Types of Hygrometers – Different Hygrometer Options

digital thermometer types of hygrometers

One of the most effective ways to monitor the humidity in an area is with one of the many different hygrometer options available on the market. There are many different types of hygrometers and each excels in specific applications.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what hygrometers are, the different types, and their uses.

What Is A Hygrometer?

A hygrometer is a measuring device. It is used to measure the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. In other words, a hygrometer tells you in simple terms the relative humidity as it relates to the current temperature and air pressure in a given location.

Types of Hygrometers

There are a number of different types of hygrometers that work in different ways to provide the same information – the humidity in the air. Here we look at the various types of hygrometer options with an explanation of how each one operates in order to record and display the humidity level for observation.

Electrical Hygrometers

Resistance or capacitance is used to measure humidity with an electrical hygrometer.

The capacitive type uses two metal plates with air between them. As the air becomes moist, it impacts the static electric charge storage capacity of the plates. This is how the humidity is recorded.

In resistive electrical hygrometers, a ceramic substance is used to pass electricity through. The ceramic material is exposed to the air and as water vapor condenses inside of it, the higher the humidity level results in an alteration in the level of resistance.


This thermohygrometer utilizes two bulbs in two different thermometers. There is a dry bulb and a wet bulb and when the wet bulb experiences evaporation, the temperature drops below that of the dry bulb. The difference between them is how humidity is calculated.

Dew Point Hygrometers

Considered the most precise of all the different types of humidity gauge instruments, a dew point hygrometer measures the amount of moist air in a gas. They are the best devices when the smallest amount of moisture needs to be identified and measured.

Hair-Tension Hygrometers

A human or animal hair is used for this type of humidity monitor. The hair is held under pressure and will retain moisture. As a result, when the humidity changes, so does the length of the hair in the device which indicates either an increase or decrease of moisture content.

Metal-Paper Coil Hygrometers

This is the most common method used in inexpensive types of hygrometers. The device has a salt-impregnated strip that is attached to a metal coil. Water vapor is absorbed by the strip which makes the coil change shape which is recorded on a dial with a needle that gives you a reading.

Chilled Mirror Hygrometers

The chilled mirror hygrometer is a variation on the dew point style and as such, is one of the most accurate digital hygrometer devices. This one employs a chilled mirror and an optoelectronic mechanism that records the condensation on the surface of the mirror.

Electronics control the mirror temperature in order to maintain equilibrium between evaporation and condensation levels. In other words, it closely monitors and measures the dew point temperature. Smokey air will hamper the otherwise extreme precision of this device.

Gravimetric Hygrometers

This method of measuring humidity is considered to be the most accurate. What a gravimetric hygrometer does is it will measure the mass of an air sample and compare that to an equal volume of dry air. Many countries in the world have established standards using this method.

Thermal Hygrometer

This type of device monitors the change in thermal conductivity of air resulting from a change in humidity. It employs built-in sensors to provide a level reading. It is important to note that this type of hygrometer actually reads absolute humidity rather than relative humidity.

Optical Hygrometer

A light emitter and a light detector are arranged in such a manner that air is located between them. The moisture in the air is measured through the recording of light absorption levels of the water in the air. Humidity is indicated by the attenuation of the light as viewed by the detector.

Humidity Cards

A humidity indicator card contains moisture-sensitive chemicals that are impregnated on a piece of card stock. When the humidity level is reached, the chemical changes color which will indicate a specific humidity level. These are inexpensive and not all that accurate.

Hygrometer Calibration

The most common method used to calibrate a hygrometer is known as saturated salt calibration. As the name suggests, a mixture of salt and water are used to determine the humidity and is then used to calibrate the device. Here are the steps required to calibrate digital or analog devices.

Digital Hygrometer Calibration

For these types of hygrometers, You will need to following items to perform the calibration. They include:

  • Your digital thermometer hygrometer
  • ½ cup of salt
  • ¼ cup of water
  • A cup
  • A releasable plastic bag

Prepare the salt solution by mixing the water and salt in the cup. Stir thoroughly. With the cup containing the salt solution, place it in the plastic bag with the hygrometer. Leave the bag with these items inside a cabinet in a room with constant temperature making sure the salt solution and hygrometer do not touch.

After no more than 12 hours, check the reading on the hygrometer. It should say 75% relative humidity. There may be a slightly different reading of two or three percentage points above or below the desired 75%. If this happens, remove the hygrometer and press the calibration button or reset button and wait for it to read 75%.

If there is no reset or calibration button, make note of the difference in the reading from 75%. For example, if your device reads 73%, the difference is 2%. Make a note of this so that when you use this hygrometer in the future, you will know to add 2% in order to know the correct humidity level.

Analog Hygrometer Calibration

analog hygrometer humidity meter

Before you attempt to calibrate your analog device, examine it beforehand to identify whether or not it has a small screw in the back. If it does, this is your calibration screw. If the hygrometer does not have one, it likely cannot be manually calibrated.

You can test to see if your analog hygrometer is working by performing the following test. Wrap it in a slightly wet towel or blanket. After letting it sit for about 30-minutes, check the reading. The dial should say 95%. If it does not, turn the calibration screw until it does.

In this next step, you will need a few items including:

  • Your analog hygrometer
  • Distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • A small plastic container
  • A small and clean bottle cap or jar lid

Prepare the salt solution by putting salt into the cap and dripping distilled water into it until the salt is completely moistened. Do not put in so much water that the salt begins to dissolve. Then place the cap of salt and analog hygrometer into the container so that they are not touching and seal the container.

Leave the sealed container in a location where it will not be disturbed and will not be in direct sunlight. After 6 hours, open the container and read the hygrometer. It should say 75% and if it is off slightly, simply turn the screw in the back until you get a 75% reading.

Styles of Hygrometers

Just as there are many different types of hygrometers, there are also many different styles in which they display the information and are used. Here is a look at each with a small description.


An analog hygrometer is simply a humidity measuring device that has a dial with numbers and steps on it. A needle or pointer is used to identify the humidity level for ease of reading.

See some of our picks of the best analog hygrometers here.


A digital humidity meter is a measuring device that provides an easy-to-read LED or LCD screen with large digits to indicate the humidity level. Temperature, daily records, and more can be displayed on a digital hygrometer depending on the exact style and design.

To have a look at a variety of digital hygrometers, click here.


Designed for use indoors, these types of hygrometers can be quite stylish in cabinet shapes, wall-mountable, and related variations.

See more information on indoor hygrometers here.


Outdoor hygrometers are designed to be easy to see from a distance so dials and digital readouts tend to be rather large. Also, these devices are designed to withstand all weather conditions and are typically wall mountable.

Click here for more information on the best outdoor hygrometers.

Remote Monitoring/Sensor

A remote monitoring hygrometer is a device that measures humidity, and often temperature and other weather-related data. The difference here is that you can monitor the data remotely through an app that you download to your smartphone.

Depending on the actual hygrometer, some have sensors that will send an alert to your phone notifying you of any changes in humidity that may fall out of a selected zone. Some of these devices permit you to change conditions right from your phone.

Wifi Connected

In these types of hygrometers, a wifi connection allows you to monitor the data just like you would with a remote monitoring device. The data is sent through your home wifi system. You can still change settings and conditions remotely with wifi connectivity.

Hygrometer Combined With Other Instruments

It is not uncommon to find ‘combination’ devices that include a digital or analog hygrometer. The most popular of these is a weather station configuration that contains several devices that measure wind speed, humidity, temperature, air pressure, hours of sunlight, rainfall and also provide local weather forecasts.

Hygrometer Usage And Applications

Just as there are many different styles and types of hygrometers, there are a number of ways to use them. Some hygrometers are task-specific while others can be used in more than one application. Here is a general look at the most common hygrometer usage applications.

Residential Personal Monitoring

These are the hygrometers that would be used for indoor and outdoor humidity level monitoring. Home use is one of the most common applications of hygrometers.

Small Enclosed Specific Usage Circumstances

Hobbyists and collectors use hygrometers in instrument cases, humidors, greenhouses, terrariums, and similar small spaces to monitor changes in moisture content.

Residential, Commercial, Industrial Humidity Control

These applications often include a hygrometer as part of a complete humidity control and air quality system. In addition to a hygrometer, a fan, humidifier, and dehumidifier would all be used to regulate humidity in large structures where climate control is required.

Some examples would be in saunas, museums to keep delicate collections in the correct condition, incubators, refrigerators, warehouses that require controlled environments, and precision factories where humidity impacts the product being manufactured.

Smart home applications are also becoming more common with hygrometers installed to monitor the humidity levels in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens where moisture in the air is most frequent. When levels are too high or low, the system kicks in to correct it.

Weather Stations/Meteorological

Probably the most widely recognized application of these types of hygrometers is in the field of weather studies. Ranging from official weather departments in radio and television to airports and other navigational operations, an accurate hygrometer is the most useful tool.

Different Hygrometer Options FAQs

This FAQ section covers frequently asked questions about different types of hygrometers. See below for information about hygrometer options, features, and factors to consider when making a purchase so you can choose the best hygrometer for your needs.

What is a hygrometer and how does it work?

A hygrometer is a device that measures the humidity of the atmosphere or a gas. It operates by identifying changes in a material’s physical characteristics that are directly related to the amount of moisture in the surrounding gas or air.

Analog, digital, psychrometric, capacitive, hair, and resistance hygrometers are just a few of the different types of hygrometers available. Each uses a distinct technique to measure humidity. For instance, a capacitive hygrometer measures moisture in the air by measuring the change in electrical capacitance, whereas an analog hygrometer uses the difference in temperature between a wet and dry bulb thermometer to calculate relative humidity.

What are the different types of hygrometers available?

There are several types of hygrometers available, including:

– Analog hygrometer: An analog hygrometer is a type of hygrometer that uses a mechanical sensor, typically made of hair or other organic materials, or a wet and dry bulb thermometer, to determine relative humidity, and therefore the moisture content in the air.
– Digital hygrometer: A digital hygrometer uses electronic sensors to measure humidity levels and displays the results in numerical form on a digital display.
– Psychrometric hygrometer: A psychrometric hygrometer measures both temperature and relative humidity, allowing for the calculation of specific humidity, dew point, and other parameters.
– Capacitive hygrometer: A capacitive hygrometer uses electrical capacitance to measure moisture content.
– Hair hygrometer: A hair hygrometer uses human or synthetic hair to measure changes in length due to changes in humidity.
– Resistance hygrometer: A resistance hygrometer uses electrical resistance to measure moisture content.
– Optical hygrometer: An optical hygrometer uses infrared technology to measure humidity.

What is an analog hygrometer and how does it differ from digital hygrometers?

An analog hygrometer is a device used to measure the relative humidity in the air. It typically consists of a mechanical sensor, such as a bundle of hair or a metal spring, that expands or contracts in response to changes in humidity levels. The sensor is connected to a dial or gauge that displays the current relative humidity level as a percentage.

Another type of analog hygrometer gauges relative humidity using a wet and dry bulb thermometer. To operate, air is passed over two thermometers, one of which has a wick that is continuously moistened. The evaporation of water from the wet wick cools the bulb, causing the wet bulb temperature to be lower than the dry bulb temperature. The difference between the temperatures of the wet and dry bulbs is then used to calculate the relative humidity. It is important to ensure that the wick on the wet bulb thermometer remains moist throughout the measurement process, as a dry wick can result in inaccurate readings.

In contrast to digital hygrometers, analog hygrometers show relative humidity as a needle on a dial instead of a number on a digital display. Digital hygrometers measure humidity levels using electronic sensors and show the results numerically on a digital display. Although they are typically more expensive than analog hygrometers, they are frequently more accurate and give a more precise reading. When compared to digital hygrometers, analog hygrometers are frequently less expensive, making them a good option for people who want a more conventional or basic way to measure humidity.

What is a capacitive hygrometer and how does it work?

A capacitive hygrometer is a type of hygrometer that gauges moisture content using electrical capacitance. It measures how the capacitance between two metal plates changes as the humidity level changes. A hygroscopic material that attracts and holds moisture is applied to the metal plates, changing the capacitance between them. The relative humidity is then calculated from this change in capacitance.

Numerous applications, such as environmental monitoring, industrial process control, HVAC systems, and weather forecasting, make extensive use of capacitive hygrometers. They are renowned for being user-friendly, highly accurate, and responding quickly. They can be reduced in size to fit into tiny devices and are also reasonably inexpensive.

What are some factors to consider when choosing a hygrometer?

There are several things to think about when selecting a hygrometer, including:

– Accuracy: The hygrometer’s accuracy is crucial, particularly if it is used in an application where exact measurements are required. To ensure that it continues to provide accurate readings, it is important to select an accurate hygrometer and calibrate it frequently.
– Range: Consider the range of relative humidity values that the hygrometer is capable of measuring. Choose a hygrometer with a wide range if you are monitoring humidity in a place where levels can vary significantly so that it can accurately measure high and low levels.
– Response time: Think about how quickly the hygrometer reacts to variations in humidity levels. A hygrometer with a quick response time is essential if you’re monitoring humidity in an environment that changes quickly so that it can accurately track those changes.
– Environment: Take into account the surroundings in which the hygrometer will be used. While some hygrometers are made for use indoors, others are made for use in harsh outdoor conditions like high temperatures or high humidity. It’s crucial to pick a hygrometer that works in the environment where it will be used.
– Display: Think about whether an analog or digital display is required or preferred for the display. While analog displays might be simpler to use in some situations, digital displays are frequently easier to read and offer more accurate readings.
– Other features: hygrometers have many other features that may be of interest and that you may wish to consider, including the ability to calibrate, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity options, size, and portability, power requirements, remote sensors, etc.
– Cost: Finally, consider the cost of the hygrometer. High-end hygrometers with advanced features are generally more expensive, but they may be necessary for certain applications requiring specific accuracy or functionality. On the other hand, you can easily find simple and affordable hygrometers that may be sufficient for less critical applications and for around-the-home use.

How often should hygrometers be calibrated and why is it important?

The type, precision, and application of the hygrometer will all affect how frequently it needs to be calibrated. Hygrometers should, however, generally be calibrated at least once a year, or more frequently if they are being used in a critical application.

In order to make sure that the hygrometer is giving accurate readings, calibration is crucial. Hygrometers’ sensors can degrade over time, which could lead to inaccurate readings. Inaccuracies can be fixed with calibration, which also guarantees that the hygrometer will continue to provide trustworthy readings.

It is advised to calibrate the instrument more frequently, such as every few months or even every few weeks, if you are using a hygrometer in a critical application where precise measurements are necessary, like a laboratory or glasshouse.

Hygrometer calibration is typically a quick procedure that can be carried out with a calibration kit or a reference hygrometer. It’s crucial to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations when calibrating the instrument because the procedure can differ depending on the type of hygrometer.

What are the different types of analog hygrometers?

There are different types of analog hygrometers available, which differ in their design and how they operate. Some of the most common types of analog hygrometers include:

– Hair hygrometer: This type of hygrometer uses a bundle of human or animal hair, which expands or contracts in response to changes in humidity levels, to measure the relative humidity.
– Metal spring hygrometer: This type of hygrometer uses a metal spring that expands or contracts in response to changes in humidity levels to measure relative humidity.
– Bimetallic hygrometer: This type of hygrometer uses two different metals with different thermal expansion rates that are bonded together. The expansion or contraction of the metals in response to changes in humidity levels is then used to measure the relative humidity.
– Paper/film hygrometer: This type of hygrometer uses a strip of paper or film that changes color or shape in response to changes in humidity levels, which can then be used to determine the relative humidity.
– Chemical hygrometer: This form of hygrometer uses a chemical material, such as lithium chloride or silica gel, that absorbs moisture from the air and changes color or weight in response to variations in humidity levels. The relative humidity may then be ascertained using this sort of hygrometer.
– Wet and dry bulb thermometer: A wet and dry bulb thermometer hygrometer, also known as a psychrometer or sling psychrometer, is a device used to measure the relative humidity in the air. It has two thermometers that are used to gauge the air’s temperature, one with a dry bulb and the other with a wet bulb. The water on the wet bulb thermometer is allowed to evaporate thanks to the wet wick that covers it. The relative humidity is then determined using the temperature difference between the two thermometers.


As you can see, there are many types of hygrometers available to suit many different applications. Hygrometers are important devices to have if you live in a climate where humidity – too much or too little – is an issue. They perform a valuable task in identifying the relative humidity and always give you a means of monitoring it.

To protect valuables, stay healthy, and keep your home or building in good condition, being able to monitor and regulate the humidity is vital. Without one of the many hygrometer options available, the moisture content in the air around you could potentially be harmful if it is not regulated.

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