Portable humidifier units are a good option for homeowners that are only concerned about humidifying maybe a couple of rooms as opposed to the entire house. Although they are inexpensive compared to whole-home humidifiers, they are only capable of treating air to the immediate vicinity of the unit. Since you often need a separate unit for each room, floor or area of your home, it is wise to use these units only if you have one or two rooms that need humidification. Furthermore, multiple units will create unnecessary noise and energy usage that can easily be avoided. Portable humidifiers have either an evaporative or ultrasonic type of humidification system and come in cool or warm mist. An ultrasonic humidifier is one that uses high-frequency sound vibrations to produce an extra fine water mist that is then expelled to add moisture to the room. This type of unit is sometimes preferred because it lacks hot water. However, this makes maintenance that much more important to avoid harmful growth. Unlike whole-home humidifiers, portable options provide the benefit of not requiring any installation, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Portable units also have their own water supply and plug into standard electrical outlets. These units are very convenient and most practical for renters and vacationers.
Whole-home humidifiers are for just that: Entire homes. These units will humidify your entire home to an optimum level. The whole-house units utilize your furnace blower, drawing water directly from your water supply while portable units must include one. Compared to portable humidifiers, these larger units require infrequent cleaning and maintenance. Generally, whole-home humidifiers do not have any standing water which prevents the biological growth from forming and causing health issues. In addition, many new humidifiers come with the option of a maintenance kit that will help guide consumers on properly maintaining your humidifier unit. As opposed to the potentially unattractive presence of a portable unit, the whole-home humidifiers are installed directly to your heating and cooling system and installed out of the way so they are not seen or heard. The benefit of this type of unit is that it provides automatic humidity control and very little maintenance. Whole house units have large water tanks which require less frequent fills than portable units. In general, whole-home units are install-and-forget-it appliances that are energy efficient, costing literally pennies to operate each year.