How to Choose the Best Humidifier for Your Home

Humidifiers serve a range of functions in the home. They can help with allergies and health conditions ranging from pneumonia to the common cold. They can improve the overall air quality on the home, helping with sinus issues and keep the proper moisture balance in the air in your home. Recent studies show that increasing the humidity in your home can decrease the likelihood of viruses and airborne infections.

Too much humidity, on the other hand, can contribute to the growth of mold, bacteria and dust which can be a detriment to your health. It’s vital, as such, to make the right choice to maintain the balance of moisture in your home’s air.

Choosing a humidifier for your home can be a confusing process. There are a number of factors that go into the choice and it can be tricky to determine which of the various options may be right for your home. Learn about the different varieties of humidifier and follow these tips to choose the perfect option for your home and family.

Types of Humidifiers

Humidifiers come in a variety of sizes and features, each with its on advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to know what you need for your home.

There are three main types of humidifier systems:

  •         Evaporative
  •         Vaporizer
  •         Ultrasonic


Honeywell HE260A Whole House HumidifierEvaporative humidifiers are the most common form of humidifiers on the market. They operate by passing warm air over a water-saturated ceramic-coated pad. The hot air absorbs moisture from the pad as it moves through and then circulates through your home. Evaporative humidifiers are installed in your home’s ductwork with the air circulated by the furnace fan via the system’s cold-air return. This is called a bypass unit. It also allows for the use of a damper during warmer months while your air conditioner handles air quality.

The evaporative humidifier works at a rate that depends on the relative humidity of the indoor environment. As the humidity in a room increases, the amount of humidity produced will decrease. The major downfall of the evaporative humidifier is the maintenance that it requires. The wick that heats the air must be completely dried between fillings. If not, they become moldy and create health hazards. This requires regular rinsing and replacement of wicks in order to maintain the system.


Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier

Vaporizers are more commonly known as steam humidifiers. They work by heating water in a canister, which converts to steam that is then passed through ductwork and passed throughout your home. Like evaporative systems, they are installed in your ducts, but unlike the former, vaporizers do not require your furnace fan to run. They are powered by their own fans and installed directly onto the warm- or cold-air plenum. They are often chosen by people who have respiratory conditions and allergies to improve air quality in the home.

The down side of a vaporizer is that they require a lot more energy to use than other types of humidifier due to their need to boil water to convert to steam. On the up side, when you boil water it acts to purify it, and the humidity is much freer from pathogens and impurities that might otherwise be released into your air supply.


ultrasonic humidifier Ultrasonic humidifiers use advanced technology to create and control humidity in the home. They are more complex than the other two main types of humidifier, using a small metal plate which vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies, meaning that they are sound waves outside the human realm of hearing, but can cause water to turn from liquid to vapor, which is then passed into the air to humidify the room.

Ultrasonic humidifiers carry many benefits. They are some of the fastest-acting humidifiers around, they require very little electricity and energy to use and they tend to be some of the quietest options available. On the down side, they can be somewhat dangerous to those with immune system issues as it can be very difficult to find water that is truly pure. This means that since the water isn’t heated any impurities from minerals to bacteria and other pathogens that might be present, can be passed into the air.  

To prevent this issue, just as with the evaporative option, it’s necessary to clean them out on a regular basis. It may also be in your best interest to utilize disposable demineralization cartridges and the very best filters such as those offered by FilterBuy. When used in combination with regular cleaning and maintenance, you can ensure that your ultrasonic humidifier is operating safely and effectively.

Choosing the Best Humidifier

When choosing the best humidifier, you’re going to want to look at a variety of different factors and features. These include:

  •         Room Size
  •         Ease of Use
  •         Humidistat

Room Size

Generally speaking, your home or business should have a humidity ranging from 30 to 50%. Studies regarding pathogens and air quality recommend keeping it at over 43%. Make sure that you choose an option which will be powerful enough to raise the humidity levels appropriately without over-working. Alternately, don’t choose one that’s too big or it will be too powerful, raising your energy bills and putting undue stress on your system.

Here are some general guidelines for determining size needs:

  •         Small Humidifiers: < 300 sq. ft.
  •         Medium Humidifiers: Between 300 sq. ft. and 499 sq. ft.
  •         Large Humidifiers: Between 500 sq. ft. and < 999 sq. ft.
  •         Extra-Large Humidifiers: Spaces > 1,000 sq. ft.

Ease of Use

Every piece of equipment needs maintenance on occasion. In order to keep your system working smoothly and in the long term, you’ll want one that you can care for easily. The maintenance you will need to perform includes:

  •         Changing filters
  •         Changing water
  •         General regular cleaning

Take some time to do your research and homework about which systems are the easiest to use and maintain. Read consumer and product reviews and talk to professionals to find out which options may be the best for your home or office space.

Includes Humidistat

digital thermostat humidistatAs a thermostat measures temperature and controls when your furnace or air conditioner kicks on, a humidistat measures the humidity in the air, and controls the functioning of your humidifier. They can be programmed to set up to shut off your humidifier when it reaches the desired humidity level. In general, you should look for a humidifier that has an integrated humidistat; however, if your ideal choice doesn’t have one included, you can use a separate hygrometer to keep an eye on humidity levels and manually shut off your unit when you reach optimal levels.


Making the Final Decision

In the end, purchasing a humidifier comes down to a few simple questions. These include:

  •         Is it big enough to cover the room it’s intended for?
  •         Is it easy to move and clean?
  •         Is it easy to change filters?
  •         Does it include a humidistat?

Naturally, cost will play a factor as well. However, purchasing a unit that doesn’t meet your unique needs is generally not worth it. For more information on choosing the right system for your home, review the other pages on the site to learn more!

Further Reading