The 7 Best House Humidifiers
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in October of 2015. When winter comes and the air starts to get dryer, it can cause dry skin and breathing issues for many people. One of these humidifiers can pump moisture into the air to keep you and your family comfortable and reduce the levels of allergens and viruses in the atmosphere. They come in capacities capable of humidifying single rooms through to a whole house. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best house humidifier on Amazon.
It's Amazing What Water Can Do
Humidifiers are available in both point-of-use and whole-house models.
Portable humidifiers range in size from small, tabletop units to ones that are floor-mounted.
When the weather turns cold and the air gets dry, this combination can cause several problems indoors, including an increased risk of respiratory tract infections and other viruses, aggravation of allergies and asthma conditions, dry skin, itchy eyes, wood cracking damage inside the house, and even painful static shocks. To prevent such problems, one needs to find the proper balance of humidity within their home through the use of one or several humidifiers.
A humidifier is either a point-of-use or whole-house device that increases the moisture level within a single room or an entire home. Regardless of its capacity and size, the device's goal is very much the same. Humidity is defined as the amount of water vapor currently in the air, which always contains some amount of water in it. Some geographic locations have humidity levels higher than others and this can change depending on the time of year. When standing in a bathroom after a hot shower, for example, you are in an environment with high humidity due to the steam that is currently present. In the middle of a desert that hasn't experienced any rainfall in several months, you'd be standing in an area with very low relative humidity.
Humidifiers are available in both point-of-use and whole-house models. Point-of-use (portable) humidifiers are specifically designed to increase moisture to a single room, whereas whole-house humidifiers connect to a home's central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to provide comfortable levels of humidity to every room. Portable humidifiers range in size from small, tabletop units to ones that are floor-mounted. They are equipped with their own independent storage tanks from which the devices will receive their water supply. These tanks need to be periodically checked and refilled. By contrast, whole-house humidifiers draw their moisture directly from a home's main water supply, maintaining a consistent and monitored level of moisture at all times, depending on the homeowner's preference and how they may set their thermostat.
Evaporative humidifiers are the most common and are capable of self regulation. Portable versions consist of a cold water reservoir, a wicking filter, and a fan to blow the moisturized air into the environment. The reservoir holds the water and deposits it into a basin. The wicking filter absorbs the basin water while the fan blows air through the filter, allowing some of the water to evaporate in the process. The higher the relative humidity, the more difficult it is for water to evaporate, hence the device's ability to self regulate.
As the humidity level increases, the output of the humidifier's water vapor naturally decreases. Whole-house evaporative humidifiers, hooked up to a home's HVAC system, operate in a very similar way using a metal mesh or screen located in the duct coming from the furnace or air conditioner. As air coming from the duct blows across the screen, it picks up moisture from the flowing water to deliver its moisture throughout the house.
There are also steam-powered humidifiers (also referred to as vaporizers) that operate by boiling water and releasing hot water vapor into the air. A medicated inhalant can be added to the steam vapor of a portable humidifier to help reduce coughs and other allergic tendencies, which can be useful if your child is sick. but this should be leveraged in moderation and a child should always be monitored when using the device in this way.
Keeping It Moist
One's location should be the first consideration when deciding to invest in a humidifier. Not every home needs a whole-house humidifier tied into the HVAC system. However, if you live in a particularly arid climate and your home has a lot of expensive wood furniture, then a whole-home humidifier can come in particularly handy. In this situation, it can be more cost-effective to have a centralized humidifier so you don't have to worry about maintenance or plugging in separate units in each room individually.
By contrast, if you have small rooms and only some of them tend to get dry in cold weather, portable units can work nicely.
Using a whole-house humidifier can also significantly reduce your energy costs simply due to the fact that humid air holds more heat, meaning that your central HVAC system won't have to work as hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature during the winter months.
Additionally, the whole-house humidifier operates quietly and does not have to be refilled constantly in the same way a portable device does. By contrast, if you have small rooms and only some of them tend to get dry in cold weather, portable units can work nicely. One simply needs to weigh the advantages of each solution against what they feel their home needs.
Finally, try to swing for a humidifier with built-in temperature and relative humidity monitoring capabilities, meaning that the unit can automatically turn itself on or off depending on the measurements it takes at a given time. This can help maintain a comfortable preset moisture level.
A Brief History Of Humidifiers
The concept of indoor air humidification has its roots in the mid-twentieth century. The first truly successful whole-home humidifier was introduced in 1954 by Aprilaire, now known for a wide variety of home indoor air quality products. The company has been manufacturing similar products since 1938. And one of the very first portable humidifiers was patented in 1965.
The innovation of the humidifier throughout the twentieth century has lead to additional portable varieties in today's market, which include impeller-operated and ultrasonic units among others.
Impeller-driven humidifiers leverage rotating discs, which fling water into comb-shaped diffusers designed to break water into fine droplets that are passed into the air. Ultrasonic units use a vibrating metal diaphragm to accomplish the same goal.
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