Whole house humidifier types

If you own your home and need to humidify multiple rooms, a central home humidifier is likely the right choice for you. Whole house humidifiers, while greater in upfront costs, are more cost-effective in the long run. Plus, they get better performance per dollar than comparable single room humidifiers and can add value to your home as well. But once the decision to get a best whole house humidifier is made, it’s time to choose the type of central humidifying system for your home. There are three whole house humidifier types:

Whole house humidifier types

Drum best whole house humidifier

Drum systems are the least expensive among central humidifier systems, but there is more upkeep involved. With these humidifiers, a foam or fabric drum pad is partially submerged in the water reservoir. It rotates within the reservoir via a motor. Air from your heating system enters the reservoir and passes over the wet drum pad, which picks up moisture and carries it throughout your home. Because of the materials and mechanism used, you’ll have to regularly clean your water reservoir and change your belt in order to prevent mildew, mold, bacteria and mineral buildup.

Flow-through best whole house humidifier

Flow-through systems address the problems of a standing water reservoir by using a rectangular foam or aluminum pad. Water drips onto the pad and heated air flows through the pad, picking up moisture along the way. Excess water is drained away. These systems are less susceptible to mold growth, but the pad can get clogged if it isn’t replaced or cleaned regularly. These setups are better for basements with floor drains in order to collect the water run-off.

Spray best warm mist humidifier

The spray best warm mist humidifier is more sophisticated. An electronic mister sprays water vapor directly into the heated air whenever the heating system kicks in. Because of the technology involved, these systems are a bit more expensive. Plus, if you have hard water—such as the water found in most municipal and well water supplies—you won’t be able to hook right into your regular plumbing, since mineral buildup and impurities will clog the mist heads. You may instead need to fill up a reservoir with distilled water. Spray mist home humidifiers work best with oil-fired or gas-fired heating systems.

Other Options

Aside from the whole house humidifier types, you can also choose whether to include a fan, a humidistat and a bypass gate. Fans are needed if your system is installed on the hot air supply side of your ventilation system. Spray systems also require fans. You can forgo a fan by installing the system on the cold-air return duct. Humidistats are useful as they let you adjust the humidity in your home to your preference in the same way a thermostat adjusts the temperature. The bypass gate is useful because it allows you to disable your best whole house humidifier during the summer months, when you do not need the added humidity.

Choosing a System

Whole house humidifier types

Based on your budget, water supply, furnace type and HVAC system, the decision on which type of best whole house humidifier often makes itself. Still, you may want to consult a professional and price out your options before moving forward.

Types of Single Room Home Humidifiers

When shopping for a best whole house humidifier, it can seem like there are only two types of portable (aka tabletop) home humidifiers: cool mist and warm mist. However, the differences between the types and models of home humidifier is far more nuanced and significant than cool vs. warm mist. Read up on the main types of home humidifiers so you know what you’re getting for your money:

Vaporizers and Steam Humidifiers

Most warm mist humidifiers are actually steam or vaporizer humidifiers. These work by simply boiling the water to create steam. The water vapor and device itself can sometimes be hot enough to burn, thus this type of humidifier has declined in popularity lately. However, newer safety features are allowing warm mist humidifiers to make a comeback. The key advantage of a steam humidifier is that the boiling process eliminates much of the potentially harmful bacteria.

Impeller Humidifiers

A type of cool mist humidifier, impeller humidifiers separate water into a tiny droplets by passing it through a spinning disc. These work much like an atomizer does. Impeller humidifiers are effective at dispersing humid air throughout larger rooms.

Evaporative Humidifiers

Evaporative or wick humidifiers are one of the most popular models. These work by forcing air through a wet medium, such as a filter, pad or grille. The air picks up the moisture and then disperses it throughout the room. Because the air is filtered, this model is much better at removing minerals and other unwanted impurities from the vapor.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

best warm mist humidifier

Ultrasonic humidifiers use the most recent technology. Similar to an impeller, an ultrasonic humidifier releases cool mist into the air by breaking up water into tiny droplets. This is done through high frequency vibrations pulsed into the water via a metal diaphragm. Unlike an evaporative humidifier, ultrasonic humidifiers do not typically use fans. As such, the noise it emits is often a more constant hum, which is more tolerable to some individuals.

Each type of humidifier has its own particular drawbacks and advantages. As a general rule of thumb, cool mist humidifiers—such as impeller, evaporative and ultrasonic—are safer for households with smaller children. However, it is important to use distilled water or buy a humidifier with a good filter system to prevent the dispersal of harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. For more details on the pros and cons of each type of humidifier system, read through the individual articles on this website.

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