Best Humidifier Buying Guide
A lot people take air quality for granted. But breathing is one of the most common ways we absorb chemicals, germs, and viruses from the air. In fact, one aspect of air quality called humidity, has the ability to make us susceptible to colds and other respiratory problems. How so? Humidity, or the amount of water vapor in the air, determines what kind of friendly or unfriendly bacteria could proliferate in our homes. You have probably heard that mold grows in damp, humid places.
Experts agree that the ideal humidity level for good health is between 35% to 50%. In this buying guide for humidifiers, we will focus on raising humidity levels for homes with very low humidity. If you live in a dry climate such as in a desert area, you might want to pay more attention to the following signs that you might need to increase the humidity in your home. This might also be for you if you live in a place that experiences very dry summers and winters.
How do you know if you live in a low humidity area?
For one, low humidity can be described as dry air. So if your skin feels constantly parched and you notice that you go through your Chapstick really quickly in order to relieve cracked lips, the chances are high that your air is very dry. The good news is, raising humidity levels in your home can quickly relieve dryness and give you better skin. Here are other signs that you need to increase the humidity in your home.
• Do you notice your wood floors and furniture as well as your leather upholstery crack and warp as they age? The reason for this is that the dry air loves wicking away moisture from wood and leather which are pretty well conditioned while they are new.
• Do you or your children always have a cold even if your home temperature is nice and warm? This is because low humidity could irritate the delicate tissues inside your nose and sinuses and cause the formation of mucus. Using a radiator at home to keep warm only makes matters worse because heat from the radiator further reduces the humidity in the air.
• Do you or your children have frequent nose bleeds? Dryness can make the delicate tissues in your nose tear easily causing a nose bleed. Higher humidity usually solves this problem.
• Do you or your partner snore? Sometimes a lack of water vapor in the air causes the air passages to dry out and it intensifies the snore.
• Finally, do you get jolted by static electricity often, especially in the winter? Static electricity actually increases as humidity in the air decreases.
If you answered yes to the questions above, then you definitely live in an area of low humidity and this is something that you will want to address right away. This means that you should be on the market for a humidifier to improve your air quality. And we at ParentsNeed HQ have prepared his humidifier buying guide for you.
Two Kinds of Humidifier
So, you’re looking for a humidifier to improve the air quality in your home and relieve any discomfort caused by dryness in your home. But by increasing the humidity in the air, you are doing more than that. You are also protecting your skin and your things from damage, relieving dry sinuses and colds, preventing static in your hair and clothes and reducing your heating costs. You’ll just have to decide if you want a warm mist humidifier or a cool mist humidifier.
Warm mist humidifier
A warm mist humidifier boils water in its reservoir and then disperses the steam in the air. You will like that the water is first boiled because that means that germs are killed in the process and will not be introduced into the air. But there is a marked disadvantage to a warm mist humidifier. Because you will be dealing with boiling water, it carries the risk of burning; either by a child or a pet knocking it over and burning themselves or by drying out and resulting in combustion.
Cool mist humidifier
A cool mist humidifier adds moisture to the air in one of three ways. The first way is through evaporation. A cool mist evaporative humidifier uses a fan to blow on a wick so that the resulting vapor gets introduced to the air. The second way is through ultrasonic vibrations. It uses a high frequency vibration to create water droplets that it then diffuses into the air. The third way is through a motorized disk that sprays a super fine mist which the machine disburses in the air. This is called an impeller cool mist humidifier.
Alternatively, you can search for model that does both. The latest in humidifier technology allows them to emit both hot and cold vapor to give you the flexibility you need to humidify your home whether it is in the cold of winter or the height of summer.
What are the features to look out for in a humidifier?
If you have decided on the type of humidifier you need, it is time for you to wade through the many features of the models available in the market. Being familiar with what humidifiers can do (other than introduce water vapor into the air, of course) will help you find the perfect model for your needs. Let’s start with capacity.
As mentioned earlier, ideal humidity level in a household should be about 35% to 50%. And because it takes only about half a cup of moisture to go from 30% humidity to 60% humidity, finding the right sized humidifier is important. So you will want to measure the square footage of your rooms.
If the room you are treating is 300 sq. ft. and below, you want to go with a small humidifier. While a room that is 300 sq. ft. to 500 sq. ft. will need a medium humidifier. Humidifiers this size are normally table top models and will need to be checked often to make sure that the water in the reservoir has not run out. This is especially important if you are using a warm mist model that boils water.
If you have a big room to treat, say above 500 sq. ft., you might want to go for a large humidifier. Some large models are usually too big to put on the table top and are placed on the floor.
Even if you do not intend to transfer your humidifier from room to room, portability is still a good feature to have. You will still have to clean your unit or its surrounding areas, after all. If all you need is a small or medium table top humidifier, then portability won’t be a problem because they will be light enough for you to carry. But if you are getting a large or extra large model, then look for one with wheels so you can easily move it around.
● Ease of Cleaning
You have your own reasons for wanting to purchase a humidifier, that’s for sure. But whatever those reasons are, you want to make sure that your unit is easy to keep clean. Your humidifier will be dispersing water vapor into the air which you will consequently breathe in. If it is not kept clean, you could be allowing harmful germs into the air and this will simply cancel out your efforts for treating your room. Everyone needs clean air, true, but this is especially important if someone at home is suffering from a respiratory problem.
● Ease of Use
Who isn’t busy these days? You probably do not have time to fiddle with parts and assembly instructions and we at ParentsNeed HQ feel you, we really do. So look for a model that is easy and simple to use.
Ask many doctors and they will tell you that skin dryness, respiratory problems, allergies, asthma, snoring, and a host of other symptoms can be relieved simply by keeping humidity levels at the ideal range. But is it easier said than done? Fortunately, the answer is no. You can monitor your room’s humidity level very easily if your humidifier has a build in humidistat. A humidistat reads the level of moisture in the air and allows you to adjust your unit accordingly.
Increasing humidity when necessary is a great thing, but sometimes leaving your humidifier on all night long could make your room stuffy and overly humid. A timer is a good feature to have in your humidifier so that it could automatically turn off at the time you set. This saves you the effort of having to interrupt your sleep in the middle of the night just to turn off your unit.
● Minimal Mineral Dust
Depending on the source, water can contain a number of certain minerals. When you wash your windows, for example, do you sometimes notice white residue once the water has dried out? Those are actually mineral stains. When you disperse water vapor in the air, you might see a similar white film on the walls and furniture surrounding your humidifier. One way to keep this from happening is to use distilled water instead of tap water in your humidifier’s reservoir. Another way is to look for a humidifier that has a filter that traps any impurities from the water. This will keep annoying mineral dust at a minimum.
● UV Water Purification
If you have little children or pets that could knock off a warm mist humidifier with boiling water in it, you might decide to go with a cool mist humidifier instead. But look for one that purifies the water in the reservoir with UV light. This is a good way to make up for the germ killing benefit of an evaporative warm mist humidifier.
● Noise Level
Some units are definitely noisier than others. But these days, you should not have to suffer needlessly. Find a humidifier that is nice and quiet so that it is pleasant to use at night as it is in the day time.
Humidifiers range from the very simple to the sophisticated. If you have an immediate need for a humidifier but lack the budget for it, a simple low cost unit will still be a great help towards improving the air quality of your home.
Tips for Using Your Humidifier
- Make sure you place your humidifier on a level tabletop and that there is nothing underneath it that could get damaged. Likewise, keep it away from curtains, carpets, and paper because these are things that can absorb moisture and can easily get damp. Avoiding these objects will protect your home from getting overly humid and encouraging mold growth on them.
- Clean your humidifier often. Since it is an appliance that is always filled with water, not cleaning it can encourage the growth of germs and other undesirables that love moisture. As a rule, you want to change the water in your humidifier daily and then wash all washable parts at least twice a week. Wipe down the parts of your unit that cannot be drenched in water.
- Anything that you put into your humidifier can be breathed in and travel to your lungs. This includes the cleaning chemicals and dishwashing soap that you use to maintain your unit. So it is important to clean your unit with natural cleansers to minimize inhalation of chemicals into your lungs. There are a lot of ideas on the internet on using natural cleaners.
Congratulations on making a conscious effort towards improving the humidity levels in your home. We are sure that pretty soon, you will be saying goodbye to annoying static, persistent colds, and uncomfortable dry skin while you welcome your new humidifier home. But before you go out and make your purchase, you might want to have a look at the Top 5 Best Humidifiers for Your Family that we have tested here at ParentsNeed HQ. While finding the perfect humidifier may take a compromise between two or more features, we believe that each one is a hard working machine that will do their job beautifully. Among the five, though, we absolutely love the Honeywell Humidifier, HCM 350. It is a cool mist humidifier with a large capacity that requires little maintenance. Read more about why it is our top pick among the best humidifiers.