How to Choose a Humidifier

Depending on where you live, the dry air that comes with summer or winter weather can cause a variety of problems. Cold symptoms; dry, cracking skin; and cracks in furniture and musical instruments all can occur as a result of overly dry air. For the most comfortable and healthy air, rooms you live and breathe in should have between 30 and 50 percent humidity.

Humidifiers all work in generally the same way: They circulate air through a moist surface. When you buy one, however, you will find a variety of types and sizes to choose from, each having some significant differences.

Cool mist humidifiers

Cool mist humidifiers are a common choice in warmer climates. They can make a warm room feel more comfortable. They are easy to clean but sometimes require replacement filters, which can add to the lifetime cost.

Warm mist humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers are a more popular choice in cold climates. They can make a room several degrees warmer. The high temperature makes the vapor cleaner than that of a cool mist humidifier. Warm mist humidifiers often are quieter than their cold mist counterparts. They can be difficult to clean, however, and need cleaning more often than cold mist humidifiers. Some models also require replacement filter pads.

Humidifier sizes

The size of the humidifier you need will vary depending on the size of the room.

  • In general, a tank of 2.5 gallons or less will work for a room that is less than 125 square feet.
  • A three- or four-gallon humidifier will work for a room between 125 and 400 square feet.
  • For a large room of 400 to 1,000 square feet, or an open floor plan without doors, try a dual reservoir humidifier or one with a tank larger than 4 gallons.

In-duct/central humidifier

If you live in a dry climate and would like to have a constant humidity level in your whole house, you can install central or in-duct humidifiers. The starting price for these is much higher than portable humidifiers, but they require little maintenance. You can even have a humidistat installed on your wall to monitor the humidity levels and remotely control them.

If you are looking for a humidifier for therapeutic purposes because of a health problem, be sure to ask your doctor what type will work best for you.

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