To answer this, question, we need to detail the difference between the two, so you can choose the best option for your needs.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at each type, and what benefits they could provide you with so that you can understand the finer points that each has to offer.
In the comparison of these two very different types of humidifiers, you will find that they often serve a similar purpose, they add humidity to the air in your home or office. However, they add this humidity in vastly different ways.
Why you may need to raise the humidity in these personal spaces may be comfort related or possibly medically needed, and you should arm yourself with the information to make the choice that best suits your individual needs.
Let’s start with some details about each type and then compare them head to head.
What is a Cool Mist Humidifier?
To put it simply a cool mist humidifier creates a mist of cool vapor and disperses it into the air in the room you have selected to use the unit The release of this invisible mist helps to boost the moisture level in the air and increase the humidity in the room.
There are two types of cool mist humidifiers, and we will provide you some details about both so you can make a more educated decision before you purchase any unit.
1. Fan Propelled Cool Mist Humidifiers
These units, as the name suggest, use a fan to propel the moisture into the room. A wick type of filter element soaks up water and a fan forces air across the wick and helps to moisten the air. These units do not heat the water they use the air passing through the wick to help provide an invisible mist of moisture in the air that the fan is pushing into the room. This is often referred to as an evaporative type of humidifier, and many have used homemade versions of this type throughout history to provide an elevation in room humidity.
2. Ultrasonic Pulse Cool Mist Humidifiers
These units use ultrasonic vibration to breakdown the water molecules and thus distribute them into the surrounding air. The piezoelectric transducer creates an oscillation of a film of water resulting in a cool fog of tiny water molecules being dispersed into the room air. While this version may have some advantages over the other version it as you will see also has some faults, we will discuss a bit later.
What both of these units’ share is that they disperse cool moisture into the air as the water in the humidifiers tank is never treated with any type of heating element to facilitate the water vapor.
What is a Warm Mist Humidifier?
A warm mist humidifier uses a heating element to boil the water and create steam, and the steam is released into the surrounding room air, increasing the humidity level in the room. Some of these units offer a small fan to assist with the distribution of the steam while others rely on the natural pressure that is created when water boils and steam rises. These warm mist humidifiers may also be referred to as a warm mist vaporizer.
Each of these units may be offered in a variety of sizes. The size you need may be relative to the square footage of the area you are treating and even the level of humidity you are looking to obtain and maintain in that area.
So now that we understand the difference between the types of humidifiers now let’s dig into the mechanics of the units and get the pros and cons of each type.
Fan Propelled Cool Mist Humidifiers
- They do no use hot water to raise the humidity in the room.
- They use a fan to help propel the humidity into the surrounding air space.
- They may offer up to 24 hours of continuous use depending on the reservoir size.
- They may provide white noise and help you to sleep better.
- They can help to provide significant changes in room humidity without heating up the room temperature.
- Most of these units do not cause condensation on windows or other items in the room.
- Are thought to be safer around children as they do not use heating elements.
- Can be noisier than other types of humidifiers due to the fan.
- May not offer an option for use with additives such as eucalyptus or other essential oils.
- Need to be cleaned frequently and can have mold or bacteria growth contamination in the water in the reservoir.
- Need to change the wick regularly, and this can lead to further expenses.
- Can contaminate the room air with mold and bacteria if not cleaned frequently.
- Many of these units have complaints about leaking caps and reservoirs.
Ultrasonic Pulse Cool Mist Humidifiers
- Is considered to be less noisy when compared to the fan-propelled type as there is often no fan used with this type of cool mist humidifier.
- The ultrasonic cool mist humidifier may be the most cost-effective to run of all the types of humidifiers.
- These types are often easier to find in larger sizes so that you can treat a larger room or an entire flat with just one unit.
- Can significantly raise the humidity in a given space without condensation.
- Often these units come with features and auto timers to maintain humidity levels in the room.
- Are also considered safer around children as they don’t use hot water to produce moisture.
- These units have no wick or filter that will need changing.
- Can leave the air in the room feeling cooler.
- If not kept clean, these units can propel bacteria and mold into the surrounding room.
- Can be tougher to clean than other types of humidifiers.
- Standing water in the reservoir will produce mold and bacteria if not emptied between uses.
- Can still make a considerable amount of noise and some may not care for the ultrasonic hum these units can make.
- These units may cost more than other comparable units.
- If you do not use distilled water in this type of humidifier, you may notice mineral deposits throughout the treated area; this will show as fine white dust.
- Does not lend itself to the use of essential oils or other medication distribution.
- May leave the room feeling cool and damp.
Warm Mist Humidifier
- You can often see the steam rise out of these units providing you visual proof of the addition of humidity to the room.
- These units are often used with essential oils and eucalyptus to help alleviate congestion and reduce cold symptoms.
- These types of units can raise the ambient temperature in the room and may be helpful for use in winter.
- This unit has a heating element and boils the water offering a reduction in the possibilities of bacteria or mold disbursement into the room.
- These units are generally inexpensive.
- These types of units are cautioned for use around children because of the heated water and heating element.
- These units require cleaning of the heating elements periodically to provide continued use,
- These units are not recommended for use when you’re not home because of the heating element.
- May not provide as long of continual use as cool mist units because they boil the water making the refill of the unit more often.
- These types of units are not generally used for larger areas or households, usually just a single room use.
- Can be more costly to run as the heating element will use considerably more electricity than the other units.
- This type of unit is more likely to cause condensation issues on windows or other objects in the room.
So, now you have an idea of what these units can and cannot do and let’s discuss this a bit.
Let’s compare these varied units head to head and see which one can provide the features you’re looking for in a humidifier.
- All of these units can raise the humidity in a given room, but it seems that the warm mist may be able to raise the levels faster than the cool mist type.
- A cool mist unit may be better for increasing the humidity in larger rooms and do so more economically than a warm mist can.
- A cool mist may offer a longer run time per tank refill offering a more continual humidity benefit to the room.
- A cool mist humidifier of either variety will not raise the temperature of the surrounding room air as would a warm mist unit, and this better suit these models for use in hot climates or in summer months.
- In reverse of that, a warm mist unit may be a bonus if you are in a cooler climate and looking for additional warmth in the room.
- You have no worry of hot water or steam injuries with a cool mist unit.
- A cool mist unit may make the room air feel damp and clammy, but condensation is rarely a problem.
- Warm mist units are prone to causing condensation in smaller rooms.
- Warm mist units are better suited for using inhalant types of medications and essential oils with and often come with a small cup just for this purpose.
- Many cool air humidifiers come with options such as selecting humidity level, fan speeds, and this can help you conserve water for longer run time.
- Warm Air units are not readily recommended for use in areas with children.
In a final comparison note, you really have to decide what features you are looking for and select the best unit for your specific needs.
In my lifetime I have observed a few of the old fashioned ways of adding humidity back to the room like a small bucket and a dish towel wick or a cast iron pot on top of the wood-stove, and these old school methods are still in use today.
Here are a few things to consider before you purchase any humidifier. Ask yourself the following questions before purchase, and this should help you get the best unit for your needs.
- How big is the area you are looking to raise the humidity in?
- Do you need the unit to disperse essential oils or other medications?
- Are you looking to control the humidity in the room for an extended time frame?
- Is this unit just going to be used when you are ill?
- Is the noise of a fan going to be a problem in the intended room?
- How much are you looking to invest in the humidifier?
- Have you considered the cleaning and sanitizing aspect of the maintenance?
- Do you want to change filters or wicks or clean heating elements?
- Is this unit going to be used around children?
- Will condensation be an issue for the intended room?
All of these questions are valid to your selection of the proper humidifier for your needs. The more of these questions you answer before you purchase a unit will help you to get the unit that best suits your individual needs.
Remember this is a discussion about personal or portable humidifiers there are other commercial and industrial units that are entirely different creatures and are used in coalition with the building’s heating and cooling system to provide humidity throughout the entire building.
Humidifiers can play an important role in some health and well-being issues and provide relief from some things as simple as static electricity in the home. The reason you need or want to add a humidifier to your home is relevant to the selection you make.
Afterall a warm mist humidifier may help to alleviate the immediate problem of dry skin or nasal congestion, but you may find that this type of unit is not well suited for longevity. Then again, a cool mist humidifier may not provide the amount of increased humidity you are looking for or provide that steamy eucalyptus filled effect you desire.
Take the time to answer the questions above and then do some detail specific research on the units that you are considering so that you get the best possible fit for your needs. Don’t forget to consider all aspects of these units and that includes any warranty they may offer.
While some of these units may last a few years with proper maintenance keep in your thoughts that any appliance that uses water is prone to corrosion and this can almost guarantee a fairly short life span for the appliance. Overall, adding humidity to your home may help you live a healthier lifestyle and even help you breathe easier, so don’t hesitate to purchase the humidifier you deem the best for you.