White dust, or white powder, is frequently mentioned in articles about humidifiers. All it means is that when the water has a high mineral content, fine white dust settles on furniture in rooms where you use the humidifier or collects in the humidifier. Some machines have built-in filters or demineralizers to deal with this problem; sometimes they can be purchased separately. The problem can also be avoided by
There are two basic types of humidifiers: warm mist and cool mist. Each of these can be subdivided further. Most humidifiers are small and portable and provide coverage for a room, which is usually sufficient for the average consumer needs. Another option is the console-style humidifier. Console-style humidifiers are meant for large coverage, often for humidifying an entire apartment or house.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
Cool Mist Humidifiers
There are three distinct types of cool mist humidifiers: '''evaporative''', '''ultrasonic''', and '''impeller'''. They all put out a cool mist without any risk of burn from hot vapor.
When purchasing a humidifier, there is no single choice that's right for everyone. For some, quiet-running might be the primary concern. Others might prefer the least expensive model, or the most efficient in terms of operating costs. Here are a few tips.
'''Noise''' -- Warm mist models are much quieter than evaporative models. Even on the highest setting, they may only make a little bit of gurgling or hissing. Evaporative models, on the other hand, can be quite noisy. Consumer Search says that some may be as loud as small air conditioners. Keep in mind that all console models are evaporative.
'''Cost''' -- Usually humidifiers range in price from $50 to $200, depending on their features and capacity. Consoles are more expensive than tabletop models, but warm mist and evaporative tabletop humidifiers are in the same price range ($40-100).
'''Efficiency''' -- Evaporative models are much cheaper to run, since they don't heat the water. The smallest ones may cost only a few dollars a year. The largest ones, however, can approach the cost per year of a warm mist humidifier, so it also depends on the size you need.
'''Coverage Area''' -- Manufacturers may overstate the area that the model can properly humidify, but for the most part the manufacturers guidelines should at least give you some idea about output of the machine. Console humidifiers are for larger areas than table humidifiers. Warm mist is better for smaller areas, while cool mist is better for larger areas.
** In general, humidifiers are composed of a plastic base with an integrated humidistat; a digital reader for controls and adjustments; a removable water tank; and a filter.
** They come in different makes and models that vary in size, output capacity, and fan speed.
** The majority of humidifiers on the market for home use are portable.
** The tanks need to be refilled and cleaned regularly.
** Filters require periodic replacement to ensure the machine functions properly.
** You may need to buy replacement wicks or filters as often as every two months. Be sure to factor the cost of replacement parts into your purchase decision.
* '''Tank Size and Shape'''
** It varies from one to four gallons.
** Certain models that use two tanks instead of one, increasing overall coverage area.
** Some newer tanks are designed to be easier to fill under a sink. Look for tanks with handles for easy manipulation.
* '''Fan Speed'''
** Fan speed plays a large part in the area that can be reached by the humidifier.
** Fans usually have between two and four speeds, but warm mist humidifiers rarely use more than two-speed fans.
* '''Convenience Features'''
** For models with timers and a humidistat, a specific time and level of humidification can be accomplished with little effort.
** For optimum simplicity, choose an adjustable digital humidistat with an automatic shut-off option.
** Warranties can range from one to five years.
Another, more expensive option (up to $400), are whole-house humidifiers, which not only create a more humid environment, but also help reduce long-term heating costs. Whole-house systems never need filling, since they take water from your plumbing lines. Filter do not need to be changed as often with these. On the downside, a whole-house humidifier needs to be professionally installed and is not mobile. For more information on these types of humidifiers, check out these sites: Mediawaveonline.com or Smarthome.com.
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