What’s The Difference Between a Humidifier and Dehumidifier?

Having the correct humidity level for your home is crucial when it comes to indoor comfort. Too high or too low humidity levels will have adverse effects on your home’s comfort as well as your health. And, that’s why experts recommend that you maintain a 35% to 60% humidity level in your house.

But, how do you achieve this? That’s where these two devices come in — a humidifier and a dehumidifier. They both work to maintain the correct indoor humidity levels but from different angles.

So, if you’d like to know “what’s the difference between a humidifier and a dehumidifier?”, you can learn all of this, and more, in the following paragraphs:

What’s the Difference Between a Humidifier and Dehumidifier for a Home?

Here are the differences between humidifiers and dehumidifiers:


Humidifiers are also referred to as steam vaporizers. They prevent problems related to low humidity levels that can cause problems like dry lips, noses, skin, and throats by maximizing the amount of water in the surrounding air.

All humidifiers operate on a standard pattern. They use a sensor to sense the humidity level in a room. And when the humidity levels get too low, the humidifier turns on to induce more water into the air. This way the right humidity is maintained.

Types of Humidifiers

There are five types of humidifiers that function differently. Let’s take a look at each and its functionality:

  1. Evaporators

This type of humidifier consists of a fan and a wick filter. The wick filter acts like a sponge and is made up of foam, paper, or cloth.

It pulls out water from the bottom where the reservoir is placed bringing it to the upper side, where the fan is located. Once the humidifier is on, the fan blows the moisture from the sponge into the air.

  1. Central Humidifiers

These ones are hard-wired to your house’s cooling or heating system and are linked to the plumbing of your home. This way, they get the required water directly from the plumbing system and add moisture to the air while still within the air conditioner. They maintain humidity for the entire house.

  1. Ultrasonic Humidifiers

They inject water droplets into the air via vibration. These droplets are light and tiny in weight. And, the humidifier will use distilled water since the water droplets from tap water might contain harmful minerals.

Since they are small and compact, you will find them in tight or hard to reach areas.

  1. Steam Humidifiers

These humidifiers employ heat by humidifying the necessary space. Here, you will find a water reservoir and a heating element.

The water is boiled and the steam formed is blown into the air. The steam improves the humidity level in that space as it contains water.

  1. Impeller Humidifiers

This type of humidifier contains a disc and a diffuser. As the disc rotates, it flings water on the diffuser which in return breaks the water into tiny droplets.

These water droplets add moisture to the air, thus maintaining the required humidity level.


To answer our main question — what’s the difference between a humidifier and dehumidifier? We must comprehensively look at both devices. So, what’s a dehumidifier and how do they work?

Dehumidifiers are the opposite of humidifiers. Instead of adding water to the air, they extract water from water-saturated air. In essence, they are used to lower the humidity level of the surrounding air.

Getting rid of this water reduces the allergy symptoms by preventing growth triggers of dust mites, mold, and bacteria.

A dehumidifier applies a heater-based or refrigerator-based system to do its work. First, the moist air is pulled into this device through the fan. Inside the dehumidifier, the moist air passes over the refrigerant coil that cools and condenses any moisture from it.

The end result is dry and cold air. This air runs through a heater-based coil, which heats it up again to the desired indoor temperatures.  

Types of Dehumidifiers

  1. Whole-house Dehumidifiers

If you face humidity problems frequently, this is the ultimate solution for you. Just as the name suggests, they maintain the humidity of your whole house. Usually, they are connected to your home’s ductwork and drain into a sump pit or the outdoors.

  1. Desiccant Dehumidifiers

To get rid of the extra moisture from the air, these dehumidifiers use chemical substances. It has a wheel that removes the air from a particular room into this device. It dehumidifies the air and recirculates it into the room.

  1. Thermoelectric Dehumidifiers

This dehumidifier uses two heat sinks (cold and hot side) to create the thermoelectric effect. When the device is on, the electricity makes one heat sink to cool down and the other one heats up. This effect allows condensation and extraction of water from the air.

  1. Refrigerated Coil Dehumidifiers

These dehumidifiers apply a built-in compressor. The hot air is drawn into the device via a fan. It goes through the cold coil to start the condensation process. The water that is produced goes down to the water reservoir.

Which One is Recommended?

Ideally, the humidity in homes is mostly between 30% to 50%. If your home exceeds 50%, go for a dehumidifier. If below 30%, a humidifier would be the better option.

To know the humidity level of your home, use a hygrometer.

Generally, during the summer seasons, the humidity levels are significantly higher in many areas but get much lower during winter. As a result, the weather is also a determining factor in whether to buy a humidifier or a dehumidifier.

With the advancement in technology, you can pair each of these devices with a smartphone. It will help in controlling your unit and maintaining ideal humidity levels.

Smart controllers’ can work perfectly with these two appliances so long as they have an IR-based remote control.

The Comparison Table Between a Humidifier vs Dehumidifier

So, what’s the difference between a dehumidifier and a humidifier?

This table gives a comprehensive summary of the two devices:

Used in humidity levels that are over 50%Ideal where humidity levels are less than 30%
Suitable to deal with allergies by removing mildew, dust, mold, and mites from the air.Used to moisten nasal passages and dry skin brought about by the common cold.
Used during warm and humid climates. It is usually found in the basement, single room, or the whole house.Used during winter seasons or when the air is dry and cold in a single room or full house.
Reduces the moisture levels in the surrounding areas.Increases the moisture levels in the surrounding areas.

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