Your Guide to Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers
A humidifier and dehumidifier are essential components of any home HVAC system. Proper humidification is necessary to maintain ideal moisture levels in both summer and winter months to achieve healthy indoor air quality. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers also help your furnaces and air conditioners work more efficiently.
Below is a quick list of some of the major types of humidifiers and dehumidifiers in use today.
- Ultrasonic Humidifier: These units employ a high-frequency energy source that breaks water up into minuscule droplets that are circulated through the air in your home by a small fan. Ultrasonic humidifiers are desirable because they’re quiet and use very little energy. However, using hard water in the machine can leave a sticky white film all over your house so it’s best to use filtered or distilled water for best results.
- Evaporative Humidifier: Using a honeycomb wick made of cellulose paper partially submerged in water and a high-volume fan these humidifiers distribute moisture into the air. They can be noisy and the wicks must be replaced regularly to maintain functionality, but evaporative humidifiers are very easy to clean and use little energy.
- Impeller Humidifier: This type of unit sprays tiny droplets of water directly into the air. Perfect for small spaces or single-room humidification, impeller devices are inexpensive and portable. Because the water enters the room directly, though, be sure to use distilled water or demineralizing tablets to ensure that hard water deposits won’t damage furniture and flooring.
- Floor Vent Humidifier: The floor vent humidifier is a device that fits in the space where a standard floor vent register would normally go. The units have a water chamber that holds liquid, which then passes through a filter and into the air when the home’s heating system cycles on. They use no energy and are much more portable than traditional plug-in units, making floor vent humidifiers a great option for single-room humidification.
- Furnace-Mounted Humidifier: Furnace-mounted humidifiers connect directly to your home’s water supply, so the foam element that mounts on the furnace is automatically refilled as needed. As dry air from the heating system is forced through the foam, it collects moisture and distributes it throughout the house. Some furnace-mounted humidifiers even come equipped with an automatic reset humidistat that adjusts moisture according to changes in the weather.
- Warm Mist Device: A warm mist humidifier contains a heating element that warms water to near boiling before it passes through a cooling fan that distributes the moisture into the air. The returned moisture is slightly warmer that the air in the room, making warm mist devices desirable for nurseries or children’s rooms. Tap water can be used in these units, though they do consume more energy than other models and some are quite noisy.
- Evaporative Cooler: These machines use ice and cold water to put moisture back in the air. Ice and water are mounted on top of the device and as the ice melts the water flows over a wick. A fan then blows cool mist into the air. Evaporative coolers use very little energy and pose almost no risk from harsh chemicals or pollutants.
- Dehumidifier: Humid air passes over and through coils inside the unit which cool the air and condense moisture. The water is then collected in a basin inside the dehumidifier; most devices will shut off automatically when the basin is full. Because of the automatic shut-off feature, these machines have to be checked regularly and the basins must be emptied as needed so the dehumidifier keeps working properly.