Types Of Humidifiers: Understanding The Pros And Cons

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  • Author Albert Lee
  • Published September 12, 2020
  • Word count 958

Humidifiers can come in all shapes and sizes each with its own pros and cons and this can be confusing for the homeowner who is choosing a humidifier for the first time.

Types Of Humidifiers


In essence, evaporative humidifiers work by evaporation of the water in the humidifier and releases it as a cool mist. Inside most evaporative humidifiers is a wick that absorbs the water in the humidifier. A fan then evaporates the water in the wick giving us water vapour and increasing the humidity in the room. For those who are unfamiliar with what a wick is, it is a porous cylindrical structure that has a large surface area which allows maximum water absorption and water evaporation.

The wick also acts like a filter to filter out any impurities or contaminants in the water being used in the humidifier. Due to the presence of this wick filter, the type of water used in an evaporative humidifier is less restrictive than an ultrasonic humidifier which does not use a filter. Generally, you can use normal tap water in an evaporative humidifier without any issues. Wicks are usually quite large in size and therefore you will find that most evaporative humidifiers are bulkier in size and also heavier.

Another advantage of evaporative humidifiers is that it can never over-humidify the air because it works by evaporation. If the ambient air is already saturated with water, evaporation will not be able to occur no matter how much the fan blows at the water.

The purchase cost of an evaporative humidifier is usually the lowest among the different types of humidifiers but the operating cost is the highest from the replacement of wicks and filters. It is recommended that filters be replaced every 3 to 6 monthly depending on the usage of your humidifiers. Different humidifiers may also have different recommendations so it would be best to check in with the manufacturers if you are intending to get an evaporative humidifier.

Evaporative humidifiers also tend to be louder due to the running fan that is used to evaporate the water in the humidifier. Some humidifiers can register noise level up to 50 dB at their highest speed settings. If you are intending to use your humidifier in your bedroom or if you are very sensitive to noise then an evaporative humidifier may not be for you.

Ultrasonics Humidifier

An ultrasonic humidifier is a nebulizer that uses high frequency vibrations to break water down into ultra-fine droplets which then get released into the air as a mist. Depending on the specific model, the mist may be a cool mist or a warm mist. An easy way to see if a humidifier is an ultrasonic humidifier is to see if there is a mist plume coming out from the model. If there is a mist plume, it is usually an ultrasonic humidifier.

An ultrasonic humidifier does not have a wick like an evaporative humidifier and typically does not have any filter as well. As such, they are usually less bulky and lighter. However, because of the lack of a filter to absorb impurities and contaminants, it is recommended to use either distilled water or filtered water in the humidifier. If hard water such as tap water is used, ultrasonic humidifiers may dispel white dust into the air due to the mineral contents in the water.

Ultrasonic humidifiers have the highest humidity output among all the types of humidifier because it actively breaks down water into fine droplets and forcefully discharges it into the air. Theoretically, there is the risk of over-humidifying the air but most humidifiers have an inbuilt humidistat to prevent that from happening.

Ultrasonic humidifiers do not use a fan in its operation and quietness is one of their main selling points. Ultrasonic humidifiers rarely register noise levels beyond 35 dB and are great for use in bedrooms, baby’s room and study rooms. However, after prolonged usage, ultrasonic humidifiers may shake a bit and hence make some noise. When that happens, it may be time to consider a change.

In terms of price, ultrasonic humidifiers usually cost more upfront but have the lowest operating cost because there is no need for filter replacement every 3 to 6 months.


Vaporizer humidifiers basically boil the water in the humidifier into steam before releasing it into the air. As you can probably imagine, the mist from a vaporizer can get quite hot and hence it is also known as a warm mist humidifier. Vaporizer or warm mist humidifiers are very popular among homeowners suffering from allergies or asthma because the warm mist usually has a more soothing and comforting effect on sensitive airways than cool mist humidifiers.

Due to the heating of the water in the vaporizer, most bacteria in the water are also eliminated and the mist coming from these humidifiers are generally cleaner and healthier compared to an ultrasonic humidifier.

For homeowners who are into aromatherapy, you will be glad to know that most warm mist humidifiers contain a medicine cup or reservoir for the incorporation of essential oils into the mist. However, do not confuse vaporizer/warm mist humidifier with a diffuser. A diffuser is an appliance that converts essential oils into tiny droplets of oil that are dispersed directly into the air. A humidifier can sometimes act as a diffuser but a diffuser can not humidify a room.

Vaporizers/warm mist humidifiers generally do not have a fan and are also very quiet during its operation. However, homeowners will generally want to refrain from using these in a baby’s room or kid’s room due to the boiling water that is in these humidifiers. If they are accidentally knocked over and lands on the child, nasty burns are certain to happen.

Visit our site for more information on the types of humidifier - https://homelivinglab.com/best-humidifiers-for-large-rooms/

Be sure to read our guide on how to humidify the air naturally as well - https://homelivinglab.com/how-to-humidify-your-home-naturally/

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