Buying guide for best car humidifiers
Written by RICH GRAY
If you do a fair amount of winter travel by car, you may have noticed that the air in your vehicle can be extremely dry. Hot air from your heater can contribute to this. The conundrum is, you need the warm air from your heater to stay comfortable when the temperature plummets. For people with dry skin issues or respiratory problems, however, commuting in a car with dry air can be downright uncomfortable.
What you need is a car humidifier, sometimes known as a portable humidifier. These compact humidifiers are designed to moisten the air in small areas such as cars. The moisture can provide much-needed relief for those who suffer dry skin, itchy eyes, and other related symptoms.
The average car humidifier is 18 – 20 cm tall with a base narrow enough to fit inside a cup holder. However, you should measure your space (including your cup holder) before ordering to visualize how a new humidifier would fit inside your car.
A quality car humidifier should be able to handle the heat, cold, and any other abuse that a car ride might throw at it. Closely linked to durability is the stability of a car humidifier. Will it stay upright, or will it topple over with each corner you take? A car humidifier that fits snugly inside your cup holder provides good stability.
Capacity and runtime
The more water a car humidifier can hold, the less often you will need to refill it. Runtime can also be influenced by mist rate. Car humidifier reservoirs range in capacity from under 100 milliliters to over 300 milliliters. (Note that a larger reservoir will take up more space in your car.) This range in capacity translates to runtimes from under five hours to over 20 hours.
A car adapter is a common power source for car humidifiers. However, USB-powered car humidifiers are often preferred because you can actually use the humidifier anywhere with a USB port. Another possible power source is battery power. This can be convenient, but you will need to keep a stockpile of batteries on hand.
Some car humidifiers can accommodate essential oils, so they basically become aromatherapy diffusers. Not all car humidifiers accept essential oils, however. In fact, some humidifiers will sustain serious damage if you try to use any type of oil with them.
Car humidifiers are made primarily from plastic. Many of the best humidifiers on today’s market are advertised as BPA-free.
The reservoir holds the water that the car humidifier converts to a mist. The majority of car humidifiers have a built-in reservoir, but some are designed to use disposable water bottles.
Two mist modes, continuous and intermittent, are fairly standard with these small humidifiers. In continuous mode, the humidifier is always misting. In intermittent mode, the humidifier mists for a time, rests, then mists again. While intermittent mode creates less mist, it also uses less water, allowing the humidifier to run for a longer period of time.
Some humidifiers feature LED lighting, which serves as both a “working” indicator and, if used in a bedroom, a night-light. The LED lighting may feature a single color (blue is common) or the ability to change colors.
If you don’t wish your humidifier to light up, you should note that some of these products do not provide you with an option; if the humidifier is on, so is the light.
One-button on/off control is common, but some humidifiers also feature controls that allow you to change colors or switch mist modes.
Humidifiers with an automatic shutoff feature turn themselves off after a set period of time or when the humidifier runs out of water. Timed shutdowns can range from four to nine hours or more, depending on the humidifier.
Will I need to clean my humidifier?
Periodic cleaning is usually recommended, but the details vary from product to product. Some require little cleaning; others require regular cleaning or even the replacement of filters or other parts.
Cleaning the reservoir of your humidifier helps cut down on bacteria growth. Some reservoirs are dishwasher safe, but others must be washed by hand. Check the manufacturer’s care and use instructions for the best way to clean and maintain your car humidifier.