People talk of humidity and feel it in their daily lives, but what exactly is humidity? When the atmosphere contains a certain degree of water vapour, it is said to be humid. The higher the humidity level, the lower the chances of perspiration as the body remains cool by reducing the evaporation rate from the skin. As the temperature varies from place to place, so also does the humidity level.
It is important for the air to have the right humidity level. To enable this, a humidifier and a dehumidifier are used. Problems arise when either this level is too high or too low. It can cause health problems to children and seniors and those who have health issues.
Humidifier vs dehumidifier – What’s the difference? When the humidity level is too low in the atmosphere, a humidifier helps increase it to the right level. Conversely, when the humidity level is very high, a dehumidifier helps reduce it to a tolerable level. Humidity is measured by using a hygrometer based on which it can be decided whether a humidifier is required or a dehumidifier.
The following are the differences between a humidifier and a dehumidifier:
Usage: A humidifier is used during the winter or when the air is cold and dry either in one room of the house or across the entire house. A dehumidifier is used during warm or humid weather in either one room or the basement of a home or the entire home.
Application: A humidifier helps ease allergy by getting rid of mold, mildew and dust mites prevalent in the air. This device works best in a child’s room. On the other hand, a dehumidifier assists in moisturizing excessively dry skin and the nasal passages which turn dry due to common cold.
Humidity levels: A humidifier works best in areas where the humidity is under 35% whereas a dehumidifier is ideal for areas where the humidity exceeds 50%.
Types: The types of a humidifier include warm mist and cool mist; whereas a dehumidifier is available in Mechanical/refrigeration, air conditioners, adsorption/desiccant, electronic, ionic membrane and makeshift.
How to decide whether you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier: First, decide if your home is very humid or not. Accordingly, in a very humid home, you buy a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity. Or, if the air at home is very dry, you can increase its moisture content by releasing water vapour into the air. This is done using a humidifier. Both units can get rid of asthma and other respiratory ailments. A humidifier will be used to add moisture to your nasal passages in the case of chest congestion. But a dehumidifier will work to remove extra moisture from the air and so will be able to treat asthma, which is sparked off by humid air.
Types of Humidifiers: There are two types of humidifiers:
- Warm Mist Humidifiers: A type of warm mist humidifier is the steam humidifier which boils water and allows steam into the air. Users can add aromatic medical inhalants to the water or even antibacterial compounds.
- Central humidifier: This humidifier is integrated into the home’s heating and air conditioning system. It controls the humidity level of the entire house. It is as expensive as it is effective.
- Cool Mist Humidifiers: These are further divided into three sub-types:
- Wick/Evaporative Humidifier: This type of humidifier works like a crude air conditioner. Here, a wick made out of cloth absorbs water from a storage container. When a fan blows over the surface of the wick, the water evaporates. If this water is cold, it helps to bring down the atmospheric temperature, thereby getting rid of humidity in the air.
- Impeller Humidifier: Large area misters are most often of this type, creating a fine foggy mist by using a rotating disc to throw water onto a diffuser. The diffusing element smashes the water into tiny droplets and sprays them into the air.
- Ultrasonic humidifier: This humidifier works like the impeller humidifier in that it works up a spray through its ultrasonic vibration.
Types of Dehumidifiers: These units are meant for medium-sized spaces:
- Mechanical/Refrigerative: This is the most common dehumidifier type that works by using a fan to draw in moist air on a refrigerated coil. When the water condenses on the coil and drips into a collection tray, it gives cool air. It works when the temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity is above 45%.
- Absorption/Dessicant: Materials that absorb moisture from the air are called dessicants. Here, the dessicant is rotated through the unit on a belt with one end of the unit heated up to draw out moisture from the material. If you live in a high humidity area, this unit is ideal for you. It can reduce humidity levels way below 35%, making them ideal for industrial use.
- Electronic: The electronic dehumidifier uses a heat pump to make a cool surface to facilitate condensation. It works silently and is best suited to small areas not exceeding 300 cubic feet.
- Ionic membrane: Water, in molecular form, can be extracted from the environment, whether in gaseous form or liquid. With specialized ionic membranes, it can also be pumped using a dehumidifier or a humidifier or into a completely closed environment, though no water might be visible. The ionic membrane is used for chemical engineering and water filtering.
With this background information on humidifier vs dehumidifier, you can now buy the appropriate unit for your home and make the environment more breathable and safe.