Choosing the Right Humidifier

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There’s quite a bit of confusion out there about humidifiers and how they work. Choosing the right one for your home or office is a matter of knowing the different methods used to create humidity and the benefits and drawbacks of each. Learn about types of humidifiers with our humidifier reviews below.

There are four different types of humidifiers:

1. Disk Evaporator (air washers)

Stacks of thin plastic disks rotate through a water basin. A fan blows air across the water as it cascades down the disks. The Venta Airwasher is an example of this type.

2. Ultrasonic Mist

Water drips onto a plate vibrating at a very high frequency. The micro-atomized water is then sprayed by a small fan into the air. Examples: Air-O-Swiss 7144 humidifier, Air-O-Swiss 7145 humidifier.

3. Steam Evaporators

Water drips into a stainless steel boiling plate. The water turns to steam and is blown by a small fan into the air where it evaporates. Examples: Enviracaire EWM220 humidifier.

4. Wick Evaporators

A paper or sponge wick draws up water from a basin. Air blows through wick and is moistened before entering the room. Example: Air-O-Swiss 2041 evaporator humidifier.

Each method has its pros and cons, as shown below:

Pros Cons
low maintenance
no filters
no white dust
slow to humidify
limited humidity
must be run all the time
choice of warm or cold output
high output
quickly humidifies
white dust
high maintenance filters
germ free
no white dust
high output
high maintenance filters
dangerous around small children
limited or no white dust
high maintenance filters
low output

As you can see, no method is perfect. We all want a silent, maintenance-free humidifier that doesn’t have to be filled with water every day. Unfortunately, no one has invented it yet.

The biggest complaints about humidifiers involve time-consuming cleaning and maintenance and annoying “white dust”.

“White dust” refers to the mineral dust that falls from the air as water evaporates. It’s a nuisance because it has a tendency to collect on plastics and electronic equipment – things most homes are filled with nowadays. If left alone, it can form a tacky residue on surfaces that is difficult to wipe off.

Because they spray a fine mist, all ultrasonic humidifiers and some wick evaporators create white dust. On the other hand, disk and steam evaporators produce no white dust at all. As the water evaporates, the minerals are left behind in the basin and do not become airborne.

It’s obvious from the above chart that we don’t see many pros to using a wicking humidifier, particularly since they have a tendency to breed viruses, bacteria and mold, unless they are kept very clean. Some people like them, and they are inexpensive, but we typically don’t recommend them for general humidification needs.

The humidifiers we recommend here are of excellent quality and each will humidify areas of 400-600 square feet. Choosing the right humidifier for you is just a matter of determining which method has the benefits that are most important to you.

If you’re looking for a quiet unit with high output, moderate maintenance, and don’t mind a little white dust, choose an ultrasonic model. We recommend the AOS 7144 humidifier.

For a permanent high-quality unit that creates no white dust and cleans the air while it humidifies, the Venta airwasher-humidifier is our top pick.

Want absolutely germ-free humidity and no white dust? Go with a steam evaporator like the Enviracaire EWM220 humidifier.

If you still want help choosing the best humidifier for your needs, just call us toll-free at 888.205.3228

Three Essential Truths about Humidifiers

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Winter is creeping up on us, and as the air turns cold and dry our phones start ringing with questions about humidifiers: Which is best? How often do I have to clean it?  And, my personal favorite, “Does it use water?”  Seriously, we get that one all the time.

Regardless of any questions you might have (and please do call us for answers), here are the Three Essential Truths about Humidifiers:

1. You need one

Unless you live in Florida or the south of France, you need a humidifier during the winter months.   And those of us on the east coast and in the southwest and midwest need it the most. In these areas humidity can drop well below 20%.  That lack of moisture will do two things:  dry out your furniture and floors making the joints crack and creak, and dry out your sinuses making you more susceptible to infection by colds and flu.

2. You need one now, not in February
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you’re suffering to start using your humidifier.  Shortly after Halloween, your furniture and floors are going to start to dry up.  The drop in humidity makes the air in your home act like a sponge, wicking away all the moisture from the furniture and floors.  Once this moisture is gone, it takes quite a while to build the humidity level back up and keep it constant.  If you start now before everything (including you) dries out, you can keep the humidity level even and you won’t have to play catch up for a week or longer when you need it most.

3. All humidifiers need maintenance.
This disappoints a lot of people. There is no such thing as a “maintenance free” humidifier.  They all need regular cleaning, disinfecting and replacement of some form of filter, box, chemical, etc.  It’s true that some are much easier to maintain than others, but all of them operate by emitting moisture from a dark, warm environment, and that means they need to be cleaned.  Proper maintenance usually requires only a few minutes a day and will keep the device sanitized and operating properly for years.

We offer a full line of high-quality, high-performance humidifiers for virtually any home or small office need.  If you need help choosing one, just call us toll-free at 888.205.3228.