Updated on 08/12/23 by Erika C.
Humidifier: what is it for and which one to choose
The humidifier is a rather small appliance which, unlike the dehumidifier, serves to introduce humidity into the air: this is why it is essential especially in the winter season when the radiators are turned on, and the air tends to become dry and not very tolerable.
However, its use can also be extended in summer, even in the hottest periods, the average air humidity level should be between 30 and 45%.
In winter, on the other hand, the ideal humidity level would be around 40%, to avoid the formation of condensation on the windows.
The benefits for your health and your home
Humidifying the air is essential not only to safeguard the various wooden furnishings, floors or walls of your home but above all for your health!
An increase in temperature caused by induced domestic heating leads to stale and dry air and in this case, the humidity generated by the humidifier acts as a natural moisturizer, counteracting annoying irritations, nasal congestion or more commonly, headaches and sore throats ... That's why it is also highly recommended for asthmatic individuals, especially when placed in bedrooms.
Types of humidifier
Although the ultimate purpose always remains the same, there are different types of humidifier and can be divided as follows:
- boiling or hot
Each type deserves to be a minimum to understand its characteristics ... Let's see them together!
Boiling or hot humidifier
The operating principle of the boiling humidifier is not at all complicated: it is all done by heating the electrodes through the passage of electricity. In this way, the water is brought to boil, producing water vapour to form, which is emitted and dispersed into the air... This is precisely why it is also called a hot humidifier.
In any case, it should be noted that the electrodes need to be replaced after a certain amount of time depending on the frequency of use (if intensive, their duration will be medium-short) and the energy consumption can even exceed 600 W absorption. However, the undeniable advantage of this type is that thanks to the level of hot steam emitted, it is perfect to also act as a diffuser of aromas and essential oils.
The ultrasonic humidifier generates steam or water mist by the vibration, at ultrasonic frequencies, of a thin membrane, and this is how the "mist" is introduced into the environment.
One of the advantages of this type is that there are no mechanical parts involved, which are usually subject to wear and tear over time. Therefore its durability will be surprising if you pay a minimum of attention to proper cleaning and maintenance.
In addition, energy consumption is among the most convenient, because it is around 30-40 W absorption and not to be overlooked is also the fact that ultrasonic humidifiers rarely wet the support surface, create less limestone residue and the steam emitted is entirely safe because it is at room temperature.
The evaporation humidifier works using a fan that sucks air from the room, forcing it through a honeycomb filter moistened by partial immersion in the tank.
It is defined by many as the best humidifier ever because it can introduce moisture into the environment without emitting real vapour while filtering dust, particles and bacteria ... In short, it acts as an actual air purifier.
The energy consumption is below 20 W, and even in this case, the use of essences to be spread in the environment is allowed. In any case, it must be stressed that filters are subject to perishability and need to be replaced on average twice a year.
Decisive factors for the selection
Once you have specified what the humidifier is and the various types are used for, it is essential to list the factors that should not be overlooked before making a purchase:
- operating autonomy
- integrated functions
To understand what we mean please continue with the reading...
Autonomy of operation
The autonomy of the humidifier is directly proportional to the capacity of the tank: the more water it can hold, the more the humidifier will work for a long time and without interruption. In this regard, setting a low emission level allows you to extend the life of the supply even more.
To get a clearer idea, consider that:
- a 4-litre tank (ultrasound type): 12 - 15 hours of autonomy at minimum emission level
- a 4-litre tank (boiling type): 9 - 11 hours
In addition, the size that a humidifier can humidify effectively depends on the maximum amount of vapour that it can emit and is expressed in ml/h. In particular:
- Humidifier with weak emission → 200 ml/h: suitable for small rooms under 20 sq.m.
- Humidifier with full-bodied emission → 400 ml/h or more: suitable for rooms up to 50-60 sq.m.
The most sophisticated humidifier models are equipped with unique filtering systems (or water sanitizers) which can be:
- the lining of the interior walls with silver ions to neutralize bacteria
- microporous ceramic filters capable of capturing and retaining microorganisms and mineral particles
- integrated ionizer that negatively charges the emitted steam to bind to airborne allergens
However, it should be remembered that, although a humidifier can be effective against allergens, there are special tools for this purpose, since the primary function of the humidifier is to make the environment pleasantly humid!
In addition to the air ionization mentioned in the previous paragraph, the humidifier can be equipped with many additional integrated functions, and one of the most sought after among these is the automatic shutdown when the water level reaches levels too low to work.
However, there are other functions, such as:
- Operation timer: you can set an operation time even up to 12 consecutive hours.
- Emission adjustment: the intensity of the steam emission can be adjusted.
- Moisture percentage retention: you can specify the specific moisture percentage
- Night mode: steam emission is usually at a minimum and therefore silent and often accompanied by a light
- Diffuser essences: typical of hot humidifiers in which it is possible to pour drops of aromas in a special tray
It can, therefore, be said that, precisely for the reasons listed above, the humidifier is also an excellent piece of furnishing and a design element for your home!
Before we finish...
Proper maintenance of the humidifier will prolong its life over time, and as a result, you won't spend more than you should. This has to do mainly with two operations, which are:
tank cleaning → same for all types
decalcification → different for each type of humidifier
Let's see what this is all about!
We have said that this operation is common to all types of humidifier and to clean the tank correctly it is necessary:
- Empty the tank of the remaining water.
- Wash it also inside with lukewarm water and soap
- Rinse thoroughly until complete
- Let the tank dry completely before putting the instrument back into operation.
If you do this once a week, these simple steps will help you to get the best results even after some time after your purchase...But there is still another step to specify, which we will define below.
One of the essential operations to preserve the effectiveness and even prevent malfunction or breakage of the humidifier is the decalcification, which is different for each type of humidifier.
In the case of the hot humidifier, it is necessary to decalcify the electrodes periodically:
- You must have a high and wide container
- Make sure you have white vinegar or the classic decalcifying liquid
- Pour one or the other solution into the bowl at a level such that the electrodes are entirely immersed.
- Place the humidifier chamber in the bowl with the electrodes fully immersed.
- Let it rest for a couple of hours
- Remove the chamber from the bowl and rinse the electrodes with cold water
- Allow drying entirely before putting everything back into operation
Decalcification for this type must be more frequent (about once a month) if classic running water is used, whereas in the case of distilled water, it can be carried out more rarely.
The decalcification of the cold and / or ultrasonic humidifier does not require the actual use of a container with water and vinegar or decalcifying liquid, as its movable components are very delicate. In this case, therefore, it will be necessary:
- A delicate brush and a solution of water and white vinegar.
- Remove the tank from the base and empty it of any residual water.
- Fill the base with water and vinegar solution.
- Wait for a couple of hours.
- Empty the base and rinse it with fresh water.
- Allow drying entirely before putting the humidifier back into operation.
- Use the brush to clean any other incrustations.
It is also important to remember that in the case of microporous ceramic filters, it is also necessary to decalcify them, soaking them in a glass of water and vinegar and then rinsing.
The evaporation humidifier is undoubtedly the one that has the most straightforward maintenance requirements. It is the filter inside the tank that takes care of the decalcification, and the moving parts are not immersed, so the only precaution will be to clean the tank periodically.