It’s humidifier season! We’ve had a lot of your humidifier questions come in, so here are some guidelines for how to choose a humidifier. We’ll explain all of things you need to know before you buy; humidifier size, the different mist types (cool vs warm), and other features that will help you make the most informed decision when choosing humidifiers.
Our Top 10 guidelines for the best humidifier
- Coverage area stated by the manufacturer is often overstated. It’s best to choose a humidifier that exceeds the area you are needing to cover.
- Size: small humidifiers will definitely add moisture to the air but if you attempt to use one for a larger area than it can handle, you will not achieve the comfortable 30-40% humidity level that you’re looking for.
- 40% humidity level is the best option. Dust mites and mold spores thrive on humidity levels over 50%.
- Outdoor humidity levels influence the level of home humidity that you can achieve. If it’s very dry outside, the humidifier will need refilling more often.
- Noise Level: some noise are natural in all humidifiers. Humidifiers all have some level of “gurgling” sound when the water in the tanks is drawn into the base.
- Location: think about where you are going to put it.If the gurgles are bothersome you can place the humidifier out of earshot.
- The best water is distilled in a humidifier but it will cost you unless you have a free source. Hard water: means more filter changes. Also, filtered water that removes common impurities works well. Softened water: can be used in cool mist humidifiers but may not work well with ultrasonic humidifiers, as it would cause white dust to be dispersed. However, many of our ultrasonic humidifiers are equipped with some type of anti-calcium cartridge which can reduce the risk of white mineral dust.
- Running Cost: depending on your need a whole house humidifier is more energy efficient provided you have forced hot air heating and your furnace can accommodate this type of solution. This kind of humidification solution benefits the whole family and your furniture too.
- Maintenance costs are normal. All humidifiers have some maintenance costs associated with them. You should expect to change filters, cartridges and other accessories annually and clean your machine. If you don’t clean your humidifier or change its filters after a year, throw it away and start over because running a dirty humidifier is not a good idea.
- Type of Humidifier: makes a big difference for cost of operation, humidity level, and what kind of moisture it puts in the air.
Types Of Humidifiers
Ultrasonic: this humidification technology uses a metal diaphragm vibrating at a high-frequency vibration to generate a micro-fine cool or warm mist. A fan then blows the mist into the room where it immediately evaporates. These ultrasonic vibrations kill much of the bacteria and viruses by destroying their cell walls. Additionally, ultrasonic humidifiers are energy misers and are virtually silent while operating. In the past there were some disadvantages to ultrasonic humidifiers such as white mineral dust and the build-up of bacteria and mold in the tank. However, many of ultrasonic humidifiers like those offered by Air-O-Swiss or Stadler Form are equipped with demineralization cartridges and hydro cells to counteract these disadvantages.
Air Washer Humidifiers: the beauty of an Air Washer is its ability to purify and humidify simultaneously without filters. Water in conjunction with rotating discs retain and remove large airborne impurities (such as dust, pollen and particle-bound odors) while returning clean, properly humidified air to the room. Air washers are extremely user-friendly and work on the self-regulating evaporation principle without additional controls systems to ensure optimal air. These systems are usually equipped with an Ionic Silver Stick which prevents microbial growth in the water base. They are also relatively easy to maintain since the discs are dishwasher safe and there are no filter wicks to replace.
There are a variety of sizes that meet the humidification needs for a single room, large areas and for travel or personal spaces. Each size offers a different level of performance. The performance level is sometimes referred to as a ‘gallon dispersion rating’ which is how much water is turned into a mist of humidity within one 24 hour period. Humidifiers can range in output from 1 to 14 gallons per day.
Each humidifier also offers its own coverage area. A coverage area is the maximum amount of square feet which a humidifier can operate effectively. However, room coverage recommendations should be used as a rough estimation when seeking the ideal humidifier. A manufacturer’s recommended room coverage is based on the maximum amount of moisture the humidifier is capable of producing per day when operating in perfect environmental conditions (for example, operating with the bedroom door closed and on its highest speed setting). Since everybody’s room environment and desired speed and output settings are different, it is generally recommended choosing a humidifier that provides the highest output possible for your particular room and budget.
These are good for single rooms such as bedrooms, offices and other medium sized areas. They can feature a warm or cool mist and sometimes you can get both options in the same humidifier. They can also include digital controls, a built-in humidistat to monitor humidity levels, timer modes and other sleek features for those seeking all of the bells and whistles. If you prefer a more simplistic approach, there are units that feature easy-to-use manual controls. Overall, single room humidifiers are feature-rich and the most popular humidifiers available. If you’re looking for excellent performance and high quality, then we recommend the Air O Swiss 7144. Both are feature packed and built to last.
Humidifiers for Larger Areas
Our large capacity humidifiers use the evaporative humidification method to quickly and sufficiently disperse cool moisture into a larger-sized room or multiple rooms located on the same floor. Since the coverage area is much larger, these humidifiers require an internal fan to push the cool moisture out into the room. Because of the internal fan, the noise level is higher than our ultrasonic models. The noise level is not drastic, it’s just something to consider. Another thing to consider is how comfortable you are filling a larger sized tank with water (which for some may take a little more muscle to fill). Overall, if you have multiple rooms to humidify which are near each other and don’t mind a little extra noise then a large-capacity humidifier such as the Aircare 4DTS Console Humidifier would be an excellent choice.
Travel and Portable Humidifiers
A portable humidifier is lightweight, virtually silent, easy-to-operate and provides soothing moisture for personal areas or while traveling. These compact humidifiers will bring relief from dry air in office cubicles, dorm rooms, nurseries or directly at your bedside. For the frequent traveler seeking relief in those stuffy hotel rooms, our Water Bottle Humidifier is designed to neatly fit in a travel bag. Since the tank capacity is much smaller, these humidifiers require frequent refilling. However, they are easy to run and affordable.
Humidifier Size Recap: A single room humidifier is best used for the bedroom, office and other medium-sized living spaces, console humidifiers cover larger areas and sometimes multiple rooms at once and a small humidifier is great for traveling or personal spaces such as in an office cubicle or nursery.
Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist
The choice between cool or warm mist is basically a matter of personal preference. Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers disperse a micro-fine mist into the air while evaporative cool mist humidifiers disperse invisible cool moisture. Some ultrasonic humidifiers have the ability to provide both a micro-fine cool or warm mist. Warm mists can be more soothing during those winter months or around young children with stuffy noses and sinuses. Both mists perform similarly and achieve a desirable amount of moisture into the air but once again it’s a preference on what kind of personal environment you want to create. If you’re undecided, you can get yourself one of the humidifiers that offer both a warm and cool mist in the same unit. We recommend humidifiers by the PowerPure and Boneco Air O Swiss.