The days when humidifiers merely filled rooms with oppressive steam that did little but calm coughs and colds are over. Dinosaur units had their uses, warming rooms while soothing dry airways, but these days, humidifiers are high-tech appliances capable of purifying air at any temperature you choose. They can emit medication, improve the efficiency of your forced air conditioning system, control the density of your room’s humidity precisely, carry damp air throughout your home, and balance existing humidity that results from changing climates.
Dynamite in Small Packages
With the innovations of today’s state of the art units, humidifiers’ benefits have ballooned to include a number of new payoffs.
- Humid air prevents temperatures in the home from dropping to uncomfortable levels with the help of any existing air conditioners.
- Wooden floors, furnishings, and walls are kept from shrinkage and dryness, raising their longevity and giving them that brand new aesthetic.
- Static electricity is eradicated.
- Chapped lips, dry skin, and early morning mouth discomfort is prevented.
- Nasal, lung, and throat allergies are eased when humidity reduces inflammation. In best case scenarios, itchiness, sinus, and asthma are alleviated.
- Viruses thrive in dry climates. Humidifiers thus prevent the transmission of colds and flu within your home to an extent.
- Condensation from excessive humidity can damage electronic equipment and musical instruments. Today’s humidifiers don’t merely introduce moisture, but balance it, preventing excess dampness in the air to prevent expensive appliance and instrument loss.
A Delicate Balance
The humidity in the air is affected constantly by evolving weather, making standard levels insufficient. With arid air, your skin is irritated, your nasal passages are dry, and your eyes may itch. With high humidity, the air becomes stifling, potentially causing condensation that leads to the overgrowth of mites, molds, and bacteria. These are all allergens that cause symptoms in themselves. It is thus imperative to reach a precise balance. With a humidifier that automatically adjusts to the weather, you have effortless control. However, an ordinary humidifier can be used to achieve the right levels with the help of a few tools. The ideal level is between 30% and 50%. Some enjoy those of 60% but this can cause excessive heat, which reduces moisture, negating the effect of your humidifier. Similarly, during winter, a humidity level of 30% can cause your home to feel too chilly for your liking.
- Hydrometers measure the density of liquids against the density of water using mercury and gravity.
- Hygrometers use condensation temperatures to arrive at a moisture content measurement.
- Digital hydrometers remember humidity highs and lows, helping you to identify patterns to refine your automatic climate control.
- A combined hygrometer and thermometer measures water vapor levels and temperature, letting you refine your climate needs more precisely.
- Multiple humidity sensors track all rooms in your home individually.
Cool or Warm Mist Humidifiers
Humidifiers are broadly divided into those that emit cool mist and those that heat moisture before releasing steam. Regardless of your choice, slacking on your cleaning and maintenance duties will negate the effect of your unit on your allergies: Tardy cleaning leaves you with mold and mildew that releases unhealthy particles into the air. At a minimum, cleaning must happen every two months, or more often if you are using your unit heavily. Your humidifier will come with its own specific directions. Dr Cliff Bassett of New York’s Allergy and Asthma Care recommends a humidity level of no more than 45% and cleaning with bleach or vinegar. ASHRAE claims that 31% to 37% is most comfortable.
EnergyStar rates warm mist humidifiers as the largest power savers, achieving a cost reduction of $182.7 million in the United States over four years. The guilty parties, as far as EnergyStar ratings are concerned, are ultrasonic units, which nonetheless achieve a considerable saving of $17.9 million over the same period. Cool mist humidifiers are high achievers, saving $137.7 million.
1. Spendthrifts, Bachelors, and Lazy Users: Warm Mist Humidifiers:
An element heats water to create steam. Absorption pads are a useful option for areas with difficult conditions that have hard, mineral-rich water. If you’re a spendthrift, this is the unit that will give your pocket the lowest impact. It is also kind on the ears, functioning more silently than most. Mineral pads are inexpensive to replace, leaving these units with no other maintenance costs to concern yourself with. Energy-efficiency is lower than that of cool mist options, but this is mitigated by meagre upkeep needs. Pediatricians warn against the use of this option if there is a baby in the home since hot water spillage is a risk.
2. Soft Water Areas, Child-Friendly Homes, and Eco-Buffs: Cool Mist Evaporative Humidifiers
Air is driven through a wick, much like a candle’s. This draws water from a tank, allowing it to evaporate gently into the atmosphere. This wick has its own filtration process, which eliminates impurities. These units are energy efficient, with filters requiring replacement every two months.
3. Insomniacs and Sloths: Ultrasonic Humidifiers
The queen of silent units, this humidifier does away with fans, using a vibrating diaphragm to create fine mist out of water. Ultrasonic models are among the lightest energy users, but if you are obsessive about the neatness of your countertops, keep in mind that your unit may release a fine white dust that is harmless but will settle on nearby furnishings. You can mitigate this by including demineralization cartridges or by replacing your water with distilled options. There are warm and cool mist alternatives, with heated units impeding mold and bacteria growth to lighten your cleaning schedule.
4.Toddlers and Patients: UV Germ-Free Units
Ultraviolet light kills almost 100% of microbes and viruses in humidifier tanks, making them an excellent tool for immune-deficient patients, infants, and toddlers.
5. Light-Lifters: Easy Pour Units
If you have arthritic hands, backaches, or similar medical issues that make heavy lifting a chore, these models let you fill them with a small water container.
6. Flu Patients and Asthmatics: Vaporizer
When family members are suffering from stuffy noses and asthma, vaporizers combine medication with humidification, releasing your chosen oils or pharmaceuticals into the air.
7. Busy Bodies: Cool Mist Impeller
These silent, filter-free models don’t guzzle energy, but in exchange, they do demand frequent cleaning and refilling.
Pros and Cons
|Cool Mist||Warm Mist|
|Cools your room down, making it ideal for hot climates.||Heats the room slightly, making it a soothing option for winter nights.|
|Fans have two or three speeds, with lower speeds being quieter. These seldom operate more silently than warm mist options.||Silent operator, emitting occasional boiling noises but little else.|
|Generally capable of high output, keeping your large areas at their precise humidity level.||Units are usually less efficient with the space they cover, making them a better option for small rooms.|
Portable Table top Units
If your bank account is lined only with pennies, table top models give you the comfort of perfect humidity at the lowest possible price. If your room is below 700 square feet, this model is adequate for your needs, as long as you don’t mind filling the tank often.
These are the largest portable units, capable of humidifying outsized areas such as conjoined rooms and hallways of up to 2,900 square feet. While a touch on the heavy side, they don’t need to be centrally placed and often come with casters. This allows you to hide them behind your furniture, leaving your décor as perfect as your interior designer intended.
Whole House Models
These systems are installed directly into your forced air heating system. They use your own water mains, carrying moist air picked up from a wick into all rooms in your home. There are no humidifiers as energy efficient as these ones. However, with costs being weighty, your specifications must be cherry picked with attention to the details.
- Your ceiling height and square footage determine the output you need, calculated in gallons over a day’s period.
- Much like air purifiers, whole house systems use an air change rate to measure output. This will be determined by how well sealed your home is from external elements. Loose, average, and tight construction are the three broad categories used.
- Your home produces its own moisture through the air you exhale, your cooking, and hot water usage. You will need to calculate a broad estimate, subtracting that from the above mentioned figures. EnergyStar states that wattage plays little role in output, simplifying your estimate considerably.
Top Rated Humidifiers
|Model||Room Size||Energy Efficiency||Benefits and Features||Price|
|Aprilaire 700 Whole House Humidifier with Automatic Digital Control||Whole House: Up to 4.200 square feet.||High||50% more moisture output than comparative units.|
0.75 gallons of evaporation per hour.
|Essick Air MA1201 White||Whole House: Up to 2,500 square feet.||High||Digitally maintains accuracy using a humidistat.|
Automatic shut off feature.
|Skuttle 55-UD Flow-Through Under Duct||Whole House||High||20 gallons of output daily.|
Eco-friendly and free of contaminates.
Functions with extra-small ducts.
|Honeywell QuietCare 9-Gallon Output Console HCM-6009||Whole Room: Up to 2,300 square feet.||Medium||9.4 gallons of output daily.|
Three humidity settings.
A third more silent than comparative models.
Antibacterial filter to reduce the growth of microbes and mold.
|Essick Air Evaporative Console H12-400||Whole Room: 2,500 square feet.||High||Does not produce white dust.|
Three speeds with humidistat.
|Essick Air 4-Speed Mini Console 5D6 700||Whole Room: Up to 1,100 square feet.||Five gallons of daily output.|
Digital controls with four speeds.
One year warranty with a two year motor warranty.
|Black and Decker Table top Ultrasonic||Table top: Up to 45 square feet.||High (EnergyStar rated.)||Remote control function.||$|
|Germ Guardian H1000||Table top: 110cc per hour.||High||Silent cool mist unit.|
Three year warranty.
Runs for eight continuous hours.
Silver Clean antibacterial technology.
|PureGuardian Ultrasonic H920BL||Table top||Medium||Silver Clean antimicrobial technology with anti-fungal agent.|
Runs for 10 consecutive hours.
Needs no replacement of wicks, filters, or pads.
Making the Most of Your Humidifier
How to be a Lazy User
With today’s automatic functionality and low maintenance models, you needn’t feel intimidated by the upkeep of your unit. If you’re one who prefers to sit back while your technology does the work on your behalf, choose a model that takes care of itself:
- Humidistats function somewhat like rheostats, recognizing the point when moisture is at its optimum, at which point they turn themselves off.
- Self-timers let you program your unit to turn off when you go to work and turn on when you return.
- An automatic shut-off feature ensures that your energy is not consumed to excess when your humidifier’s tank runs empty.
- The bigger your water tank, the less frequently you need to fill it, giving you lazier, more comfortable days.
Cleanliness: Keeping Allergies at Bay
Cleaning water tanks is a chore, but it’s a necessary one. There are, however, ways to make your life simpler on this score:
- Replace tap water with distilled water. This is particularly important in hard water regions. The cleaner your water is, the fewer microbes there will be to litter to the tank, stretching the time between cleans.
- A stitch in time saves nine: The more frequently you complete a cursory replacement of your tank water, the cleaner the tank will remain. Dry the tank out with a cloth before refilling it. By doing this on a daily basis, you can adjust those laborious bleach-scrubs to create a more manageable schedule.
- Every humidifier has its own requirements for cleaning. Some are best maintained with bleach while others need hydrogen peroxide. Always use your manual to inform your maintenance techniques.
- By keeping strictly to your filter changing schedule, you keep your tank cleaner, reducing the scrubbing power required.
- Pooling water around your unit is a red flag warning you of overuse. It may need to be turned on for fewer consecutive hours or be used on a lower setting.
- Before you store your unit, drain it completely, remove filtration devices and, most importantly, dry it thoroughly.
Best Ultrasonic humidifier: Air-O-Swiss Travel Ultrasonic AOS 7146
If you’re an on-the-go person, this is a unit that follows you everywhere. It was designed to boost your productivity even when jet setting across continents. It has exchangeable adapters and plugs and functions with a standard consumable water bottle.
- Light enough for comfortable traveling
- Automatically shuts off when your water bottle has drained.
- Can be used in standard plugs in Europe and North America.
- Output control feature controls humidity automatically.
- Functions silently.
- Energy Efficient.
Best warm mist humidifier: Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier with Auto Shutoff
Since days of old, warm mist humidifiers have been the appliance of choice for stuffy noses and tight chests, so it’s no surprise that a model by Vicks would have achieved one of the highest ratings in this category. Warm mist units are, according to the Mayo Clinic, no more effective at calming symptoms than cool mist models, but this model emits liquid medication into the air. Warmth can feel more calming to some. The unit keeps vapor 95% bacteria-free.
- Runs for 12 consecutive hours.
- Shuts off automatically when its tank runs dry.
- 1.5 gallons of moisture output daily.
- UL listed as safe.
- Two speeds should you need a quieter function.
- 1 gallon water capacity.
- Humidifies a room of between 1,000 and 1,200 square feet.
Best cool mist humidifier: Crane Mist Ultrasonic
This filter-free unit has a contemporary aesthetic and a compact body. It functions as silently as a ghost. Its 360-degree nozzle produces more output using less energy. If you are a difficult sleeper needing comfort for 24 hours a day, this is the unit for you.
- Automatic shutoff
- 1 gallon water tank for low-maintenance filling.
- Functions with an optional demineralization filter, but the standard model needs no wicks or filters.
- Has an output of 2.3 gallons per day at a maximum of 250 square feet.
- Removable water tank lets you complete your maintenance without lugging a hefty appliance to your faucet.
Best Whole House Humidifier: Honeywell Whole House Bypass HE220A
When you’ve begun to find lugging your humidifier from room to room tiring and still are not achieving the moisture levels you need, a fuss-free, durable whole house model is on the cards. Honeywell’s unit achieves a comfortable balance between affordability and efficiency. It costs the same as many portable models yet still manages to humidify a gargantuan 3,000 square feet. When selected according to its output, it retains your levels at an ideal 40% using a humidistat to limit the amount of work you have to put into keeping your environment controlled.
- Hassle-free self-mounting installation kit. If you have an open plan furnace, the process should take only a few hours.
- Inserts into return air ducts or warm air supplies.
- It works as a flow through system, which creates a self-cleaning mechanism so that your maintenance is eased.
- 12 gallons of daily output.