If you are a new homeowner, a new parent or just someone who wants to improve the air quality in your home, you might be thinking about getting an air purifier or humidifier. But what exactly do these appliances do, and which one should you choose? Those are the same exact questions that I had a few years ago when I moved into a new home and began coughing. We will be exploring this topic thoroughly in this article.

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What Are The Differences Between An Air Purifier And A Humidifier?

First of all, you might be wondering, is an air purifier and a humidifier the same thing, and if not, what are the differences between the two? When I first began my shopping research I had no idea what the answers to those questions were.

I had heard both terms before, but I didn’t really know what either appliance did.

Not only are there differences between these two devices; they actually do two completely different things, and the one that you need depends upon what specific problem you’re trying to solve.

A humidifier puts moisture back into the room until it is reached the humidity levels that you set the device at. The EPA recommends that indoor humidity levels range between 30% and 50%; never reaching above 60%.

Although dry air can cause some of the aforementioned problems, too much moisture in the air can cause mold problems. That’s why you need to do your research, carefully evaluate what kind of materials you have in your home, determine whether or not your range should be adjusted based upon the season and finally, figure out what kind of humidifier you want, because there are several types to choose from.

An air purifier, on the other hand, has a completely different job. While the humidifier is trying to put stuff into your air – namely water – an air purifier removes particulate matter and other contaminants.

When To Use An Air Purifier

Problems that can be solved by installing an air purifier will have very different symptoms than those that indicate the need for a humidifier. Sneezing, allergies, rash, triggering of asthma or other respiratory problems generally call for an air purifier. You can have the quality of your air tested if you want and find out exactly what is being carried around in it.

When To Use A Humidifier

On the other hand, you will likely have no problem identifying the need for a humidifier either. Most people can tell when the air in their home is too dry, and in many climates around the country this does become a problem.

Some people are particularly sensitive to dry air and dry heat, and will be familiar with symptoms like nosebleeds, dry skin, eczema breakouts, chapped lips and dry cough. There are also ways to test the humidity inside your home and find out what percentage you are at.

Air Purifier And Humidifier Combination Units

If you feel that you need both an air purifier and a humidifier, there are some units out there that will do both. However, most people do not need a humidifier if they’re having problems with allergies and asthma due to the contaminants that are floating around in their home. In fact, having moisture in the air can sometimes make things worse.

What most people should be concerned about rather than finding an air purifier humidifier combo to save them space and a few dollars is whether or not the air purification system has been scientifically tested and certified to actually remove the stuff that is making them experience allergy symptoms and respiratory distress.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) maintains standards when it comes to air cleaners that are set by an independent medical review board. In order to obtain a certification from the AAFA, an air purifier must be scientifically demonstrated to remove a certain percentage of contaminants from the air within an enclosed space.

What Does An Air Purifier And Humidifier Do For Homes With Pets?

Unfortunately, if you suffer from allergies due to pet dander or if your pets bring in pollen and other irritants that trigger your allergies or asthma, the humidifier isn’t going to do much.

You need an air purifier to get rid of all of those triggers floating around you in the air, but you should also use good practices like vacuuming with a machine that has a HEPA filter, removing shoes at the door as not tracking anything extra and of course, taking your allergy medication as directed.

Should I Choose…An Air Purifier or Humidifier For…Sinus Problems?

If you suffer from chronic sinus problems, you know how uncomfortable it can be. When it comes to choosing between these two units for sinus problems, the humidifier definitely wins the battle.

Sinus problems are generally caused by heated air within the home drying out the nasal passages, which doesn’t allow the nose to provide the humidity and cleaning that it is supposed to. This problem is usually worse in the winter.

Should I Choose An Air Purifier Or Humidifier For…Baby Lungs?

When it comes to which of these two units you should put in your nursery, the answer is: it depends. If the air in your home is particularly dry and your baby has been having problems, then it may be worth it to get a small humidifier for your baby’s room.

As for an air purifier, these are only a good idea in the nursery if your baby is overly sensitive to contaminants in the air and is experiencing allergy symptoms already.

Should I Choose An Air Purifier or Humidifier For…Asthma?

Since asthma is primarily caused by irritants in the air around you, the air purifier should be your number one tool to prevent an asthma attack. Signs of asthma differ with each person that has it, but they can all be traced back to this primary cause.

If you get rid of those irritants in the air, then you are going to be able to eliminate some of your asthma outbreaks. However, keep in mind that your nasal passages drying out often contributes to the symptoms produced by allergens, so it might be prudent to have both.

It should go without saying that neither of these appliances can take the place of your asthma medication or inhaler, and you should talk to your doctor before taking any steps towards managing the illness on your own.

Should I Choose…An Air Purifier or Humidifier For…Allergies?

Obviously, if allergens in the air are causing your allergy symptoms, then an air purifier will be the solution to many of your problems. But a humidifier can help to keep the nasal passages moist, which will cut down on the frequency and the severity of the symptoms that those allergens trigger. So, once again, having both of these units in the house is a good idea.

PROBLEM & SOLUTION: Air Purifier vs. Humidifier

In our first head-to-head challenge, the air purifier goes up against the humidifier in the category of how well it solved the problem, or in this case problems, because there are number of reasons why you might want a humidifier and an air purifier in your home.

While neither of these will eliminate the problem completely, both of them go a long way towards having the air inside your home as pleasant and clean as possible.

PRICING: Air Purifier vs. Humidifier

As for pricing, the humidifier is definitely the least expensive appliance between these two. A good air purifier can run you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, while the humidifier is generally priced under $100.

You could also get a combination unit, but they do cost a little more for the convenience of not having to buy one or the other separately.

NOISE LEVEL: Humidifier vs. Air Purifier

If you keep your air purifier on the lowest setting, it will probably run at about the same volume as your humidifier. However, if you want to clean the air in your whole house, or even one room, then you’re going to have to run it at a higher setting. So, the humidifier wins this round.

The Wrap-Up

Most people do not realize that polluted air is a major problem resulting in more than 200,000 deaths each year. Researchers at MIT predict that these people would have lived a decade longer without the damage done by contaminants in the air.

Only about ¼ of these deaths were attributed to the pollution from vehicles, which means that air purifiers and humidifiers are just good ideas, they may be essential to living a long and healthy life.