Air Purifiers vs. Humidifiers — a holistic comparison

Air purifiers and humidifiers are some of the most common household products you’ll see at home nowadays. Whether you’re using the former or the latter, both appliances are essentially used to enhance the air quality indoors.

That said, there is a thin line between the functionality of both the devices. Read on as we bust myth and do a deep-dive on the differences between both appliances.

Criteria Air Purifier Humidifier
Function Uses filters to trap and remove airborne impurities. Increases moisture level in the air to get rid of irritation due to dry conditions.
Impact on health Ideal for those having allergies and asthma. Ideal for those having stuffy nose or flu.
Usage Throughout the year. Only in dry conditions.
Pricing Expensive Cheap

1. Function

function of humidifier and air purifier

Air purifiers

The chief purpose of air purifiers is to enhance the air quality of the indoor environment by trapping and warding off various airborne contaminants and particles. These include allergens such as bacteria, mould, spores, and pet dander.

Air purifiers with HEPA filters are the most sought-after as they are proven to trap 99.97% particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. This includes pesky particles such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander.

Read more about HEPA filters here.

Humidifiers

Humidifiers, on the other hand, increase the moisture level in the air by pumping a regulated amount of water vapour into the room. They convert water into a cold and fine mist before releasing it into the air. This is particularly beneficial in environments having low humidity levels.

Humidifiers create mist in 2 ways — either ultrasonic or evaporative technology. An ultrasonic humidifier makes mist from water by transmitting ultrasonic waves by a transducer. On the flip side, evaporative humidifiers work on the conductivity of water to create steam via boiling.


2. Impact on health

humidifier comparisons
Image credit: Pexels

Air purifiers

Air purifiers are ideal for people having allergies and asthma to decrease their exposure to any contaminants. They trap air particles that might carry viruses small enough to cross ordinary air filters. While air purifiers cannot prevent an existing cold, they can, however, mitigate the symptoms by staving off other respiratory irritants from the air.

Humidifiers

Humidifiers have no effect on the allergen levels but can help alleviate the symptoms if the nasal passage is irritated and dry. Take note that if it is not cleaned carefully, they can lead to the growth of mould and introduce spores into the air which can trigger asthma and allergies.

Also, humidifiers can help take care of flu or a stuffy nose with the preventive benefit of proper humidity level.


3. Filters — maintenance & replacement cost

air purifier filter

Air purifiers

While air purifiers can be utilized all year round — especially in allergic seasons — humidifiers should be utilized only in dry air conditions. Excessive moisture in the air can hamper the quality of the air.

The filters of air purifiers have to be altered every 6 to 12 months to keep them efficient. Certain types of HEPA filters, in particular, are washable and can be washed with cold water. That said, always go through the device manual before doing that.

Note: Most shoppers may assume that air purifiers with washable filters are much more cost-efficient — since you can prolong the lifespan of your air purifier — but that’s not true.

Certain air cleaners such as the Cosmo Prime Air Purifier come with a permanent HEPA filter with a lifespan of 12-18 months. Plus, you can purchase the replacement filter for just $70 instead of purchasing a brand new air purifier when the filter is worn out.

Humidifiers

Humidifiers have to be maintained at least every few days to avoid building up of minerals inside them. Also, they have to be used with distilled water to minimize the mineral content. Tap water contains high mineral content which, when discharged off, solidifies as white dust – an unhealthy irritant.

Furthermore, air purifiers are quite expensive, while humidifiers easily suit your budget. A good air purifier costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars, while a humidifier generally comes under $100.


Can I use an air purifier and humidifier in the same room?

humidifiers air purifiers comparison

It’s totally safe to use an air purifier and humidifier in the same room. The former removes the air contaminants while the latter restores the moisture level in the air for a cleaner and safer environment.

That being said, it is ideal to keep both devices on opposite sides of the room. If both the devices are pretty close together, the humidifier can cause dampness and clogs in the air filter which can hinder the effectiveness of the purifier.


No more confusion while buying

Whether you’re looking for a humidifier or an air purifier, make sure to keep these differences in mind. After all, an air purifier is more suited for homeowners who want clean, breathable air while humidifiers are great for those who suffer from nose or throat irritants.

Whichever you choose, make sure to refer to this guide before making a purchase.

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Written by Vatsal