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Old 12-20-06, 09:45 AM   #1
mac
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humidifier for the winter - will it damage electronics, DVDs, etc.?

The only thing I hate about winter is the dryness. My hands feel like rough cardboard. My legs and arms are dry and scratchy. At times, my fingers and heels split open and bleed. The worst was when I was in Minnesota - I tried not to make any facial expressions since it would rip the skin on my forehead and bleed. I kept taking a steam bath every hour or so throughout the night just so I could move and not rip any more skin.

So I've seriously considered getting a humidier and bring my room up to 55% relative humidity. My only concern is whether or not that will damage all of my electronics, DVDs, etc. Anyone use a humidifier before?
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Old 12-20-06, 10:07 AM   #2
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Have you considered using a moisturiser - a lanolin or sorbalene based one?
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Old 12-20-06, 10:09 AM   #3
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Nah, I hate the sticky feeling. Then I get it all over my mouse and keyboard and anything else I touch. Plus I need to keep applying it every half hour or so.
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Old 12-20-06, 10:10 AM   #4
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I use one at night when the heating system is running. It offsets the dryness rather nicely. I've never had any problems at all with it affecting electronics or anything else. It's not as if you're going to make the place into a sauna, just put a little bit of moisture back into the air.
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Old 12-20-06, 10:38 AM   #5
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Not having a humidifier will cas ESD's which can take out a keyboard. We have on on our heating system and run it right around 30-35%. No static sparks.
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Old 12-20-06, 10:46 AM   #6
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My fiancee has a terrible respiratory system and we keep the humidity in our apartment at about 42%. No problems thus far.
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Old 12-20-06, 10:57 AM   #7
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I have a whole house humidifier on my heating system as well. I installed it for the very reasons you speak. Look, in the winter the air can be drier than a popcorn fart, so you need everything you can get. 55% humidity is not very high and you will find that very often in your house at other times of the year.

What i have learned that it is virtually impossible to achieve 55% humidity with my whole house humidifier. It runs all the time the heater is on and still our air stays drier than that. There are MASSIVE quantities of dry air outside in the winter, you will have a hard time combatting that with any man made attempts. A humidifier is a good attempt however, and certainly won't hurt any electronics, in fact it will probably help to prevent static damage to them as mentioned.

I hate lotion too but when it gets into the really dry months, like jan-feb, i have to splash it on. It does help, if only temporarily.
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Old 12-20-06, 11:06 AM   #8
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You SHOULD use a humidifier for electronics at really low humidities.

At our lab at work which is stock full of really expensive circuit cards, we have to use a humidifier when it gets down to 30 or 35%.
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Old 12-20-06, 11:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac
The only thing I hate about winter is the dryness. My hands feel like rough cardboard. My legs and arms are dry and scratchy. At times, my fingers and heels split open and bleed. The worst was when I was in Minnesota - I tried not to make any facial expressions since it would rip the skin on my forehead and bleed. I kept taking a steam bath every hour or so throughout the night just so I could move and not rip any more skin.

So I've seriously considered getting a humidier and bring my room up to 55% relative humidity. My only concern is whether or not that will damage all of my electronics, DVDs, etc. Anyone use a humidifier before?
When you think about it 55% is nothing like it gets in the summer time at least in Virginia where 80% is normal. So go ahead and get one they really work quite well.
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Old 12-20-06, 11:23 AM   #10
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Any recommendations? I've read some reviews on the Air-O-Swiss 7135 and the Air-O-Swiss 7142. I'm looking for a warm-mist humidifier.
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Old 12-20-06, 11:27 AM   #11
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Most forced-air heating systems (unless they have an attached humidification system, few do) blow air which has a relative humidity of about 20-25%. When you consider that the average relative humidity of the Sahara Desert is about 33%, you begin to realize just how dry the air in your home during winter can be. ANY humidification you can get is welcome.
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Old 12-20-06, 11:34 AM   #12
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A humidifier shouldn't have an effect on your electronics.
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Old 12-20-06, 01:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
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A humidifier shouldn't have an effect on your electronics.
Wrong actually.

Although it's more related to "open" electronics....but when conditions are extremely dry (low humidity) electrostatic discharge is not only more frequent, but its possible through a simple ESD zap from your finger to apply thousands of volts at a point.

On most closed plastic cases, that's not an issue, but if you ever touch the atual electronics themselves, it can absolutely kill a piece of electronic equipment.
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Old 12-20-06, 01:28 PM   #14
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I killed a keyboard w/ an ESD on a touchpad.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingTermite
Wrong actually.

Although it's more related to "open" electronics....but when conditions are extremely dry (low humidity) electrostatic discharge is not only more frequent, but its possible through a simple ESD zap from your finger to apply thousands of volts at a point.

On most closed plastic cases, that's not an issue, but if you ever touch the atual electronics themselves, it can absolutely kill a piece of electronic equipment.
Thanks for clarifing that up!
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Old 12-20-06, 08:40 PM   #16
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55% sounds nice. Here, my apartment is at 80-90%, which sucks. Then again, my place in Beijing used to get down to 10-15% in the winter -- I think I'll take 80-90. As KT has pointed out, a humidifier is GOOD for electronics if it gets too dry. 55% is also just right for a guitar.
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Old 12-20-06, 08:42 PM   #17
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How can you all like humidity!?!? If you get hot, well have fun smelling and sweating like crazy cause you dont cool off unlike dry weather, well dry conditions. death to humidifiers! I could sleep outside in the dry winter every night
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Old 12-20-06, 08:46 PM   #18
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If you've ever had your face, back, arms, legs, fingers, toes, and heels crack & BLEED, then you'd know. It makes stretching out hard and very painful if you rip your skin.
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Old 12-20-06, 08:47 PM   #19
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Hm good point=o
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Old 12-20-06, 08:48 PM   #20
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I have to keep the house under 50% humidity due to the wife's allergies, first winter here in Charlotte, so far humidity has been keeping around 40% in the house which is perfect for the wife.

I actually have a de-humidifer in the bedroom if it gets too humid. Only needed it for two months in the summer.

In Miami we never switched the damm thing off.
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Old 12-20-06, 10:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac
Any recommendations? I've read some reviews on the Air-O-Swiss 7135 and the Air-O-Swiss 7142. I'm looking for a warm-mist humidifier.
Go for the 7142 model. It's the little sucker in the corner.


I have a weather station with a humidifier across the room and they're always within about 5% of each other.
The 7142 is very active. It has a little port on the back where it draws in air to blow the mist out of and it detects the humidity of the incoming air (unlike my girlfriend's old bionaire, which mornically has the moisture sensor on the OUTLET). I suspect it updates every 2 seconds because that's how fast it takes to see fluctuations.
There are 3 ways to set it. You set the ideal humidity (55% for example) then you set the output volume (low/med/high). Or you can have it be on automatic. I usually leave it on in full automatic mode which not only regulates the ideal humidity but also the output volume depending on temperature. So if it's a little cooler, it lowers the ideal humidity to something like 40% and as you near 40%, it'll switch to low. If it starts dropping farther from 40%, it'll increase it to med or high. If the temperature goes up cause the heat is on, it raises the ideal humidity at the new temperature to something like 50 or 60% and bumps it up to high to catch up and turns itself back to low once it catches up.

I've kept it on for about 2 months continuously now. Every 2 weeks, an indicator turns on and I wipe down and rinse out the insides. That's about it. So far, no mineral scales, no bacteria.

Very nice. Yada yada.

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Old 12-20-06, 10:51 PM   #22
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I don't think I've ever seen an electronic device (with a humidity rating) that wasn't rated for at least 80%, and typically only that low if it's an outside device.

Excess humidity is really only a problem if it gets to the point where water is condensing (100%) onto charged parts. This can happen in air that's below 100% if it's exposed to a cold surface, like an outside window, but for any home electronics that should not be the case.

As KingTermite and Stacey pointed out though, dry air can cause problems. Moisture in the air helps electric charge dissipate that normally builds up through activities like walking on carpet. If you have a big charge built up on your clothes and manage to discharge into something delicate, it could fry some circuitry. Not to make you paranoid, though. You'd typically have to be touching a pin or section of circuit board to actually dissipate into the circuitry.

My shop coat at work has been killing me these last couple of days. I pull it off than reach for my locker door only to get bit pretty visciously.
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Old 12-21-06, 05:53 AM   #23
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It depends. ESD can be a funny beast. Keep in mind a static jolt you can't even feel will fry an IC....by at least a factor of 10x voltage.

We feel a static jolt when it's approx 10,000V or greater. How many chips can handle that?

Dry conditions are worst for this, so most electronics fabs and assemblers use humidifiers to control humidity. So long as there are no condensation issues, all is well.
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Old 12-21-06, 09:28 PM   #24
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No issues with a humidifier. In summer, it is consistently about 60% humidity here, my computer and electrical toys work fine. There's no reason 60% would not work in winter
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Old 12-21-06, 09:37 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac
If you've ever had your face, back, arms, legs, fingers, toes, and heels crack & BLEED, then you'd know.
I have this problem on both index fingers when it starts getting dry (which is VERY RARE in Florida).
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