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 Post subject: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:35 am 
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Location: Somerset, England
What are the most suitable hygrometers that you fellow flute players use and recommend?


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:27 am 
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Location: Pacific Northwest USA
Hygrometers are basically a choice between cheap and un-calibrated vs. the more expensive calibrated ones. The one I've been using lately in the cheap category is a ThermoPro TP55:

https://www.amazon.com/ThermoPro-TP55-I ... Hygrometer

It sits on the shelf of a bookcase in my practice room. What I like about it is the very large display. I can see the numbers from halfway across the room. I should also own a calibrated hygrometer but they're expensive. I could find out exactly how accurate this cheap one is with a sling hygrometer, and I've just never gotten around to it.

I live in the Pacific Northwest USA where the climate is fairly mild. We don't run the house heat enough to drive the indoor humidity below 30-35% except during brief Winter cold snaps, where I run room humidifiers just to be safe. Right now in mid December it's running between 42-47% rh in the practice room. It's a big drafty house that tends to "self regulate" unless the heat is on full-time. If I lived in a very dry climate, or one with deeper winters, I'd be a little more strict about hygrometer accuracy. In my current situation, a cheap hygrometer that might be a few percentage points off is probably good enough.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:39 pm 
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I believe it was Dave Copley who sent me, long ago, a simple circular hygrometer that I've
used ever since. I far as I can tell, it's very accurate. I've dropped it and cracked the glass face several years ago, and the device is still very accurate.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 2:20 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
I believe it was Dave Copley who sent me, long ago, a simple circular hygrometer that I've
used ever since. I far as I can tell, it's very accurate. I've dropped it and cracked the glass face several years ago, and the device is still very accurate.


Jim, I believe you, but how do you know it's accurate if you have nothing to compare it to? Years ago a friend of mine bought five Radio Shack hygrometers (they were cheap) and as an experiment he set them all up in the same location and they all gave different readings. Not wildly different, but different by a few percentage points. When we're talking moisture levels for flutes I don't think precision is important and even a hygrometer that's off by 5-10% is still useful. But if it's off by more than 10-15 percent you may be over- or under-humidifying. The only way to know would be to check the meter's reading against an independently calibrated hygrometer, and most of us don't have access to those!

I figure "in the ballpark" is good enough and I actually use one of those Radio Shack hygrometers, running on two AAA batteries that run the thing for several years.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 4:02 pm 
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I don't positively know the cheapie is accurate, but I believe it is and, I think, for good reason.
I've used it for 17 years without cracks, etc, and in places where humidity got very low. I run
a humidifier through the winter and check it against the hygrometer. There was one exception.
Casey pointed out once that wood really starts moving around at 35 percent humidity,
and the one time I had a flute crack (a lined headjoint) was when I foolishly let the humidity
(according to the hygrometer) descend to 35. Sure there is room for skeptical scenarios and doubts,
but practically speaking my belief is sensible.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:09 pm 
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Location: Loveland Ohio
jim stone wrote:
I believe it was Dave Copley who sent me, long ago, a simple circular hygrometer that I've
used ever since. I far as I can tell, it's very accurate. I've dropped it and cracked the glass face several years ago, and the device is still very accurate.


I used to buy those hygrometers in bulk from a cigar supplies place and include one with every wooden flute. I would calibrate them against the Oregon Scientific hygrometer that I use in the workshop. The cheap dial hygrometers are easy to disassemble and then you can rotate the cardboard dial relative to the mechanism. Of course they would only be "calibrated" at the particular relative humidity that you chose to perform this operation. I would try to do it at around 50% RH. A spot of superglue would then fix the dial in place so hopefully the calibration would not shift if someone dropped the hygrometer. Lately I've been buying small digital ones. They can't be calibrated but they mostly read within 5% of my shop unit and I throw out the ones that don't.

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Loveland, Ohio
www.copleyflutes.com


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:45 pm 
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This is interesting. My estimate of the accuracy of my particular hygrometer is probably correct, but it's due to a guardian angel correcting defects in the original lot. So my positive opinion of the accuracy of cheapie hygrometers in general is doubtful, as Dave is a local phenomenon. One for the journals, I reckon.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:16 am 
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From what is posted above it seems the hygrometer sits in the room. Is that preferable to being in the flute case?

I notice that my fiddle playing friends who use hygrometers have theirs in their fiddle cases.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:32 am 
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Depends on how you are humidifying at home. I use a humidfier that humidifies the whole room, myself included. These are reliable, reasonably priced, durable and they work, and you can see when they are empty. One filling lasts maybe eight hours or more. If that's how you go, the hygrometer stays on the desk or wherever it is in easy reach or is plainly visible.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:33 am 
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Location: Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA
mendipman wrote:
From what is posted above it seems the hygrometer sits in the room. Is that preferable to being in the flute case?

That depends on whether you are humidifying the room, the case or a box that the case sits in.

I keep flutes (in their cases) in a Tupperware-type container that contains a damp sponge in a plastic soap dish with holes drilled in the top. In the driest part of winter, I also put a pill box with holes and containing a small piece of sponge in the flute case. In the latter situation, I have a hygrometer in the Tupperware container and another in the flute case.

I don't really care whether the hygrometer is accurate to 2% or 5% but I do count on it to give me a general sense of the humidity and, perhaps more importantly, an indication of major changes.

Them's my thoughts.

Best wishes.

Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:35 am 
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Location: Pacific Northwest USA
The way I see it, a hygrometer small enough to fit in a case might be good for extended travel, like staying in hotel rooms. Although I wouldn't trust the cheap little analog dial hygrometers that are sometimes built into guitar or fiddle cases. Get a decent small digital one if you're going that way.

Larger hygrometers designed to sit on a table or attach to the wall are likely to be more accurate, or at least easier to read, like the big one I linked above. My S.O. and I have other instruments in the practice room like mandolin, guitar, and her fiddles. So for us, it makes sense to use a hygrometer that reads the room conditions, and a room humidifier when needed during cold snaps.

Personally, I'm not a fan of trying to maintain humidity inside closed cases at home, unless you just can't control the room well enough. It's easy to over-humidify, for one thing. I leave my flute cases cracked open so they can adjust to the room, and all the other wooden instruments are out on stands. YMMV, sometimes humidifying in a case is the only option for more extreme conditions.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:27 pm 
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Location: Somerset, England
To put my situation in context - the climate here in the south-west is typically more damp than in eastern England. What concerns me is the dry air caused by winter heating and I'd like to have some measurement of that effect to avoid any potential problem. We heat our home with a combination of gas central heating and wood fires.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:05 am 
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Quote:
Personally, I'm not a fan of trying to maintain humidity inside closed cases at home, unless you just can't control the room well enough.


I can agree that in a tupperware box, it might be possible to over-hydrate, or at least maintain the humidity so high that the flute inside doesn't quite dry out, or heaven forbid, you get mold.

In my climate, it would be difficult to humidify the whole house or even a room during the Winter, but it is easy to keep a higher-humidity box.

I've monitored my home humidity over the past couple of years here in Colorado, definitely a dry part of the US. The interesting thing is that the humidity sits between 40 & 60% for most of the year, aside from the the Winter months when I can see humidity around as low as 15-20%. I have no air-conditioning, but I do have central heating.

The surprising thing to me was that my house humidity stays in a moderate range during our very dry Summers. I believe this is because I use a whole-house fan, which brings in cool night air. Cool air is much more humid that hot air - natural cool air, not air-conditioning, which extracts a lot of moisture.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:07 pm 
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Location: Somerset, England
I went with this one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Weather-Thermometers/ThermoPro-Digital-Thermo-Hygrometer-Thermometer-Temperature/B01H1R0K68/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1545159924&sr=8-5&keywords=hygrometer

The current humidity reading in the room where I keep my flutes is 52%. Actually higher than I expected.


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 Post subject: Re: Hygrometers
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:39 am 
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Location: Wyoming
When it comes to humidifying a flute, these are the bees knees (Model #1): https://humistat.com/
They also offer basic analog hygrometers.


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