Having an automatic humidity control system to control the relative humidity in your home or workplace is important for many reasons. And depending on your requirements, there are different solutions available.
Whether you are trying to control:
- moisture in living and bedrooms of your home,
- kitchen and bathroom humidity, or
- more specialized needs such as for greenhouses, museums or other commercial applications,
… here we discuss some of the options available to you.
But first, here is some of the background information that you may find useful…
What Is Relative Humidity?
You have very likely heard the term ‘relative humidity’ used in relation to weather and air quality information. Relative humidity (RH) is a measurement that reveals the amount of moisture being held in the air at a specific time. If the RH is 100%, this means the air cannot hold any more water (ie. it is saturated).
For a more detailed explanation of relative humidity, click here.
The higher the moisture content, the more humid the air becomes. For many with respiratory issues, high humidity makes the air difficult to breathe. Also, with all that moisture a humid room or house can be a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew to develop and grow.
Bacteria growth in high humidity conditions is not only bad for our health; it is not good for a home. Wood, in particular, is susceptible to damage from excess moisture. Condensation can also form which can result in water staining, wallpaper peeling, and insect infestation.
How Do You Control Humidity In Your Home?
Humidity can be controlled in several ways with different types of appliances. An air conditioner will help with temperature regulation and can help to reduce humidity. But the actual moisture content in that air can be controlled more precisely by other means. Different methods include:
- Using either a humidifier or dehumidifier, with a built-in humidity sensor,
- Using a moisture sensor switch to accurately control the humidity levels, or
- Using a humidistat controlled extractor fan. This is often the best solution for controlling kitchen and bathroom humidity and where moisture buildup can be severe.
Using Humidifiers Or Dehumidifiers
A humidifier is used to increase the humidity in a home or room. There are several different methods used to achieve this but in a residential setting, the most common involve evaporation or misting element. Either will add moisture to the air raising the level of humidity.
For a look at our picks of some of the best humidifiers on the market, click here.
A dehumidifier does the opposite of a humidifier. When the humidity level is too high a dehumidifier can extract the excess moisture. It does this by collecting condensation on coils that air passes over. The water is then stored in a reservoir to be removed when full or near capacity, or pumped directly into a near drain.
Click here to see more information on our pick of the best dehumidifier at the moment.
For some people that use a humidifier or dehumidifier, these units can do a good job of keeping the humidity levels constant, but they run even when you are not at home (eg. when you are at work). A solution is to install a timer (eg. Hydrofarm TM01715D 7-Day Digital Program Timer), which you can program to turn on a ½ hour before you are due to arrive home. This means that you will not waste excess energy, and the air in your home will be at the right RH level when you get home.
Using A Moisture Sensor Switch
As the name suggests, this unit contains a sensor which monitors the moisture levels in the air. You can then hook this up to a humidifier, dehumidifier or extractor fan to accurately control humidity or extract moist air.
One problem with using humidifiers and dehumidifiers is that the humidity sensor is built into the unit. As such, they can affect the air in the immediate vicinity and can cause the unit to turn on or off when air further away is not at the correct RH. This can be overcome by using a sensor switch that is separate from the humidifier or dehumidifier.
See more about this option in our review of the WILLHI Air Humidity Controller, and the Leviton Humidity Sensor below.
Using A Humidistat Controlled Extractor Fan
This type of unit combines a sensor and fan into 1 unit. This is a neat solution to automatically switch on when required to control kitchen and bathroom humidity.
What Should The Humidity Level Be In My House?
As a guide, the humidity level in your home should fall between 40 and 50%. However, because of fluctuations in temperature, individual rooms, storage spaces and attics can have different levels. It is actually much easier to explain what your home humidity level should not be.
If the relative humidity falls below 30% it is considered to be too dry. At this level, you may experience skin irritations such as cracked skin, itchy spots, and rashes. It will also dry your respiratory system causing sore throats, coughing and nosebleed and even headaches.
When the humidity is above 50% it can create a whole different set of problems; from health issues, to damage to furniture, to promoting bacteria growth. However, it is actually quite easy to monitor and correct the humidity level in your home and in individual rooms and areas.
How Do You Measure Humidity In Your Home?
There are several different types of tools that can be used to read humidity levels in a room or home. Some are simple devices that are combination thermometer/humidity readers that will give you an approximate value of the relative humidity in the space the device is in.
There are analog style humidity dials that are generally accurate to within 10% (plus or minus) of the actual level. They are sufficient for many applications and will give you a good idea of the approximate amount of moisture content in the air in your home, basement or crawlspace.
The most accurate measuring device is a digital hygrometer. These are accurate to within about 2.5% plus or minus the actual relative humidity. If you have collectibles or items requiring certain humidity levels, this is a better monitor to choose.
Installing An Automatic Humidity Control System
You can easily buy an automatic humidity control system and get it installed in your home. Some important things to consider include:
If the unit contains a remote sensor, it is important to consider the mounting location. As it will be triggering the fan to ventilate the area it is located in, the sensor needs to be away from places that can send false signals to it which will start the fan when it is not required to operate.
Places to keep the sensor away from include doors, windows, heating apparatus, stoves, aquariums and anything else that could incorrectly trigger the sensor. It should be placed in the center of a wall in order to operate properly.
When you measure the room in which you are installing the system, try to keep the sensor and fan as central as possible. However, the sensor and the fan require distance between them. The fan should be no closer than a few feet from the sensor or it can affect the readings it will receive.
Some sensors available currently are wireless in design. This eliminates the need for plugging them in or running wires between the sensor and fan unit. In this case, the sensor still requires careful handling as well as careful positioning in order to function.
The sensor needs to be able to ‘talk’ to the fan so it can be attached to a wall or sit on a countertop. It can also be mounted to a piece of furniture that does not get moved around (like an entertainment unit). It needs to have a constant ‘connection’ with the fan wherever you place it.
Depending on the setup you go ahead with, it may require professional installation from an expert such as an electrician. They will be able to hook up the new equipment and run wires within the walls if required.
If this is the case, you can still buy the extractor fan, moisture sensor switch, humidifier or dehumidifier beforehand, and then simply get the professional to do the installation. This way, you have control over exactly what you get and don’t have to pay the markup that the installer may often charge.
Reviews Of Automatic Humidifier Control Systems
Leviton IPHS5-1LW Humidity Sensor and Fan Control
Designed specifically to address bathroom humidity, this system will work well anywhere excess humidity exists. The sensor works with a microprocessor and digital sensing technology which provides constant monitoring and management of room humidity.
It has a built-in timer which will activate the “minimum ON time” of the fan and can be set to run for 10, 20, 30 or 45-minutes. You can also tweak the sensitivity of the sensor with an adjustment option to prevent false triggering of the fan. The sensor can be mounted in a standard wall outlet box.
- Being able to adjust the fan run time is a plus.
- Adjustable sensitivity also scores well.
- This unit takes some adjustment to get tuned correctly for proper operation.
- It can be triggered accidentally by other heat sources too close to the sensor.
For more information on the Leviton Humidity Sensor and Fan Control, click the button below, and also have a look a the short video below…
WILLHI WH1436H Air Humidity Controller
This particular moisture sensor switch unit is promoted as being useful for specialized applications including for pets, guitar and instrument storage and for indoor greenhouses. It has a user-friendly design where you can set the levels when you want the fan to switch on and when you want it to switch off.
This product is just the humidity control part of an automatic humidity control system but has many features to enhance that system. What you have to do is connect this to your humidifier or dehumidifier, and then this accurately controls the unit to maintain your desired settings.
All-in-one units can turn off too early because they can change the RH of the surrounding air. The WILLHI Air Humidity Controller provides excellent control of the humidity in the area, as you can provide some separation between the sensor and your humidifier or dehumidifier – something that all-in-one units can’t always provide.
It is fully adjustable and can even switch between humidification or dehumidification modes.
- This unit is extremely easy to install and operate.
- The adjustability is a feature liked by many.
- Versatile in that it can be used with humidifiers or dehumidifiers.
- Accuracy of readings questionable when compared to a hygrometer.
- Not all units are packaged properly so watch that yours does not arrive damaged in some way.
For more information on the WILLHI Air Humidity Controller, click the button below…
Panasonic FV-11VQC5 WhisperSense 110 CFM Ceiling Mount Ventilation Fan/Sensors
You could call this an all-in-one package as it includes a premium ceiling fan with a sensor that detects motion and humidity and has a fully adjustable delay off timer. There’s no switch required as the fan works as a single unit.
This humidistat controlled extractor fan turns on automatically when needed and shuts down on its own. The delay timer can be set from 30-seconds all the way up to 60-minutes which give you a great deal of flexibility in how it operates.
The manufacturer says it is a good design for use in the bathroom but it would do equally well in other rooms (including commercial applications) with high moisture content.
- Runs extremely quietly.
- Attractive low profile design.
- Powerful fan motor.
- 110 cubic feet/min extraction.
- Energy star rated.
- It only comes in white.
For more information on the Panasonic WhisperSense Ceiling Fan/Sensors, click the button below…
Which Humidity Control Solution Is Best?
As you can see, there are a number of different solutions, including installing a humidistat controlled extractor fan, humidity sensor, humidifier or dehumidifier to remove excess moisture. It will be one of the most important pieces of equipment installed in your home as it can help protect your belongings and your health.
Depending on the specific circumstances, a humidifier or dehumidifier on its own may not be the best choice, but with these options above, you should be able to find an automatic humidity control solution to suit your needs.