What’s the Difference between a Humidifier and a Dehumidifier?

What’s the Difference between a Humidifier and a Dehumidifier?

Both humidifiers and dehumidifiers control an environment’s moisture level: humidifiers increase it while dehumidifiers decrease it. Typically, you would use a humidifier during the cold, dry winter and a dehumidifier in the warm, muggy summer. More accurately, though, you should humidify when the moisture level falls below 30 percent and dehumidify when it exceeds 50 percent.

Proper humidity levels contribute to good health. A lack of moisture can lead to irritations like dry eyes, itchiness and scratchy throats. Conversely, too much of it can make us uncomfortable and congested. Worse, too much moisture can encourage mold and pollen growth.

Your furniture is also affected by oscillating humidity levels. High and low moisture concentrations cause wood to expand and shrink (respectively), thus warping it season-to-season in unregulated environments. Guitarists know this well when the fretboard starts to buzz. Regular homeowners might notice swelling in doorframes and floorings too.

Types of Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

There are two types of humidifiers: warm and cold mist models. Warm mist machines boil water and steam the air, while cold mist machines use a fan to evaporate water and cycle it into the air. Consider how you feel about saunas—if you find breathing in them challenging, then favour the cold mist models.

Dehumidifiers come in many more forms:

  • Refrigerative uses a small fan to draw moisture from the air over a cold coil to facilitate condensation;
  • Electronic creates a cool surface with a heat pump to encourage condensation;
  • Dessicant uses absorbent materials to relieve moisture from the air;
  • Ionic removes moisture at a molecular level, best suited for chemical engineering purposes.

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