Which humidifier is right for you?
Here's an expert-compiled list of the 5 most important things to look at when choosing a misty companion.
1) Cool vs Warm Mist
2) Type & Environment
5) Style & Design
Cool vs. Warm Mist
Let's start with cool mist, also just known as room temperature mist. If you use colder water, you might get a colder mist output, but its important to note that there are no inherent cooling functions in most "cool mist humidifiers" unless explicitly stated otherwise.
The key benefits to using cool mist are:
1) Safety - there are no heating mechanisms, making this the safest option (in case you have children, pets, etc...)
2) Cost - these humidifiers tend to be significantly more affordable both in terms of product price and energy efficiency
3) Selection - there are by far many more choices to choose from for cool mist humidifiers
And now onto warm mist. Long story short, the single biggest reason why people opt into warm mist humidifiers is that it boils the water which can rid of some of the bacteria inherently present. This is more of an issue if you are not too sure of the tap water quality in your region.
The key benefits to using warm mist are:
1) Convenient - you have to clean your humidifier a bit less frequently since you are constantly boiling water.
2) Comfortable - there's something about breathing in warmer air that soothes beyond just our nasal passages. Obviously, the air gets a bit warmer as well in the room, so this is nice for the winter.
All in all, both types will get the job done. Base your choice on the environment you are in. What season is it? What is the weather usually like? If you have children or pets, we would highly recommend against the warm mist humidifier, as it can easily burn you if not cautiously handled. You can also just get warm mist by using a hot water in a normal humidifier (make sure it's safe first though).
Type & Environments
Different types of humidifiers produce mist via different methods.
I've attached additional articles below that explain how each of these types scientifically work, but our team has boiled the key takeaways down into 3 factors - purpose, size, and noise.
For example, if you are purchasing a humidifier for sleep or office purposes, then you want to look for Ultrasonic Humidifiers that produce the minimum amount of noise. These tend to be "cool mist" products since boiling water can be a relatively loud process.
If you are purchasing a humidifier for seasonal allergies or air quality, then noise can become less important, and you might want to go for a higher capacity product that can produce high volumes throughout the day in larger spaces.
The general bottom line is as follows: look for humidifiers that are low noise, high output, and high capacity (we'll go into what this means in the next section).
This is where things can get confusing and unclear. Every humidifier has a basic capacity, which is just how much water it can hold at maximum. However, some humidifiers dispense this water much more quickly resulting in thicker mist; some even have different settings to control the rate.
Luckily, most humidifiers have their coverage rated by square feet or meters. Generally, we would like our humidifiers to last 6-8 hours so that we never really have to fill it up more than once or twice a day. Based on this, we would recommend looking for humidifiers that are designed to run in the 400-800 square foot range.
Here's the important part - there are a lot of EXPENSIVE and heavy duty products out there that cover massive areas, but what we've found is that it's much more effective and cheaper to purchase multiple smaller humidifiers.
With multiple smaller humidifiers, you can control and focus certain spaces while still increasing the overall humidity. With larger and more expensive products, you'll find yourself waiting hours before the whole space feels coherent, and if you ever want to move the thing, it's a massive hassle. With smaller and more portable options, you constantly have control over both its position and output.
A general rule of thumb is that a single humidifier is plenty for a space smaller than 600 square feet. If you've got multiple rooms, one in each is the way to go. Larger offices can have multiple on each side of the room. Play with different orientations to find the best balance for your environment.
At the end of the day, regardless of what kind of humidifier you go with, you will have to perform some degree of maintenance. The most common and by far the simplest products offer a simple filter-swap system where you just have to replace the cotton swab filter once a month or so. If you use your humidifier only a few times a week, then you can get away with cleaning your humidifier once every couple of months, but we highly recommend keeping your humidifier squeaky clean for the best results.
Water tanks should generally be cleaned once every two weeks on heavy usage, and definitely look for humidifiers that look easy to clean. If it's shaped like a saxophone, chances are cleaning that is going to be a disastrous experience.
Style & Design
Do not underestimate the importance of how your humidifier looks! Treat this process like you're purchasing another piece of furniture because ultimately your humidifier will be a very noticeable addition to your collection of household items.
In our experience, we'd avoid the gorgeous looking wood products, as they can feel a bit moist and moldy after prolonged usage. Plastic products are easiest to clean and maintain.