Compare Steam and Bypass Humidifiers


Evaporative or Steam Humidifier... 

Which is the best solution for your home?

So you're looking to have a humidifier installed in your home to maintain a consistent humidity of 40-60% RH, but you're not sure which technology is the best fit. Let us help break down the important information you will need to make that choice. 

When choosing a humidifier for your home, it is important to consider an energy efficient solution along with a unit that is conscious of water usage. A whole-home humidifier must also provide only clean, healthy water vapor to the air that is void of any germs. 

A whole-home humidifier must also be easy to maintain and require little experience on how to operate; ensuring the most intuitive operation without any hassle.

Our comprehensive guide comparing evaporative humidifiers and steam humidifiers will take you through all of the important points you need to consider.

Quick Overview of Evaporative and Steam Humidifiers


Steam humidifiers heat the water inside a cylinder until it reaches a boiling point. The required energy is taken from the electrical grid through conventional outlets. There is no consumption of energy from the furnace. This results in steam humidifiers being an energy efficient solution to home humidification.

Both evaporative humidifiers and steam humidifiers need the same amount of energy to create water vapor for the air. In the case of the evaporative humidifier, water is evaporated through a ceramic media pad. The heat required to evaporate the water on the ceramic media pad comes from warm furnace air. This is why it requires a forced air heating system in order to operate.

Water Usuage

The steam humidifier evaporates water fed into a steam cylinder from the home's water supply. High quality steam humidifiers adapt to the existing water quality in order to optimize water consumption. Water is only consumed when there is a need for humidity. The reduced water usage is another reason why steam humidifiers are often the preferred choice of homeowners.

Evaporative humidifiers use as a ceramic media pad. The pad is flooded with water from the home's water supply. Some of the water is evaporated and released into the air duct of the furnace. Any excess water is drained into the drain pan and will not be used in the humidification process. 

Consistent Control

The Condair HumiLife whole-home steam humidifier reaches humidifier set points between 40-60% RH quickly and consistently because of the highly efficient nature of steam humidification. This makes it the preferred choice for homes over 2,500 sq ft. 

With an evaporative humidifier, homes below 2,500 sq ft benefit from a forced air heating system driving the humidifiers ability to provide 40-60% RH. Outdoor conditions vary throughout a winter season and furnace runtimes can have an impact on the humidifier's ability to provide optimal humidity for your home. 


Steam humidifiers have the advantage of extremely hygienic operation; by boiling water in the cylinder, pathogens are eliminated and minerals are left behind. The boiling technique used is electrode based, meaning there is no resistive coils, as seen in traditional resistive steam humidifiers, that can easily overheat when there is no water present. As well, there is no standing water in the Condair HumiLife steam humidifier, so homeowners can safely breathe hygienic air with no risk of pathogens developing in the unit.

Evaporative humidifiers do not heat up the water to the boiling point. Therefore, the ceramic media pad must be kept clean to avoid bacterial growth or biofilm from developing. The Condair HumiLife whole-home evaporative humidifier comes with a unique ceramic media pad that can be easily detached, and then washed in a standard dishwasher cycle. For most applications, we recommend only running the humidifiers when the furnace fan is on, especially when the duct work is cold or badly insulated, in order to prevent condensation in the ductwork. 

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