From newborns to adults, humidifiers are a great way to maintain a healthy humidity level in your home. By boosting the humidity in your environment, you can safeguard your family's health, protect your home's structure from the effects of dry air, and improve your overall indoor comfort. Here are 5 important things to consider when shopping for a humidifier.
1. Why do I need a humidifier?
Humidifiers increase the humidity level in dry indoor areas by dispersing a delicate, invisible mist into the space. This extra boost of moisture comes in handy during winter when heaters used for warmth can strip homes of much-needed humidity. In fact, dry air can lead to:
- Bloody noses
- Cracked lips
- Itchy skin
- Irritated throats
- Allergy symptoms
- Asthma flare-ups
Dry air can also lead to a variety of ailments such as colds, sinus infections, congestion problems, aggravated respiratory passages, and more. In addition to protecting your health, humidifiers are a great way to protect your home's structural integrity and wood furnishings.
Parched indoor air can cause wallpaper to peel as well as wood flooring and wood furnishings to crack, warp, or separate. This damage is unattractive and can be expensive to repair. Additionally, dry air is often the culprit behind painful, unexpected shocks from static electricity. Simply adding a humidifier to your indoor environment will help control and even eliminate these problems.
2. How much space do I need to humidify?
Deciding whether you need focused humidification for a single room or whole house humidification is one of the most important steps in choosing a humidifier. To add moisture to a small- or medium-sized area such as a bedroom or home office, a tabletop humidifier - also known as a room humidifier - is the best choice. These lightweight humidifiers, like the Germ Guardian H4600 120-Hour Ultrasonic Digital humidifier, can be easily moved to other areas as necessary. Plus, many models can operate up to 24 hours before requiring a water refill. Single room humidifiers are also available with germ protection, multiple speeds, built-in hygrometers, combination warm or cool mist outputs, easy-to-use controls, and low water indicators.
If you need to add moisture to multiple rooms or your entire house, console humidifiers and whole house humidifiers are well-suited for the job. Considerably larger than a single room humidifier, a console humidifier can deliver moisture to spaces as large as 3,000 square feet. These humidifiers, such as the Essick Air H12-400 3-Speed Evaporative Console Humidifier, are typically placed in a central location and come in a variety of designs and finishes that allow the devices to blend easily with your decor.
For homes or offices that have a significant need for moisture, a bypass, flow-through, or drum humidifier is a great choice. These humidifiers work with a central air system - and install onto your HVAC unit and directly connect to the water line - to continually disperse moisture to your environment. These humidifiers, like the Honeywell Whole House Bypass Humidifier, never need to be refilled because water is drawn directly from the building's water supply.
3. What type of humidifier do I want?
Humidifiers add moisture to the air in different ways and are available in multiple types with varying benefits and drawbacks. Cool mist humidifiers disperse a room-temperature mist and generally cover larger areas and use less electricity than other types. Warm mist humidifiers use a heating element to heat the water and release it into your room as warm, comfortable moisture. Warm mist models may use slightly more electricity than other types of humidifiers because they heat water to boiling. However, they may produce healthier moisture because the boiling process kills germs and impurities before they can be released into your room. Ultrasonic humidifiers are available in both cool and warm mist types and are known as the most quiet humidifiers on the market.
When choosing among humidifier types, you'll also want to consider the style of your humidifier. Tabletop humidifiers are compact and designed to be placed on dresser, counter, desk, or other table. Console humidifiers are large-capacity humidifiers designed to sit on the floor. Whole house in-duct humidifiers install next to your furnace out of the way and connect to your home's water source to humidify as you heat.
4. Is noise a concern?
Like many mechanical devices, you can expect your humidifier to make a little noise. However, some humidifiers make more noise than others. For areas like bedrooms and home offices that require a quieter environment, an ultrasonic humidifier is the perfect solution. Ultrasonic humidifiers use high-frequency sound waves to vibrate a metal diaphragm at ultrasonic frequencies, which creates a fine, soothing mist. Since the sound waves are higher than we can hear, these humidifiers are significantly quieter than other humidifier models.
5. How much maintenance is required?
Humidifiers are relatively low-maintenance devices. Regular maintenance activities usually include cleaning the water tank to ensure that mold, mildew, and bacteria aren't growing inside and re-circulating throughout your environment. Plus, misting outlets should be checked to make sure that moisture can flow easily. While these activities are common to the vast majority of humidifiers, many cool mist humidifiers use an internal wick filter to help create the soothing mist that blankets your environment. These wick filters will need to be periodically replaced. Check your humidifier owner's manual to learn about a humidifier's maintenance requirements.
For more information on humidifier maintenance, read our Tips for Maintaining Your Humidifier article.
Still Have Questions?
For more information on humidifiers, read our detailed Humidifier Buying Guide. For additional help choosing the best humidifier for your environment, contact one of our product experts toll-free at 1-800-934-9194.