Small Room Humidifiers: What to Look for When Buying for a Small Space

If you live in an area that has arid, dry, weather, you’re already familiar with the use of humidifiers in your home.  If, however, you live in an area where the moisture hangs so thick in the air you could practically cut it with a knife, you may not have ever considered using a device to keep even more moisture in the air you breathe.  However, your location and climate have little to do with your need for airflow in your home that maintains a certain moisture level.  

Even in the muggiest areas of the southeast United States, where air humidity levels can seem to reach 99.9% without producing rain, the internal air in your home may be extremely dry due to ventilation and air cooling systems that leach moisture from the air.  

The ideal humidity level for the air circulating in your home is above 45%.  At this level of humidity, you are the most comfortable, there is low risk of mold development, and your skin and mucous membranes are protected from air that can dehydrate you.  

It may not be easy to keep your entire home at a 45% humidity level without an expensive upgrade to your heating and cooling system.  However, you can achieve this prime level of humidity room to room by using small room humidifiers.  

mom and daughter laugh

What are Humidifiers?

Humidifiers are small appliances that filter water vapor into the air.  They are most popularly used overnight in rooms where children, babies, and adults are sleeping, to ensure that the air being breathed is moist and cool when it enters nasal passages and passes through the respiratory system.  

The way in which humidifiers deliver water vapor to the room can vary from system to system.  Essentially, there are five types of humidifiers available on the market today.

  • Central humidifiers.  These are humidifiers that are integrated into your cooling and heating system.  As referenced above, these are expensive, and require a complete overhaul of your current HVAC appliances.  While these systems will be able to provide a consistently perfect humidity level throughout your home, the price may make them non-optional for many.  Additionally, you may not need to promote your home’s humidity throughout the entire space; simply adding a small, space-saving, small room humidifier may be a perfect solution for your family.
  • Evaporators.  Evaporators, also known as “swamp coolers,” work by moving air over a dampened filter.  These are generally less expensive than a central humidifier system.  These appliances are useful for large rooms, but can sometimes be problematic.  Swamp coolers are notorious for diffusing too much moisture into a room if the room is too small for its usage.  This can result in mildew and mold issues if left undetected.
  • Impeller humidifiers.  Impellers operate by carrying water vapor into the air through the use of an internal system of discs that rotate at high speeds to move the vapors up and out of an open top vent.  These are some of the most common types of small room humidifiers used, as they are efficient and cost less money than most other systems.  Unfortunately, they are prone to wearing out fairly quickly, and most of the units you will find at a big box store are made in this manner.  The quality isn’t the best, and you can plan on replacing them fairly frequently.
  • Steam vaporizers.  These humidifiers are extremely inexpensive and available practically everywhere.  These appliances work by using a system of electrically heated coils to heat water in a reservoir which is then cooled and released into the air.  The issue with these machines is that the air that is released is not always as cool as it should be.  Steam burns can be an issue with these styles of vaporizers, so they shouldn’t be considered child friendly or good for a child’s bedroom.
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers.  The safest and most effective humidifier available for small room humidification is an ultrasonic humidifier.  Ultrasonic humidifiers use ultrasonic vibration to expel water  vapor into the air.  Ultrasonic humidifiers are available in both cool mist and warm mist options.  

Cool mist humidifiers add moisture to the air that has been cooled to just below air temperature before it is released.  Warm mist humidifiers release water vapor into the air that has been heated.  Most people will likely prefer a cool mist humidifier, and as a side note, cool mist is considered the safest for children.    

What Can Humidifiers Help With? 

Maybe you’re wondering why you should be using a humidifier in the first place.  That’s a great question.  Humidifiers are helpful in numerous ways, especially when used in a small room, like a bedroom or an office.  Many people prefer to use them in their bedrooms overnight to promote a more comfortable sleeping environment.  Some of the most popular benefits of humidifier usage are:

  • Healthy, moisturized skin.  Skin that feels tight and uncomfortable upon waking or after being indoors for hours (like at work) can be a result of air that is too dry.  Dry air wicks away the moisture in your skin, leaving your skin parched and in need of moisture.  Using an ultrasonic humidifier can deliver a cooling mist of moisture into the air so moisture isn’t leached from your skin.
  • Better sleep.  It’s hard to get a good night’s rest when your nasal passages are swollen closed, or your throat is parched and itchy, causing you to cough.  Better sleep starts with a room that has perfectly humid air.  You can use an ultrasonic humidifier overnight while you sleep to deliver cool mist moisture that keeps your nasal passages clear and helps promote a comfortable night of rest. 
  • Cold and flu comfort.  Being sick is no fun, and the best thing you can do is rest your body so it can heal faster.  Unfortunately, many common cold and flu symptoms can prevent you from getting good rest.  Stuffy noses and respiratory congestion, can make getting adequate rest seem impossible.  A cool mist humidifier can soothe irritated throats and noses and help promote better breathing so you can get the rest you need to get on with your life.
  • Bloody nose help.  Got a kid who suffers from constant bloody noses?  Add an ultrasonic humidifier to their room.  Many times a bloody nose is the result of dry, parched nasal passages.  When your child lays down to sleep and breathes in drier air, it can cause their nose to bleed.  A humidifier is a great way to help them get relief, and over time, experience less bloody noses at 1:00 a.m.

How to Buy a Humidifier

humidifier

As referenced above, there are many different types of humidifiers available, but for the average family or person, a small room humidifier is all that is needed.  The best option for small room humidifiers is an ultrasonic humidifier.  These humidifiers are not expensive and long-lasting.  When shopping for an ultrasonic humidifier, you should look for the following specifications:

  • Ultrasonic cool mist output.  Warm mist humidifiers are generally not safe, especially for children.  A cool mist humidifier is your best option.
  • Duration of uninterrupted humidification.  How long can the humidifier operate before it needs to be refilled with water?  A great humidifier will last around fifty hours, meaning you shouldn’t need to replace the water more than once a week.
  • Filterles.  Some humidifiers may look inexpensive, but the fact they require constant filter replacement may make them pricier than you think.  Instead, opt for a filterless system.
  • Quiet output.  Ambient noise should be at a minimum; your humidifier should help you sleep or relax, not keep you up.  
  • ETL certification of safety.  The industry leader in ensuring the safety of your home’s products, it’s important any appliance you use (especially in a child’s room) bears this certification.  
  • Aromatherapy compatible.  This isn’t necessarily a requirement, but it sure is nice to have, especially for kids who have trouble falling asleep or babies who struggle with colic.  The use of essential oils to help promote relaxation has been documented countless times over the years.  While you can always use an essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy, it’s convenient to have a humidifier that covers this base.
  • Warranty.  When purchasing a humidifier for a small room, look for a warranty.  If your product manufacturer won’t offer a warranty for their product, that speaks volumes about the product itself.  A great manufacturer will offer a one year warranty as a minimum.

Summary 

You can get a great humidifier for under $100 that adequately and efficiently brings your room’s humidity levels into healthy range.  

Keeping humidity levels in healthy range promotes healthier skin, better breathing, and a sound night of sleep.  When you’re sick, a humidifier can help ease discomfort brought on by blocked nasal passages and irritated throats, allowing you to get rest so you can feel better, faster.  When shopping for a humidifier, look for ultrasonic humidifiers that offer cool mist distribution.  These units are safe for children and deliver consistent, cool, moist air to your room with no need to refill for over fifty hours!


Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/cool-mist-humidifiers/faq-20058199

https://www.intertek.com/marks/etl/#

https://thesleepdoctor.com/2018/06/12/7-essential-oils-for-relaxation-and-better-sleep/

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