Humidifiers can be essential
tools for increasing people's health and comfort. When the air quality
in a home has very low humidity, it can cause one to experience
breathing problems, dry nasal passages, increased static electricity,
skin problems and other health complications. Too much humidity,
however, makes the body very uncomfortable, and it too can cause one to
have difficulty breathing.
And while in most cases adding humidity to
the home isn't a concern in the summer months, during the dry winter
months a humidifier can greatly improve your quality of life. In this
buyer's guide, we'll take a look at the different types of humidifiers
so you can choose the best one for your home.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Humidifier
Do you have young children in the home? If
mist humidifier will be a safer purchase than a warm mist or steam
What's your budget? Professionally
are much more expensive than smaller, one-room models, but once
installed, they're often less expensive to operate.
How much humidity does your home or room need?
the square footage of the area that needs the humidifier. This can
either be a single room or the entire house, depending on your needs.
Keep your purchasing selections within your ideal range for the best
How precise do you need the moisture to be in your
Some humidifiers feature a built-in hygrometer that will actually tell
you what the moisture level is for the room or home and a humidistat
that will automatically control the unit's operation, depending on the
moisture level. Less expensive models come with variable fan speeds.
How often do you want to refill your water reservoir?
humidifier works only when there is water in the reservoir, and it's up
to the user to refill the tank as needed. Reservoir tanks are available
in a wide range of sizes, so keep that in mind when choosing a
humidifier. Other considerations include the level of ease of reservoir
removal and how much the reservoir will weigh once it's refilled with
water. Of course, more expensive models have permanent water supply
hook-ups that eliminate these problems.
How quiet do you need the humidifier to be?
claim to be quiet, but in reality, all humidifiers make noise, whether
it's from hissing water or vibrations. Some models do feature nighttime
settings that enable them to run a little quieter, and of all the
humidifier types, ultrasonic models operate the most quietly.
When choosing a humidifier, always look at the
safety features. One of the most important safety features to
is the automatic shut-off. With this feature, the unit will
automatically shut off if it runs out of water. This is essential!
For the best benefits, the unit must be cleaned
periodically to prevent growth of bacteria. Check a unit's cleaning
recommendations and any warranty information before making a purchasing
There are a wide range of humidifiers to choose from, each
with its unique
advantages, so understanding what's available is the first step toward
making a good purchasing decision. Humidifiers typically fall within
the following categories:
Cool mist humidifiers -- A cool
mist humidifier expels a cool mist-like vapor into the room, which
serves to moisten the air while also cooling the environment.
Individuals who benefit from cool mist humidifiers are typically those
who have difficulty breathing in a sauna-like environment. Cool mist
humidifiers come in two different types, evaporative and ultrasonic,
and models range from whole-house units that get connected to the
ductwork to smaller one-room models and portable floor console units.
Warm mist humidifiers -- A warm
mist humidifier is essentially the same thing as a cool mist humidifier
except that it boils the water and uses the steam to add moisture to
the air. This type of humidifier is best used by people who breathe
easier in a sauna-like environment. Warm mist humidifiers are commonly
used for steaming medications, and some even come equipped with a
compartment for the medicated liquid.
Console humidifiers -- A console
humidifier is a stand-alone unit. It is not connected to the home's
ductwork, although many larger units are capable of humidifying the
entire home. Console humidifiers do range in size, and they are
normally rated by "X number of gallons of water per day up to X square
feet." Some console models are dual units, meaning that they have both
warm and cool mist capabilities.
Personal humidifiers -- Personal
humidifiers are exactly as described, for personal use. This type of
humidifier comes in a number of varieties, including personal inhaler
types and models designed to sit on the nightstand at night. Many
people use personal ultrasonic humidifiers with an inhaler tube
attached to breathe in medicated vapors or to help break up congestion
Tower humidifiers -- Tower
humidifiers are single versions of console humidifiers and designed to
humidify one room. They typically range between using 3 and 6 gallons
of water per day, and their tower design allows them to be
inconspicuous in most rooms.
Furnace humidifiers -- A furnace
humidifier is one that gets installed in the ductwork of your home's
heating and cooling system. The forced air flows through a sponge,
screen or rotary disc (depending on the model) and delivers the moist
air throughout the home every time the furnace kicks on. While slightly
more expensive than stand-alone models, a furnace humidifier has a
water supply connected to it, so homeowners never have to remember to
refill the water chamber. In the summer months when humidity isn't a
problem, the water source can be turned off to prevent too much
humidity in the home.
Ultrasonic humidifiers -- An
ultrasonic humidifier is one that features a vibrating metal diaphragm
that causes water droplets to exit the humidifier in the form of a cool
fog or mist. Most stand-alone humidifiers are available in an
ultrasonic version, and since the unit uses a reservoir, it needs to be
cleaned periodically to prevent bacteria from growing in the container.
Filter-free humidifiers --
Traditionally, humidifiers feature a water reservoir and a filter to
catch any impurities that may be in the water. A filter-free humidifier
doesn't have a filter. Instead, impurities receive an electrostatic
charge that causes them to be collected by an opposite-charged grid.
Filter-free humidifiers are easy to clean, as the grid can be removed
and simply wiped down and users aren't hassled by having to replace the
filter from time to time.
Steam humidifiers -- Steam
humidifiers are similar to warm mist humidifiers, and they can range
from tabletop and wall-mounted models to whole-house units that get
integrated into the home's forced-air ductwork. Steam humidifiers use
an electric heating source to boil the contained water. On all types
except for tabletop models, the water source is physically connected to
the unit. Since the water is boiled, the steam that's released is free
of bacteria and minerals, but frequent use of the humidifier can cause
an increase in one's electrical bill because of the heating element.