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Choosing the Right Humidifier

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. 

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.  Examples: Venta Airwasher and Air-O-Swiss models like the Air-O-Swiss 1355 air washer-humidifier and Air-O-Swiss 2055 air washer-humidifier.

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
 
Disk
Airwasher
Humidifier
low maintenance
no filters
hygienic
no white dust
noise
slow to humidify
limited humidity
must be run all the time
 
Ultrasonic
Humidifier
quiet
choice of warm or cold output   
high output
quickly humidifies
white dust
high maintenance filters
 
Steam
Humidifier
germ free
no white dust
high output
noise
high maintenance filters
dangerous around small children
 
Wick
Evaporator
Humidifier   
inexpensive
limited or no white dust
unsanitary
noise
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 one 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 AOS 2055D 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

Category: Humidifiers, Reviews

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