Tips for Choosing the Right Portable Humidifier

A portable humidifier is a great device to use to help relieve congestion from the common cold, flu and sinus infections, or to increase the general comfort level of your entire home or particular spaces in your home by adding moisture to the air. A humidifier in your home provide a simple solution to raise the humidity level to the acceptable level of 35% to 50% and help you improve your health, and help maintain a balanced climate for everything inside your home.

Dry air can lead to a host of health problems, especially if you suffer from allergies and asthma. Dry winter air combined with forced hot air in your home can cause dry skin, colds, nose bleeds, irritated throat and irritated noses, which can lead to sinusitis. Wooden furniture, wallpaper and even paint on the wall, not to mention wood musical instruments and fine art, can also be damaged in a low humidity environment in your home.

Before buying a portable humidifier for your home, think about your comfort needs and your willingness to perform maintenance. There are many types of humidifiers on the market. Some types work better than others and require less upkeep. Which portable humidifier is right for you? This buying tips can help you focus on what is important in a home humidifier that will make your humidifier shopping a little easier.

You may also want to buy a hygrometer at the same time you purchase your humidifier. You will need a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level in your home. The devise is inexpensive and can help you maintain the air’s humidity at the best level.
Types of Portable Humidifier. Humidifiers increase the humidity in the air either by putting out a warm mist or cool mist; each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Warm Mist Humidifiers/Steam Vaporizers: The technology is simple and steam humidifiers are the least expensive type. Water is heated to boiling and the vapor is released into a room as a warm mist.

The disadvantage of warm mist humidifiers is that they use more electricity than cool mist models because of the energy needed to boil the water to turn it into steam. And because heating elements are used to boil the water and the steam is hot, these units may not be suitable for use in places where children and pets may come in contact with them. Warm mist units typically cover smaller areas than cool mist models.
The advantage of these units is that the boiling process kills any bacteria that may be in the water and no bacteria get into the air or in your lungs. Warm mist humidifiers are typically quieter than cool mist models because they don’t use a fan to disperse the water vapors. Inhalant medications may also be added to this type of humidifier for those suffering from coughing.

Cool Mist Humidifiers: There are three types of cool mist humidifiers: ultrasonic humidifiers, evaporative humidifiers and impeller humidifiers.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers – are now available in both cool and warm mist versions. In ultrasonic humidifiers, a metal disk vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency to break up water into tiny droplets that are then released into the air as a fine cool mist of water. The advantages of ultrasonic humidifiers are that they use up less energy to run and are the quietest units on the market because they use sound waves at a frequency beyond our hearing. However, a major disadvantage is that the stagnant water in the holding tank can breed harmful bacteria that could be introduced into the air and into your lungs.

Impeller humidifiers – use a rapidly spinning disc to shot water through a very fine mesh to break up the water into tiny droplets to float into the air as a fine cool mist of water.  Like the ultrasonic humidifiers, impeller humidifiers are subject to harmful bacteria growing in the water holding tank. And because they use an electric motor to drive the impeller, they are often noisier than other types of humidifiers.

Evaporative (wick) humidifiers – is the most popular type with buyer. The humidifiers use a wick or filter, made of paper, cloth, or foam that soaks up water from the unit’s water holding tank. An internal fan then circulates dry room air through this water filter, which causes the water to evaporate from the filter and be carried back into the room by the air current as a cool, invisible mist.

To prevent dispersing bacteria into the air, some cool mist units boil the water before releasing it into the air just as with steam humidifiers and warm mist humidifiers. Other cool mist humidifiers have added features such as a UV light or an ionic silver stick to kill any bacteria that may be in the water. It you do not have one of these new features in your cool mist humidifier, it is very important to properly clean your humidifier and change the water in the humidifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Choosing the right size and capacity humidifier. Humidifiers come in a variety of sizes and capacities to match your household’s needs. A humidifier’s capacity is measured in gallons of water per day and rated for an area of coverage in square feet or by estimated room size.
A humidifier rated for 900 sq. ft. are usually adequate for a bedroom or small room. Don’t use a unit rated for a large space for a small room. A room or house that is too humid – over 50% humidity level – will promote the growth bacteria and mold.

Water tank capacity. Humidifiers come in different sizes in water holding capacity, from 1/2 gallon to 5 gallons or larger. The amount of water a humidifier holds should be considered a convenience factor and not a determining factor in your decision on a humidifier. A unit with a large water tank will require less refilling and unit with a smaller water tank requires more frequent refilling. Make sure that a unit with a full tank will not be a problem for you to carry or move around. The humidifier’s packaging should have some indication of the capacity of the unit and the estimate operating time per tank of water.

Ease of operation and maintenance. Look for humidifiers that are easy to clear and maintain, and with water tanks that are easy to remove and refill. If a particular model uses a filter, check to see if how easy it is to change and how often it needs to be changed and if it is widely available. Consider buying a few exact filters at the same time you buy your new humidifier.

Running noise level and settings. Warm mist humidifiers are typically less noisy than cool mist units because they don’t use a fan. Ultrasonic units are even quieter, making them ideal for bedrooms and other areas of the house that requires low level of noise.  You should have at least a high and a low setting on any model.

Auto shut off. Look for humidifiers with a must-have feature that shuts off automatically when the water tank is empty. Another great feature to have is a built-in humidistat that monitors the humidity level in the room and turns the humidifier off and on to maintain a preset humidity level.

Regular maintenance and warranty. While humidifiers make your indoor air healthier, they require regular cleaning and sanitizing in order to prevent bacteria growth and to extent the useful life of your humidifier. Check the product information as some models have dishwasher-safe water tank that will makes cleaning easier. The base of the humidifier also needs a regular cleaning. Humidifier manufacturers usually warranty their products for one year, but there are some models with longer warranties.
Whether you decide to get a warm mist or a cool mist humidifier, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and keep the unit clean. The last thing you want is to contract an even worse infection from something that is supposed to help you feel better.