There are many types of portable humidifiers that can just be filled with water and plugged into the nearest outlet, including:
- Evaporative. Also called a “cool mist” humidifier. Has a reservoir for the water, a wick, and a fan. Can become moldy if not dried out between uses and can become mineral-encrusted if tap water is used.
- Vaporizer. Also known as a “warm mist” humidifier. Boils water to release steam and moisture. Also allows for medicinal inhalants to be added to aid breathing and reduce coughing. Least likely to convey microorganisms or impurities into the air.
- Ultrasonic. Vibrates at ultrasonic frequency to turn water droplets into fog. Turns minerals in tap water into a white dust that is difficult to remove, so distilled water is strongly recommended. Stagnant water tanks can convey bacteria into the air.
Whole-house humidifiers are often times a better alternative to the portable humidifiers. Whole house - or central - humidifiers are easy to maintain, maintained less often, connected to your water system, and humidify your entire home.
Other benefits of whole-house humidifiers include:
- Automatic control of your humidity through the use a humidistat. You will have the correct level of humidity at all times instead of just guessing with a plug-in model.
- Whole home humidity protects wooden furniture, moldings, antiques, and pets as well as other items in your home that can be damaged in dry air, static charged air.
- Saves you money heating your home since humid air is more comfortable at lower temperatures, allowing the thermostat to be set lower.
- You are healthier! Humid air maintains your mucus membranes which helps you to fight disease.
- You feel better! No more static hair, dry skin, clinging clothes, or electric shocks.
Types of whole-house humidifiers:
- Reservoir Style. A pad or grooved disc absorbs water that sits in a pan within the humidifier. Hot air from your furnace passes through the pad or over the disc, absorbs moisture, and gets distributed to the areas of your home through the duct system. Reservoir-style humidifiers are recommended for homes that don’t have a nearby drain.
- Flow-Through. Flow-through humidifiers use a similar distribution process as reservoir styles except there is no standing water. Excess water is piped to a nearby drain.This is the most common type of whole-home humidifier because they are so simple to maintain.
- Steam Humidifiers. The highest performing humidifier available. They have the greatest control and capacity. People that truly want humidity control (i.e. dry skin, bloody noses, static hair) or to protect their home or belongings (i.e. hardwood floors, moldings, antiques, piano, violins, or art) need a steam humidifier.
Whichever type of humidifier you choose, read the instruction manual for cleaning and maintenance. Proper cleaning is essential to keeping bacteria and mold out of your air.
Whole-house humidifiers are a greater initial investment than portables, but the lack of maintenance and greatly reduced risk of mildew and microorganisms in the air, as well as the savings in heating costs, make them a worthwhile investment.