Author Topic: Whole Home Humidifier  (Read 1372 times)

Mgmny

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Whole Home Humidifier
« on: January 30, 2020, 07:38:04 AM »
Hello!

I just got my electric bill, and it was about $50 more than normal (!!), and we realized quickly it was due to the two warm mist humidifiers we've been running in bedrooms for the last month.

This is not a sustainable solution, so i'm looking at whole home humidifiers.

It looks like the kind I should be getting are mist or flow through. I've googled a bit, but it's unclear which is "better" and "easier" to install. My house was built in 2019 (2300 sqft and 800 of future finished walk-out basement).

I live in Minnesota where the winters get cold and dry, and we are instructed to run the fresh air exchanger because our house has an ACH50 rating of 2.01.

This is what I'm looking at based on an Amazon search:

https://www.amazon.com/Aprilaire-500-Humidifier-Automatic-Compact/dp/B0039PR5RE/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=aprilaire+500&qid=1580395006&s=home-garden&sr=1-4

It's not clear to me if this is flow through or mist style. Some people complain about the DIY aspect of these... should I be concerned?

Any help would be appreciated. I'll post a picture of my HVAC system setup in a bit to show you what i have.

Thank you!!!

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2020, 07:44:02 AM »

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2020, 07:46:04 AM »

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2020, 07:46:59 AM »
I'm sorry about my messy basement, lol. Since we moved in, it's sorta been a dumping ground and we haven't felt the need to remedy it yet. Soon!

lthenderson

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2020, 10:22:28 AM »
I have a similar whole house humidifier made by Trane. Looks almost identical to the one you linked. The one you linked is what I would call a flow through humidifier. One of the additional pictures shows the rectangular filter media that gets inserted into the unit. Water gets dribbled in on top of the filter and trickles down through the filter while air is forced through the filter to pick up the moisture. Any excess moisture runs through a tube out the bottom of the unit into a drain or a pump unit.

I had my professionally installed because it was done at the same time as my heater and A/C were being installed but it wasn't very technical to do. It required two holes to be cut in the ducting, one in the return and one in the supply. You need to tap into a water supply and need to drain excess water so you have to be able to do plumbing. The controlling unit taps off your HVAC system so that it kicks on only when the fan is running. That requires some knowledge of your HVAC system controls to be able to make that connection.

I used to have personal humidifiers for the bedrooms for years but made the switch to whole house humidifiers about a decade ago. I like that I don't have to lug or fill containers of water and I can control the level of humidity. This is important as the seasons progress and your heater runs more so you aren't throwing enough moisture out to condense on windows and rot out your sills. It is easy to maintenance. In the spring when I turn it off for the season, I dispose of the old filter and put a fresh one in. Then in the fall I just turn it on and flip the airflow lever so that air flows through the filter and that is it. One note, the filters usually come with a painted dot on one end denoting up when placed in the unit. I found out from experience that it makes a big difference. If you put it in with the dot facing the bottom, the water will go through the filter more or less like a stream rather than spreading out and reducing the amount of humidity that can be picked up and put into your house.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 10:24:12 AM by lthenderson »

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2020, 10:42:03 AM »
I have a similar whole house humidifier made by Trane. Looks almost identical to the one you linked. The one you linked is what I would call a flow through humidifier. One of the additional pictures shows the rectangular filter media that gets inserted into the unit. Water gets dribbled in on top of the filter and trickles down through the filter while air is forced through the filter to pick up the moisture. Any excess moisture runs through a tube out the bottom of the unit into a drain or a pump unit.

I had my professionally installed because it was done at the same time as my heater and A/C were being installed but it wasn't very technical to do. It required two holes to be cut in the ducting, one in the return and one in the supply. You need to tap into a water supply and need to drain excess water so you have to be able to do plumbing. The controlling unit taps off your HVAC system so that it kicks on only when the fan is running. That requires some knowledge of your HVAC system controls to be able to make that connection.

I used to have personal humidifiers for the bedrooms for years but made the switch to whole house humidifiers about a decade ago. I like that I don't have to lug or fill containers of water and I can control the level of humidity. This is important as the seasons progress and your heater runs more so you aren't throwing enough moisture out to condense on windows and rot out your sills. It is easy to maintenance. In the spring when I turn it off for the season, I dispose of the old filter and put a fresh one in. Then in the fall I just turn it on and flip the airflow lever so that air flows through the filter and that is it. One note, the filters usually come with a painted dot on one end denoting up when placed in the unit. I found out from experience that it makes a big difference. If you put it in with the dot facing the bottom, the water will go through the filter more or less like a stream rather than spreading out and reducing the amount of humidity that can be picked up and put into your house.

Do you think the flow-through is better than mist? Also, the way you describe it makes it sound as though the flow of air bypasses the furnace itself... is that true?

Like this? I would think you would want the humidified air to be warm as well? Or no?


_Return_______Furnace____Supply___________House___
      |                                           |
      |                                           |
      |                                           |
   Humidifier--------------------------

Gone Fishing

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2020, 11:21:08 AM »
Saw a pretty large stand alone unit at a box store the other day.  1000+ sq ft.  At least you can keep an eye on it for mold, leaks, etc.

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2020, 02:33:32 PM »
I installed this one two years ago:

https://www.amazon.com/Aprilaire-Humidifier-Single-Sensor-Furnace/dp/B005J3J0EA?ref_=ast_sto_dp&th=1&psc=1

It is hooked up to my ecobee thermostat which controls it. Our house is over 100 years old and very leaky. When it was in the teens outside our indoor humidity could get down in the teens as well. Itchy skin, pets that look like a light show at night with their static - not good. The humidifier does a good job of keeping our house within 4 or 5% of the desired humidity level (set by the thermostat depending on outside temperature) all the time. The only ongoing cost has been the sponge that goes in the humidifier that needs to be changed at the beginning and middle of the heating season.

Its not too hard to diy. The hardest part is cutting the holes in your HVAC plenums. If I had to do it over again i would have used and angle grinder, I used tin snips. It doesn't matter if it goes on the supply or return side because the air flow through the humidifier will be high pressure to low pressure, supply ---> return so the air flowing through it will always be warm. I would put the humidifier on your return, because if you had an overflow, you don't want water flowing over your burners. On the return side it will just make a mess on your floor before it gets into your floor drain. 

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2020, 02:44:40 PM »
I installed this one two years ago:

https://www.amazon.com/Aprilaire-Humidifier-Single-Sensor-Furnace/dp/B005J3J0EA?ref_=ast_sto_dp&th=1&psc=1

It is hooked up to my ecobee thermostat which controls it. Our house is over 100 years old and very leaky. When it was in the teens outside our indoor humidity could get down in the teens as well. Itchy skin, pets that look like a light show at night with their static - not good. The humidifier does a good job of keeping our house within 4 or 5% of the desired humidity level (set by the thermostat depending on outside temperature) all the time. The only ongoing cost has been the sponge that goes in the humidifier that needs to be changed at the beginning and middle of the heating season.

Its not too hard to diy. The hardest part is cutting the holes in your HVAC plenums. If I had to do it over again i would have used and angle grinder, I used tin snips. It doesn't matter if it goes on the supply or return side because the air flow through the humidifier will be high pressure to low pressure, supply ---> return so the air flowing through it will always be warm. I would put the humidifier on your return, because if you had an overflow, you don't want water flowing over your burners. On the return side it will just make a mess on your floor before it gets into your floor drain.

So that's on the same product page as the one i linked, so that's a good sign. So did you just have to cut 1 hole into your return? lthenderson made it sound like i needed to add ductwork?

norajean

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2020, 03:16:41 PM »
Apparently they work but I would only install one if you really need it. They need to be maintained and also present risks of water leaks damage since they are plumbed.

geekette

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2020, 04:19:04 PM »
I'm not sure what a whole house mist humidifier is, but we had a flow through (which didn't do much for our house) and now have an Aprilaire 800, which is a steam humidifier.  It works very well.  The only maintenance would be the canister, which has yet to need replacement. 

It's probably overkill for our area, but it was something my DH really wanted since he is plagued by dry skin in the winter.  It was professionally installed along with our replacement HVAC.

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2020, 07:17:49 AM »
I'm not sure what a whole house mist humidifier is, but we had a flow through (which didn't do much for our house) and now have an Aprilaire 800, which is a steam humidifier.  It works very well.  The only maintenance would be the canister, which has yet to need replacement. 

It's probably overkill for our area, but it was something my DH really wanted since he is plagued by dry skin in the winter.  It was professionally installed along with our replacement HVAC.

So, with the steam humidifier, wouldn't you have to pay to steam the water - aka lots of wattage which is my issue with my warm mist room humidifiers (400W x 2 bedrooms)??

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2020, 07:18:50 AM »
Apparently they work but I would only install one if you really need it. They need to be maintained and also present risks of water leaks damage since they are plumbed.

Well, if i run my fresh air exchanger in the winter, my home gets down into the 15-20% humidity range and my knuckles are cracking and I have a 1 year old son, so it's sorta "needed" in the same way that air conditioning in the summer is needed.

lthenderson

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2020, 07:20:08 AM »
I have never seen a mist whole house humidifier so I don't know if they work better than the one you linked to or not. Let me take a step back and say there are bypass and powered fan whole house humidifier and the link you provided has both. Usually the bypass models are for the smaller square footage houses and that is what I have and was referring too. In a bypass model, the unit itself can be mounted to either the return or supply ducting and there is a six inch flexible ducting that funnels the air to the other side. It bypasses blowing moist air over your burner causing premature rust failure.

In my particular instance, I have a large square whole cut in the return that the whole house humidifier unit mounts up against with the filter that distributes the water into the airstream. The ductwork I was referring to is simply a piece of six inch flexible conduit that goes from the side of the whole house humidifier and plumbs into a round hole cut in the supply side. This allows the moist air to bypass the burner and get into your airstream. You could also mount it on the supply side if that is more convenient and then have the round ducting bringing air from the return through the filter in the opposite direction and into your supply airstream.

Alternatively, you can have a powered fan unit which has to mount to the supply side and they are recommended for larger houses that may need more humidity.

Below is a picture I found of a typical bypass whole house humidifier installation. There are several good installation videos on YouTube geared towards DIY people.




Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2020, 07:40:46 AM »
I have never seen a mist whole house humidifier so I don't know if they work better than the one you linked to or not. Let me take a step back and say there are bypass and powered fan whole house humidifier and the link you provided has both. Usually the bypass models are for the smaller square footage houses and that is what I have and was referring too. In a bypass model, the unit itself can be mounted to either the return or supply ducting and there is a six inch flexible ducting that funnels the air to the other side. It bypasses blowing moist air over your burner causing premature rust failure.

In my particular instance, I have a large square whole cut in the return that the whole house humidifier unit mounts up against with the filter that distributes the water into the airstream. The ductwork I was referring to is simply a piece of six inch flexible conduit that goes from the side of the whole house humidifier and plumbs into a round hole cut in the supply side. This allows the moist air to bypass the burner and get into your airstream. You could also mount it on the supply side if that is more convenient and then have the round ducting bringing air from the return through the filter in the opposite direction and into your supply airstream.

Alternatively, you can have a powered fan unit which has to mount to the supply side and they are recommended for larger houses that may need more humidity.

Below is a picture I found of a typical bypass whole house humidifier installation. There are several good installation videos on YouTube geared towards DIY people.

Gotcha, this makes much sense. Thank you.

geekette

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2020, 08:48:59 AM »
I'm not sure what a whole house mist humidifier is, but we had a flow through (which didn't do much for our house) and now have an Aprilaire 800, which is a steam humidifier.  It works very well.  The only maintenance would be the canister, which has yet to need replacement. 

It's probably overkill for our area, but it was something my DH really wanted since he is plagued by dry skin in the winter.  It was professionally installed along with our replacement HVAC.

So, with the steam humidifier, wouldn't you have to pay to steam the water - aka lots of wattage which is my issue with my warm mist room humidifiers (400W x 2 bedrooms)??
No matter how you do it, getting water into the air will take energy.  With evaporative humidifiers, the heated air is cooled, which would require your heat to run more.  Depending on your system, that may be cheaper.  We just got dismal results with an evaporative humidifier.

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2020, 08:58:44 AM »
I'm not sure what a whole house mist humidifier is, but we had a flow through (which didn't do much for our house) and now have an Aprilaire 800, which is a steam humidifier.  It works very well.  The only maintenance would be the canister, which has yet to need replacement. 

It's probably overkill for our area, but it was something my DH really wanted since he is plagued by dry skin in the winter.  It was professionally installed along with our replacement HVAC.

So, with the steam humidifier, wouldn't you have to pay to steam the water - aka lots of wattage which is my issue with my warm mist room humidifiers (400W x 2 bedrooms)??
No matter how you do it, getting water into the air will take energy.  With evaporative humidifiers, the heated air is cooled, which would require your heat to run more.  Depending on your system, that may be cheaper.  We just got dismal results with an evaporative humidifier.

That makes sense. I'm just pursuing this because running the warm mist humidifiers cost so much in electricity use, that if i just go to another solution in high wattage, i'm just spending money to rob peter to pay paul, and that's dumb.

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2020, 09:27:00 AM »
Evaporative will be cheaper to run than steam because they are using gas for heat (furnace) instead of electricity. Whole house humidifiers are more convenient too because you don't have to fill them, and they can put 12 to 24 gallons of water into the air a day depending on the model. I can't imagine filling humidifiers with 15 gallons of water a day.

The whole house steam humidifiers are even better than flow through, but much more expensive to run. They are essentially a big version of what you are using now.

The flow through humidifiers are basically a big 14x14 sponge with a small waterline that wets the sponge, then 110+ degree air from you furnace passes through the sponge and pics up humidity as it evaporates into the hot dry air. Your air handler disperses the humidified air throughout your house.   

geekette

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2020, 12:00:23 PM »
Perhaps evaporative will work better where you are since your heat needs to run more than ours does.  Here it's dry, but not all that cold, so we didn't get much benefit from the evaporative unit. (and IIRC, it was much smaller than 14x14).

Way back, when we used the console humidifier, it could put about 5 gallons a day into the house, and then the cool damp air would cascade down from the upstairs hall to where I was sitting on the sofa in the evening.  Brrr...  And the ultrasonic humidifier in the bedroom got gross. 

With either setup, we were still getting shocked.

Looking at our bills, we may be paying $10-15/month above baseline for the steam humidifier and the warm floor in the bathroom, which is another story. 

In your case, a flow through would probably be cheaper to run and work well enough.

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2020, 12:17:55 PM »
We've had a few systems of various types.  They all have failed.  I gave up.

Mist system:  First it would mist based on heat and when the furnace stopped the blower, the water would collect on top of the furnace and was so bad, it was dripping and causing huge puddles on the floor.  Also caused a lot of rust in the system.  I changed the electric hook up to only be active when the blower was running.  That fixed that.  After a year, minerals in the water blocked the nozzle and it was done.

We had the rotating mesh type when we bought the house.  This has a drum in the duct work and air simply blows through it.  The motors on these are crap and they die often.  I found a supply of motors and bought a bunch of them.  After replacing motors maybe 3 or 4 times, I gave up.

So we do nothing now. 

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2020, 12:19:34 PM »
Perhaps evaporative will work better where you are since your heat needs to run more than ours does.  Here it's dry, but not all that cold, so we didn't get much benefit from the evaporative unit. (and IIRC, it was much smaller than 14x14).

Way back, when we used the console humidifier, it could put about 5 gallons a day into the house, and then the cool damp air would cascade down from the upstairs hall to where I was sitting on the sofa in the evening.  Brrr...  And the ultrasonic humidifier in the bedroom got gross. 

With either setup, we were still getting shocked.

Looking at our bills, we may be paying $10-15/month above baseline for the steam humidifier and the warm floor in the bathroom, which is another story. 

In your case, a flow through would probably be cheaper to run and work well enough.

Thanks for the help, Geekette. I read an article on an HVAC company's website an hour ago saying steam was the "most efficient" becauswe you don't lose energy to evaporative cooling, but my heat price from gas is FAR less expensive than the steam creation from electric would be, so while it wouldn't be a simple "What is the wattage on the steam unit?" conversion, it would be close, I think.

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2020, 12:21:54 PM »
We've had a few systems of various types.  They all have failed.  I gave up.

Mist system:  First it would mist based on heat and when the furnace stopped the blower, the water would collect on top of the furnace and was so bad, it was dripping and causing huge puddles on the floor.  Also caused a lot of rust in the system.  I changed the electric hook up to only be active when the blower was running.  That fixed that.  After a year, minerals in the water blocked the nozzle and it was done.

We had the rotating mesh type when we bought the house.  This has a drum in the duct work and air simply blows through it.  The motors on these are crap and they die often.  I found a supply of motors and bought a bunch of them.  After replacing motors maybe 3 or 4 times, I gave up.

So we do nothing now.

That all sounds miserable

Mgmny

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Re: Whole Home Humidifier
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2020, 05:49:43 PM »
I went with the flow through model (smallest in link) with open box saving me about $50.

I wanted to get the fan powered unit, but I realized my main supply trunk didn't have any opening that would accommodate an 18x15 whole, unfortunately.


Thanks for everyone's help!!