Evaporative Humidifier vs. Cool Mist: Everything You Need to Know

Kenneth Wilson

If you’re currently dealing with dry indoor air, you may want to look into buying a humidifier for specific rooms. This helps you increase a room’s moisture content, which protects you against dry skin and lips and cold and flu symptoms in the dry winter months.

Generally, you’ll have two options for picking out a humidifier: evaporative humidifier and cool mist types.

Evaporative types are the most common humidifier appliance. It draws in air, passes it over a filter or a wick, then returns the air into your room along with extra humidity. Meanwhile, cool mist humidifiers do not require hot or boiling water. It is designed to disperse cool moisture in the air to increase Relative Humidity (RH) levels.

These two are efficient in providing your room with the proper humidity, but there are differences that you need to be aware of. Let’s discuss the differences between an evaporative vs. cool-mist humidifier to decide which type is best for your home needs.

What are Evaporative Humidifiers?

Evaporative humidifiers have been commonly used for decades. It utilizes a fan to speed up the water evaporation process and increase the humidity in a room. The built-in fan draws the air through a moist wick filter at the bottom part. Once the water evaporates into vapor, it is pushed out into the room as water mist or spray to increase the humidity levels.

Over the years, technological advancements have improved how commercial evaporative humidifiers were made. Its wick or filter requires regular change, but it’s responsible for ensuring the room won’t be over-humidified. Thanks to the filter, fewer minerals are also dispersed so that it won’t leave white dust particles around.

Although, unlike cool mist humidifiers, an evaporative humidifier is known for its distinctly loud fan noise. Many dislike the buzzing noises, especially if you’re a light sleeper, but it’s still an excellent humidifier if you want to save money.

What we love about evaporative humidifiers:

  • It is effective in maintaining a particular humidity for your room. Aside from lowering the overall room temperature, it also prolongs the lifespan of your furniture made of wood and fabric.
  • Evaporative humidifiers are considered better for health reasons, as cool air allows your body to ventilate naturally. It also helps keep the air moving inside your home while removing the presence of odors, stale air, and smoke.

What are Cool Mist Humidifiers?

Cool mist humidifiers are widely preferred for their whisper operation. It creates ultra-fine water droplets using high-frequency vibration (metal diaphragm vibration at sonic speed). Afterward, these droplets are fanned from the machine into the room, which increases the space’s humidity levels and creates a cooling sensation. (Related: Pure Enrichment Cool Mist Humidifier: What Do Consumers Say?)

Important Note: It’s recommended to observe caution when using a cool-mist humidifier, as the mist from the unit may disperse particles and bacteria into the indoor air.

Since it doesn’t filter the air or water, it may leave white dust on your room’s floor as it disperses minerals in the water instead. It’s also common to see some puddling at the base. But, they are known to have easier maintenance as they are filter-free.

What we love about cool mist humidifiers:

  • It leaves a “crisp” feeling in the air that improves the room temperature. A cool-mist humidifier is beneficial in the summer months, especially for properties located in dry, desert climates. It may also benefit you when indoor heating makes your air hot and dry in the cold months.
  • Cool mist humidifiers are considerably safer than vaporizers or steam-based humidifiers since it protects you from potential burns. Other counterparts can be hot to the touch.
  • It is more energy-efficient than its warm mist counterparts. Cool mist humidifiers may help you save on your monthly utility bills. It doesn’t need to boil water from the water tank to provide warm vapor, which requires high energy levels when used.

Top Brands to Consider

For starters, you may want to look into Honeywell evaporative humidifiers. While the device doesn’t appear as sleek and modern as its other counterparts, they are highly efficient at making your room comfortable in such a short amount of time.

Honeywell evaporative humidifier

Honeywell Evaporative Humidifier

Taotronics Cool Mist Humidifier

Essiac offers lightweight and easy-to-use evaporative humidifiers. Notably, the device has a quiet operation even when the fan runs. Taotronics offers humidifiers with whisper-quiet operation. It is also designed with innovative features, such as 360-degrees turn twin nozzles for more optimal targeted mists.

Our Verdict

Homeowners who want slightly lower pricing can benefit from an evaporative humidifier. But, you will need to periodically clean and change its filters to ensure its efficient operation. You may want to purchase filter replacements in advance, so you always have a spare one on hand.

If you’d rather spare yourself from the upkeep required by an evaporative humidifier, you may want to choose a cool-mist humidifier instead. These do not need you to clean or change the filters, and it is also notably quieter.

It’s entirely up to your preferences and home needs as you decide on the best humidifier type. The good news is that you have plenty of options to choose from today, helping you adds moisture to the air to prevent dryness.

Keep in mind that a humidifier can help you prevent dry skin and allergy symptoms, reduce the spread of germs, and make you feel more comfortable inside your own house. It is an excellent investment to consider! (Related: Cool Mist Vs Warm Mist Humidifier: Everything You Need To Know & Which Humidifier Is Best)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the ideal humidity level I should maintain?

The ideal humidity level is between 45% and 50%. Humidity above 50% creates a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, bacteria, and other pests. Humidity measuring below 30% increases the likelihood that cold and flu viruses will spread, leading to uncomfortable respiratory symptoms.

What size humidifier do I need?

The square footage of the place you wish to humidify is the most critical factor in humidifier sizing. As part of their product specifications, most humidifier manufacturers include a square foot coverage range.

What is humidifier capacity?

Humidifier capacity refers to how much moisture a humidifier can generate in 24 hours. The humidifier's capacity differs from the size of the water tank, which pertains to how much water the reservoir can store when filled.

Are humidifiers good?

Both toddlers and adults with asthma or sinus problems suffer from dry air. Humidifiers can benefit patients with dry skin, respiratory issues, and more by improving indoor air quality. However, people who use humidifiers to add humidity to rooms must exercise extreme caution. Humidifiers may quickly become breeding grounds for fungus and bacteria that cause everything from allergies to fevers if not cleaned regularly. The worst-case outcome is hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an inflammation often known as humidifier lung.  If not correctly maintained, cool mist humidifiers have been shown by EPA tests to distribute minerals, germs, and bacteria. These airborne contaminants may induce respiratory issues or allergies. Young children, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems or allergies may be vulnerable.

How do you clean a cool mist humidifier?

To ensure proper function, most cool mist humidifiers require weekly cleaning. Visit our blog: How to Clean a Humidifier for a complete, comprehensive overview of how to clean your humidifier.

There are five simple steps to clean your cool mist humidifier:

  • Remove the parts of your humidifier and place them on a dry towel.
  • Fill it with vinegar and wait 30 minutes for it to soak in the water tank and reservoir.
  • Scrub the interior of the water tank and reservoir using a scrub brush or sponge.
  • Wipe down the outside of your device with a vinegar-soaked towel.
  • Allow drying after rinsing with warm water.
Kenneth Wilson
May 3, 2022

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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