Humidifier vs Dehumidifier: Which One To Choose?

Last Updated on December 11, 2021

humidifier vs dehumidifierConfusion about humidifiers and dehumidifiers is not uncommon. Information on the internet is quite often contradictory and searching for answers can often lead you in circles. Both devices control the humidity level in your home and both devices help with asthma and chest congestion, but they are very different machines.

We are going to go over both devices with you in detail, talk about how they work and their uses. We believe any confusion will be cleared up and you’ll be able to help clear it up for other people after reading.


Humidity is the term we use for moisture present in the air. Humidity is measured using a hygrometer. A hygrometer may sound like a strange device, but you can find them in electric clocks and other devices around the home. It’s not too difficult to find a tool that will tell you how much humidity is present in your home.

Humidity Level

Once you can detect the humidity level in your home, we recommend that you try to keep it between 35 and 45 percent humidity for the best health results.

Once you begin to manipulate the amount of humidity in your environment, you will become more aware of how changes affect you. You will find the perfect percentage for comfort and health and maintain that percentage with the help of a humidifier and dehumidifier.

Low Humidity

Once the level of humidity falls below 35 percent, it is considered a low humidity environment. A low humidity environment will have a lot of dust in the air. Dust can spread bacteria and other microorganisms across long distances in a dry climate.

Low humidity will also dry out your skin, which can cause it to become itchy. Your sinuses can become dry and cracked, leading to sinus infection.

Low humidity can also dry out your plants, and it can also dry out the wood in your home, causing it to crack.


Humifidier                                         Image Credit By: Bill Smith, flickr

Low Humidity Causes

Low humidity can occur naturally, but our heating system often causes it. Even steam radiators can dramatically dry out the air by more than 20 percent in a single day of use. It’s not as noticeable in the summer, but your air conditioner is also very good at drying out the air in your home. If you use your air conditioner continuously and spend most of your time in the home, you will need to keep an eye on the humidity level.

Low Humidity Solution

Once your humidity drops below 35 percent, you will need to use a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air until it returns to an acceptable level.

Depending on the size of the room and its general airflow patterns, you may need more than one humidifier to increase moisture to acceptable levels. You will also need more than one if you spend a lot of time in multiple rooms.  A humidifier is for a single room in most cases.

High Humidity

High humidity is just as problematic as dry air. Air with much more than 45 percent humidity can start to feel muggy. It promotes bacterial growth and the spread of mold. Moisture can cause wood to expand and warp, and when the wood dries, it can crack and split. It can also lead to peeling wallpaper and paint. Windows will get foggy, and this can lead to ice in the winter.

High humidity can make it hard to breathe and cause arthritis to act up. It will feel sticky in the summer and make it hard to cool off. In the winter, damp air is colder than dry air.

High Humidity Causes

High humidity is usually a natural occurrence. High temperatures allow air to hold more water, so it’s naturally more humid during summer months. Underground areas like your basement also have a lot of humidity in the air from the wet ground and lack of ventilation. A gym, dance hall, or any area where several people participate in sweaty athletics is also like to have high levels of humidity.

High Humidity Solution

To bring humidity levels down, you can try opening a window and using a fan to move the air around. Often an open window is enough to bring humidity levels down to an acceptable range.

If the window doesn’t do the job, you will need to purchase a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier is designed to remove moisture from the air and is very useful, but like the humidifier will only work on a small area of the home. If you have a large area, you may need more than one unit.


Credit: SEAVON, Amazon

How a Humidifier Works

A humidifier begins with a full tank of water. The device then draws water from the reservoir and runs it over hot coils causing the water to become steam and enter the air. When the tank is empty, the user refills it and repeats the process until achieving the desired humidity level.

How a Dehumidifier Works

A dehumidifier usually uses a fan to pull air across cooling coils. The air moving over the coils removes moisture from the air by condensation, which then drips into a reservoir. When the tank is full, the user dumps the water.


Hopefully, reading over this article has helped you learn a little more about each device and when to use them. To answer the question, “Which one to choose?” The answer is both. You will need each machine to keep humidity in check. If you need to dry something out, get a dehumidifier; if it’s too dry, get a humidifier.

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