Whether you realize it or not, every house — including yours — has its distinctive aroma. After spending every day in your home, you may become desensitized to this odor, but anybody who visits your home is sure to notice. Besides their unique scent, homes all have varying levels of air quality, a characteristic that is impacted by the presence of pets, your air filtration system, and a number of other factors.
Of course, you want your home to smell good and have high-quality air, too, but the market is flooded with a huge range of products claiming to do either or both of these things. There are two types of devices you are likely to consider: humidifiers and diffusers. Is there any real difference between diffuser and humidifier models? How do you know which option is the right one for your needs?
Improving Your Home’s Air
Humidifiers work by introducing moisture into the air and thus preventing dryness that contributes to irritation in the sinuses and the rest of the body, too. There are many different types of humidifiers:
- Impeller humidifier
- Ultrasonic humidifier
- Whole-house humidifier
- Steam vaporizer
Though all of these function differently, they achieve the same effect of increasing the concentration of moisture in the surrounding air. A humidity level that is too low will gradually deplete your home’s air quality, so these devices can be a wise investment in your family’s comfort and well-being.
Though the humidifiers offer a range of benefits, they have little effect on the aroma of your home. If you truly care about the quality of your air, you care about the way it smells, too. Diffusers are the ideal solution to improving the scent of your home, and like humidifiers, there are a range of different options to suit your exact needs. Diffusers work by vaporizing fragrance or essential oils and dispersing them into the surrounding air. This creates a pleasant aroma, and it can also offer health benefits as you inhale the oils, many of which benefit the body.
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Understanding Different Types of Humidifiers
If you have decided to invest in a humidifier, you should familiarize yourself with the different options available. One such option, an impeller humidifier, infuses the air with moisture with an internal disc that rotates and distributes water onto a diffuser, which creates tiny water droplets that are then distributed into the air.
An ultrasonic humidifier creates extra-fine misted water through the use of high-frequency vibrations of sound. The mist is then dispersed into the air around the device. Unlike some other kinds of humidifiers, ultrasonic models often do not have filters. One of the benefits they offer is a generally quieter sound level than other types of devices.
Whole-house humidifiers, also called central humidifiers, are hardwired into the HVAC system of your home. As such, unlike most other types of models, they are not portable and are permanently installed. This model draws in water from your home’s plumbing system, so you can expect water bills to increase with this humidifier, but it is also often more efficient than smaller devices.
Steam vaporizers depend on electrical power to create and disperse steam. These models include an internal heating element that boils water, creates steam, and adds this moisture to the air. The result is a warm mist that may be felt more easily than the smaller water particles produced by other types of humidifiers. Steam vaporizers can be bought with or without filters, so if you want an additional level of air purification, you can opt for a filtered model.
Evaporators are one of the few types of humidifiers that do not produce any heat when they operate. For this reason, they are ideal for use around pets and children, who should be kept away from any device that is hot to the touch. Evaporators work by circulating humidity with a fan and distributing the water droplets throughout the surrounding air.
Finding the Right Kind of Diffuser
Just as there are different kinds of humidifiers, there are different many kinds of diffusers, too. The first of the most common types, a nebulizing diffuser, works much like a perfume atomizer. It disperses the fragrance or essential oils throughout the air with a small internal air pump that blows air through a tube within the device. The result is a powerful vacuum effect that pulls the oil from the well at the bottom and breaks it into a fine mist as it moves through the tube into the air.
Another type of diffuser, an ultrasonic diffuser, uses electricity to create essential oil vapors. The electrical current in one of these units is used to break the essential oils down into the smaller base molecules. Once in this form, the molecules are charged negatively so that they are distributed through attachment to positively charged molecules naturally found in the air in your home.
Heat diffusers use one of the simplest mechanisms to disperse essential oils. As the name suggests, these devices use a heating element to evaporate the oils and often do not even need electricity. Models of this type may be powered simply by the use of a candle that heats, vaporizes, and disperses the essential oils into the surrounding air. Electric models are available, too, that rely on an internal heating element rather than a candle or other incendiary heat source.
Evaporative diffusers are often the smallest of the most popular options and work based on the simplest process. A tissue or pad is soaked in the essential oil and then evaporated into the air by a fan that blows into the material soaked in the oil. These types of models are often available in miniature plug-in models or even USB-connected devices.
Differences Between a Humidifier and Diffuser
You already know the basic functional difference between a humidifier and a diffuser, but there are several hallmarks beyond function that separate these two types of devices. One of the major differences is the average amount of fluid they are designed to hold. Because essential oils are highly concentrated, diffusers only hold a very small amount. Humidifiers, on the other hand, must continuously distribute moisture, so these devices must have a much greater capacity. This is just one reason why diffusers and humidifiers are not interchangeable.
Humidifying the air offers a variety of potential health benefits, depending on the model and how the device is employed:
- Reducing the symptoms of influenza and other sicknesses
- Opening airways to reduce snoring
- Keeping your hair and skin properly moisturized
- Ensuring sinuses do not become too dry
Diffusers’ health benefits depend on the essential oil being diffused. Popular oils such as lavender and peppermint are said to improve skin conditions, alleviate nausea, and minimize allergies. These benefits can be enjoyed simply by inhaling the diffused particles of the oil.
It should be noted, too, that diffusers and humidifiers are generally intended to be used differently. Systems such as a whole-house humidifier can provide treatment to the airflow of an entire home, whereas diffusers are typically small and intended for use in limited areas. Many diffusers are made for use on a desk, near a bed, or in a bathroom, so they are portable and convenient to handle. Humidifiers, by contrast, are often bigger because they are intended to treat all of the air in a room rather than just a small area of space.
Best Places in Your Home To Use a Humidifier
To enjoy the full benefits of a humidifier, you should be strategic in where you place one. If you opt for a central unit, of course, then it covers your whole home. Most other types of devices are portable so that you can choose where in your home to place them. Areas that are naturally already humid, such as a bathroom or kitchen, may not need to have the air treated. For smaller rooms that you and your family spend a lot of time in, though, it can be a wise investment to place a humidifier unit to improve the air quality and your well being.
If your goal is to place your humidifier in the room where you spend the most time, your bedroom is probably the best bet. You probably spend at least eight hours a night in this room, and continuous exposure for that long allows you to take full advantage of the benefits your humidifier offers. Placing a humidifier in the bedroom offers the additional benefit of reducing snoring by encouraging your nasal passages to remain open and preventing congestion that is often caused by dryness.
Additionally, many humidifiers produce a soothing white noise sound that can help you get to sleep more easily.
Placing your humidifier in the bedroom is not ideal, though, if you would like it to reach as many people as possible in your home. If you want the whole family to enjoy the benefits, it may be the best option to place the humidifier in a place where many people are around in the home. Rooms such as the living room or dining room ensure that everybody who is in and out of your home has access to the air surrounding the humidifier. This maximizes its per-person impact and, if placed in a more open space, prevents the surrounding air from potentially becoming too saturated with moisture. Whatever room you choose to place your humidifier in, be sure to choose a unit that is designed for the appropriate square footage of the space.
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Cleaning and Maintaining Your Humidifier
It is important to understand how to maintain your humidifier so it keeps functioning effectively, and one of the most vital components of maintenance is proper cleaning. Because it creates moisture, a humidifier is susceptible to the growth of mold and bacteria if it is not cleaned regularly. To prevent this you must clean your device properly on a regular basis. Unplug the unit and empty the well of any water. Pour white vinegar into the well and ensure it coats the interior of the tank. Other disinfecting agents you can use instead of vinegar include bleach, which should be diluted with water.
How frequently you need to clean your humidifier depends on how frequently you use the device, but generally speaking, it is a good idea to clean it at least once a week. When you do, the cleaning solution should be kept in the tank for about an hour, and the device should be allowed to dry completely before you resume using it. Following this procedure can help ensure that there is no buildup of bacteria due to moisture trapped in the device.
Choosing a Humidifier, Diffuser, or Both
When you’re considering whether to invest in a diffuser vs humidifier, you can ensure you make the right choice by researching all of your options. As you do so, you should be sure to understand that the two devices serve different purposes.
While humidifiers offer a range of benefits to consider, only a diffuser can beautify the scent of your home while offering its own health benefits, too. Devices such as the Whole Home Scenting Diffuser can be used in conjunction with a humidifier to achieve optimal air quality throughout your whole home. With a collection of premium fragrances and an app that controls your system, creating the perfect indoor experience has never been simpler.
The humidifier vs diffuser debate, in short, is an unnecessary one — rather than comparing apples and oranges, consider whether your home can benefit from both. The answer is likely yes.
Whatever humidifier option you go with, when choosing a diffuser, creating a consistent environment throughout your whole home is your best bet. A whole home system offers exactly this for evenly distributed scents and a welcoming environment.
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