As far back as the Middle Ages, people have associated air quality and health for centuries—with good reason. However, with the advent of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, indoor air quality is both increasingly controllable and important. As the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures increases, so does the proliferation of potentially deadly health hazards indoors. If your environment is too humid, there’s an increased potential for the growth of biologicals such as black mold. If it is too dry, you can risk nosebleeds, respiratory infections, and dehydration.
So, how can you reach the right humidity level?
Interior Air Quality Benchmarks
Maintaining relative humidity (the amount of moisture in air compared to how much it can hold) is so crucial to human health that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require hospitals to maintain minimum levels of 20%. Other standards agencies are more precise, setting a maximum humidity level of 60% to inhibit bacterial and mold growth.
As with health, humidity control is also crucial in manufacturing environments. Too low, and static electricity can cause arcs or short-circuit electronics. Too high, and the likelihood of condensation can ruin products and slow down production.
This represents both a challenge and an opportunity for HVAC engineers. By leveraging interior humidifiers in cold weather and outdoor ventilation in hot weather, they can provide a consistent, healthy, and cost-effective environment.
Options for Humidifiers in Commercial HVAC Systems
There are many options for commercial humidifiers. Choosing among them is a daunting task for any engineer. Luckily, it’s not quite as complex as it seems. They fall into two groups: humidifiers which provide additional moisture by creating steam (an “isothermal” process), or by spraying droplets of water into a building’s air (an “adiabatic” process). Isothermal humidifiers are either steam-, gas-, or electric-powered, while adiabatic humidifiers are solely electric.
Isothermal humidifiers are effective but also create heat, which can be a problem during the spring and summer. Adiabatic humidifiers, on the other hand, are slightly less powerful, making them most useful in smaller areas or rooms with specific humidity requirements.
Balancing Climate with Existing HVAC Systems and Budgets
There are always variables that come with designing an all-new HVAC system for a facility or retrofitting existing ones to include humidifiers for commercial buildings. Since humidifiers are often a secondary concern after designers address heating, cooling, and ventilation, they must work within a few parameters. Their specifications include:
These are just a few of the considerations designers must address when they incorporate humidifiers into their commercial buildings. Luckily, you’re not short on options, and Windy City Representatives are here to help you find the right one for your needs.
Choose the Right Humidifier for Your Commercial Building