Different Types of Humidifiers

A Brief Overview of the Different Types of Humidifiers

There are many different types of humidifiers with a lot of different uses and features. They all have some similarities to each other. Humidifiers are electric appliances that generate steam or water mist and discharge it into the atmosphere within the room where the gadget is located. They can also do this through the entire home when a strong whole-house in-line humidifier is installed in the ductwork of the home. Most humidifiers with a unique style, features, and built-in humidistat are highly demanded and hence expensive.

The best models are characterized by low noise, maintenance reminders, ease of cleaning, adjustable-output humidity, ease of filling, automatic shut off, antibacterial features and a hygrometer or humidistat to monitor the moisture of the room. Humidifiers are either classified as warm-mist or cool-mist depending on their function within the area of installation. They are sold in compact personal, floor console, portable or whole-house models.

Cool Mist Humidifiers vs Warm Mist Humidifiers

A cool mist humidifier functions well in places where the inhabitants struggle with hard water. The process of cool mist is efficient since it prevents hard water from building up on the filter portion and wick of the machine. The cool mist assembly is also effective in trapping the minerals contained in the hard water, preventing them from permeating the air where they can be inhaled as people breathe. These humidifiers are ideal for kids since they are less prone to burn risk, which is a risk with hot vapor humidifiers.

Cool Mist Humidifier Advantages and Drawbacks


  • They make a cool vapor which is safer for children and pets compared to a warm mist or steam humidifier
  • Easy cleaning and little maintenance required
  • Most come with a filter that removes waterborne impurities
  • Depending on the model you may be able to add inhalants like essential oils, making them helpful for when you have a cold or flu


  • Because they do not use any heat, bacterial contamination can occur. We recommend keeping humidifier bacteriostat on hand
  • Mineral dust may accumulate on nearby surfaces if you use unfiltered water and the humidifier does not have a filter in it
  • Operating noise can be louder than warm mist humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers are the best models in areas with soft water. They moisten the air by releasing warm, wet vapor to the atmosphere. Most people prefer their impeccable comfort and uniform humidification that mitigates the effect of cold symptoms, sore throat, and congestion. However, they get clogged with the minerals that occur naturally in harder water making them dirty. Becoming familiar with when and how to clean your humidifier can prevent clogs from affecting your humidifier. A water softener can also offer a perfect remedy to this defect. Warm mist humidifiers actually boil the water and release warm vapor as steam, which ensures that spores and bacteria are killed. Therefore, they make for a more comfortable and healthier night’s sleep.

Warm Mist Humidifier Advantages and Drawbacks


  • There is a reduced risk of bacterial contamination due to heat
  • Mineral dust accumulation is much less common
  • Fewer models come with this option but it is still possible to find one that allows adding inhalants to help manage symptoms of colds and the flu
  • Quiet operation


  • There is a risk of burns if the humidifier is spilled, use caution when around children
  • Low energy efficiency
  • Can be more difficult to clean, be sure to check for reviews

Different Types of Humidifiers

Within the cool mist and warm mist humidifier categories there are other distinct types that provide more specific functions and modes of operation. There are different types of humidifiers with distinct features, although they serve almost the same purpose. The main types include portable, industrial, and forced-air humidifiers among other types.

Industrial Humidifiers

Industrial humidifiers are installed in big buildings to maintain a specific level of humidity so as to preserve material properties, prevent static electricity buildup and ensure a healthy and comfortable living or working environment. Industries such as printing, paper, packaging, plastic, electrostatic, textiles, pharmaceuticals and automotive manufacturing are prone to static problems. Scientists recommend a range of 45-55% relative humidity.

If humidity falls below 45% relative humidity, the occurrence of friction causes static buildup and sparks that can damage Information Technology equipment. Paper and printer manufacturing firms use humidifiers to curb shrinkage and paper curl while art museums use them to preserve sensitive works of art. These humidifiers are also ideal for hospital operating rooms, cold storage rooms, and semiconductor manufacturing firms.

Portable Humidifiers

Portable humidifiers come in different sizes and ranges from small tabletop humidifiers to large floor-mounted units. Smaller personal humidifiers are great for traveling. Some people also use them to help prevent bloody noses caused by dry air. They require manual refilling with water on a periodic basis. The main categories of portable humidifiers include evaporative and ultrasonic humidifiers. Although these models all humidify a room efficiently, they are distinct and have significant differences in moisture production with minimal trade-offs. These differences are evident in their features and operation noise.

Most types of humidifiers you see in your home are portable to one degree or another. Later on we talk about furnace humidifiers and under duct humidifiers. These are found in residences but are not portable.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

Ultrasonic humidifiers are the most energy-efficient among all humidifiers. They contain a water reservoir and oscillating plates. The plates vibrate at an ultrasonic frequency, transforming water into a fine mist, which is then blown out by use of a fan. One of its downfalls is that it produces white dust as a by-product, which can be problematic for people who experience asthma. Nevertheless, some newer models use advanced technology that prevent the occurrence of white dust.

Evaporative Humidifiers

Evaporative humidifiers blow water using a fan that releases moisture into the air. These appliances are great for your home since they maintain hygiene, use lower amounts of electricity and operate silently. They are ideal for bedrooms, study rooms or places that require minimal noises. There are two main models of evaporative humidifiers, which can be distinguished by their system. One model uses the porous filter while the other uses rotating discs. The model that uses a porous filter can be polluted easily by dust or other fine matter in the air. On the other hand, the model containing the rotating discs is made using hardened plastic that makes them firm and easy to clean.

Even more types of humidifiers…

Other portable humidifiers include vaporizers and impeller humidifiers.

A vaporizer, which is also known as a warm mist humidifier or steam humidifier, works by boiling water and then releasing the steam and moisture into the air. It is advisable to add a medicated inhalant to the vaporizer to curb coughing spells. They are hygienic appliances since steam does not convey microorganisms or mineral impurities to the water held in the reservoir. This vaporizer consumes a lot of energy, as it requires boiling water, which raises the utility bills. Its heat source should be well designed to prevent overheating or leaking.

Impeller humidifiers are a type of cool-mist humidifiers. They fling water at a diffuser using a spinning disc. The disc splits the incoming water into fine droplets that float in the air. If the water used is not kept scrupulously clean, dissolved minerals and microorganisms can be sent into the air. They can settle on nearby household items as white dust.

Permanently Installed Humidifiers

Forced-air humidifiers are normally installed in buildings with a forced-air furnace. They are efficient in protecting wooden items and antiques as well as other furnishings that might be damaged by overly dry air. If bypass humidifiers are connected between the cold and heated air return ducts, some heated air will bypass via the humidifier and go back to the furnace. The pressure difference that exists between the ducts enhances this connection.

The different types of humidifiers that use a forced-air mechanism include drums, disc wheels, bypass flow-through, and spray mist.

Drums style (bypass) contains a pipe that is used to supply water to the reservoir or pan, which is attached to the furnace. The reservoir’s water level is controlled using a float valve. The wick is comprised of a foam pad attached to a small motor and mounted on a drum. The air that enters the drum is forced out through its sides. When the hygrostat detects a decrease in humidity, the motor is restarted making the drum spin swiftly through the pan containing water. This ensures that the foam pad does not dry out. The drum-style humidifier should be used with furnace air filters that are rated as high quality to prevent mold buildup.

A disc wheel style (bypass) has a lot of similarities to the drum style humidifiers. However, the foam drum is replaced with several plastic discs that have small grooves on both sides. This indicates that the evaporative surface area is large, regardless of space. Unlike the drum, the disc wheel doesn’t require periodic replacement.

Bypass flow-through (bypass or biscuit style) delivers water to an electrically controlled valve situated at the top of the appliance using a pipe. Air is passed through the “biscuit” (aluminum or pad) that is identical to a very coarse steel wool. The biscuit is coated with matte ceramic to increase the surface area. When the hygrostat detects a decrease in humidity, the valve is opened and water sprays the biscuit. Evaporation of water from the pad takes place when the biscuit is subjected to hot air. This releases the vapor into the atmosphere.

Under Duct Humidifier

An under duct humidifier can be either a bypass flow through humidifier or a drum style humidifier. The under duct humidifier gets its name from how it is installed into your home’s ventilation system. This type of humidifier is installed by cutting a square piece out of the underside of the duct work that forces warm air into your living area. Then, the tub is attached to the opening in the duct work with either the drum or biscuit inside. When warm air moves through the duct it will pass by the under duct humidifier and pick up extra moisture via evaporation. As the warm air comes out of your vents it brings the extra moisture with it.

The spray mist type is fitted with a small tube or pipe, which delivers water to an electrically controlled valve. The air supplied is sprayed with water mist, causing the flow of air to push the mist into the premises.

Other types of humidifiers include the centrifugal atomizer, non-bypass flow-through, and steam designs. The introduction of new humidifier models such as whole house console humidifiers, top-fill humidifiers, and UV germ-free humidifiers has revolutionized the humidifier market due to their high demand.

Humidifier Wrap Up

Humidifiers are efficient in improving the air quality and comfort.  They do this by moisturizing the dry air in the home or work place. This has a positive impact on the home inhabitants and the general home environment. The moisturized air curbs the occurrence of coughs, chapped lips and static electricity.

Low humidity air can also lead to the cracking of wooden musical instruments or furniture caused by extremely dry air. On the other end of the spectrum, excessive moisture in the air incubates mildew and helps dust mites reproduce. Both of these can be hazardous to human health.

It is recommendable to maintain a balance of home moisture by controlling the amount of the home’s humidity. This problem is evident during winter in cold climates. People in this situation may struggle to keep the air in their homes properly humidified and also keep excess condensation off their windows. Some humidifiers have built in humidistats that can measure the humidity in the air as they are producing moisture. Once the humidity is at the correct level, the humidifier will automatically shut itself off until the humidity drops again. A dehumidifier can lower the level of humidity in your home if need be. This appliance is also ideal in eliminating musty odors.

This article strives to identify and give brief overviews on a wide range of different types of humidifiers. For further reading try any of the links below.

Personal Humidifier

Wifi Enabled Air Purifiers for your Smart Home

Filterless Humidifiers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.