A whole house humidifier is the best type of humidifier for your home. They are much more effective and easier to maintain than individual portable humidifiers. The standing water in portable humidifiers can also lead to mold/bacteria growth if not cleaned or operated properly. But what type of whole-house humidifier is best? The answer depends on how much humidity your home needs.
The three most common types of whole house humidifiers are evaporative pad humidifiers, steam humidifiers, and spray/atomizing humidifiers. A pad humidifier operates by blowing warm air over an evaporative pad that has water trickling down it. The warm air evaporates and absorbs the moisture into the air. Steam humidifiers use electric probes to boil water and inject the steam into the air stream. Spray or atomizing humidifiers have a fine nozzle which sprays a mist into the air stream.
A spray humidifier is the least expensive but also the least common. These humidifiers must have very clean water to prevent minerals from plugging or partially plugging the nozzle. A partially plugged nozzle can change alter the mist into a stream of water that doesn’t evaporate and can cause leaks and water damage. For this reason they typically require annual nozzle replacements and often require an inline water filter that also should be replaced annually.
The most common humidifier is the pad type humidifier. When installed on a properly sized (and preferably two stage) furnace, they are capable of humidifying most homes. They are fairly easy to install, service, and maintain (simply change the humidifier pad at the beginning or end of each heating season). They come in two types, power and bypass. A power humidifier mounts to the side of the supply ductwork and has a built-in fan to draw air across the pad and blow the humidified air back into the ductwork. A bypass humidifier has a bypass duct that utilizes the furnaces own fan to recirculate some of the warm supply air across the humidifier pad and back into the return ductwork. Since bypass humidifiers do not have a built-in fan, they have less things that can break but do require the manual bypass damper to be opened in the winter and then closed in the summer. In some cases bypass humidifiers can exacerbate existing undersized ductwork problems, so make sure your installer is well trained and checks that your ductwork is properly sized so that your furnace can get the proper airflow.
Steam humidifiers are the most effective, but are more costly to install and operate. If you have high end wood furniture, flooring, have a large home, or need precise humidity control, steam humidifiers are the best option. They require a dedicated electrical service and need annual maintenance. Some simply require annual cylinder replacements while others need heavy duty cleaning to scrape away build-up of mineral deposits that inhibit effectiveness.
All three humidifiers should be operated via a humidistat which can be adjusted to the desired humidity setting and will automatically turn the humidifier on and off as required.
If you are curious about which type of humidifier is best for your home, feel free to call us!