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How to Choose a Humidifier

Categories: Latest NewsStars: 3Stars Visit: - Release time: 2016-06-14 21:38:00
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 It’s humidifier season and we know you’ve got questions, so here are the answers. In this ‘How to Choose a Humidifier’ overview, we will explain all of things you need to know before you buy. We’ll be covering humidifier sizes, the differences in mist types such as warm mist and cool mist and other features that will help you make the most informed decision when choosing humidifiers.


Ultrasonic: this humidification technology uses a metal diaphragm vibrating at a high-frequency vibration to generate a micro-fine cool or warm mist. A fan then blows the mist into the room where it immediately evaporates. These ultrasonic vibrations kill much of the bacteria and viruses by destroying their cell walls. Additionally, ultrasonic humidifiers are energy misers and are virtually silent while operating. In the past there were some disadvantages to ultrasonic humidifiers such as white mineral dust and the build-up of bacteria and mold in the tank. However, many of ultrasonic humidifiers like those offered by Air-O-Swiss or Stadler Form are equipped with demineralization cartridges and hydro cells to counteract these disadvantages.

Evaporative: an evaporative humidifier is equipped with a filter wick or pad which absorbs the water collected in the reservoir. A fan then pushes the cool moist air out into the room. Evaporative humidifiers are self-regulating and usually raise the humidity in the room quickly and efficiently. If you are worried about white mineral dust, then an evaporative humidifier is a good choice since it only delivers clean, invisible cool moisture into the air. Some disadvantages of an evaporative cool mist humidifier are the filter costs, the noise level on some of the high fan speeds and the threat of bacteria forming in stagnant water if not properly cleaned.

Air Washer Humidifiers: the beauty of an Air Washer is its ability to purify and humidify simultaneously without filters. Water in conjunction with rotating discs retain and remove large airborne impurities (such as dust, pollen and particle-bound odors) while returning clean, properly humidified air to the room. Air washers are extremely user-friendly and work on the self-regulating evaporation principle without additional controls systems to ensure optimal air. These systems are usually equipped with an Ionic Silver Stick which prevents microbial growth in the water base. They are also relatively easy to maintain since the discs are dishwasher safe and there are no filter wicks to replace.


There are a variety of sizes that meet the humidification needs for a single room, large areas and for travel or personal spaces. Each size offers a different level of performance. The performance level is sometimes referred to as a ‘gallon dispersion rating’ which is how much water is turned into a mist of humidity within one 24 hour period. Humidifiers can range in output from 1 to 14 gallons per day.

Each humidifier also offers its own coverage area. A coverage area is the maximum amount of square feet which a humidifier can operate effectively. However, room coverage recommendations should be used as a rough estimation when seeking the ideal humidifier. A manufacturer’s recommended room coverage is based on the maximum amount of moisture the humidifier is capable of producing per day when operating in perfect environmental conditions (for example, operating with the bedroom door closed and on its highest speed setting). Since everybody’s room environment and desired speed and output settings are different, it is generally recommended choosing a humidifier that provides the highest output possible for your particular room and budget.

Room Humidifiers

These are good for single rooms such as bedrooms, offices and other medium sized areas. They can feature a warm or cool mist and sometimes you can get both options in the same humidifier. They can also include digital controls, a built-in humidistat to monitor humidity levels, timer modes and other sleek features for those seeking all of the bells and whistles. If you prefer a more simplistic approach, there are units that feature easy-to-use manual controls. Overall, single room humidifiers are feature-rich and the most popular humidifiers available. 


Travel and Portable Humidifiers

A portable humidifier is lightweight, virtually silent, easy-to-operate and provides soothing moisture for personal areas or while traveling. These compact humidifiers will bring relief from dry air in office cubicles, dorm rooms, nurseries or directly at your bedside. For the frequent traveler seeking relief in those stuffy hotel rooms, our Sunpentown Portable Water Bottle Humidifier is designed to neatly fit in a travel bag. Since the tank capacity is much smaller, these humidifiers require the most frequent refilling. However, they are easy to run and affordable.

Humidifier Size Recap: A single room humidifier is best used for the bedroom, office and other medium-sized living spaces, console humidifiers cover larger areas and sometimes multiple rooms at once and a portable humidifier is great for traveling or personal spaces such as in an office cubicle or nursery.


The choice between cool or warm mist is basically a matter of personal preference. Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers disperse a micro-fine mist into the air while evaporative cool mist humidifiers disperse invisible cool moisture. Some ultrasonic humidifiers have the ability to provide both a micro-fine cool or warm mist. Warm mists can be more soothing during those winter months or around young children with stuffy noses and sinuses. Both mists perform similarly and achieve a desirable amount of moisture into the air but once again it’s a preference on what kind of personal environment you want to create. If you’re undecided, you can get yourself one of the humidifiers that offer both a warm and cool mist in the same unit. 

Humidifier Insider’s Secrets

This portion of ‘How to Choose a Humidifier’ gets into the details that we believe everyone should know when choosing a humidifier. It might be more information than you need, but give it a read. You might be surprised at what you find out. After this list, you’ll find useful links that will bring you directly to the types of humidifiers you’ve chosen.

  • Many times, the coverage area stated by the manufacturer is overstated. It’s best to choose a humidifier that exceeds the area you need to cover.
  • Small humidifiers will definitely add moisture to the air but if you attempt to use one for a larger area than it can handle, you will not achieve the 30-40% humidity level that you’re looking for.
  • Dust mites and mold spores thrive on humidity levels over 50%. Keep your humidity level closer to 40%.
  • Outdoor humidity levels influence the level of humidity that you can achieve in your home. If it’s very dry outside, the humidifier will need refilling more often.
  • Noises are natural in all humidifiers. They all have some level of “gurgling” sound when the water in the tanks is drawn into the base of the units.
  • If the gurgles are bothersome you can place the humidifier out of earshot.
  • Humidifiers with a digital readout that display the humidity levels (digital humidistat) could waiver from time to time. Humidifiers with auto-shutoff will still shutoff when they reach your desired setting but the display could make you think it’s not reaching your target. Trust the humidifier, not the LCD screen!
  • The highly regarded brand Air O Swiss offers ultrasonic humidifiers and they state “None of our humidifiers produce any white mineral dust which can be a by-product of some other brands.” The exception to this statement is that if softened water is used, they can create the same white mineral dust.
  • Using hard water causes more filter changes.
  • Softened water can be used in cool mist humidifiers but may not work well with ultrasonic humidifiers, as it would cause white dust to be dispersed. However, many of our ultrasonic humidifiers are equipped with some type of anti-calcium cartridge which can reduce the risk of white mineral dust.
  • Distilled water is the best water to use in a humidifier but it will cost you unless you have a free source. Also, filtered water that removes common impurities works well.
  • The running cost of a whole house humidifier is more energy efficient provided you have forced hot air heating and your furnace can accommodate this type of solution. This kind of humidification solution benefits the whole family and your furniture too.
  • Maintenance costs are normal. All humidifiers have some maintenance costs associated with them. You should expect to change filters, cartridges and other accessories annually and clean your machine. If you don’t clean your humidifier or change its filters after a year, throw it away and start over because running a dirty humidifier is not a good idea.
  • Most humidifiers are filled at the faucet.

We hope this information has helped you choose a humidifier. The links below will guide you to a humidifier selection that has been pre-tested, reviewed and rated by professionals.  To see humidifier choices or to get further assistance click a link below.


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Tapping, M. (2011, October 06). How to Choose a Humidifier. Retrieved June 14, 2016, from 

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