Is An Ultrasonic Humidifier A Wise Investment For Your Home?
Your home’s air quality has a direct impact on your overall health and well-being. If the air is too dry, it can affect your health in a multitude of ways. Irritated eyes, dry skin, aggravated sinuses, and respiratory conditions; prolonged exposure can cause a wide range of issues. It could potentially increase the risk of developing certain types of illnesses, too.
On average, Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. As such, in order to avoid the numerous problems that can be directly linked to dry air, maintaining optimal moisture levels in your home is vital. Whether you live in an arid climate and your indoor air is dry year-round, or if you reside in an area where winter temperatures are cold and you rely on a heating system to keep you warm, you might be thinking about using a humidifier. These appliances are designed to put moisture into the air, thereby minimizing the potential health impacts that prolonged exposure to dry indoor air can cause. There are several types of humidifiers on the market and choosing an option that will best meet your needs is extremely important. Of the many different options, ultrasonic humidifiers have become increasingly popular, and may be an option that you are considering.
What is an ultrasonic humidifier? What benefits does it provide? Keep on reading to find the answers to these questions and more so that you can determine whether or not an ultrasonic humidifier is the right choice for you and your family.
What Is An Ultrasonic Humidifier?
An ultrasonic humidifier is a fairly simply device. Essentially, it’s a portable humidifier that features a diaphragm that’s made of either metal or ceramic and vibrates at a high frequency. Like other types of humidifiers, it features a water reservoir, and the vibrating diaphragm sits on the surface of the reservoir. As the diaphragm vibrates, it agitates the water at a high frequency and creates droplets of water, which are then blown out into the air as a fine mist via a fan.
Ultrasonic humidifiers can be either cool mist, warm mist, or both.
- Warm mist. These models feature a heating element that boils the water, creating steam, and slightly, yet noticeably, increase the temperature of a room. Warm mist is better for reducing the levels of bacteria and germs in a space, can promote greater levels of moisture saturation, and medicated products, such as cough relief, can be added. On the downside, the hot steam that a warm mist ultrasonic humidifier creates could pose safety risks to children and pets, and they use more energy.
- Cool mist. Usually, cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers use a fan to evaporate water into the air, and the fan and cool water can slightly reduce the temperature in a room. Since they don’t generate heat, cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers are safer for homes with babies, young children, and pets, and they’re better suited when the temperatures are warm. There are some downsides however. Cool mist models tend to make more noise than their warm mist counterparts, and while they’re easier to clean, bacteria and mold can accumulate inside the appliance if it isn’t properly maintained, and that bacteria and mold can pollute your home’s air.
- Warm and cool mist. Warm and cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers combine the best of both worlds. You can adjust the operation based on your specific needs by simply flipping a switch. For example, during the summer or when children are present, you could operate the humidifier on the cool mist setting, and during the winter and when children are unable to access the appliance, you can switch to the warm mist setting. Do note, however, that a warm and cool mist ultrasonic humidifier does need to be properly maintained, otherwise there is a chance that mold and bacteria growth could occur within the appliance and pollute your home.
Ultrasonic Humidifiers vs Evaporative Humidifiers: What’s the Difference?
Another popular type of humidifier is the evaporative model. While both types serve the same purpose – increasing the moisture levels by adding water vapor to the air – the manner in which they function differs. So, what’s the difference? Well, as mentioned, an ultrasonic humidifier features a diaphragm that’s comprised of either metal or ceramic plates, and those plates sit on the surface of the water reservoir. The plates vibrate at high frequency levels, and as they do, they stir up the water, creating very small droplets of water, and a fan then blows those droplets out of the appliance, filling the space with a fine mist.
With an evaporative humidifier, water inside the unit evaporates and creates water vapor, and that vapor is then dispersed into the air. Some units achieve this by heating the water into steam, and then a fan is used to disperse the steam into the air. These models are known as steam evaporative humidifiers. Others heat the water into vapor and cool it before dispersing it into the air, and these are known as warm mist evaporative humidifiers. There are also models that feature a fan that pulls air into the unit, and the air passed through a wicking filter that is saturated with water. As the air passes through the filter, moisture from the wet wick is picked up, and the moisture is then transferred into the air in the room. In other words, the moisture is evaporated from the wicking filter into the air that is blown out into a room in your home. These models are known as cool mist evaporative humidifiers.
Ultrasonic and Evaporative Humidifiers: Pros and Cons
As with any appliance, there are pros and cons to both ultrasonic and evaporative humidifiers. Let’s take a look at the benefits and advantages of both types of humidifiers.
- They tend to be smaller and take up less space
- They’re usually less expensive
- Cool mist models are safer, require less maintenance, and use less energy
- They make less noise
- The water droplets can settle on the exterior of the humidifier before it is evaporated
- If hard water is used, excess minerals can be released into the air, can dry out, and can create a white powdery residue
- There is no filter, so airborne contaminants could potentially be released into the air
- Sometimes, the droplets don’t fully evaporate and can create too much humidity, which could potentially spur mold, mildew, and bacteria growth
- Releases a finer vapor, so there’s less mess to contend with
- They’re cleaner, as are equipped with filters that purify the water prior to evaporation; therefore, they won’t put contaminants into the air
- The wick and filter draws out excess minerals in hard water, and as such, softer water is released into the air
- Some models use less water, as they can pull unused water in the air back into the basin of the unit, and can then reuse that water
- Evaporative humidifiers are larger, so they take up more space
- To reduce the risk of contaminants being released into the air, the filter and wick needs to be changed regularly; therefore, they require more maintenance
- While the initial price is lower, the cost of the replacement filters can add up, so in the long run, they can be more expensive
- They make more noise
Should You Choose An Ultrasonic Humidifier?
When outdoor humidity levels are high, conditions can feel quite oppressive. As such, a lot of people have negative feelings toward humidity; however, it’s actually a lot more important than you probably realize – especially inside. While you certainly don’t want the humidity in your home to be too high, as excessive moisture can not only cause uncomfortable conditions, but can also increase the risk of mold, mildew, and bacterial growth; however, you don’t want the air inside your home to be too dry, either.
Excessively dry air can cause a variety of problems, such as:
- Increased respiratory infections and illnesses
- Heightened allergic reactions
- Dry, cracked, dull, and flaking skin
- Dried sinuses and nasal passages
- Property damage, as excessively dry conditions can dry out wood, damaging the structural integrity of your home and your furnishings
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned issues, you live in a region where they climate is arid, or if forced heat during the winter is drying out the air in your home, you might want to consider investing in an ultrasonic humidifier.
How to Choose the Right Ultrasonic Humidifier for Your Home
Just like when you’re purchasing any appliance or product, you want to make sure that you choose the right ultrasonic humidifier for your home. How do you do that? By taking some key factors into consideration, such as the following:
- Your intended use. Before you purchase an ultrasonic humidifier, you’re going to want to consider the reasons why you intend on using one in the first place. For example, do you intend on putting one in your child’s bedroom? If so, then you’ll want to select a cool-mist ultrasonic humidifier to avoid the risk of potential injury. If you’re going to be using one only during the winter, a warm mist ultrasonic humidifier may be a better option, because in addition to increasing the moisture content of a room’s air, a warm mist humidifier can also slightly increase the temperature. If you plan on using an ultrasonic humidifier year-round, a model that has both a cool and warm mist function may be the best choice for you, as you can switch between the modes, as needed.
- The size of the space. In addition to considering your intended use, you’re also going to want to consider the size of the room that you plan on using the unit in. The size of the space matters because in order for the unit to work as intended, it needs to be suitable to supply the volume of air in the room with moisture. As a general rule of thumb, most manufacturers of ultrasonic humidifiers assume the height of a room is 2.5 meters, so you can use this as a guide when you’re calculating the area of the space (in meters-squared). If the unit is too small, it won’t be as effective as you need it to be; conversely, if it’s too large, you’ll end up using more energy to power it than necessary.
- Hardness of your water. It’s also important to consider the hardness of your water when you’re choosing an ultrasonic humidifier for your home. If the water is very hard, you should seriously consider using a filter cartridge that will soften the water. The harder the water, the more minerals it contains, and mineral dense water can damage the working components of an ultrasonic humidifier; moreover, the minerals can dispersed into your home’s air.
- Control. The amount of attention that you’ll need to give an ultrasonic humidifier largely depends on the volume of the room that you plan on using it in. If a living space is dry, adding humidity to the air is certainly a good thing; however, you don’t want the humidity level to get too high, as too much moisture can pose a whole separate set of problems. If you will be using your humidifier during the day and you’ll be paying it ample attention, then a manually controlled unit might do just fine; however, if you’re planning on using your ultrasonic humidifier while you’re sleeping or if you think you’ll have a difficult time focusing your attention on the device, you might want to consider opting for a unit that is fitted with an integrated hygrometer. With this feature, the device will automatically adjust its parameters according to the relative humidity of the space.
Don’t Forget to Inspect for Mold!
If the air in your home is excessively dry, there’s no doubt that an ultrasonic humidifier can be beneficial; however, it’s important to note that using a humidifier can increase the risk of indoor mold growth. Because these units put moisture into the air, and since mold requires moisture in order to thrive, there is a chance that using an ultrasonic humidifier could possibly lead to indoor mold growth – especially if you will be using a warm mist device.
It’s no secret that indoor mold growth can pose serious health risks, and can cause structural damage. Therefore, in order to offset the risk, make sure that you plan on having your home tested for mold by a reputable professional on a regular basis, like the pros at Mold Inspection and Testing. The team of certified technicians at MI&T will conduct a thorough assessment of your home’s surfaces and indoor air to determine whether or not mold growth is present, and if so, they will make recommendations to address the problem.
By using an ultrasonic humidifier, combined regular professional mold inspections, you can improve the comfort and safety of your home.