- Ecosense RD200 RadonEye Radon Detector
- RADEX RD1503+ Radon Detector
- AirThings 2930 Wave Plus
- Ecosense EQ100 EcoQube Smart Radon Detector
- Health Metric’s Radon Testing Kit for Home
- AccuStar Radon Test Kit
Now, these “honorable mentions” didn’t make my list for various reasons such as price, ease of use, how long they’ve been around, and other such things. Again, they’re not bad units, but I believe the three in my below list are the best out there. (And I hope you all think the same once you see my reasoning for each unit!)
And, if you’d like to see why I didn’t include these remaining seven radon detectors and test kits, I have a short explanation of my reasoning below my top three list.
1) AirThings Corentium Home Radon Detector
BEST OVERALL METHOD TO TEST RADON, BEST RADON DETECTOR.
The Corentium Home Radon detector is the best thing for anyone who wants to test their home’s air for radon for several reasons. For one, it’s the best radon detector for its price! It’s actually half the price of some radon detectors on the market, but you don’t miss out on any quality with that. This is one of the best radon detectors out there, and it’s been around for years!
Affordable. For a lot of people, the fact that you can buy this radon detector for less than the others on the market is a big selling point. (Use my AirThings discount code to save an additional 10 percent off the direct-from-manufacturer price! I’ll tell you that code in a bit.)
High Accuracy. Because this radon detector is used over the course of a year and because it tests the air in your home frequently, it can provide you with much more accurate numbers than radon test kits.
Super Easy to Use. Because this radon detector uses batteries (it was actually one of the first to do so), it’s super easy to use. You just have to put the batteries in and it’s working right away. (But allow it to run for at least a day before you start checking out its levels. You have to wait so you can get more accurate numbers.)
Fast Results. Radon test kits need to be sent into a lab so you can get the results of your test. AirThings’ radon detectors give you readouts immediately and they begin collecting data just as quickly! You’ll still have to wait a few days before you start getting a good idea of your home’s average radon level, but the fact that you get the data instantly is awesome. (It’s best to give your radon detector a whole year to get the most accurate numbers, but just a few days of operating may flag any severe radon problems.)
If you’d like to save some cash, then you can order your AirThings Radon Detector from their store directly. Use the coupon code ape-10off to get 10 percent off your order and save even more money! But, if you’d rather, you can pick it up on Amazon as well via this link.
2) First Alert Radon Gas Test Kit
CHEAPEST OVERALL RADON TEST, BEST RADON TEST KIT.
While this option isn’t in second place for its accuracy or ease of use, I’ve put it here for one super important reason: it’s cheap.
Like, as cheap as a large pizza from Pizza Hut cheap. (Give or take a few bucks.)
High Affordability. As I already mentioned, this radon test is very cheap, which puts it in most people’s price ranges. However, the affordability does come at a cost–this isn’t as effective as any radon detector. Why? Because it’s nowhere near as accurate.
The downside to radon test kits like this one is that they’re known to be inaccurate at gauging your home’s actual radon levels. They’re inaccurate because they aren’t able to stick around and test your home’s air as long as you need for them to get accurate numbers.
So, the thing about science is that large amounts of data don’t lie. This is why scientists run test after test after test to confirm that something is true or not. They need all the data they can get. Unfortunately, radon test kits like this on only get data from all of two to three days. That’s not very much data at all! Because of this, radon test kits should not be your go-to option–not unless you’re willing to buy enough kits to test your home’s air over a whole year, at least!
But, if you absolutely have to get a radon test kit, please be sure to buy several so you can run several tests. You’ll want to run at least one test during the winter, when radon is usually the worst, but you should run tests during the other seasons too, just to be safe. However, if you’re buying more than around ten or so of this test kit, then it might be cheaper to buy a radon detector.
No lab fees. Some radon test kits charge lab fees so they can look at your radon test kit. This kit has the fees included, so you won’t have to worry about them. (Unless if you live in New Jersey. It’s not free there.) That’s what makes this test kit the best of the test kits. However, it’s still nowhere near as effective or accurate as a radon detector.
If you’d like to buy this test kit, then you can do so from Amazon here.
3) AirThings Wave – 2nd Gen Smart Radon Monitor
Yes, this is the second AirThings radon detector on the list.
Yes, I do have a good reason to put it here.
No, it is not as cheap as their first option (the Corentium radon detector that’s in first place on this list), but there’s a reason for it. It’s more capable!
The AirThings Wave is just a few dollars more than the Corentium, but it can check your home’s air for things other than just radon and it also communicates with your phone (hence why it’s a “Smart” radon detector). I first got clued into this unit when I had readers start buying it (I track those things so I can see what you are all interested in).
So, I started looking into this radon detector and I like it a lot. It’s more than just a radon detector, it can also keep track of your home’s temperature and your home’s humidity. Personally, I don’t see much use in the temperature part, but the humidity sensor is invaluable. Why? Well, it’s an indicator of mold risk in your home.
For those of you who don’t know, mold is a big health issue. Lots of people and organizations, the CDC included, acknowledge the dangers of mold. Additionally, mold is more dangerous to people with respiratory diseases and weaknesses as well, so it’s something that you need to should keep track of.
While there are machines out there that monitor mold risk and can check for mold, they oftentimes cost more than the few extra bucks between this radon detector and the Corentium radon detector, which is probably why so many of my readers have picked up this unit instead of the Corentium.
All in all, I think that this is a very interesting option for a radon detector, but my gripe with it is that you have to use a phone to get the numbers for your home’s radon level, which might detract from its use for some people who don’t have/don’t use smartphones.
If you’d like to purchase this radon detector, you can do so through the AirThings store here, and be sure you use the coupon code ape-10off for added savings. Alternatively, if you’d rather pick it up from Amazon, here’s the link to do that.
Honorable Mentions for Radon Detectors and Test Kits
These are the radon detectors and test kits that didn’t make the cut to be in my top three. (I didn’t want to bug everyone down with too many options, so I capped it there.)
Below are the units, and why I chose to exclude them from the top three.
SafetySiren Pro Radon Detector
This is a great radon detector and I’ve recommended it before. The key issue with it that kept it from the top three list is that it cost too much more than the other two radon detectors.
On top of that, I don’t like the look of it either, but that’s just me.
Ecosense RD200 RadonEye Radon Detector
This radon detector has been around for a few years now, but its price point is higher than the two radon detectors that made my top three list.
RADEX RD1503+ Radon Detector
This looks like it’s a good radon detector, but it cost more than the my top pick and it’s a newer unit as well. I like recommending machines that have proven themselves over several years.
Additionally, it looks a bit clunky to me.
AirThings 2930 Wave Plus
I love all things AirThings, but this unit just cost too much to make the top three. It is more capable than the other two, but its cost was just too much for me to include it. It still is cheaper than some radon detectors that are out there though.
Ecosense EQ100 EcoQube Smart Radon Detector
This is a newer radon detector, but it appears to be a very good unit. I discluded it because of how new it is. I wanted to just have tried and true radon detectors on my list because there’s value in how long something has been around. Additionally, this unit costs more than the recommended radon detectors (even without the discount code).
Health Metric’s Radon Testing Kit for Home
This radon test kit (not a radon detector) cost a whole lot more than the First Alert radon test that made the top three list. It was excluded for its high price.
AccuStar Radon Test Kit
This radon test kit (not a radon detector) cost almost three times more than the radon test kit in my above top three list. That’s why it was excluded.
Summary of Honorable Mentions
Once again, I’d like to say that there’s nothing outwardly wrong about the radon test kits and detectors in the honorable mentions list. You can buy any one of them and you’ll still be happy.
I find that the value just isn’t with these radon detectors and test kits when compared to the original top three list. So, if you’re in the market for a test kit or a radon detector, stick with the top three! (Corentium Radon Detector, First Alert Radon Test Kit, and Airthings Wave.)
What Are the Types of Radon Detectors?
As you saw in this top ten list, there are two types of radon detectors and testers.
The radon detectors are little machines that test your home’s air at set intervals. Some may do it several times an hour, others just a few times a day. The common denominator among these is that they’re usually built to test your home’s air over a longer period of time, thereby getting more accurate numbers for you.
Radon test kits, on the other hand, are usually just a few pieces of carbon that passively absorb the radon in the air. They aren’t usually meant for longer test periods and they are usually cheaper than radon detectors. (Most radon test kits are made to test your home’s air for only 2 to 90 days.) Opponents to radon test kits usually point to the limited time span that the test kit checks for, and they’re right to do so. A shorter time span for a test means the numbers won’t be as accurate in the long run. However, I must point out that these test kits do have their place.
Test kits, despite their flaws, allow people to test their home’s air cheaply and it allows them to do so quickly. No, the numbers won’t be as accurate and they won’t reflect the ever-fluctuating radon levels in your home, but radon test kits will be able to warn users of very high radon levels, if they are present.
But, again, radon test kits are not going to be as accurate as radon detectors. They won’t be able to tell you what your home’s radon levels are like in the winter if you test during the summer. (Pro tip: test your home’s radon during the winter because that’s usually when it’s higher.)
Because of the limited accuracy and the inability to test the radon levels in your home with just one radon test kit, it might be better if you bought a few test kits, preferably one for each season, but you might be better off just buying a radon detector at that point. It could end up being cheaper.
What is Radon and Why Should I Worry About it?
Radon is a gas that is radioactive and is known to cause cancer. It comes up into your home through the ground–and it comes out of all soil and stone alike.
Worse yet, there’s no way to know for sure if your home has a radon problem without a radon test or a radon detector. Why? Well, radon has no smell, taste, and you can’t see it either. But despite your inability to sense it with your human senses, it might still be out there and it can kill you as well.
Radon is the second leading cause of cancer in the US, according to the EPA, which just highlights my main point here: you don’t want to be breathing it. But, there are lots of ways around dealing with high levels of radon. Yes, there is hope.
First off, there are radon maps out there that can give you a good indication of the radon level where you live. In the US, there are wide swaths of land that have very little radon seeping into homes. However, there are other places that have incredibly high radon concentrations and the only way you can know if you’re in danger is if you do your research. I’ve compiled a huge list (that literally took me months) of a state by state, county by county breakdown of radon levels nationwide, which you can check out here: Is Radon a Problem Where I Live in the USA? I’m still fleshing out the supporting articles that break down things on a state by state level, but all the information you really need is all on that article.
Now, I have to tell you that it is recommended by the EPA that everyone test their homes for radon. If you don’t, then there’s no actual way to know for sure if your home has a radon problem.
Believe it or not, you can live in a county that has a “minor radon problem” (the phrase I use in my huge list article I linked above) and you may end up having a very high level of radon.
To put it another way, your neighbor might have tested their home for radon and had it come back in the safe sone. Then you test it and find out that you’re in a big danger zone.
It’s a weird thing with radon that some places are affected so much more than others, but it all boils down to geology, uranium deposits and decomposition (radon comes from decomposing uranium), and a whole lot of things I doubt I’ll ever understand.
Long story short, radon is dangerous and you need to test for it. If you live somewhere where it’s a known risk, you should be prepared to get a radon mitigation system (which you can put in yourself or have installed professionally). Your radon detector is potentially only the beginning of your adventure.
But don’t worry! DIY radon mitigation systems aren’t always that expensive. A lot of people get by with only installing a radon fan which is usually cheaper than the radon detector itself!
If you’d like to continue reading up on radon, then please feel free to check out any of my other articles below.
How Can I Know if I Need a Radon Mitigation System in My Home?
The only way you can be certain about your need for a radon mitigation system is if you test your home’s air for radon. The best way to test for radon is by using a radon detector, but you can buy radon testing kits instead, if money is a major concern. It must be noted that radon test kits are not as accurate or effective at diagnosing radon problems, which is why radon detectors are what’s recommended. (But that isn’t to say that you can’t still use a radon test kit! Just be sure to run a couple of tests to get more accurate numbers–run at least one of the tests during the winter too!)
And, before you ask, picocuries are just how people measure the presence of things like radon that are radioactive. To (overly) simplify things, it’s sort of like a blood-alcohol level that police test drunk drivers for. It’s fine up to a certain amount, but beyond that amount, it’s a big danger. For radon, anything at or above 4 pCi/L is seen as a danger.
Also, picocuries are what radon detectors measure your home’s radon levels in, so you don’t have to worry about running numbers to figure out the conversion–your radon detector will tell you how things are plainly.
But that isn’t to say that you can’t take steps to reduce your home’s radon level if it’s below that either. However, there’s a disclaimer to that: you can only reduce your home’s radon level to a certain point. So, if it’s already pretty low, then you might be better off doing nothing and saving a few bucks by not investing in an unneeded radon mitigation system.
Since the average outside radon level is 0.4 picocuries, odds are that you won’t be able to get your home’s indoor radon level below that. On top of that, the EPA reports that it’s pretty hard to drop your home’s radon level below 2 picocuries, so that’s something else to keep in mind.
If you find that you do need to get a radon mitigation system, then be sure to study up to do it yourself, or study up to find the best professionals who can do it in your area. If you’re ready to do it yourself, then I recommend this radon fan as your starting point.
Most radon mitigation systems start in your basement, but I’ve seen ones that are in attics as well. Since radon rises from the ground, that’s why so many mitigation systems start there!
I am very frugal, and I don’t recommend people waste money that they don’t have to, which is why my recommendation is just for one fan that you install. Let your fan and radon detector run for a few days and then see what your radon level is. If it drops to a safer level (4 pCi/L or less), then you just saved yourself a bunch of money by just getting that one radon fan! If it’s still too high, then you’ll have to check out further ways to reduce your home’s radon level.
Check out this article for a deeper dive into my favorite radon detector (which is the number one pick from this article): What is a Radon Detector, Do I Need a Radon Detector, and What is the Best Radon Sensor on the Market Today?
Or check out these articles on radon and air purifiers! Before you do so though, here’s a spoiler. Air purifiers aren’t the best way to deal with radon in your home–the best thing you can do is get a radon mitigation system that keeps the radon from getting into your home in the first place. The right air purifiers can just help to reduce the amount of radon that stays in the air.
Radon Test Kits and Radon Detector Frequently Asked Questions
Some of you might still have questions, so I compiled a list of things that I’ve seen and heard asked about them.
Do I Have to Buy a Radon Detector Before I Buy a Radon Mitigation System?
It’s recommended that you buy a radon detector or test kit first. After testing your home’s air, you may find that a radon mitigation system is not necessary, so it can save money if you just test things before investing into a mitigation system.
How do Radon Tests Work?
Radon tests use charcoal to passively absorb radon out of the air. Once a set amount of time has passed, you’re supposed to package them up and send them off to a lab, where they test for the radon that was absorbed. They’ll get back to you with the results.
Are Radon Test Kits Accurate?
Radon test kits are not as accurate as radon detectors, but they can be more affordable. I personally wouldn’t use a test kit for anything beyond diagnosing a very severe radon problem as they may not work as well at flagging lesser radon issues that still pose a health risk.
Where Should I Put My Radon Detector?
Radon detectors should be on the lower levels of your home and should usually be where you can easily access them so you can check their readouts. However, this is not always the case, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific detector.
Where Should I Put My Radon Test Kit?
After opening your radon test kit, place it in a room on the lower level of your home. It is best if you do not use that room for the set number of days that the test runs so you don’t mess up the results of the test.
What Do I Do if I Have a Positive Radon Test Result?
If your radon level is above 4 pCi/L, then you’ll need to invest in a radon mitigation system. These can be installed by professionals, or by you. They don’t always have to be expensive, but that varies from house to house. Radon levels at or below 2 pCi/L are hard to improve upon, so you don’t have to install a mitigation system if you don’t want to. These levels of radon are not found to be particularly harmful.