Fighting humidity and moist in the Home Studio

(See also the first part on how to avoid getting dust and dirt in your equipment here!)

I’ve talked before about two of the biggest threats against the life expectancy of your hard earned expensive equipment when operating in a home / bed room studio: Dust and Humidity. As for dust, covers of various shapes, sizes and materials are the most affordable solutions, and frankly should suffice in most situations. Humidity on the other hand is a more complicated story.

If you are in a bedroom / home kind of setting controlling the relative humidity can be a difficult task given that the environment is primarily not a studio but a home, most likely shared with family member who might not have the same passion for your noise making machines as you do.

On the other hand, most musical equipment that’s within range of us bedroom producers will fare quite well in humanly comfortable levels of humidity. The rule of thumb here to put it simply is to keep your room below 50% on average. If you cross into the 50%-55% from time to time that’s generally not a problem, but if you are consistently above 55% for any longer period of time you need to start worrying.

Too little humidity (think below 35%) and you run the risk of static electricity accumulating and damaging equipment, too much (above 55%) and corrosion and dust clogging starts to become a problem.

Several methods exist for stabilizing the humidity ranging from building material to take into consideration when you are building your studio/home, to passive closet dehydration helpers that you can pick up at your local department store.

The sad story is that your needs will very much be dictated by where on the planet you live, and the temperatures, weather and seasonal changes that comes with your location. I have had the fortune of living in both Japan, Sweden and San Francisco and I can say from experience that if I lived in Sweden, humidity would never be a problem. In Japan, due to its almost tropical summers, I would have spent a great deal of time and money on controlling it, but the range of devices available is also much broader. Here in SF where I currently live, the fog and daily temperature changes makes it a delicate task to keep humidity stable.

I ended up buying a rather large electrical dehumidifier unit that has enough power to suck  moist out of the air for the entire apartment I live in. As long as this unit runs anywhere relatively unblocked in our home, regardless of our indoor temperature humidity stays pretty much stable. I have it dialed in at 45%, and depending on what room you measure in levels are stable between 43% – 47%.

This has made the indoor environment a lot more pleasant and alleviated any concerns about the studio gear I keep in our bedroom.

The unit is rather noisy, but that’s a necessary side effect of the construction and very hard to get away from. In my case, since the unit is strong enough to cover the entire apartment (~900 sqft) I can place it in a hallway where the noise is less of a problem, but if you plan on placing it in your actual studio you should probably look for something more quiet.

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