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Humidifiers: Home Appliance Guide

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Feb 16, 2021

According to The American Society of Heating Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Engineers, our home's optimum humidity level should fall somewhere between 40 and 60 percent. This optimal humidity level is vital to maximize health and comfort levels while also playing a significant role in regulating our homes' energy efficiency and thermal efficiency. Homes with excessively high humidity levels are hot, sticky, and otherwise uncomfortable during the summer months. They are also prone to mold and mildew growth, leading to respiratory problems and structural damage to our house's wood components. Millions of homeowners worldwide invest in dehumidifiers and other mechanical ventilation strategies to lower humidity levels in the home.

Homes with deficient humidity levels (generally below 20-30 percent) also present several other problems. Wooden components are prone to cracking and warping at low humidity levels. This problem can lead to air leaks, negatively affecting the structure's energy efficiency and thermal performance. Low humidity levels within buildings have also been linked to various health problems. Low humidity levels can lead to dry skin and increase the likelihood of severe sinusitis by 50 percent.

Table of Contents

  1. What Types of Humidifiers Are Available? 
  2. What Are Evaporative Humidifiers?
  3. What Are Vaporizers?
  4. What Is a Impeller Humidifier?
  5. What Is a Cool Mist Humidifier?
  6. What Is Passive Humidification?
  7. How Much Energy Do Humidifiers Use?
  8. Are Humidifiers Safe?
  9. Are Humidifiers Environmentally Friendly?
  10. How Long Do Humidifiers Last?
  11. How Do You Install a Humidifier? 
  12. Can You Buy Smart Humidifiers?
  13. What Are The Benefits and Drawbacks of Humidifiers? 
  14. What Are The Best Brands of Humidifiers?
Preserved Plants USA
Photo Credit: Preserved Plants USA

Humidifiers offer an easy and cost-effective strategy for quickly increasing the humidity levels in your home. Humidifiers can be combined with other natural techniques such as moss wallsblooming tables, and air purifying plants not only to increase the humidity levels in your home to an optimal 40-60 percent but can also improve your indoor air quality. 

This complete guide provides information on finding the best humidifier to raise your home's indoor humidity levels effectively.

Crane Cool Mist Humidifier
Crane Cool Mist Humidifier. Photo Credit: Crane

What Types of Humidifiers Are Available? 

Besides the size difference between single-room and whole-house humidifiers, there are other distinctions between different types of humidifiers available for homeowner use. Some of the different kinds of humidifiers available for homeowner use include:

  • Evaporative Humidifiers
  • Vaporizers
  • Impeller Humidifier
  • Cool Mist Humidifiers
  • Fixed Installation Humidifiers
  • Passive Humidification

What Are Evaporative Humidifiers?

Evaporative humidifiers are portable humidifiers that have a simple design with three main parts. The reservoir is a water tank that is usually manually filled by the homeowner or operator. The wick is made from some porous material that absorbs the moisture from the reservoir. A small fan blows air onto the wick to evaporate the water and thus increase the home's humidity levels.

What Are Vaporizers?

Vaporizers are a type of humidifier that use energy to heat or boil water to release steam into the surrounding air.

What Is a Impeller Humidifier?

Impeller humidifiers rely on a rotating disc that casts small amounts of water at a diffuser. The diffuser (sometimes in the shape of small fan blades) essentially chops the water into minuscule droplets that float into the surrounding air to increase humidity levels. These types of humidifiers do quickly raise humidity levels. However, it would help to ensure that the water is purified and mold-free to avoid sending pathogens flying around your home. Some impeller humidifiers can be noisy as well.

What Is a Cool Mist Humidifier?

Cool mist humidifiers rely on an ultrasonic frequency released within a ceramic diaphragm. Incredibly, this strategy creates water droplets that exit the device as a cool mist to raise ambient humidity levels. Cool mist humidifiers are best used with distilled water to avoid releasing bacteria or other pathogens into your indoor air.


What Is a Whole-house Humidifier?

Whole-house humidifiers connected to a centralized HVAC system are usually only used when humidity levels are lowest in the winter months. These devices can come as a drum-style bypass unit, disc wheels, or a bypass flow-through unit. You will most likely need to hire a professional HVAC technician for installation and yearly maintenance for these types of humidifiers.

What Is Passive Humidification?

Passive humidification is not usually commercially sold but includes homemade options for raising humidity levels in the home. Through transpiration, many types of household plants can increase the humidity in your home naturally. Similarly, merely filling a stainless steel bowl with water, placing a towel over the bowl, and using a small stone to "sink" the towel's center into the bowl of water is an example of a simple, DIY natural humidifier. The towel absorbs the water via capillary action. As that moisture evaporates, your home's humidity level can increase.

Dyson Pure Humidify Cool
Dyson Pure Humidify Cool. Photo Credit: Dyson

How Much Energy Do Humidifiers Use?

The amount of energy used by your humidifier will depend entirely on the type of unit you choose. Vaporizers generally use the most energy due to the extra energy generated to heat or boil water. Vaporizers tend to use between 250 and 400 watts of power, while evaporative, impeller and cool mist humidifiers might only use 30 to 50 watts. Whole-house humidifiers attached to your HVAC equipment will also use more power, somewhere between 200 and 350 watts depending on the product's type and size. Unfortunately, ENERGY STAR does not yet certify humidifiers. They completed a scoping report on the energy efficiency of humidifiers back in 2012 and hopefully will develop a standard in the future.

Are Humidifiers Safe?

Humidifiers can play an essential role in helping to keep us healthy. As we mentioned in the introduction, we can lower the probability of viral infection and transmission by raising interior humidity levels during the drier winter months. Humidifiers can also help people who suffer from sinusitis and other sinus problems.

It is crucial to ensure that the water used in your humidifier is pure and pathogen-free and that your humidifier is immaculately clean. Suppose you have mold growing in your reservoir or dust on your fan blades. In that case, your humidifier will essentially be spreading pathogens around your home.

Desert Landscape

Are Humidifiers Environmentally Friendly?

Most home humidifiers have a low energy footprint. Portable humidifiers can use as little as 30 watts of energy per hour and will most likely not need to run around the clock. Using a home humidity sensor (hygrometer) will help you determine when your humidifier needs to be turned on and when you can turn it off. Unless you live in an area where low humidity levels are a year-round issue (desert southwest, for example), investing in a whole-house humidifier that uses significantly more energy is probably not necessary.

How Long Do Humidifiers Last?

Most portable humidifiers should last between 10 and 15 years before needing replacement. This durability depends, of course, on how often you use the device and proper maintenance. Whole-house humidifiers should last as long as your other centralized HVAC equipment, especially if professionally serviced on an annual or biannual basis.

How Do You Install a Humidifier? 

Portable humidifiers are "plug-and-use" devices that are ready to use upon purchase. You will most likely need to hire an HVAC technician to install a whole-house dehumidifier connected to your centralized HVAC equipment.

Levoit Classic 300S
Levoit Classic 300S Smart Humidifier. Photo Credit: Levoit

Can You Buy Smart Humidifiers?

As with almost every home appliance, homeowners can now find smart humidifiers that you can control remotely. These devices can link to your smart home hub. This way, you can use voice control features to allow you to maintain healthy home humidity levels via a smart sensor and dedicated smartphone apps.

Honeywell Humidifier
Honeywell Humidifier. Photo Credit: Honeywell

What Are The Benefits and Drawbacks of Humidifiers? 

Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive and energy-efficient appliances that you can use to raise your home's humidity levels. The best humidifiers on the market also offer other functions, such as purifying the air in your home. But remember, each option is designed to work for specific square footage. So, be careful not to overestimate what they can do, especially when removing viruses from the air.

For people living in areas where low humidity levels are relatively steady during long stretches of the year, investing in a small, portable humidifier is probably a good investment. The main drawback of home humidifiers is that you need to take precautions to ensure that both the appliance and the water in the reservoir are clean and sterilized to avoid spreading pathogens throughout your home.

What Are The Best Brands of Humidifiers?

There are dozens of different companies providing all different types of home humidifiers. Some of the best brands for humidifiers include the following:

  • Levoit: This brand offers several reasonably-priced smart humidifiers. Some of their most innovative products combine with aromatherapy diffusers to help humidify and add a pleasant smell to your home.
  • Honeywell: Honeywell is another company with a massive portfolio of home humidifiers. The brand has several whole-house humidifiers for homeowners who want to go that route. They also have a unique, smart, impeller-style humidifier. This product comes with UV technology to eliminate the majority of germs, viruses, and other potential pathogens that could be lurking in your humidifier.
  • Dyson: This company has a unique home humidifier designed to both cool, purify, and humidify the room where it is placed. Dyson offers a desirable, multi-purpose option, but it is one of the most expensive portable units on the market.
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-09-22T20:00:06+0000
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