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FireGryphon
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Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:21 am

I need a humidifier for my bedroom. The room is approximately 11' x 13'. My main concern is that the humidifier is silent, as I enjoy sleeping in quiet. Durability would be nice, too. Does anyone here use a humidifier that you would recommend? Thanks!
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:28 am

The only one I've ever had that was near-silent was an ultrasonic one. Unfortunately, those will create mineral dust unless you use distilled water, which gets expensive.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:23 am

I've got a hot-steam unit in my daughter's room. It's pretty quiet, and it doesn't disperse mineral dust. However, you need to clean it weekly or the resistive-heating probes inside the top part get caked over with minerals and don't work as well.

I'm taking it apart (the manual says to just soak the heating portion in vinegar and then rinse with hot water & shaking) and scraping the calcium/salt deposits off in addition to the vinegar, because either because of my somewhat hard water or the salt I have to add to the tank, the vinegar won't do the job alone.

I got it from Walgreen's, and IIRC it's a store-brand unit.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:54 am

bthylafh wrote:
I'm taking it apart (the manual says to just soak the heating portion in vinegar and then rinse with hot water & shaking) and scraping the calcium/salt deposits off in addition to the vinegar, because either because of my somewhat hard water or the salt I have to add to the tank, the vinegar won't do the job alone.


CLR or Lime-Away will take care of those deposits post-haste. Just make sure to give the element a good rinse before firing up the unit unless you enjoy the smell of steamed CLR/Lime-Away.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:16 am

Hi. Consumers Reports recently (last couple of months) reviewed them - maybe in the Buying Guide for 2011. Seemed like lots are good enough. Not online but local library would have for sure. I use ultrasonic from 180s. Little dust, unless your water is very hard/minerally. They are white noise generators, none are silent. Room size should not be a big deal. They do work well in winter. Good luck.
 
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:51 am

how *much* do the raise humidity? I'm thinking of putting one in my python room to help maintain the ambient humidity in there.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:05 am

With the steamer it depends on how much salt you add. More salt = lower boiling point = more humidity, but also requires more frequent filling.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:35 am

paulWTAMU wrote:
how *much* do the raise humidity? I'm thinking of putting one in my python room to help maintain the ambient humidity in there.

If you raise the humidity too much you're going to have problems with water condensing on the windows, dripping down, and making a mess. This is especially problematic if the windows are not well insulated.

bthylafh wrote:
With the steamer it depends on how much salt you add. More salt = lower boiling point = more humidity, but also requires more frequent filling.

That doesn't make sense. Adding salt to water doesn't lower its boiling point; it raises it.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:54 am

bthylafh wrote:
More salt = lower boiling point =


I think salt should raise the boiling point...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling-point_elevation
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:25 pm

:oops:

At any rate, salting it more makes the steam come out faster.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:40 pm

Winter humidity in the <10% range does awful things to my sinuses, so I've been using humidifiers for several years. What I found was:

1. Fan + wicking filter: works as advertised and doesn't put any minerals into the air. Filter lasts about 4-6 months. Fan noise is a problem.
2. Cool-mist ultrasonic: quiet, but has the mineral-dispersion problem, plus the air tends to get cool and clammy.
3. Warm-mist: some bubbling noises, calcium buildup on the heater requires regular cleaning (1-2x a week in my case), elevates room temperature slightly.

I haven't tried a heated ultrasonic as they're somewhat pricier than the rest. I've stuck with the warm-mist as that has been adequate. All of the warm-mist types are virtually identical in construction, the only real consideration is how much water capacity you need. Expect to replace your unit every 1-2 years because the various plastic bits and seals eventually fail.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:20 pm

bthylafh wrote:
:oops:

At any rate, salting it more makes the steam come out faster.


It raises the conductivity of the water thats why you get more steam.
 
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:08 pm

Thank you for all the responses so far.


Hance wrote:
It raises the conductivity of the water thats why you get more steam.


How does that work?
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:11 pm

FireGryphon wrote:
Thank you for all the responses so far.


Hance wrote:
It raises the conductivity of the water thats why you get more steam.


How does that work?

Table salt acts as an electrolyte in water. That's because it dissolves into ions of sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-). Ions are what permit electrons to flow through the solution. (I don't recall if it's both positive and negative, or just one of them.)
There are already ions in tapwater (calcium, iron, and copper, mainly) which is why the electrodes work to a lesser degree before adding salt.
 
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:22 pm

SonicSilicon wrote:
FireGryphon wrote:
Thank you for all the responses so far.


Hance wrote:
It raises the conductivity of the water thats why you get more steam.


How does that work?

Table salt acts as an electrolyte in water. That's because it dissolves into ions of sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-). Ions are what permit electrons to flow through the solution. (I don't recall if it's both positive and negative, or just one of them.)
There are already ions in tapwater (calcium, iron, and copper, mainly) which is why the electrodes work to a lesser degree before adding salt.

Humidifiers don't electrolyze the water; that would produce hydrogen gas. (BOOM!)

And if -- for some idiotic reason -- the humidifier is passing current through the water, adding salt would make matters even worse, as you would also produce elemental chlorine gas (which is classified as a chemical weapon).

Humidifiers use a simple heating element (in the case of a steam humidifier), or a transducer that breaks the water up into microscopic droplets (ultrasonic). There are no electrodes -- and no electric current flow through the water -- involved.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:43 pm

just brew it! wrote:
The only one I've ever had that was near-silent was an ultrasonic one. Unfortunately, those will create mineral dust unless you use distilled water, which gets expensive.


We got one recently that includes a built in filter to address this.
 
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:45 pm

paulWTAMU wrote:
how *much* do the raise humidity? I'm thinking of putting one in my python room to help maintain the ambient humidity in there.


The ultrasonic one we have puts about 1 gallon per eight hours into the air. This is enough that even with the central air running in the house overnight, the bedroom can actually be slightly foggy in the morning if the relative humidity is high anyway (>50-60% or so).

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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:52 pm

SecretSquirrel wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
The only one I've ever had that was near-silent was an ultrasonic one. Unfortunately, those will create mineral dust unless you use distilled water, which gets expensive.

We got one recently that includes a built in filter to address this.

Is that a washable filter, or a disposable one? If it is disposable I suspect you're trading expensive (distilled) water for expensive replacement filters...
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:52 pm

I'm also looking at one. Our apt windows are leaky as hell, and I'm not convinced, even with plastic over them, that the windows seal well enough to make a humidifier worth it.
 
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:53 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Hance wrote:
Table salt acts as an electrolyte in water. That's because it dissolves into ions of sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-). Ions are what permit electrons to flow through the solution. (I don't recall if it's both positive and negative, or just one of them.)
There are already ions in tapwater (calcium, iron, and copper, mainly) which is why the electrodes work to a lesser degree before adding salt.

Humidifiers don't electrolyze the water; that would produce hydrogen gas. (BOOM!)

And if -- for some idiotic reason -- the humidifier is passing current through the water, adding salt would make matters even worse, as you would also produce elemental chlorine gas (which is classified as a chemical weapon).

Humidifiers use a simple heating element (in the case of a steam humidifier), or a transducer that breaks the water up into microscopic droplets (ultrasonic). There are no electrodes -- and no electric current flow through the water -- involved.


The old (and cheap) humidifier we replace did exactly that. I took it apart and old it had we two electrodes of what looked like a hard carbon composite connected directly to the AC line, and a neon bulb as a power indicator. The electrodes would build up a mineral scale on them so all I can figure is that they had something in the electrode to bind the chlorine gas. I was quite amazed at the construction though.

-SS

PS- Sorry for the flurry of posts. It was becoming a pain to try and quote everybody in one message...
 
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:24 pm

That's how mine looks, and they're not electrodes - they're resistive heating units, like the coils on a stovetop.

I can only imagine the mineral deposits are left from impure water steaming off.
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Re: Humidifier

Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:27 pm

bthylafh wrote:
I can only imagine the mineral deposits are left from impure water steaming off.

Yup... since the water is being boiled at the surface of the heating element, that is where the minerals will be deposited.
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Re: Humidifier

Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:08 am

just brew it! wrote:
Humidifiers don't electrolyze the water; that would produce hydrogen gas. (BOOM!)

And if -- for some idiotic reason -- the humidifier is passing current through the water, adding salt would make matters even worse, as you would also produce elemental chlorine gas (which is classified as a chemical weapon).

Humidifiers use a simple heating element (in the case of a steam humidifier), or a transducer that breaks the water up into microscopic droplets (ultrasonic). There are no electrodes -- and no electric current flow through the water -- involved.
Umm... are you sure? https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... umidifiers
You are right that table salt is not a good idea, though. The article suggests using baking soda, instead. (I'll have to assume sodium bicarbonate because it's both safer and easier to clean, especially if using vinegar or lemon juice to descale the mineral deposits.) I ought to have used sodium bicarbonate as an example, instead.
 
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Re: Humidifier

Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:12 am

1) That's Wikipedia.
2) There's no citation for the statement you linked to.
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Re: Humidifier

Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:24 am

bthylafh wrote:
1) That's Wikipedia.
2) There's no citation for the statement you linked to.

The statement doesn't even make sense. It says that humidifiers "operate by conducting minerals in the water"?!?? WTF.

If anything, baking soda may provide additional nucleation sites for bubbles, resulting in more even steam production. But even that is a bit of a stretch.
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Re: Humidifier

Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:32 am

Tiny gnomes are responsible.
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Re: Humidifier

Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:34 am

I'm actually gonna back off a bit here. Apparently there are some humidifiers that work by passing electricity through the water. But AFAICT they're all (or at least mostly) large central units, designed for humidifying an entire house or office building.

Here's one example: http://www.armstronginternational.com/h ... tric-steam

I would still be very surprised if small consumer humidifiers use this approach, as it would likely pose an electrocution hazard.
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Re: Humidifier

Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:58 am

Out of interest, how much electricity do they use. We recently got one, but have shut it off for now because of it possibly raising the bill. We may run it just overnight.
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Re: Humidifier

Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:34 am

bthylafh wrote:
1) That's Wikipedia.
2) There's no citation for the statement you linked to.

Oops. sorry, I thought there was a citation.
It doesn't help that the Internet only wants sell me low-end versions or acknowledges the existence of the type used for drugs.

[/digs]Okay ... I'm not really finding much other than a mention of a carbon "electrode." I guess some acted as large resistors and thus heating elements, like you stated earlier.
So, if the salt wasn't lowering the boiling point, then... well, I have no clue, now. (Stupid Eternal September; I can hardly find any information, anymore.)
Sodium bicarbonate is a salt, it just dissolves poorly. Perhaps that's the preference, since it will slowly raise ... something compared to table salt.

... nearly off topic, but would a soda can act well as a sacrificial medium in a steam vaporizer / warm mist humidifier? If so, it would be an extremely cheap way of prolonging the life of the unit.

Now excuse me as my mind melts into a pile of illogic.
 
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Re: Humidifier

Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:17 pm

If you can find an old humidifier from the 60s/70s/80s and possibly the early 1990s, it probably DOES operate by passing current directly through the water. My folks had two of these when I was growing up, the second one finally failed a few years ago. The electrodes, which eventually oxidize and are destroyed, were completely isolated from user contact inside a removable head unit, and the only way to access the water tank was by removing the head unit, so the electrocution risk was actually quite low unless you did something stupid like drop the head unit into a bathtub. Electrolysis effects are minimal; that requires a sustained DC current to operate, while the mains is AC. Neither electrode is maintained at the annode and cathode conditions for more than a 1/120 second at a time before reversing.

Modern designs, as indicated, use an electrically-isolated heating element (and, typically, a thyristor drive to control the rate of heating).
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