Humidity is a critical issue in industrial environments. Too little or too much moisture in the air in, say, a print shop, cannabis grow facility, cabinet maker, or oak barrel storage, can end up compromising your entire inventory and equipment. Industrial humidification systems are vital to regulating the moisture in the environment and preventing costly production problems due to depleted humidity levels.

As controlling the moisture of industrial buildings is closely related to the efficiency of most production processes, there have been many innovations in humidification technology over the years. Not to mention the indoor air quality (IAQ) standards have also become stringent in the past two decades, leading to an increased demand for high-quality commercial humidifiers.

Today, we are going to discuss the plethora of humidification technologies available on the market, followed by a detailed comparison in terms of efficiency, installation and operation costs, and more.

Different Types of Commercial Humidification Systems

Broadly speaking, there are two types of industrial or commercial humidifiers: isothermal and adiabatic.

Isothermal humidifiers were the first to be developed and use heat to create steam, which is then distributed into the ventilation systems. Initially, these humidifiers would take the steam from existing space heating boilers or gas-to-steam processes. However, the chemicals added to boiler water (to prevent rust and corrosion) can be dangerous for humans and the environment. Seasonal boiler treatment involves chemicals and is often expensive.

These humidifiers are great for certain applications, but they need an immense amount of energy to generate the steam. There are different types of isothermal humidifiers: gas-fired, steam-to-steam, direct steam injection, electric resistance, infrared, and electrode canister.

Unlike isothermal humidification, adiabatic humidifiers utilize the heat in the air to evaporate water. Using a fraction of the energy of the isothermal techniques, adiabatic systems can provide more precise humidity control. Adiabatic humidification systems also cool the surrounding air. At MicroCool, we lead the way in adiabatic cooling and humidification systems, so in this post, we’ll be breaking down the different types of industrial adiabatic humidifiers.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers (Piezoelectric Transducers)

This type of humidifier works through a transducer unit that is placed in a shallow water bath. The transducer oscillates which causes small water droplets to break away from the surface of the bath and become airborne. The process generally uses demineralized water to eliminate mineral dusting in the treated areas and to prevent mineral buildup on the transducers.

Ultrasonic humidifiers are energy efficient, but often limited in their capacity. Another benefit of ultrasonic humidifiers are the ultrafine water particles.

Compressed Air Atomizers

Compressed air atomizer humidification is a process used to add moisture to the air in a space by breaking up water into tiny droplets that can be dispersed through the air. This method of humidification is achieved through the use of compressed air, which forces water through a small nozzle or atomizer to create a fine mist.

The fine mist created by the atomizer quickly evaporates, adding moisture to the air without wetting surfaces. This makes compressed air atomizer humidification ideal for industrial applications such as textile manufacturing, printing, and paper production, where excess moisture can cause damage to equipment or products.

Most compressed air atomizers have relatively high operating costs when compared to other adiabatic solutions. It takes a lot of horsepower to compress the air needed for humidification. This does significantly increase energy consumption and therefore, the utility bills.

Overall, compressed air atomizer humidification is a reliable and efficient method of adding moisture to the air, making it a popular choice for a wide range of applications.

Centrifugal Atomizers

Centrifugal atomizers are a type of humidification system that use a high-speed rotating disk to break up water into tiny droplets. The disk is typically made of metal or plastic and is powered by an electric motor, which spins the disk at high speeds.

As water is added to the spinning disk, it is flung outward, where it is broken up into droplets and propelled into the air. The result is a fine mist that can quickly humidify a space but lacks efficiency and control. Centrifugal atomizers are ideal for use in large industrial settings, such as warehouses and factories, where a high volume of humidification is needed.

Steam Humidifiers

Many buildings are still equipped with a boiler room and steam humidification unit. These boiler steam humidifiers are fueled by either electricity or gas, and involve boiling water to provide humidity, heat, and hot water for the entire facility. Boiler steam is released directly into the air stream to increase relative humidity levels. However, traditional boiler room humidifiers have been discontinued by most building owners because the steam contains potentially harmful substances.

To counter the hazards of boiler room humidifiers, modern clean steam and steam heat exchanger humidifiers are now available. The clean steam humidification system is made up of a steam generator, which can be a gas-fired boiler or an electric boiler. As it is imperative that the water is free of chemicals, softened water is typically used to minimize the mineral buildup in the treated commercial spaces as well as the boiler. Stainless steel boiler equipment is used instead of chemicals to prevent rust. The biggest downside is that clean steam humidifiers have very high operating costs.

Another good alternative to unsafe boiler steam humidifiers is a steam heat exchanger humidifier. These units create pure steam humidification by separating humidification steam from building steam through a heat exchanger. Where clean steam humidifiers require a dedicated boiler and plenty of floor space, a steam heat exchanger does the same job without them. These humidifiers are able to reduce maintenance costs and mineral residue by using partially demineralized water. The notable drawbacks of this system are the initial high investment and running costs.

High-Pressure Fogging Humidifiers

These humidifiers generate micron sized water droplets and utilize ambient heat to flash evaporate the water. Fog systems are able to achieve very small water particles to help evaporation and raise humidity. Utilizing the heat available in the air makes these humidifiers the most energy-efficient in this list.

Most fogging humidifiers are made up of a high-pressure pump capable of delivering water at 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi) to multiple fog nozzles. The orifice of a standard fog nozzle is 0.004 to 0.008 inch in diameter. Water is deployed through an impeller, breaking the water stream into billions of tiny, micron-sized droplets. Some advanced nozzles can create nearly 5 billion extremely fine droplets (about 5 microns in diameter) every second.

Another benefit of high-pressure fog humidification systems is that they require minimal space and their installation cost is very low compared to compressed dry air and steam humidifiers. They also have low maintenance costs because the high-pressure pumps and water filters don’t need to be serviced/replaced frequently. The biggest advantage is the super low operating costs; a quality fog humidifier uses 1 horsepower for every 500 pounds of water. This is less than the energy usage of steam humidifiers, and that of compressed air humidifiers.

If you’re interested in fogging humidification technology, check out MicroCool’s latest humidifiers for industrial applications:

Hummingbird Pump System

Quiet and compact, our Hummingbird Pump Systems are specifically designed for smaller applications that require less capacity. You can check out this humidifier in action here; it works so quietly that you can actually hear the birds chirping in the background! The small unit can be easily mounted on the wall. It supports up to 12 fog nozzles and keeps the line pressurized at 83 bars or 1,200 psi.

The Hummingbird uses a closed loop system, meaning hygienic and on-demand humidification, which helps maintain a consistent interior temperature and relative humidity. The fog humidification process starts and stops thanks to the continuous charge, regardless of the distance between the atomizing nozzles and pump. Using mineral free water prevents dusting and nozzle maintenance issues.

The size of this humidifier is 22 (length) x 16 (diameter) x 28 (height) inches, and it weighs about 130 lbs. You can choose up to 12 nozzles for your unit. The Hummingbird can operate on 110–220V, making it one of the most energy efficient humidifiers out there.

Bighorn Pump Series

Similar to the Hummingbird, Bighorn Pump humidifiers are also quiet and small in size, but they can supply up to 80 fog nozzles for larger applications. They come in three different models based on gallons per minute (gpm) capacity: 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0. No matter which model you choose, it will use less energy compared to other adiabatic humidifiers on the market. Each Bighorn Pump model also comes with convenient outlet and inlet plumbing connections to make installation a breeze.

The unit is capable of automatically adjusting the pump speed according to the number of nozzles and water flow. This technology is known as Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) and it has become the go-to option for reducing wear and tear on the pumps. The Bighorn Pump humidifiers are also equipped with a drain solenoid valve to completely eliminate water after the unit shuts down; this prevents any bacteria from taking root in the stagnant water.

IBEX Integrated Fogging System

If you are looking for a dependable humidification system for your highly demanding commercial and industrial application – such as a cabinet shop or plastic manufacturing facility, MicroCool’s IBEX Integrated Fogging System can be an excellent option. It’s combined with our patented Rapid Orientation Collar (ROC) nozzles, which can rotate a full 360-degree to direct fog any way you want with minimal effort.

The ROC lines are available in flexible and stainless steel options: flexible nozzle lines consist of brass compression fittings, making them perfect for any installation; stainless steel lines are tested up to 3,000 psi, making them perfect for truly heavy-duty applications where corrosion might be an issue. Like other MicroCool humidifiers, the IBEX also comes with an ultraviolet light filter and a UL listed 508A motor control panel.

Fog Focus Nozzle System

As the name suggests, MicroCool’s Fog Focus Nozzle humidification system delivers extremely concentrated, dripless fog to a commercial space. This type of precise humidification is perfect for laboratories, offices, warehouses, hatchery incubators, woodworking and lumber storage facilities, electronic manufacturing and assembling facilities, and more.

Each unit is comprised of a pump, a sensor/controller, and nozzles to distribute humidification to any area of your choice. This gives you the kind of control that’s simply not possible with conventional humidifiers.

The water supply in these humidifiers is circulated back through UV light and a carbon filter to achieve water cleanliness. As a result, the water quality is superior. Fog Focus humidifiers work most efficiently with Reverse Osmosis (RO) water, to remove traces of viruses, bacteria, and minerals.

The pump in this unit supports up to 120 nozzles and ranges from 0.5 to 3.0 gpm in capacity. It can deliver between 250–1,500 lbs of directed humidification per hour. The pump keeps the nozzle line pressurized at 83 bars or 1,200 psi – even when it’s in standby mode, so you can instantly start/stop the fogging with no downtime.

Know This Before Buying a Commercial Humidifier

In addition to the energy input and operating costs, you also need to think about the Quality of water you’ll need to use with your humidification system. Gone are the days when you could use the normal tap water without having to worry about high mineral content. As mentioned earlier, the indoor air quality standards are pretty strict.

Using mineral-rich water for your cooling/heating system and humidification units in your facility can be disastrous. For starters, the minerals will clog up the nozzles and distribution plumbing. Secondly, the minerals will be dispersed into the interior of the building, leaving white dust on surfaces and products.

So, what’s the solution? You have to use purified water where most minerals have been removed using reverse osmosis. The RO filtration process removes most contaminants from the water, including pollen, bacteria, viruses, chemicals, microorganisms, and even disinfection byproducts.

Therefore, when investing in a humidifier, it is important to get a good RO system as well. Check out MicroCool’s Reverse Osmosis systems, which are designed to remove dissolved minerals down to 5-10ppm. Our RO units prevent the buildup of impurities (like calcium residue) and increase the lifespan of your humidifiers.

Learn More About MicroCool Adiabatic Humidification Solution

As one of the leading industrial humidifier manufacturers, MicroCool has dominated the market in providing precise fog humidification technology at a competitive cost. Our systems offer accurate, efficient, and clean humidity control solutions while reducing the overall energy consumption. The humidifiers discussed in this guide will help you lower your operational costs, leading to a quicker ROI than the wasteful industrial steam humidifiers.

A MicroCool industrial humidifier can:

  • Reduce Static Electricity: In conditions where it’s very dry, reducing static electricity is crucial to minimize electrostatic discharge. It’s also helpful in preventing damage to any type of electronics equipment being manufactured. When the static levels in the air are low, it works as an important protection against potential hazards and accidents at the workplace.
  • Better Product Quality Control: With MicroCool’s industrial humidifiers, you will maintain better quality products. The humidification system will work to prevent food spoilage, wine evaporation, and wood cracking and cupping, just to name a few. Installing an industrial humidifier will pay for itself over time, improving your bottom line.
  • Improved Levels of Productivity: Our humidification systems reduce machine downtime, which gives a boost to your industrial productivity. With a reduced need for machine repair, the savings in terms of labor, time, and cost are significant. Moreover, the production output increases, by stabilizing the relative humidity.

Energy efficiency is one of the key differentiators in all the innovative solutions at MicroCool. Additional energy savings compared to steam units makes our humidifiers ideal for industry-critical applications. If you’re not sure what type of industrial humidifier will offer you the best solution, or you have any questions about our offerings, or would like to discuss humidification systems in general, please call us at 800-322-4364 or 760-322-1111. You can also write to us at fog@microcool.com or via online form.