Room humidifiers have a list of benefits as long as your arm. According to Molekule, they can do everything from reducing static electricity, protecting wood from splintering, and reducing heating bills by warming the air to eliminating dandruff, relieving congestion, and stamping out snoring. If you’ve read the research and are ready and willing to introduce your home to a new piece of kit, then great… although before parting with any cash, it’s worth spending a little time researching the different options available. Not all humidifiers were created equal: for every sleek, noiseless, easy to maintain unit there’s a cumbersome, chugging beast that’s about as low maintenance as a Kardashian. Although everyone’s needs are different (for example, some people might need a unit with sufficient capacity to cover the whole house, while others might be content with a small, tabletop humidifier for personal use), there are a few things we should all be thinking about, and looking for, when buying a room humidifier.
When it comes to handling, some humidifiers can be a pain. As you’ll need to frequently remove and refill the water tanks, take time to test how easy it is to remove the tank from the base. If you find it difficult, move on to an easier model- given how many times you’ll need to refill the unit, a poor handling experience is really not something you’ll want to just suck up. While we’re on the subject of easy handling, it’s also worth scanning the maintenance requirements of a unit before you make the investment. Check if the model requires filter changes: if it does, it’s worth checking the average cost of filters, how readily available they are, and how easy they are to change.
You’ll never get a completely silent humidifier, but some units run quieter than others. If the unit is intended for a room like the bedroom, it’s worth paying particular note to what kind of noise level you can expect: if you’re a sensitive sleeper, it’s worth investing in an ultrasonic unit (which comes without the added sound effects of boiling water) with low, night, or silent running options.
Before introducing a new electrical device into your home, always check out the safety features first. As a priority, look for a unit with an automatic shutoff – if you forget to top up the water reserve, the unit will turn itself off as soon as it hits empty, preventing burn out and a whole host of problems.
All humidifiers need regular cleaning to prevent bacterial overgrowth, but some models make the task easier than others. If ‘low’ and ‘maintenance’ are two of your favorite words, look for a device with a dishwasher-safe water reservoir: it’ll reduce the effort and time involved in cleaning to a fraction.
Depending on the model, humidifiers can be a considerable investment. Safeguard your money by looking for a model with a respectable warranty period. Most units come with a one-year warranty as standard, but some come with longer periods. Given the cost of servicing can sometimes outweigh the cost of the unit itself, it’s certainly worth putting in the effort to hunt down one with a substantial warranty period.
When it comes to buying a room humidifier, one of the key things to watch out for is convenience. Think about how often you’ll be happy to refill the water tank – if it’s as rarely as possible, opt for a machine with a large water reservoir (as a general guide, most humidifiers are sold with reservoirs of between 1 to 5-liter gallons. Larger ones are available but are not quite so easy to source). A one-liter unit running on low will need to be refilled every 8 hours or so. A 2-3-gallon unit can run for around 12 hours before a refill’s needed, while a 5-gallon unit on maximum output can run for a full 24 hours before requiring a top-up. Just bear in mind the size of the unit will also have implications on how easy it is to handle. Humidifiers can be cumbersome to fill: always consider just how easy you’ll find frequent handling before automatically opting for the biggest unit.
Some humidifiers are fairly basic – they’ll do the job, but don’t expect too much by way of bells and whistles. Others, on the other hand, are smarter than your average 7-year-old. If you’re happy to pay a little extra for a unit with a high IQ, look for one with a built-in hygrometer to indicate moisture levels and a humidistat that will allow the machine to switch on and off to maintain optimal humidity.
Size is always a personal thing. When it comes to choosing the right size humidifier for your needs, reflect on where you’ll be using the device, and the exact purpose you want it to serve. If you’re looking for something small and compact with only small coverage requirements, a personal humidifier might be all you need. If, on the other hand, you want a humidifier with an impressive enough capacity and effectiveness to ensure full-house coverage, you’ll do better to consider a console or flow throw bypass unit.
Warm or Cool Mist
Humidifiers come in one of two types: cool mist and warm mist. A cool-mist humidifier expels room temperature water in a fine mist. A warm mist humidifier does much the same, except prior to dispersing the water, it boils it, thereby killing off any nasty bacteria or mold in the water before pumping it into the room. Both types have their advantages, and it’s really down to personal preference and individual circumstances which you prefer. Those with young children, for example, may prefer to opt for a cool mist solution for safety, while others prefer a warm mist unit for its cleaning properties.