How to properly choose a humidifier?

by Véronique Raymond

The humidifier is a great way to add moisture and freshness to your home. But choosing the right one for your needs can be confusing.

Choosing a humidifier can seem like a daunting task. There are so many different types on the market. Which type should you buy? How do you know which one will work best for you?

How do you know what the best one is? If you have a large family, a humidifier that can handle more than one person at once is a good investment. A smaller humidifier with less water can be an effective way to help your home stay drier when you’re not around.

Which one is right for you? Here’s a look at how to choose the best humidifier for your home.

Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist

Warm mist humidifiers produce steam that kills mold and bacteria before the moisture enters the air, which is beneficial for products that need to be moistened.

Cool mist humidifiers are more common because they eliminate burn hazards, making them safer to use in homes with children and pets.

Higher moisture saturation is achieved with warm mist humidifiers, while cool mist units produce a more concentrated moisturized air.

Cool mist units are more energy efficient than warm mist units.

Cool mist units tend to cover more space than warm mist units.

Warm mist units are more affordable, but cool mist units tend to last longer.

Both cool and warm mist units require a reservoir and a power source to run.

Cool mist units are sometimes more portable than warm mist units.

Some warm mist units that are specifically designed for outdoor use may not require a reservoir. Warm mist units can be noisy.

 

Humidifier Size and Capacity

There is a considerable range in size of room humidifiers.

Humidifier size can be identified in several ways, including the amount of water holding tank, the amount of water it will put into a room per day, or the square footage of the space it can effectively humidify.

Room humidifiers for 700 square feet are more than adequate for a typical bedroom or living room.

A larger room would need a humidifier for 1000 square feet or more.

If you have a larger room to humidify, you may need to move furniture or other obstacles out of the way so the humidifier can adequately cover the entire space.

Larger humidifiers can also be used in spaces even larger than 1000 square feet. The rule of thumb is that they can cover a space up to five times the square footage of the unit.

Different types of humidifiers and diffusers are available to help increase humidity levels in a space.

For example, the Vicks Humidifier is a convenient option for a child or the elderly, as it is a small, portable machine that can easily be carried around the house.

To select the right humidifier for your space, consider the following questions: How much moisture do you need? Will the humidifier be used in a small room or a large space? Are you using the humidifier for a particular purpose?

Portable tabletop humidifiers are best for small to medium rooms, while whole-home humidifiers are more versatile.

Humidifier run times vary depending on the type of machine, but typically auto-off features are present.

Tank design is also important when selecting a humidifier, as ease of cleaning is key.

If the tank is too small, you may end up using the machine more often to refill it, which can be inconvenient and adds extra expense.

A higher price generally means more powerful performance and increased longevity, so it’s important to know how much you can afford when selecting a model.

 

Control Precision

Controls allow for more convenience and precision when maintaining the moisture level in a room.

A 30% to 50% relative humidity level is ideal for most homes, as this is the level that is most comfortable for people. A lower level may cause skin problems, while a higher level can cause problems with structural wood and paint.

Humidity control is needed for the comfort of your family and for the long life of your home.

 

Runtime

Humidifiers come in various sizes and will run for different lengths of time based on the size of the water reservoir.

Portable humidifiers will usually require refilling every 8 hours or so.

Units with a higher runtime or when the air is especially dry will have a shorter runtime.

The larger the unit, the more powerful it will be. Generally, the more powerful the unit, the higher the cost. For example, if you need a powerful unit, you may have to pay more for a unit with a larger water reservoir.

 

Ease of Handling and Maintenance

Decide whether the weight of a full water tank could be a problem for you.

Note if the model will require filter changes and how easy they are to change.

Consider purchasing a couple of filters along with your new humidifier, as maintenance is crucial to reduce the risk of bacteria and unhealthy air.

Some water tanks are easier to remove and refill than others, and some models have dishwasher-safe reservoirs that make cleaning easier.

All humidifiers require regular cleaning to reduce bacterial growth.

The evaporative wick filters should be replaced every 30 days to prevent bacteria growth. It is possible to clean the wick filter with a vacuum cleaner or wick filter cleaning brush. Remember to remove the filter from the humidifier before cleaning. The water reservoir must also be cleaned thoroughly.

Allow the parts to dry completely before using your humidifier again.

 

Noise Level and Settings

Ultrasonic humidifiers are considered the quietest to operate.

There is no boiling of water (hissing) and moisture is expelled in a very fine mist.

Ultrasonic humidifiers are least likely to suffer from mold and mildew growth.

Evaporative humidifiers have an internal fan that blows air over a wet pad. As the water evaporates, the air is saturated with water vapor, which is expelled through a vent.

 

 

Safety and Health Features

Keep your home at a comfortable humidity level by using a humidifier with a built-in hygrometer.

Measure the humidity level in your home. An indoor humidity level of 30% to 50% is comfortable. Calibrate your hygrometer when when you move it to a new location.

Cool mist humidifiers are the most popular type of humidifier.

Heated vaporizers can be dangerous for young children and should not be used in homes.

If you’re looking to use essential oils with your machine, you’ll want to find a model that’s designed for that.

Beyond that, you’ll want to look for a machine with disinfection technology such as ultraviolet light (UV) or silver ion cubes built-in, because that water that’s being projected into the room might otherwise contain things like bacteria or limescale, which can leave chalky white residue in your space.

There are a variety of options available when it comes to choosing a humidifier, depending on your needs and budget.

For safety reasons, it is important to take into account the room’s humidity level and make sure the machine is properly maintained.

As a general rule, the unit should be cleaned monthly and the water tank emptied weekly. Avoid using tap water to fill the tank and use clean water instead. As far as maintenance goes, do not submerge the unit in water and be sure to keep it away from open flames.

 

Humidifiers vs. Diffusers

If you’re looking to use essential oils in your home, can you use them with your humidifier?

Check first if your humidifier is compatible with essential oil.

If your humidifier has an aroma pad, it’s especially effective to use it with an essential oil since the pad helps disperse the fragrance throughout the room.

Essential oils are extracted from the leaves, flowers, bark, and other parts of the plants. They are volatile liquid oils, which means they evaporate. Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are synthetic scents. They are solids that do not evaporate.

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