The humidity level in your home depends on the time of year, weather conditions, and the area in which you live. You may notice that at certain times you need a humidifier, and sometimes you rather need a dehumidifier. And what is the main difference between these two devices? Let’s find out right now.
Why do you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier?
Humidifiers are often designed to combat dry air in the winter. Dehumidifiers, in turn, remove moisture from the air. Therefore, they are used in spring and summer, when the humidity is increased.
For you to feel comfortable, your house humidity levels should be 40-60%.
At this moisture level, there is a minimal risk of acquiring health problems associated with humidity levels.
To measure the humidity level in your home, you can use a device such as a hygrometer. And depending on your needs and to achieve the ideal moisture humidity level, you can select either a humidifier or a dehumidifier.
What is a humidifier?
A humidifier is a device that raises the humidity level in a room using water vapor or steam. By making the indoor air more humid, you can get rid of problems such as dry skin and hair, difficulty breathing, and dry throat and nose.
Types of humidifiers
Even though all humidifiers have only one function – to humidify the air by getting water molecules into the air, different humidifiers perform this function differently.
Whole-house humidifiers are hardwired to the entire heating or cooling system of your house and linked to the home’s plumbing. Such humidifiers are designed to humidify not one particular room, but the whole house. This is an expensive humidifier option, but the same humidity level will be maintained throughout your home.
Evaporative humidifiers are also called cool mist humidifiers. The principle of operation of a cool mist humidifier is as follows. Water from the tank enters the wick filter, which draws water like a sponge. A wick filter is a mesh made of paper, cloth, or foam.
The wick filter outputs water to the upper end of the humidifier, where the fan is located. The fan, in turn, evaporates water into the air.
This type of humidifier is capable of self-regulation because the higher the humidity of the air, the more difficult the process of water evaporation is. Cool mist humidifiers are a very popular type of humidifier that come in various shapes and sizes.
The wick filter needs regular replacement because mineral sediment from water and other small particles remain on it.
In ultrasonic humidifiers, water evaporates using a special diaphragm that vibrates at a high frequency. You do not hear the sound of vibration because this sound is above the range of the human ear.
This vibration forms tiny water droplets. However, there is one important condition for ultrasonic humidifiers – distilled water must be used. Because before entering the air, water is not treated in any way, and tap water can carry harmful particles.
Ultrasonic humidifiers, as a rule, are small in size and are perfect for small rooms.
Steam humidifiers are also called warm mist humidifiers. In such a humidifier, steam is formed using a heating element that boils water.
Inside the humidifier, there is a hygrostat that monitors the room humidity levels, and sends signals to the humidifier, both on and off. It is believed that hot mist humidifiers are the most affordable on the market.
However, it is too warm for the summer season and is not safe if you have small children who may get burned.
These are the least popular humidifiers, as their effectiveness is not too high, but they are quite noisy. In impeller humidifiers, water is turned into steam using a rotating dish with comb-like fins that break the water into tiny droplets as they pass through a mesh screen. Then these tiny droplets of water enter the air, increasing its humidity and indoor air quality.
What can you use an air humidifier for?
For many reasons, humid indoor air is better than dry air. For example, humid air will help you alleviate symptoms such as:
- dry skin and hair
- sore throat
- sinus congestion
- dry cough
- chapped lips
- accumulation of static electricity
- worsening of eczema and dermatitis symptoms
- dry eyes
Such symptoms may occur if you use a heater in winter and an air conditioner in summer. At the same time, these devices dehumidify the air very much.
Humidifiers come in different sizes: from large ones, which are called consoles, to very small ones, which are called portable or personal.
Console humidifiers can do their job very quickly and humidify the room in the house.
Often these are large humidifiers, and they have wheels so that you can easily move them from room to room. Personal humidifiers have very small sizes. You can take such a humidifier with you on a trip, or put it on your desktop so that you have humid air while working.
When to choose a dehumidifier?
If your home humidity levels have exceeded 60%, then it’s time to purchase a dehumidifier. After all, too much moisture is not the norm and may cause some difficulties.
For example, excess moisture is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, microorganisms, mold, dust mites, and fungi. In addition, excess humidity can provoke the rotting of your furniture and damage to electrical equipment. Also, pests and termites actively multiply in a humid environment.
To regulate the house humidity levels, you will need an air dehumidifier. The dehumidifier can be either included in the HVAC system or installed as a separate dehumidifier for each room. Dehumidifiers in general can improve air quality, as some dehumidifiers, for example, can serve as fans, contributing to the air conditioning in the room.
Advantages of using a dehumidifier
In conditions of high indoor humidity, the dehumidifier will become an indispensable device for you, which can save you from the following problems:
- getting rid of allergy symptoms
- reducing the smell of mold
- prevention of mold and mildew
Types of dehumidifiers
Dehumidifiers come in various types. They still drain the air, but they do it in different ways.
Whole-house dehumidifiers can maintain the whole house desired humidity levels at once if you need. They are connected to your home’s heating or cooling system to the ducts.
Whole-house dehumidifiers are expensive, but you won’t need to worry about excess moisture in a particular room anymore.
The desiccant dehumidifier uses a substance such as silica gel to make dry air. The desiccant wheel draws in moist room air, then approximately 75% of the dry and warm air leaves the dehumidifier, and the remaining 25% of the air is heated to a very high temperature to extract moisture from the silica gel and maintain it in working condition.
There is no water reservoir in the desiccant dehumidifiers. A by-product of the operation of such a dehumidifier is moist reactivated air, which is released outside the room using an air outlet.
Thermoelectric dehumidifiers use a condensation process. So, the air is passed through a cool heat sink in the dehumidifier, water is collected on its surface, and dry air is returned to the room. At the same time, the water enters a special reservoir.
Refrigerated coil dehumidifiers
In another way, such dehumidifiers are also called compressor dehumidifiers. The principle of operation is similar to thermoelectric dehumidifiers. At the same time, hot air draws the dehumidifier. Then, in contact with the cold coils, condensation forms, and water enters the water reservoir. And the dry air heats up and returns to the room.
Why is it important to maintain indoor humidity?
High humidity can become a real problem and cause concern to you and everyone who lives with you in the house. Due to the high humidity, even the ideal temperature for you in the house can be uncomfortable. A high level of humidity also disrupts the thermoregulation process of your body, which can lead to dehydration.
Problems associated with high humidity
High humidity can be as much a source of concern as low humidity. For example, you may encounter the following problems:
- condensation on furniture and walls
- rapid reproduction of mold, fungi, and dust mites
- the unpleasant rotten and musty smell of mold in the room
- occurrence of allergies and respiratory diseases
- dry food, like cereal, chips, and nuts, deteriorate quickly
- clothes dry for a long time and rarely dry up to the end
Do you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier?
So, the level of ideal humidity in the room should be within 30-50%. Therefore, before buying a humidifier or dehumidifier, it is better to buy a hygrometer and observe your home humidity levels for at least 2 weeks.
If the hygrometer shows a figure below 30%, then you need a humidifier.
If the figure exceeds the value of 50%, then buy a dehumidifier. You may need both devices because in winter and summer the air is more humid, and in autumn and winter it is dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a humidifier or dehumidifier for stuffy nose?
A stuffy nose can be directly related to the dry air in your apartment. And even if nasal congestion is caused by a cold, moist air will help alleviate the symptoms of colds and allergic rhinitis.
Does a humidifier or dehumidifier clean the air?
No, the humidifier humidifies the air, the dehumidifier dehumidifies the air. Air purifiers are engaged in air purification.
When should you not use a dehumidifier?
You do not need to use a dehumidifier if your house humidity levels are normal. The ideal humidity is considered to be 30-50%. You should use a dehumidifier if the humidity in your home exceeds 60%.
Do you use a humidifier or dehumidifier in the winter?
It all depends on the region you live in. But, as a rule, humidifiers are used in autumn and winter when the heating system is running. Also, depending on the climatic zone, you may need a dehumidifier in spring and summer.
Can you use an air conditioner instead of a dehumidifier/humidifier?
The main function of an air conditioner is to supply cool air or warm air to the room. The air conditioner cannot humidify the air. But the air conditioner makes the air a little drier. In general, the conditioner is not able to replace either a humidifier or a dehumidifier.
Before buying a humidifier or a dehumidifier, you need to observe your home humidity levels, and only then make your choice.
The humidifier supplies water vapor into the air, thereby increasing the room humidity levels. The humidifier can cope with such problems as dry skin and eyes, dry cough, headache, nasal congestion, etc.
The dehumidifier, on the contrary, removes excess moisture from the air, thereby preventing the proliferation of fungi and mold, the appearance of allergies, and worsening symptoms of eczema and dermatitis.