Humidifier Buyers Guide
Do I Need a Humidifier?
You should use a humidifier if you suffer from sinus problems, stuffy nose, or nose bleeds, especially for those in the Northern areas of the country during winter. You also need a humidifier in a very dry climate area like Arizona, especially if dry air in your home is causing damage to furniture or other possessions such as cracking and warping.
Types of Humidifiers
- Ultrasonic: Most ultrasonic humidifiers use a metal diaphragm that vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency to form a continuous mist, which is dispersed into the room to help maintain the desired humidity level. An ultrasonic humidifier is virtually silent when operating, and mist output is immediate.
- Air Washers: Discs rotate in a water chamber inside the air washer. This process both humidifies and cleanses the air passing over the discs. Large dust particles are captured in the water chamber. The process is similar to the allergen clearance in the air after a good rainfall. The humidification of the air uses the self-regulating principle of cold evaporation.
- Evaporative: Evaporative cool mist humidifiers are simple. A container is filled with water and a fan directs the water to pass over a wick, so it will evaporate naturally into the air. These types of humidifiers are often used for a large area well over 1000 square feet and require their wick to be changed on a regular basis.
Selecting a Humidifier
You need to choose a humidifier that is large enough to humidify the space required. Since manufacturers consistently exaggerate room coverage, we recommend that you buy a larger capacity model, especially if you have high ceilings over 8 feet tall.
Then decide which features are most important to you, whether it is quiet operation, ease of fill and cleaning, or cost of yearly maintenance. These are the main drivers in people’s decision making, but there are additional factors below to consider.
- An ultrasonic humidifier is the most popular humidifier in the U.S. and especially in the Northeast. They have the quietest operation of any kind of humidifier, and most ultrasonic models offer both a warm and cool mist option. Neither a warm mist nor cool mist is more effective in humidifying a room, it is purely preference.
- An air washer is marginally more expensive but makes up for it with little to no annual maintenance costs and its longevity could easily reach ten years. Air washers have the added benefit of the air being purified, at least from larger dust particles suspended in the air. You might also choose an air washer if you are in warmer climates or have hard water. Air washers cover a much greater space than any other type of humidifier as they can cover all rooms.
- Evaporative humidifiers are a good, cheaper choice if you are looking to humidify a large room or open space in your home. There is no risk of them producing white dust, but you will need to change the wick on a regular basis.
How to Use a Humidifier
- We recommend keeping a humidifier running constantly if you have a large area to cover to ensure the space is at the desired humidity. If your goal is to humidify a bedroom, turning it on two hours before bedtime should be sufficient.
- We advise setting a humidifier to between 35% to 45% humidity level. Over 50% can cause mold and dust mites to reproduce.
- Place a small to mid-sized humidifier on a table at the far side of your bedroom. This reduces noise level and prevents your bedding from becoming damp.
- Clean your humidifier by following the instructions in your product manual on a regular basis.
Areas to Humidify
If you are concentrating on nighttime comfort, choose a room humidifier. Otherwise a central humidifier or large space evaporative humidifier are a better choice than multiple small units. However, there must be sufficient airflow between rooms for this to work.
- Built-in humidistat: Humidistats that are integrated into a humidifier can be inaccurate at times, and it will depend on the temperature of your room and if there is an open door or window. For absolute accuracy, purchase an additional, inexpensive standalone measuring device called a hygrometer. Built in humidity display levels are useful to avoid over humidification.
- Noise level: Some humidifiers are notoriously noisy, and for some people the white noise that they emit disturbs sleep. Ultrasonic machines are the quietest on the market.
- A variable fan control that you can control.
- No mineral dust: If you live in a hard water area, you may be at risk for generating white dust with a humidifier. While this can happen with an ultrasonic humidifier, it can be prevented using distilled water or a mineral dust prevention cartridge.
- Coverage: Most manufacturers’ coverage specifications are overstated, so choose a humidifier with more square footage than you need. This means more gallons of water in its holding tank.
- Automatic shut off: When the humidifier has reached the required level of humidity or when empty, it should shut itself off.
- Bacteria free: Is there integrated bacterial protection or an inserted protective device? If you don’t have this feature on your humidifier, you will need to clean it out often to prevent mold and mildew.
- Ease of cleaning: Every humidifier needs maintenance. Do the parts come apart easily for dishwasher cleaning?
- Cost of maintenance: Look carefully at the annual cost of maintenance for your humidifiers. The annual humidifier replacement kits cover demineralization and anti-bacterial protection.
- Reputable manufacturer: Your safety and that of your family is of the highest importance, so make sure to choose a reliable humidifier that has not been recalled. None of the humidifiers that AllergyBuyersClub offers have a history of recall.
- Warranty: A good humidifier has a warranty for three years and is expected to last for five years.