Tips for Buying Humidifiers
Humidifiers improve the air you breathe and help alleviate sinus congestion and the things that go along with it like chapped lips, itchy eyes and dry skin. Finding the right balance of humidity in your home is not only important to your health but to your possessions as well—furniture and art, especially, can be very prone to damage from too much moisture in the air. As such, adding a humidifier to your home is a wise investment.
There are two main types of humidifiers you can choose from: Cool Mist and Warm Mist.
Cool Mist Humidifiers add water vapor to the air with a rapidly-turning disk or wick filter in the water tank. Because it creates natural evaporation, it’s the most common and safest way to add moisture to the air without any kind of muggy feeling. It also uses less energy and is generally less inexpensive to buy. With no heating system that could pose a burn risk to children, cool mist models are perfectly safe to use in nurseries or small kid’s rooms. However, the use of a fan to turn the disk or wicker does create noise so if you’re buying for a little one, look for a model with a silencer. Filters will need to be replaced every 2 months or so because bacteria and mold can grow in the tank and on the filter if not cleaned properly.
Warm Mist Humdifiers use boiled water to eliminate germs and produce a clean, mineral-free steam output. They’re better-suited for cooler environments because the warm mist can make the air feel a bit muggy. But, one of the benefits is that there are models with compartments where medication can be added if needed, which is ideal for kids. In addition, warm mist systems run quieter than cool mist models because there is no internal fan, but they do tend to use more electricity, so keep that in mind. While you don’t have to worry about replacing filters on warm mist models, warm water in the tank does lend itself to higher likelihood of bacteria growth, so you will need to be diligent about cleaning it frequently.
There are also three basic processes that dictate the type of a humidifier: evaporative, ultrasonic, and impellers.
The most common, evaporative humidifiers use wick filters to absorb moisture from the water tank. It then uses a fan to expel mist into the air, much like the cool mist type discussed above.
Ultrasonic humidifiers use high sound waves that vibrate a metal pad to create fine water mist that look like fog in the air. It is the quietest type available. But minerals and impurities in the water can get into the air through this system because the water is not distilled. As such, you might notice a “white dust” effect where you will visibly see a thin layer of white powder on household items. It’s important to find ultrasonic humidifiers that are equipped with demineralization cartridges to filter out minerals and even ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria.
Finally, impellers are common in cool mist models that use a rapidly rotating disk to propel moist out into a diffuser. They are both inexpensive and quiet and the water tank doesn’t need to be refilled as often, so it’s also more efficient. However, like ultrasonic humidifiers, it can produce the same “white dust” effect because un-distilled water is used.
Manufacturers sell humidifiers by the amount of area the device can cover. But many consumers find that what’s on the box doesn’t always equate to total coverage because every room’s humidity level is different. Do your homework in advance, know the room or rooms you want to use one of these humidifiers in and you’ll be better equipped to find a model that gives you the coverage and value you need.