Buying Guide for Humidifiers and Vaporizers

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Buying Guide for Humidifiers and Vaporizersz

Especially for people who live in arid regions with very dry air, humidifiers and vaporizers can be a welcome addition. Not only do they make air more pleasant on the skin and more comfortable to breathe, they can also be an important tool for keeping the lungs healthy.


Humidifiers and Vaporizers

Although similar in function, there are some important differences between humidifiers and vaporizers that are important to note before making a purchase.

Generally, humidifiers add moisture to the air by expelling a cool mist from a tank of water. These devices range in size from small, table-top humidifiers to huge, whole-house humidifiers. Since they are adding moisture to the air, vaporizers are considered a subset of humidifiers, though vaporizers perform this task in a particular, specialized way.


Vaporizers are small, low-output units that add moisture to the air by heating water in a reservoir, which produces hot steam. This hot steam can be directed toward a specific area of the home, making them ideal for people suffering from respiratory conditions, including asthma. Many units include with medicine cups that will evaporate, or “vaporize” medication, which is then inhaled more effectively by the user. The preheated moisture from a vaporizer is also ideal for households in colder climates or during cold times of the year, since the warm air will add a small amount of heat to the room.


Understanding the Optimal Humidity for a Home

“Humidity” is the amount of water vapor present in the air. Too little moisture, or too much moisture, can be a bad thing. The average person is most comfortable when air is at a 40-percent to 50-percent humidity. When the humidity drops below 30%, the air becomes too dry and can even make the room or house feel colder than it actually is. Periods of prolonged exposure to dry air can damage furniture, or even negatively affect people’s health. Adding the right amount of moisture to the air will improve air quality and prevent costly damage to the home.

People must be careful to add the correct amount of moisture, though. At best, adding too much moisture to the air can make a room uncomfortably damp and muggy. At worst, too much moisture will create an environment where mold, bacteria, and dust mites, and mold will grow and thrive, which is a serious health concern. For example, if there is a lot of condensation collecting on a cold window or windowsill, then the humidity level of the room is too high.


Benefits of Humidifiers and Vaporizers

When used properly, humidifiers and vaporizers are an excellent device to add to a home.

Protecting One’s Home

The lack of moisture within materials often will cause shrinkage. The water molecules end up escaping through the materials’ molecular structures, and the material contracts as a result. Wood is a natural material that contained water when it was alive, and it continues to contain a small amount of water after milling. As a result, wood can shrink in dry conditions. Constantly dry air in a house can damage wood. Wood is used for furniture, but it is also used for the core elements of a home, such as the floors, walls, ceilings, and roof framing. Extremely dry conditions can even cause the paint on the walls to shrink and crack, wallpaper to peel, and static electricity to build in the house. Still, it is important to avoid adding too much moisture, which can cause a home to literally rot from the inside out.

Protecting One’s Health

Places with dry climates can vary greatly in appearance, as the air temperature does not necessarily determine the air’s moisture content. Dry air can be found in both the hot, arid Southwest in summer and the cold, snowy Northeast in winter. People who live in dry environments can experience cracked skin, chapped lips, and dry eyes. Dry air can also cause irritation to the nose and throat. Severely dry air in a house can lead to chronic nosebleeds. Nasal passages are normally protected by mucus, but when these passages dry out, the tissues become exposed to bacteria. When bacteria are able to adhere to nasal tissues, infections can occur and it is harder for the body to avoid catching a cold or the flu.

Seasonal allergies or colds can then cause congestion, pressure, and excess mucus build-up in the nose, making breathing difficult. Additional moisture in the air will actually loosen this congestion and create a more-productive cough. Humidifiers and vaporizers are often used during the winter season to help babies and small children get relief from a cough or congestion, as well as to soothe dry skin.


Important Features of Humidifiers and Vaporizers

Before purchasing a humidifier or vaporizer, it is important to consider a number of factors, such as the type of unit needed, the size of the unit, and the output or capacity of the unit.

Types of Humidifiers and Vaporizers

There are five distinct types of humidifiers.






Low output with built-in reservoir

Warm Mist


Heats water to create steam, then releases it into the air

Cool-Mist Evaporative


Fan blows air through a water-absorbing wick, evaporating the water, then ejecting it into the air

Cool-Mist Impeller


Uses a spinning disc to generate a cool mist of water


Cool, Warm

Vibrates ultrasonically to turn water molecules into tiny drops


Sizes of Humidifiers and Vaporizers

Buyers can choose from a variety of sizes to accommodate their needs and budget.

Portable Vaporizers

Portable vaporizers are small and light enough to move easily. They contain a reservoir that holds the water and can house a small medicine cup insert. Portable vaporizers are intended to provide small, short bursts of vapor and are not designed to provide moisture continuously.

Compact (or Tabletop) Humidifiers

These humidifiers are also small. They are still light enough to move easily from room to room, as needed, but they can be operated for long periods of time. This is thanks to a refillable tank, which requires refilling only once or twice per day. Compact humidifiers can correct the humidity in a small-sized or mid-sized room.

Tower Humidifiers

Tower humidifiers sit on the floor and are good at humidifing mid-sized rooms. Since they have a larger tank than tabletop humidifiers, tower humidifiers need to be refilled much less often.

Console Humidifiers

Console humidifiers are large units that are designed with big water tanks. This size can provide enough moisture to humidify multiple rooms at the same time. While they can be moved from room to room, console units are much larger and heavier than tabletop and tower models, so many people prefer to keep them in one central location.
Whole-House Humidifiers

The largest and most industrial of all humidifiers, whole-house humidifiers use the home’s forced-air system to deliver moist air into every room in the house. They are not freestanding units, but rather integrate with the built-in heating and air-conditioning system of a house or apartment. Since they are directly connected to the main water supply of the house, there is no tank to fill. However, short of closing certain air vents in the home, there is no way to direct or focus the humidified air into select rooms.

Output of Humidifiers and Vaporizers

Buyers should consider the target area, whether a room or an entire home, when selecting a humidifier. With this in mind, it is easier to choose the correct size and output capacity for a humidifier.

This table shows the standard factory specifications for humidifiers. However, some humidifiers have built-in humidistats that allow the humidity level to be regulated automatically by the device, rather than running continuously. This difference in operating style will increase or decrease the amount of water that is actually used. If using a humidifier with a humidistat, it should be set to keep the humidity between about 35 percent to 55 percent.


Humidifier Style

Output Range (gallons per day)




1 small room



1 room



1 room

Small Console


2-3 rooms

Large Console


2,500-3,000 square feet

Whole House


3,000-4,000 square feet


Top Brands of Humidifiers and Vaporizers


          Product Name

Description and Application

Honeywell TrueSTEAM Humidifier

For everyday use, the TrueSTEAM whole-house humidification system by Honeywell can deliver up to 12 gallons of moisture into the air. Honeywell’s TrueSTEAM humidifier operates independently, which is convenient for people who do not want to hassle with setting up and operating a smaller humidifier every day. The Honeywell TrueSTEAM humidifier is designed to be efficient, using up to 90 percent less water than other humidifiers. Other features include wirelessly operation, which allows it to be paired with additional accessories, including digital humidity controllers.


Holmes Warm-Mist Humidifier

The Holmes Warm-Mist Humidifier is designed for smaller rooms and their surrounding areas, but it a high-capacity contender. Holmes’ humidifier can run for an entire 24-hour period without needing its water tank to be refilled. The Warm-Mist Humidifier does not require a filter for operation, as its tray can be conveniently cleaned and sanitized in a household dishwasher.


Vicks Waterless Vaporizer

Vicks’ Waterless Vaporizer is uniquely designed, making it quite different from other vaporizers. Most noticeably, it is a vaporizer that does not use water. Instead, the Vicks Waterless Vaporizer utilizes scent pads that release aromatic vapors. The Waterless Vaporize provides comfort and relief, without adding humidity to a room. The scent pads are made of glycol, eucalyptus oil, rosemary oil, camphor, and other ingredients.


Crane’s Warm-Steam Vaporizer

A cheerful addition to any room, the Crane’s Warm-Steam Vaporizer comes in three different colors: pink, yellow, and blue. The Warm-Steam Vaporizer has a  water-holding capacity of one gallon, and it is extremely easy to fill and clean. The run-time duration for the Crane’s vaporizer is up to 15 hours of operation per tank of water. The Warm-Steam Vaporizer can also be paired with complementary accessories, such as Crane’s Vaporizer Steam Liquid for added health benefits.



Using Humidifiers and Vaporizers Safely

The Correct Cleaning and Sanitization

Standing water and wet filters attract bacteria and other germs, mold, and dirt. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the tanks and filters will prevent these microscopic particles from being ejected into the air when the humidifier or vaporizer is running.

Humidifier cleaners are specialty supplies that help clean and disinfect the machine, while also removing hard-water particles and other minerals and metals that may be in the water. An alternative to using cleaners is to purchase an ultrasonic humidifier. These contain a demineralization cartridge to filter out the minerals and may also use an ultraviolet light to kill harmful bacteria.

It is important to read the humidifier’s user instruction manual to find out how often the unit’s filter should be replaced or cleaned. Some units come with a filter sensor that tells users when it is time to change the filter. 

The Correct Operation around Children

Water evaporates into steam at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or 100 degrees Celsius. If there are small children in the house, it is critical that any steam vaporizer or humidifier be placed out of reach and unplugged after use to avoid accidental burns.

A good safety feature on some humidifiers is an automatic shut-off switch. If the tank is empty or reaches a low level of water, the unit will automatically turn off. Some automatic shut-off features are based on the humidity level in the air and will turn off the device once the optimal level has been reached. The auto shut-off feature keeps the unit from over-humidifying a room, and protects again potentially burning up the motor, too.

To ensure the unit is safe for use, look for a safety-certification mark from agencies such as Intertek (ETL), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). This mark guarantees that the product has been tested by someone other than the manufacturer and that it meets recommended safety standards.

Other Features for Humidifiers and Vaporizers

Many units also have other features beyond humidistats, filter sensors, and automatic shut-off switches. Some units offer digital displays for easier reading and control, along with programmable timers that turn the humidifier on and off at specific times of the day. The technology behind humidifiers and vaporizers has advanced greatly in recent years, and many models now carry the Energy Star label of energy efficiency from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Troubleshooting Humidifiers and Vaporizers

If a humidifier is not functioning properly, there are other methods and ways to maintain moisture within a room.

Freshly Washed Clothing

One method is to hang up or lay out freshly washed clothes the open room. Not only do they air dry, saving money on gas and electric costs for the dryer, they also add humidity to the room. If this method is used to humidify a room for a long duration, then the clothes should be cold and wet to ensure a slower evaporation of water into the air, at least compared to when the clothes are hot and wet.

Bowls of Water

Another method of keeping a room comfortably humid is by simply leaving bowls of water around the room. This method follows the same concept as leaving cold clothes out in the open to air dry, but is overall much more practical when humidification is needed daily. There are drawbacks to using this method to maintain moisture in a room. Some people do not like having open bowls of water taking up a lot of space, nor do they enjoy the hassle of refilling and placing out bowls. People in the rooms have to be constantly aware of open pots of water. Due to the risk of accidental knock-overs and spills, this method is not ideal for people with pets or small children.

Both methods are inexpensive and simple, but are not a long-term, practical solution, especially not when compared to the ease of using a humidifier or a vaporizer. Humidifiers are able to quickly spray micro-droplets of water into the air, and vaporizers are able to efficiently utilize energy to heat and evaporate water into the surrounding area.

Buying Humidifiers and Vaporizers on eBay

Finding humidifiers and vaporizers on eBay is quite easy. Simply go to the eBay website, then search under the “Home, Outdoors & Decor” category. From there, select “Home & Garden.” Search results can be further refined, and humidifiers and vaporizers can be found in “Home Improvement” and “Heating, Cooling & Air.” As there are thousands of listings for humidifiers and vaporizers on eBay, keywords can also be used to find a vaporizer or humidifier with all the features needed to best fit the buyer’s household. Asthmatics may prefer portable vaporizers to pack when traveling, while families living in the desert may need a whole-house humidifier to keep the moisture level at an acceptable percentage in the house.

Other accessories, such as replacement parts for humidifiers and vaporizers, can also be found on eBay through the search box. Vaporizer filters, replacement humidifier tanks, and more can be found on eBay, in both new and used condition.



Having a vaporizer or humidifier in the home is beneficial to both the structure of the house and the overall health of its residents. The device’s instruction manual is an important tool for learning how to properly operate and care for the humidifier or vaporizer. While these units do not need to be run every day or even for the entire day, it is an essential household appliance that every home can benefit from buying.

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