can a humidifier damage electronics

Can a Humidifier Damage Electronics?

Whether you’re streaming a movie on your laptop, setting reminders on your smart home assistant, or sending an email on your phone, there’s no denying the increasing prevalence of electronics in our lives. What you may not have considered, is how humidity can affect your electronics, such as computers and smart devices.

You see, humidity can be both helpful and unhelpful when it comes to electronic devices. So, in a nutshell, can a humidifier damage electronics? Yes, if it is placed too close or on too high a humidity setting.

This happens because the electrical charge of an object is like a fine wire attracted to moisture and water molecules. So, when more water is added to the system, the water starts to condense on itself, which causes some electrical charges to be released.

To put it simply, if you have a humidifier in your home or office, you’ll have to take precautionary measures to keep your electronics safe from extreme changes in humidity levels.

Likewise, too low humidity can also damage electronics. So, in this guide, I’ll cover both low and high humidity levels and how they impact your electronics, and the best placement for your humidifier when it comes to your electronic devices.

How Does High Humidity Affect Electronics?

humidifier near electronics

If you do not understand how high humidity can affect your electronics, here’s a quick breakdown. Humidity consists of the amount of water vapor contained in the atmosphere. If your area is highly humid, your electronic devices can suffer some damage too. Think of it this way; if water can damage your electronic devices, humidity can too. 

But how badly can humidity affect electronics? Electronic devices can not bear high moisture, and the amount of water in the environment can modify the conductivity of your device.

For electronics with exposed circuitry, you may need to take extra steps to keep moisture from getting in through the case or connectors. But you don’t have to completely open the device or take off all its parts to get to the parts on the inside.

Condensation

using a humidifier near electronics

Condensation happens when water vapor condenses on a surface and drips onto a material, soaking it up and making it wet. It can lead to problems with corrosion because it makes the material more prone to attack by salt or acid. It also causes dew point problems when condensation occurs on electronic components made of materials with a lower freezing point than their surroundings, like metal.

Electrical Conductivity 

Conductivity is affected by the amount of moisture around the device and the temperature changes that happen when the device is heated or cooled. High humidity can lead to corrosion, which can damage your devices, causing them to stop functioning. 

How Does Low Humidity Affect Electronics?

is humidifier safe for electronics

Low humidity levels increase conductivity. It increases the likelihood of corrosion occurring at specific locations. For instance, moisture contacts electronics components like wires or circuit boards (which may have been exposed during shipping).

Electronic gadgets are sensitive to humidity levels. They are made to work at specific temperatures, and humidity can significantly impact that temperature range by increasing the chance of corrosion and damaging the device’s circuits.

Electronic components require consistent temperatures for the proper operation of their functions. If the humidity level fluctuates too much, it can negatively affect the performance of these devices and even cause them to malfunction or break down.

The optimal humidity level for electronic devices is between 40% and 65%. Too much or too little humidity can cause damage to your electronics and other equipment.

The most common cause of low humidity in electronics is the air conditioner. Air conditioners pull humidity out of the air, causing it to condense on indoor surfaces and evaporate from outdoor surfaces. It can cause condensation inside your electronic device, leading to mold or mildew growth.

The Most Common Devices at Home Affected by Humidity

can running a humidifier damage electronics

Humidifiers affect all appliances and devices, but some electronics need extra care and attention. 

Medical Devices

Medical devices are highly sensitive and need extra care. Such devices can not be used if even minor corrosion occurs. When the humidity fluctuates in a household, medical devices are the first ones to get affected. 

Manufacturers especially mention the amount of humidity that a medical device can handle. You will often find a note attached that says the medical device’s tolerance level.

Heat and humidity can make many medical devices break down, damaging the device or compromising its sterility. Many products are designed for indoor use only. However, some may be used in an environment with high levels of heat or humidity. When this happens, the product may not function properly. 

Therefore, you must maintain the humidity level inside and outside the house. High humidity can affect various medical devices, including oxygen concentrators, ventilators, etc. 

Hearing Devices

Other than medical instruments, the humidifier can also affect hearing devices. Small devices like hearing aids are the first to undergo corrosion because of humidity. Because these devices are small in size, minor corrosion can wreck them. 

Moreover, a minor defect in such electronic devices makes them unusable. Hence, you should always check on such essential and small gadgets. 

How Far Away from Electronics Should a Humidifier Be?

You should not show negligence when placing a humidifier in your house. While a humidifier can help you eliminate germs and freshen the air in your home, where you place it is significant so you can avoid the damage it can do to your electronics.

Maintaining a Safe Distance Between Electronic Devices and Humidifiers

how close should a humidifier be

Placing Humidifier

Firstly, you should never place your humidifier on warm or hot surfaces. For instance, never put your humidifier on the heater. It can burn the humidifier’s bottom surface and cause it to short-circuit. 

Secondly, you should never place your humidifier in direct sunlight. If your humidifier is left in the sun for a long time, even for an hour or two, its parts can slowly overheat and break. This can cause the humidifier to stop working due to constant heat. Thirdly, corrosion can also occur. 

Hence, never leave your humidifier near the window or outdoors. Always place it in a cool spot inside your house.

Distance to Be Maintained 

Never place your humidifier right next to your electronic device, particularly, devices with circuit boards. This includes your smart phone, iPad or tablet.

Placing your humidifier near your TV or computer is also risky. The minimum recommended distance between your electronic device and the humidifier is at least one foot (approx 30 centimetres). This also depends on the size of your humidifier, and the flow of humidity coming from the humidifier. For larger humidifiers with higher output, move them further away.

What is the Optimum Humidity for Electronic Devices?

how far should a humidifier be from you

The ideal humidity level for most humans is between 30% and 50% RH. If you keep the humidity level of your room at more than 50%, you are likely to damage your electronic devices. People don’t use regular humidifiers in places with sensitive electronics, though. Instead, they use misting systems, which give more precise control over humidity levels and don’t risk damaging sensitive electronics like circuit boards or computers.

How to Keep Electronic Devices Safe When Using a Humidifier? 

Keeping your electronic devices safe while using a humidifier is easy. You merely need to take some precautionary measures to keep them safe. However, even the slightest negligence can create trouble. Your electronics are sensitive machines, so changes in the humidity in your home can easily mess with them. 

These are the most straightforward steps to keep your gadgets and humidifier safe. 

Maintain Distance

Keep at least one foot of space between the humidifier and the electronic device. It is the ideal measurement that will not damage your appliances. But, the more distance between the humidifier and the electronic device, the better it is. 

However, try not to keep the humidifier too far away. Low humidity can also affect your electric appliances negatively. Low humidity makes it more likely that your electronics and the environment will get damaged by an electrostatic discharge.

When it comes to heavier duty home appliances such as ovens and washing machines, you need to worry less about humidity levels. They are less hypersensitive than your smart phone, computer, printer, camera, gaming console or television.

Maintain the Humidity Level 

When using a humidifier, always check your humidity level and set it to a moderate rate. Overly high or overly low humidity levels come with problems you’ll want to avoid. Therefore, always keep the humidity level moderate, and the moderate level will not emit or spill water. Hence, the moisture level will not affect the nearby devices. 

Keeping the moisture level at 35-50% is recommended. This way, it will have no adverse effect on your electrical equipment. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Humidity and Electronics

humidifier setup

What humidity level is too low for electronics? 

Humidity levels below 30% relative humidity are too low for electronics. When humidity levels get below 30% relative humidity, your electronics are at risk of static electricity damage and short circuiting within the device. This is particularly important with devices that include microchips, diodes and transistors.

In addition to being a safety risk, this can make it more likely that electronic parts and devices will get damaged or have flaws that cause them not to work right or perform poorly. The ideal humidity level for electronic devices is between 35% and 50%. 

Humidifiers control the humidity in your home or office space, which can help to reduce static electricity and moisture. The best humidity levels for electronics are between 35% and 50% relative humidity. This keeps them from getting damaged. If the room is humidified correctly and you have electrical problems, it’s probably not due to high humidity.  

Is 70% humidity too high for your electronic devices? 

A humidity level above 60% is too high for your electronic devices. Any ratio higher than this can cause damage to your devices. If you allow the level to go up to 70%, you can easily affect your electronics negatively. It is because, at this level, your humidifier will increase the presence of water to an extent your gadgets can not bear. Hence, always keep your humidity level under 60%. 

Final Thoughts

Humidifiers are a wonderful addition to your home or office space, especially when air conditioning is run continuously, which can dry the air out. Many homes use humidifiers in Winter to counteract the effects of dry air.

If you maintain the optimum level of humidity, your devices will be safe, and you can use your humidifier as much as you want. Just remember not to use your smart phone, iPad or tablet with the humidifier right next to you – it could be a little too much humidity for your device. Place it 1 to 3 feet away instead.

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