Decent Home Decor is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. However, our editorial content is not influenced by the commission. Learn More.
Whether you live in a hot or cold area, a humidifier comes in handy. By moisturizing the air, there are numerous health benefits including keeping your hair and skin soft, reducing allergy and dry coughs. They also help retain the originality in our woodwork and wallpaper hangings.
There are many types of humidifiers and they may seem confusing. This article is geared towards dissecting each of these different humidifiers and how they work. But first, is a humidifier necessary?
You might be conflicted about whether or not you really need a humidifier in your home. If this is the case, below are the reasons why you truly need one.
The recommended humidity levels are 30-50%. With the help of a hygrometer, you can measure whether the air in your room is moist enough. If the air is dry, then you definitely need a humidifier to increase the moisture levels.
Dry air has several drawbacks. When the air is dry, it results in too much static electricity. Static electricity can damage your electronics, cause your furniture to crack, peel off paint or wallpapers, and also damage your wooden floors.
Dry air also chaps your lips, dries your nose, throat, and skin. This can be painful as cracked lips bleed from time to time while a dry throat can be an irritation. To overcome the above, a humidifier will be a valuable tool.
Apart from having dry air in your home, humidifiers also help in relieving cold symptoms you may have. As crazy as that may sound, when the humidity levels are right, your sinuses perform at optimal conditions and mucus runs freely unlike when you have to forcefully blow it out.
With that out of the way, here are types of humidifiers.
What are the types of humidifiers?
Humidifiers can be categorized according to size or how they perform. Here are 6 types of humidifiers
- Cool mist humidifiers
Cool mist humidifiers are best suited for warm climates. This is because; they are responsible for emitting cool moisture into the warm air. They have an in-built evaporative system that uses wicks. Cool mist humidifiers are not only safe but also effective when in use.
However, the noise emitted from these machines is relatively higher compared to other humidifiers. Also, it is important that you frequently clean the humidifier as well as change the wicks for effective performance.
- Warm mist humidifiers
Just like the name suggests, warm mist humidifiers emit warm moisture to the air which you can feel and see. The humidifier has a reservoir where water is heated to steam before releasing the moisture. This humidifier is inexpensive and is a great way to treat colds or flu. This machine is cheap compared to other humidifiers and is quiet too.
However, warm mist humidifiers are only convenient for small areas. Besides, they require frequent cleaning which is a difficult task since they are not easy to clean. Also, they may cause burns and it is advisable to keep them out of reach from children.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers
Ultrasonic humidifiers are infused with a metal diaphragm that uses high-frequency ultrasonic vibrations to produce water droplets. The vibrations emit minimal noise making these humidifiers best to use with kids. They are also inexpensive and one does not need to change the filters frequently.
It is however important that you read the buyer’s manual that most ultrasonic humidifiers have since they run best on distilled water and bottled rather than tap water. When mineral water is put in the humidifier, there is the risk of emitting white dust which may be harmful to your health.
- Evaporative humidifiers
Evaporative humidifiers are also known as Wick humidifiers. They use cloth, paper, or wick to draw water from the tank. Meanwhile, a rotating fan blows this wick to release moisture to the air through a saturated pad. These humidifiers minimize energy consumption and operate quietly. Besides, the wick filters can run for 3-4months without changing.
- Impeller humidifiers
Impeller humidifiers have a rotating disc that throws water at a diffuser that looks like a comb. In turn, this diffuser breaks the water molecules into droplets that appear as fog. The impeller humidifier suitable to cover large areas and is cheap.
The only set back is that it needs cleaning after every use.
- Whole-house humidifiers
Unlike most portable humidifiers, whole-house humidifiers cover a large area without having to move them. They can run a few days without filling the tank and do not need constant cleaning. Just one cleaning once a week is recommended.
What is the Recommended Humidity Level?
You might like to keep warm and only believe that your humidifier is working if you can steam blowing out of it. Well, that is not healthy at all. You need to turn it down and keep the humidity in your house below 50%.
The EPA suggests keeping the humidity in your home between 30% and 50% for the best results and reduced health risks. You can measure the humidity levels using the in-built humidity measure in your humidifier.
If you have an older humidifier one without an in-built measuring feature, you can purchase a hygrometer at a drugstore or Indoor Humidity Monitor for only a few dollars. Keeping it at the recommended levels is especially important if you have kids in the house or if you use a humidifier in your baby’s room.
How to measure humidity level?
There are three easy ways you can determine the level of humidity.
The easiest way you can do this is by using a hygrometer. They are inexpensive and easy to come by just like thermometers. However, if you do not own one, you can learn these tricks to ascertain whether your home has high or low humid conditions.
- Use ice cubes
Take 4 ice cubes, dip them in a glass containing water, and place it in the room you need to measure humidity. Leave the glass for five minutes and avoid walking in and out of the room. If there are water droplets on the outer side of the glass, the room has excess moisture. However, if the glass has no changes, the room has dry air and a humidifier is needed.
- Use of hair
When exposed to moisture, hair increases in length but when exposed to dry air, it shrinks and reduces. Hair can be used as a hygrometer to determine whether your home is humid or not. Here is how to do it:
On a piece of paper, draw an arrow then cut it out. Make a hole at the end of the arrow that is larger than a pin to act as a pivot to allow free movement. Pin the arrow on cardboard and ensure it can move freely. Then, wrap one end of the hair to the pin while the other end on the arrow.
You can experiment by blowing the strand for a 0% reading then spray a moisturizer to achieve a 100% reading. With this observation, you can comfortable establish whether you are in a humid or dry environment.
Depending on the reading you find from these measurements, you may question whether you need a cool or warm mist humidifier. We will guide you on that too.
Should I choose a warm or cool mist humidifier?
Your humidity levels should discern which humidifier to use. Besides, the climate too becomes a determiner on whether to choose the cool or warm option. Your preference is of importance too.
Firstly, warm mist humidifiers add warm moisture to the air and have proven to ease congestion and coughing. They also have a chamber where one can dispense medication in the air. On the other hand, cool mist humidifiers are suitable for kids as warm mist humidifiers pose a dangerous threat to them. The steam can cause burns as they try to fulfill their curiosity.
Secondly, since warm mist humidifiers release steam to the air, they are likely to alleviate the room temperature which is not the same with cool mist humidifiers. The cool humidifiers do not increase temperatures; rather, they have a cooling effect.
Warm humidifiers are best during winter while cool mist humidifiers are suitable during spring and summer. Either way, the two humidifiers will help you relax during these intense climates.
How does an ultrasonic humidifier work?
Ultrasonic humidifiers can emit both warm and cool mist. However, for that end result, let’s examine what happens.
- When an electronic signal is sent, a regulator valve allows water to flow from the reservoir to the transducer.
- The water is vibrated and it tries to maintain the rhythm. This, however, is not possible due to its weight and mass.
- This forces the water to explode into droplets due to the high ultrasonic frequency.
- The water particles are further broken down to vapor which is released by the available fans.
Some ultrasonic humidifiers have a metal plate that is equally built to produce ultrasonic vibrations. They then release the air bubbles through wick filters.
All this activity takes place in a quiet setting despite their powerful nature. Besides, ultrasonic machines are environmentally friendly and can be used with kids.
How does a cool-mist humidifier work?
Cool mist humidifiers can be categorized into two: cool mist evaporative humidifier and cool-mist impeller humidifier.
The cool mist evaporative humidifier has spaces around the back or sides to allow dry air to pass through. The air then moves to the saturated filter where moisture is added to it. The air is filtered and all impurities are left behind while the clean and pure air is released by an electric fan.
On the other hand, the cool mist impeller humidifier uses a small, electric motor that has a rapidly spinning disc. Water from the spinning disc is sprayed to the diffuser at high speeds where it is broken down into tiny microscopic droplets. The machine is very quiet during operation. They also do not need filters and work best with distilled water.
You might be concerned about what size of humidifier to get for your room. Here is a guide on sizes.
Which size humidifier humidifiers should I choose?
When choosing a humidifier, take into consideration the size of square feet, the kind of insulation in the room, room volume, humification load, and rate of moisture output per day.
Small rooms measure 400sq feet and require humidifiers that can release 1.5-4 gallons of moisture each day. Meanwhile, the medium-sized room is 400-1000sq feet and need 2-4 gallons of moisture while large rooms measure more than 1000sq feet and require the same gallons as medium-sized rooms. When it comes to the whole house, it can measure 2500-4000sq feet and at the same time require 9 gallons of moisture.
Besides, you may sway to the portable humidifiers that should be smaller in size compared to whole room humidifiers. Tabletop humidifiers are lightweight and easily portable.
Finally, let us consider how much power a humidifier needs to run.
How much energy a humidifier uses?
For a humidifier to work, it does not need a lot of power. According to EPA, humidifiers consume electricity on a low basis.
It is however important to note that for a humidifier to be efficient, it needs to emit the required moisture to the air and this means performance. Also, if it is serving a large room, it needs more time to run so as to fill the room.
Besides, check whether the humidifier has an automatic switch-off button that automatically turns it off when the water levels go down. This will save you power.
How often should you clean your humidifier?
Before working out the frequency you need to clean your humidifier, it is important we understand why we need to clean it in the first place. Humidifiers need cleaning since they are directly involved with the air you are inhaling.
Dirty humidifiers can contaminate the air by spreading harmful molds and bacteria. This can lead to severe asthma attacks, terrible coughs and flu as well as lung inflammation. This is why you need to know the intervals needed to clean your humidifier.
Rinse the humidifier every day and change the water before any use. This helps stop any bacteria from growing. Apart from the daily rinsing, thoroughly clean the machine once every week. You can use vinegar for spot cleaning.
Whether you opt to get an ultrasonic humidifier or a warm mist humidifier, rest assured that they work to help increase moisture levels in your home. Choose one that perfectly fits your home and is compatible with your needs.