Our Favorite Standard Humidifier

February 25, 2022

Happy couple laughing and tickling young daughter on wood floorFor homes heated by a forced air furnace, ‘standard’ central humidifiers are great solutions for improving indoor humidity levels when the furnace is operated consistently throughout the heating season. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, central humidifiers can help relieve a variety of dry indoor air issues that frequently arise during the winter. These include aggravated respiratory, eye, and throat conditions, cracking wood products, flying dust, and a general lack of comfort or feeling of warmth.

What is a Standard, Bypass Central Humidifier?

Standard central humidifiers, like all central units, are installed in the ducting immediately adjacent to the home’s furnace. What all standard humidifiers have in common is that in order to do their job, the furnace must be operating and producing heat. Warm air from the furnace is used to evaporate the water that’s delivered to a standard humidifier.

Lennox Bypass HumidiferThe most popular models of standard humidifiers, currently, feature a ‘flow-thru’ design that eliminates standing water, are considered to be a healthy option, and are user-friendly for pad replacement and maintenance. The other common type of standard humidifiers are known as ‘reservoir units.’ As the name may suggest, and our experience bears out, stagnant water and frequent cleaning are among the main concerns with reservoir-type central humidifiers. Their popularity has steadily diminished in recent decades

Within the class of flow-thru central humidifiers, there are two types of designs: ‘bypass’ models, which are the simplest; and fan-assisted models, better known as ‘power’ humidifiers.

The Difference Between Bypass and Power Humidifiers

Aprilaire Humidifier InstallationBypass humidifiers can be easily identified by the pipe (usually 6” diameter) that connects to the side of the unit and routes a couple of feet to one side, attaching to ducting on the other side of the furnace. The difference in air pressure between the two sides of the furnace’s main ducting pulls warm air leaving the furnace thru the water panel in the humidifier, evaporating water as it flows downward thru the panel.

Power humidifiers, on the other hand, have a fan built into the unit and do not use a bypass pipe. The fan draws warm air from the furnace into the unit, evaporating water, and then blows it right back into the ducting by the furnace. Power humidifiers usually have slightly higher evaporative ratings than bypass units, but they’re fairly close. Power units, however, often help solve installation challenges, and the higher ratings may be desirable, on occasion, as well.

Full disclosure: One of the notable drawbacks of the ‘healthier’ design of flow-thru, standard central humidifiers, both bypass and power models, is that the water that isn’t evaporated is routed to a nearby floor drain. Designs that have experimented in recent years with reducing this wasted water have thus far proven problematic and unreliable.

Our Favorite Standard Central Humidifier

Because of their simplicity of design, relatively low installed cost, and effectiveness when used with a furnace that’s operating consistently – and more – our team’s top recommendation for standard central humidifiers are often flow-thru, bypass models. Here’s some of the reasons why many of our customers choose a bypass humidifier when a standard model is determined to be the right match for a family’s needs:

  • Quietest central humidifier
  • Uses virtually zero electricity
  • Flow-through design is the cleanest, healthiest standard humidifier design (compared to reservoir models)
  • Easiest central humidifier to maintain and repair
  • Fewest moving parts
  • Most user-friendly model to change water panel
  • Most reasonably priced central humidifiers we install
  • Great match for moderate and smaller size homes when the primary source of heat is the forced air furnace

For all of the reasons mentioned above, our most popular standard humidifiers at this time are the Healthy Climate Whole-Home Bypass Humidifiers from Lennox Industries. Lennox Healthy Climate bypass humidifiers are availble in two different models, and we typically recommend the larger unit because of its higher performance rating that makes sense for most of the homes we work in.


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Aprilaire Logo - Feel Good Inside


Keep Solar Gain and Furnace Run-Time in Mind

Aprilaire Bypass and Power Humidifiers Studio ImageKeep in mind that if your home experiences significant solar heat gain regularly during the day during the heating season, causing the furnace to not be operating for many hours, at times, it may be challenging to consistently maintain desired humidity levels using a standard humidifier – especially if your home is on the larger side and has just one furnace. If you feel there may be potential concerns in this area, we recommend taking the time to learn more about central steam units (unfortunately a costlier option) before deciding which central humidifier is right for you.

Here’s some food for thought, comparing standard and steam units: The high quality Lennox model HCWB17 bypass humidifier is rated at 17 gallons per day (gpd) evaporative capacity, which is very good for a standard unit. The Apilaire model 800 central steam humidifier, on the other hand, which doesn’t require the furnace to be operating as a heat source, is rated at a very impressive 34.6 gpd. That’s quite a difference in performance!

One important takeaway here is that there are options for centrally humidifying your home, and it pays to take the time to learn and ask lots of questions before moving forward with a purchase. At Save Home Heat, we find that an informed customer is more likely to be a happy one. We work closely with our customers in a friendly, low-pressure, highly informative manner, answering all their questions fully and patiently so they can decide how they feel comfortable proceeding. No pressure, no sales agenda, ever.

Your Home Central Humidifier Source in Denver-Boulder

Homeowners in the Denver-Boulder metro area have been trusting our team at Save Home Heat Company for over 40 years, and we have been installing and servicing central humidifiers for furnace systems since almost day one. You can trust our experience and expertise to match you and your home with a central humidifier that will fit your needs for many years to come. Please give us a call today to learn more, or to schedule a free, low-pressure central humidifier installation quote.

Please contact me to schedule a central humidifier install quote!

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