Filter vs. No Filter Humidifier — Which is Better?

Dry skin, chapped lips, and a stuffy nose are often signs of low humidity. Breathing dry air can also cause nosebleeds, itchy throat, and other cold and flu-like symptoms. Prolonged exposure to dry air can also lead to drying and cracking of wood. To avoid these, you need to add moisture to the air and maintain healthy humidity levels.

One appliance that can help balance the humidity in your room is called a humidifier. It works by adding moisture to the air through various methods. Humidifiers come in different sizes and styles, and it can be an overwhelming task to choose the best unit for your home. There are dehumidifiers that work with a filter, while others are perfectly operating without one. This distinction may be confusing for some, so in the following, we’ll compare and contrast different types of humidifiers, with or without a filter.

What Does a Humidifier Do?

Humidifier

Before we dive deeper into the functions and types of humidifiers, it’s important that you understand what humidity means and how it affects you. Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. In this article, when we say humidity, we’re talking about relative humidity or the amount of water that is actually present compared to the maximum amount the air could hold at a given temperature. 

The ideal indoor humidity level is around 30 to 50 percent. Anything below 30 can lead to dehydration as well as respiratory illnesses and symptoms associated with the common cold and flu. On the other hand, if humidity reaches above 55, it can cause a whole slew of other problems, including mold growth.

To prevent any of these issues, it’s important to maintain your indoor relative humidity within the ideal range. Low humidity is a common problem during the winter and the simplest solution is a humidifier. It has a reservoir for water which the humidifier slowly releases into the air to increase moisture levels.

Types of Humidifiers

There are different types of humidifiers depending on the process used for humidification and the type of mist produced.

Evaporative vs. Ultrasonic

The most common type of humidifier is called an evaporative humidifier. It uses a wick or filter to absorb water from the reservoir. A fan then blows air through the filter so the water evaporates into the air with almost no visible mist. 

An evaporative humidifier self-regulates to prevent adding too much humidity. They also filter the water, eliminating impurities that can leave a filmy residue on surfaces around the unit. Since they use fans, they are good for distributing moisture in large spaces. 

Vornado Evap40 Whole-Room Evaporative Humidifier

Vornado Evap40 Whole-Room Evaporative Humidifier

On the other hand, an ultrasonic humidifier produces mist using a metal diaphragm vibrating at a high frequency. Built without a fan, an ultrasonic humidifier is best used at night because of its nearly soundless operation. It doesn’t require a filter but some models may include a demineralization cartridge you can use for hard water.

Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist

Some ultrasonic humidifiers can be a cool and warm mist type. A cool mist humidifier releases cool mist to increase moisture levels. A warm mist humidifier has an internal heater that boils water before releasing the warm steam into the air. 

Humidifiers are good for relieving cough and cold symptoms, difficulty in breathing, as well as dry skin and chapped lips due to dry air. Some cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers can also diffuse essential oils for added aromatherapy.

Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier

Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier

Advantages and Disadvantages of Filtered Humidifiers

A filtered humidifier releases moisture to the air after it has passed through a filter, eliminating any impurities in the water. 

PROS
• Removes Allergens and Bacteria
• If you’re using a humidifier to relieve symptoms of respiratory problems, it only makes sense to
• take the next step to protect your health from harmful particles that can trigger these symptoms. Using a humidifier with a filter reduces the chance of water contaminants getting into the air you breathe.
• Absorbs Minerals
• Tap water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. When you use tap water in your humidifier, these minerals spread into the air as a white powder and stick on surfaces. Humidifier filters absorb these minerals to avoid white powder.
CONS
• Additional Costs for Filter Replacement

Filters collect all sorts of impurities from the humidifier water. After a certain time, you will need to replace the filter to maintain the unit’s efficiency and prolong its life. A replacement filter is needed typically after three to six months of use. The price depends on the brand and model, but some replacement filters can cost as much as one cheap humidifier unit. And you’ll need to buy a new one at least twice a year.

Noisier Than An Unfiltered Humidifier

Noisier Than An Unfiltered Humidifier

Because these humidifiers use fans to evaporate the moisture, you may be able to hear a whirring noise while they run. Low-quality units may wheeze or omit gurgling noises as the moisture moves through the filter.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Filterless Humidifiers

Filterless humidifiers are the easiest solution to add moisture to any room. The following are the pros and cons of using this type of humidifier.

PROS
• Ease of Use and Maintenance
• All humidifiers require some maintenance every now and then. With an ultrasonic humidifier, the most you have to do is clean the water tank and humidifier base every week. These humidifiers are also incredibly easy to use—just fill up the tank and place it in its position.
• Avoid The Cost Of A Replacement Filter
• As mentioned, replacement filters for evaporative humidifiers can be costly. If you get a filterless humidifier, you benefit from the low maintenance cost. In fact, you almost never have to spend on anything else besides the electricity cost.
CONS
• Risk Of Bacteria And Allergens Entering The Air

Filters help eliminate allergens and other harmful particles which may develop in dark, moist places such as the humidifier tank. Without a filter, there’s a higher risk of contamination of the air you breathe, which can trigger respiratory issues or other health problems. 

Will Need More Frequent Maintenance On Other Components

To make sure your humidifier is free from mold and bacteria and other allergens that can enter the air, you need to be very thorough in cleaning the water tank. Disinfect it with a solution of vinegar or liquid soap and follow the maintenance guidelines included in your manual.

Do You Need a Humidifier With Filter or Without Filter?

The type of humidifier you need depends on a number of factors. If you want to add essential oils or any inhalant, then you should go with a filterless humidifier. It will have the ability to break down these oils and mix them with water to disperse them into the air, as opposed to a humidifier with a filter.

If you’re on a budget or simply don’t want to be bothered with filter replacements every few months, then you need a humidifier without a filter. However, you must still remember to clean it frequently.

On the other hand, if you or anyone at home has respiratory problems, a humidifier with a filter may be a better choice for you. If there is dust in the environment or other allergens that may aggravate the health conditions, these harmful particles can get filtered in the humidifier. 

Furthermore, if you have hard water or you cannot be sure about the quality of your tap water, you might notice white powder in your humidifier, which can also spread in the air. You can use distilled water, which is free from minerals, but this is even costlier. A filtered humidifier is your solution in this case.

Best Humidifiers to Choose From

Geniani Huron Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Geniani Huron Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

The Geniani Huron ultrasonic humidifier provides all the necessary features in a room humidifier. It has a large 4-liter water tank that can last up to 18 hours in small rooms up to 220 square feet. This cool mist humidifier features a smart humidity sensor and one-button control with a ring light and tank light as visual indicators of the operation status and the current level of humidity. The top-fill design makes it easier to fill and clean than most other ultrasonic humidifiers. It also has a fragrance tray where you can add essential oils.

 Levoit Dual 200S Smart Humidifier

Levoit Dual 200S Smart Humidifier

Levoit is a popular brand of humidifiers. The Levoit Dual 200S model is a smart humidifier with a 3-liter tank that provides up to 25 hours of soothing moisture in spaces up to 290 square feet. You can choose from the three mist settings with the mist button while Auto Mode uses the humidity sensor to automatically adjust the mist level. This Levoit humidifier can connect to your Wi-Fi network so you can change the settings from the VeSync app on your mobile device or with voice commands. You can also add essential oils to this ultrasonic humidifier.

Pure Enrichment MistAire Eva

Pure Enrichment MistAire Eva

Pure Enrichment is another well-known and trusted brand of portable humidifiers. The MistAire line consists of filter-free ultrasonic humidifiers, with the exception of the MistAire Eva model. This large evaporative humidifier has a 2.8-liter water tank capacity and 500 sq ft room coverage. It features four fan speeds and an auto shut-off timer for two, four, and eight hours. Its antibacterial filter traps airborne allergens and reduces white dust buildup. The filter is easy to install and lasts up to six months on daily use. However, replacement filters are hard to come by, so you may want to stock up for at least a year.

Conclusion

To maintain the utmost comfort in your home, you must keep the indoor air humidity levels between 40 to 50 percent. Humidity below 30 percent can dry up your skin and nasal passages, which can lead to irritation, congestion, and other cold and flu symptoms. A humidifier is the best solution to add moisture to the air, especially during the winter season.

Humidifiers come in a wide range of sizes and styles with many different features. Some work with a filter, while others don’t. We have highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of using either option. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your individual needs.

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