Vaporizer, Humidifier or Air Purifier: Which One Is Right for You?

| July 16, 2012

How to improve your home's air qualityIndoor air quality has a significant impact on your health and comfort. With the various air quality products on the market, such as humidifiers, vaporizers and air purifiers, it’s important to understand the functions and benefits of each type of air system in order to make the right decision about which to include in your home HVAC system.


A humidifier is a device included in your HVAC system or as a stand-alone unit that releases a cool mist into the air. Humidifiers increase the overall relative humidity indoors, and such devices help maintain optimum humidity levels in your home. Generally, humidity levels of 40 to 50 percent are ideal in the warm months, and between 30 to 50 percent work well during the cool months.

When humidity levels are too low, various health problems result, such as dry sinuses, bloody noses and cracked, chapped lips. Humidifiers relieve such problems, as they release soothing moisture into the air. The use of humidifiers can also help symptoms caused by respiratory illnesses.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mold growth is most likely when the humidity levels go above 45 percent. The mold growth can be avoided by properly maintaining and cleaning humidifier systems, as unclean humidifier filters can breed harmful organisms such as mold and bacteria.


A vaporizer is a machine that releases a warm mist into the air, increasing humidity and making breathing easier. Vaporizers work by boiling water and releasing the hot steam. According to the National Institutes of Health, vaporizers can help relieve symptoms of sinusitis. A benefit of vaporizers is that the steam is heated to such high temperatures that it tends to be germ-free.

Keep stand-alone and central humidifiers and vaporizers clean by following manufacturer directions for cleaning the system. If you are unsure about how to clean your central humidifier or vaporizer, consult a professional heating and cooling specialist for assistance.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers are your best line of defense against indoor air pollution. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, air purifiers remove indoor pollutants from the air, which is good for individuals with asthma and allergies.

Electronic air filters are generally attached to heating and air conditioning units. They use a process known as electrostatic attraction to trap pollutant particles in indoor air. HEPA filters may also be a part of an HVAC system and are included in stand-alone air purifiers. Such systems capture and filter out pollutants. Gas-phase filters are another type of filter that removes gaseous pollutants from the indoor air.

In order to experience efficient air-conditioning and heating and proper air filtration, all purifier filters must be changed or cleaned on a regular basis.

Understanding the functions of humidifiers, vaporizers and air purifiers helps you make a decision that is best for your health and well-being. If you’d like a humidifier as part of your HVAC system, follow the link for HVAC contractors.

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Category: Home & Garden, HVAC Contractors, Products

About the Author ()

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in home and garden, real estate, small business and personal finance. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times. Julie is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has written five gardening books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening.