Dry air can be a major source of discomfort. Nobody wants to wake up in the morning feeling like they’ve just spent the night in the Sahara desert. This can be especially irritating in the winter time, due to relative humidity. Basically, the colder the air is, the less moisture it can hold. So, air that’s 100 percent humid at 20 degrees will be fully saturated, misty, and snow will be swirling. But if that air gets heated up to 70 degrees (for example, in your furnace), the relative humidity will drop to 16 percent, which is dry enough to cause significant discomfort.
For this reason, a humidifier isn’t just important in dry climates. It’s equally important any time the outdoor temperature drops below freezing. To help you out, we’ll be reviewing the Elechomes Ultrasonic Top Fill Humidifier, model SH8820. In many ways, it’s similar to their previous offering, the UC5501. However, there are a few significant upgrades that make the SH8820 shine all on its own.
Before we get into the more advanced features, let’s take a look at the overall design. Unlike a lot of humidifiers, which can look clunky on your shelf, the SH8820 has a clean, white design that would look right at home in a high-end electronics store. The front panel displays your current humidity level with bright LED lights which are easy to read clearly from across the room. Underneath the display, you’ll find eight soft touch buttons which can be used to turn the unit on and off, set the humidity level, select maximum or minimum power levels, set a timer, activate sleep mode, switch between hot and cold humidity, and activate the child lock.
Behind the screen, there’s a removable 5.5-liter tank that’s easy to fill and equally easy to clean when necessary. To do this, you’ll need to remove the top of the unit, which has a pair of adjustable circular nozzles. The outer nozzle is a ring outside the inner nozzle, so both of them can be swiveled independently to direct the mist where you want it to go.
In addition, you’ll also receive an infrared remote, which has all the same functions as the front control panel. The remote has a slim, compact design that’s easy to slip into your pants pocket. Because it’s infrared, it’s line of sight only, similar to a TV remote. Overall, the range is about 15 feet, which isn’t enough to operate from across the house, but it’s more than sufficient to control across the room from your bed or sofa.
Of course, humidity isn’t the only factor that will affect your comfort inside your home. Good temperature is also an important part of the equation. The Ecobee 4 is a powerful smart thermostat that can be operated through Amazon Alexa or with the companion app.
On an everyday basis, the SH8820 is easy to use. The easiest way to operate it is simply to set the humidity level automatically. With this feature, you simply set your preferred humidity level, and the SH8820 will do the rest. When you press the humidity button, the LED display will temporarily stop showing the current humidity level and will instead display the level you’re setting it to. Hitting the button repeatedly will adjust the setting in 5 percent increments, from 50 percent all the way up to 100 percent. After 5 seconds of inactivity, the display will switch back to showing the current humidity level, and the humidifier will automatically kick in if the humidity drops below the level you’ve set it to.
In addition to allowing you to set the desired humidity level, you can also switch between three different power levels. The lower settings can be either warm or cool, but the highest, most powerful setting works on warm mist only. We’ll talk about the difference between a warm and cool humidifying in the next section. At the highest setting, the SH8820 is rated to treat 750 square feet of air. This is enough to keep a small apartment humidified all on its own, and more than enough for even a large bedroom in a large house, or a spacious living room. Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on how much air circulates throughout your house.
The other way you can control the SH8820 is to set an overnight timer. The timer can be set anywhere from 1 hour to 12 hours, and the humidifier will run continuously as long as the timer is on. If you just want to run your SH8820 overnight, this is an easy way to do it. The timer will automatically activate the humidifier at the same time every night unless the humidifier is unplugged or you change the settings. Regardless of what method of operation you’re using, the fan will continue operating for 3 minutes after the humidifier has shut off to clear out any residual moisture from the mechanism and prevent mold from growing.
The tank on the SH8820 has a 5.5-liter capacity. In theory, this is enough for 40 hours of continuous operation, but that’s only true if you’re running the humidifier on its lowest setting. On the highest setting, you’re looking at 12 to 15 hours, which is still enough for two nights. That’s still significantly more capacity than you’ll see from most humidifiers, which tend to have a 2 to 3-liter capacity. Regardless, the SH8820’s sensor will detect when the tank is empty, and will automatically shut the humidifier off to prevent any damage.
This humidifier is very quiet. It runs at 32 dB, which is only slightly louder than a whisper. Again, this is on the lowest setting, but even on the highest setting it’s quiet enough that you won’t need to turn up your TV or raise your voice during normal conversation. The SH8820 is also quieter when it’s running on cool mist as opposed to warm mist, since the heating element causes a louder rushing noise due to increased airflow.
If you’ve got your humidifier set to automatic mode, it’s going to be running both night and day. So, maybe you want it to run on full power, but not when you’re sleeping. In that case, simply press the sleep button on the front panel or the remote. This will limit the SH8820 to low power mode, and will also deactivate the front LED. You can also use the “Screen-off” button to turn off the front display at any time, which will save a small amount of power.
Runs Warm or Cool
We’ve already mentioned that the SH8820 works both as a warm or a cool humidifier. But what’s the difference between these two settings? We’re about to break it down.
To begin with, warm humidifiers heat up the water first to release steam. This allows for a faster release of moisture, since warm steam absorbs into the air more readily than a cool mist.
It’s also very soothing if you’ve got a cold or a sinus infection. Just put your face near the top of the unit – but not too close! – and breathe in. This can provide a lot of relief. However, it’s important to remember that a warm humidifier works by heating the water to a boil. If you have children or pets, you’ll need to make sure this type of humidifier is out of reach for their safety.
Cool mist humidifiers work by atomizing the water, similar to a perfume atomizer. Traditional designs suffer from a drawback, though; they’re prone to mold growth, which means they require frequent maintenance in order to keep them clean. However, the SH8820 is a newer, ultrasonic design which works a little bit differently. Instead of pushing the water through an atomizer, a vibrating plate in the bottom of the tank moves at ultrasonic speeds, vibrating the individual water molecules until they escape the surface, much as they do when water boils. Because cool mist mode does not require the fan to run at high speeds, the machine will run much more quietly in this mode. However, there’s a limit to how much moisture you can put out in this mode, so it only works for the two lower intensity settings.
Some humidifiers can be difficult to clean, since you’ll often have to perform frequent descaling. With the SH8820, the majority of the cleaning is very easy. The tank has a flip-up handle for easy removal, so you can even wash it in the dishwasher – top rack only – if you don’t want to clean it by hand.
That said, as with all humidifiers, scales can build up on the heating element if you’re running it in warm air mode. You can clean them with a decalcifier like CLR, but this is still a headache. To ensure that you have to do this as little as possible, you should only fill your humidifier with soft water. In the event that your home has hard water, the best course of action is simply to fill your tank with distilled water, which has no mineral content to form scales. Alternatively, Elechomes sells a filter that can remove minerals before they have a chance to build up.
To further improve your indoor air quality, a dedicated air filter can make all the difference. In this case, the Bulex HEPA Air Purifier is a great choice. This powerful unit will filter particles, odors, and other contaminants, so you can breathe easier.
If you’ve owned a humidifier or two in the past, you’re probably used to wishing that there were a few extra features. We were impressed with the Elechomes SH8820 because it does just about everything. Obviously, the best feature is that it can run warm or cool, since this gives you plenty of options.
However, there’s a lot more to love. The automatic mode makes it as easy to operate as your thermostat, while the sleep mode gives you dark, quiet operation overnight. And the large tank means you won’t have to refill it every single day. All in all, the SH8820 is a great value, and well worth buying.