How to Buy the Right Size of Humidifier for Your Home or Office and Improve Indoor Air Quality

For optimum humidity levels, size the humidifier to a room’s square footage
By: Press Contact
Jan. 26, 2011 - PRLog -- Living and working in an environment with humidity that’s too low or too high is bad for your health. Breathing healthy indoor air with an optimal balance of relative humidity improves overall health and well-being. Studies show that the incidence rate of absenteeism and respiratory infection is lower among people who work, study, or live in air that’s mid-range of 40%-60% relative humidity. Humidity influences levels of allergens, pathogens, and noxious chemicals, which is why it’s considered an important factor of indoor air quality.

Here are three steps to help you find a unit that’s right for your humidification needs and will improve your indoor air quality:

1. Figure out your room size. Most humidifier manufacturers publish recommended room sizes for their humidifiers. For example, a humidifier designed for a small room should be able to raise the relative humidity in that room to its desired level within a reasonable timeframe, and keep it there. Sizing the humidifier to the square footage of the room is important. For an average bedroom or office, a humidifier rated for a small room is adequate.

Manufacturers' Room Sizes:   Small (up to 700 square feet)    Medium (700-1200 square feet)    Large (1200-1600 square feet)    However, these recommended room sizes should be used only as a rough guideline. Why? Because the manufacturers' figures are based on operating the humidifier at maximum speed in ideal environmental conditions, and are somewhat subjective.

Trying to achieve the perfect balance of humidity in your home, office, or hotel room, means you must keep in mind the following: outdoor temperature, indoor temperature, type of heat (forced air or radiant; and how often it blows, runs, or comes on), how many windows and doors are in the room, the locations of registers and air ducts, how thoroughly the room is insulated, how high the ceilings are, and how often the door is opened and closed (which can vary greatly on number of children, pets, or gregarious office colleagues).

2. Decide what humidifier output (as in gallons-a-day) you need.  Portable humidifiers are sold in 1-, 2-, and 3-gallon (sometimes more) sizes. The numbers refer to the amount of daily humidity output, not the capacity of the water tank. In other words, a 2-gallon humidifier can mist out 2 gallons of water into your air during a day (meaning that it, on average, has a 2-gallon-a-day humidity output). However, the water tank may only hold 1 gallon of water, which means you'll have to refill it at some point. Also, remember that the 2-gallon-a-day humidity output the manufacturer describes is based on average testing data. If you run your humidifier on high in extremely dry conditions, you may need to fill the tank much more frequently.

Humidifier output means the maximum gallons of water the humidifier is capable of outputting per day. Many people believe it's the best way to compare humidifier effectiveness. A humidifier with an 8-gallon-a-day output produces 4 times more moisture than a unit with a 2-gallon-a-day output. (Nearly all humidifiers have a higher output than capacity, meaning you'll have to refill the water tank at least once a day.)

If you're having trouble deciding on a particular model, ignore the manufacturer's room size rating, and compare the output. It's an easy way to analyze humidifiers and their relative effectiveness.

3. Think about the water tank size (capacity) & ease of refilling.  Sometimes you’ll read advice that says to under- rather than over-size a humidifier to the room. Why? Because if a humidifier is too large and the output is too great for the room size, you'll get condensation on your walls and windows. That's true—if you set the humidifier at maximum. But most humidifiers have variable settings. Simply set the unit on “low” to avoid this problem.

Most humidifiers have a removable water tank. You fill it at a faucet, then replace the tank on the humidifier base, which holds a small reservoir of water. As the water in the reservoir is depleted, more water from the tank is released into the base.

Humidifier capacity is the maximum amount of water the humidifier's water tank can hold. Let's say your humidifier has a 4-gallon-a-day output and a holding capacity of 2 gallons. You'll need to refill the tank every 12 hours in order to achieve the full optimum 4-gallon-a-day output per 24-hour period. The higher the tank's holding capacity relative to the humidifier's output, the less often you'll need to refill the tank.

Some humidifiers feature an automatic shut-off—a great feature if you aren’t good about remembering to regularly refill it. Note: Running a humidifier without water in the tank will decrease the life of your filter, and can become a fire hazard.

Other humidifiers have a “top-fill” design that eliminates the need for a removable water tank. With “top-fill” humidifiers, you pour water directly into the top of the humidifier using a pitcher, cup, or other container. If you have trouble lifting and carrying a water tank (for instance, if you have arthritis), the “top-fill” design makes it much easier to use a humidifier.

To check humidity in your home or office, purchase an inexpensive hygrometer (a humidity measuring device) at your local hardware store or online. Recommendation:

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Tags:Proper Size, Square Foot, Output, Capacity, Automatic Shut-off, Humidity Level
Industry:Family, Health, Home
Location:United States
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