Air Humidifiers: Breathe Easy Indoors this Winter

Especially in winter, the air humidity indoors is often too low - and this can have a detrimental affect on our health. Humidifiers ensure that we can breathe better and easier during the cooler months of the year.

Air Humidifiers: Breathe Easy Indoors this Winter

Watery eyes, an itchy nose, difficulty breathing, dry skin, maybe even unexplained tiredness and lack of concentration - all these can be signs of a room with air that is too dry. If any of these symptoms seem familiar, you should consider buying an air humidifier. Especially in the cold winter months, when your heater is likely to be in continuous operation, the humidity in an apartment can quickly drop to below 30 percent.

The Dangers of Dry Air

Woman with a humidifier

For general well-being and health, theGerman Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology recommends an air humidity of 50 percent, a value that other experts also confirm: "We feel a relative air humidity of 40 to 60 percent to be comfortable for an extended period of time," says Dr. Heinz-Joern Moriske from the German Department of Environment and Health at the Federal Environment Agency. It is particularly important to avoid dry air in bedrooms and children's rooms. Without humidity, dust can spread easier throughout a room. This irritates our mucous membranes and respiratory tract, and pathogens such as influenza viruses can survive longer in dry air.

Healthier Work Atmosphere

Office with Air Humidifier

Complaints about room temperature are also common at the workplace. This has been proven by a German study with office workers from the Fraunhofer Institute. The participants stated that they felt much more comfortable and that they worked more efficiently and were able to concentrate better as soon as humidifiers were used at their workplace.

Measuring Air Humidity

Hygrometer

Before you buy an air humidifier, it's important to measure the current humidity in your home. Hygrometers, which don’t cost much, can give you a good overview. It's best if you check at different times of the day over a week-long period. In some houses, especially in old buildings, the humidity is not too low, but too high. In such cases, mould can become a problem, which a humidifier would only aggravate.

Important Buying Criteria

Three Humidifiers

If the humidity in your home is actually permanently in the lower range, humidifiers are definitely a good solution. Now the important question: Which model is right for you? Here are a few tips when making your decision:

  • A good humidifier not only increases the humidity but also monitors it.
  • The size of the water tank should be oriented to the size of the room.
  • If the humidifier is to be used all night, it must have a long running time.
  • Nobody needs additional noise nuisance, so make sure the humidifier operates quietly.
  • As soon as the optimum room humidity has been reached, the unit should (ideally) switch itself off

Roughly speaking, there are three different types of humidifiers: those which evaporate, vaporise and fog or atomise moisture.

Evaporating Humidifiers

Evaporators are often containers that are usually hung on the radiator. They distribute the water by means of a filter mat or rotating fins. This method saves energy, but is not very effective. A wet towel over the heater has a similar effect. Devices with a built-in fan are more efficient.

Vaporising Humidifiers

Vaporising humidifier

Vaporisers work similar to a tea kettle: they bring water to a boil and give off steam. This results in very high humidification and is also very hygienic, as it kills all germs in the water. Disadvantages, though, are the high energy consumption as well as the danger of over-humidification and condensation if the distance between furniture and walls is too small.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

Atomiser

Atomisers usually work with an ultrasonic generator, which converts cold water into tiny particles of mist, which are then distributed in the room and evaporate there. Again, make sure the unit has a built-in hygrometer to automatically shut off before the room becomes too humid. Some doctors also consider this method problematic because it can lead to problems with germs called alveolitides, which can cause inflammation of the pulmonary alveoli.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Woman cleaning a humidifier

Overall, hygiene is always an important issue with humidifiers - no matter what type. The consumer magazine Ökotest also warns against "lush bacterial flora on the inner, permanently moist surfaces". You should therefore carefully clean your appliance once a week, decalcify it and change the filters regularly. It may also be necessary to use disinfectants. After all, an air humidifier should be good for your health.

And here are our five favourite humidifiers:

2-in-1: Venta Humidifier and Air Purifier

2-in-1: Venta Humidifier and Air Purifier

  • Ideal for people with allergies
  • Doesn't require a filter
  • Low energy use (8 watts)
  • Prevents over-humidification
  • Available in black, white and light blue
  • Very bright LED display
  • Runs rather loudly on settings 3 and 4
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This device not only humidifies rooms up to 40 sqm, but also cleans the air at the same time. This is done by rotating, self-cleaning plates in the water that bind and retain dirt and dust particles. Since the Venta Airwasher uses cold evaporation technology, it doesn’t require cartridges or filter mats. The device is also very easy to operate and clean. Some parts can even be put in the dishwasher!

Steamy: Beurer LB 50 Humidifier

Steamy: Beurer LB 50 Humidifier

  • Clean and free of any smell
  • 2-stage system
  • Creates a comfortable room climate
  • Automatic switch-off function, overheating protection
  • Easy to clean
  • Uses a lot of energy
  • Gets calcified quickly
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Evaporating hot water - this is the technology that Beurer relies on for their humidifier. To do this, the water is first brought to boiling point and the steam is then distributed in the room by means of a fan. This method is considered particularly hygienic because it kills all bacteria. However, because deposits can also form quickly, a package with 15 anti-limescale pads is included with purchase delivery. Thanks to the 5-litre water tank, high humidification performance is guaranteed.

Environmentally-Friendly: Stadler Form Oskar Humidifier

Environmentally-Friendly: Stadler Form Oskar Humidifier

  • Adjustable humidification levels
  • Stylish design
  • Automatic switch-off function when tank is empty
  • Doesn't use a lot of energy
  • Expensive filter replacment pads
  • LED display dimmable, but can't be shut off
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It looks just as good as it performs. “Oskar" from Stadler Form received top marks in terms of performance, hygiene, equipment and environmental compatibility from Ökotest, a German product testing company. The testers were particularly impressed by the integrated hygrostat for regulating humidity and the hygienic evaporation system. If you like, you can also add your favourite fragrance in a small container.

High-Tech: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

High-Tech: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

  • Very quiet
  • Easy to use display
  • Built-in timer and sleep mode
  • Must be used with distilled water
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This TaoTronics device is one of the ultrasonic humidifiers which transform water into the finest droplets with its silently vibrating membrane. The intensity is individually adjustable. And thanks to the 360-degree nozzle, you can adjust the mist flow so that it does not hit areas that cannot tolerate moisture. The screen has a sleep mode so you won't be disturbed by any light at night. However, be sure to use distilled water with this atomising humidifier.

Affordable: Klarstein Monaco Ultrasonic

Affordable: Klarstein Monaco Ultrasonic

  • Large 6 litre tank
  • Antibacterial filter
  • Run time can be set with timer
  • Appealing design
  • Included with a remote control
  • Can create moist spots if placed directly on ground
  • Cannot turn off display
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The ultrasonic technology is also used in the "Monaco" device and produces fine water mist. How intensive this should be can be determined in three stages. Once the selected humidity has been reached, the unit switches itself off automatically. The 360-degree nozzle also allows you to choose where the air flow should go. The Klarstein humidifier also has an ioniser function. It produces ozone at the touch of a button, which has an additional cleaning effect and refreshes the air.