Humidifiers are usually overlooked when it comes to indoor air quality because most people focus on how to eliminate allergens, microbes, and bacteria from the air using air purifiers.
It is important to take humidifiers into account because if the indoor humidity level of your home or commercial workplace is incorrect, you can develop serious respiratory problems in the long run.
The optimal humidity level depends on various factors such as the room size, time of the year, and others. If a room is too humid, it can facilitate the development of mold and mildew. If the air is too dry because of the air conditioner for example, you can wake up in the morning with a running nose and similar flu-like symptoms.
The good news is that you can avoid these health problems by knowing how to choose the right humidifier. These are available in different types, sizes, and having various price ranges, so virtually everyone can afford them. Keep reading to learn more about humidifiers and how to select one suitable for your needs.
There are usually two major types of humidifiers – in-duct humidifiers and ultrasonic humidifiers. Let’s get acquainted with each of them:
1. In-duct humidifiers: in-duct humidifiers are installed by a professional contractor on your existing duct system. These can be separated into two categories: evaporative and vaporizer.
Evaporative humidifiers pass warm air over a water ceramic pad, allowing the air to absorb moisture before it is released back into the house. They are pretty common and highly efficient.
Vaporizer humidifiers are also known as steam humidifiers and they heat up water and release the steam into your house using their own fans.
2. Ultrasonic humidifiers: Ultrasonic humidifiers are usually portable models which don’t require professional installation. They are available in different sizes and they work by agitating a small metallic plate at ultrasonic speeds, turning liquid into vapor.
Now that you know the most common types of humidifiers, let’s add some more variables into the equation – warm mist and cool mist:
- Warm mist humidifiers are usually evaporative ones which heat up water up to the boiling point, releasing a warm steam into the air.
- Cool mist humidifiers are usually represented by the ultrasonic models and they release a cool, gentle steam, adding moisture to the indoor air. This cool steam can be released naturally or pushed by a built-in fan.
Finally, we must talk about home and commercial humidifiers too. Home units are usually relatively small in size (about the size of a bowl of fruits) and they are powered by electricity from a power outlet.
Commercial humidifiers, on the other hand, are larger (about the size of a desktop computer or even larger) because they have a higher output of moisture per day. Obviously, these units are suitable for really large properties, commercial spaces or industrial facilities.
We already began the discussion about room size, so let’s continue it. If you want a humidifier for your living room, you should look at a unit which can cover up to 500-600 sq. ft.
As long as you refill them regularly, these units can quickly humidify a room and increase indoor air quality.
On the other hand, if your property is much larger or you want to humidify a commercial space such as a warehouse, consider getting a humidifier which can easily handle areas larger than 1,000-1,500 sq. ft.
Dehumidifiers are judged by how many pints of moisture they can draw from the indoor air. In a similar fashion, humidifiers are categorized by how many pints they can add to the indoor air.
Sometimes you might see the measuring unit stated in gallons, but the principle is the same – the higher the unit, the more powerful the humidifier is. To give you numbers, if you are looking for a good humidifier for your home, it should have a moisture output of at least 10-15 pints per day. Commercial units usually have outputs of 30-40 pints per day.
The humidifier’s capacity is also important here. These devices usually come with a basket which needs to be refilled with water on a regular basis (daily or several times a week).
If the moisture output is large, the water basket should also be large. Some home humidifiers come with 1-gallon water tanks and they can run for 16-24 hours continuously.
Commercial humidifiers come with water tanks with a capacity of several gallons, but some of them can also be connected to a continuous source of water, so you don’t have to fill the tank regularly.
Like any other household appliance, humidifiers also require a little bit of care on your behalf. For example, some warm mist humidifiers come with filters which trap allergens, microbes, and bacteria.
These filters should be changed on a regular basis to ensure you are breathing the healthiest air possible. If the unit doesn’t have a filter, you might have to manually clean the humidifier (especially ultrasonic ones) because water usually contains mineral deposits which might build up inside your appliance.
It is recommended to use purified water for humidifying your house, but if that’s not an option, tap water is also good.
Here’s a video showing how to easily clean a humidifier:
A humidistat does exactly what you think it does – it measures the humidity level inside the house and can turn the humidifier on and off when necessary. Some sophisticated humidifiers come with a built-in humidistat and I highly recommend going for one of those.
These units will have a totally automatic behavior, so you don’t have to turn them on and off. Still, your humidifier will work just fine without a humidistat, you might just have to remember to fill it up and turn it on during the night to avoid respiratory problems in the morning.
Compartment for oils
You might be happy to find out that a humidifier can behave as your own aromatherapy center!
Some of them incorporate small compartments where you can pour aromatic oils for relaxation and refreshing purposes.
These humidifiers have a small sponge where you put the oils and it might need renewing once every couple of days to get a pleasant, refreshing aroma in your house.
Humidifiers are very easy to work with because they have a few buttons and a large dial, allowing you to adjust the level of moisture you want in your house.
Some of them come with automatic shut-off timers or might feature night lights in different colors which can be used for decorative purposes.
If you are buying a commercial humidifier, it might include a remote which allows you to easily control your device from a distance.
In most cases, humidifiers don’t produce any noise at all or just a subtle white noise if you are going for an ultrasonic device.
However, the sound level is not bothersome and most customers agree that you can easily fall asleep with the humidifier turned on because it is very silent in operation.
Size, shape, and weight
As mentioned earlier, humidifiers come in various sizes and the larger ones are usually more appropriate for really large spaces. For example, commercial humidifiers can be as large as a mini-fridge and they might weigh up to 50-60 pounds.
These models usually come with caster wheels and have side handles for increased portability. If you opt for a home humidifier, these units are no larger than a vase with flowers and they weigh less than eight pounds in most cases.
When it comes to shape, some units are circular, others feature a rectangular or cube-like design, but all of them come in attractive colors and fit well in virtually any interior setting.
Whether you go for a small or large humidifier, these units come with reassuring warranty periods from the manufacturer.
This period usually extends for one or two years, but if you opt for a commercial unit, it is possible to benefit from a longer warranty period. Always investigate this aspect before buying to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.
You might be happy to find out that most humidifiers are priced between $10 and $500 for large and powerful ones.
In some extreme cases, you might stumble upon very sophisticated and potent humidifiers which can cost several thousand dollars, but these are usually designed for commercial and industrial spaces.
On the other hand, if you want a humidifier for your living room, your three-day coffee money will be enough to get a good one.
Now You Know How to Choose a Humidifer!
This buying guide contains everything you need to know to buy a suitable humidifier for your needs, whether you are looking to humidify your kid’s room, a large commercial kitchen or a warehouse.
If you’re still confused and don’t know what to do, start by measuring the space which needs to be humidified and come up with a number in sq. ft.
The following step would be to look at the market for models which are designed for your special requirements and come up with a budget.
Lastly, decide upon extra features such as oil compartment, remote control, automatic shut off, and other useful functions. A good humidifier can really protect your respiratory airways, so take your time in picking a good one!