The 10 Best House Humidifiers

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This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in October of 2015. When winter arrives and the air gets drier, it can cause skin and breathing issues for many people. A humidifier can provide some relief, as it pumps moisture into the air to help with allergies and other ailments like irritated eyes, cracked lips, sinus headaches, and nosebleeds. They come in both evaporative and ultrasonic models, in designs that are capable of handling a whole house. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Proscenic 808C

2. White Rodgers HSP2600 Comfort Plus

3. Levoit Ultrasonic

Editor's Notes

October 19, 2020:

In today’s update, we added several high-performing models to the list, including the reliable Levoit Ultrasonic, which can be controlled on the large front panel or with the included remote. You can choose between a warm and a cool mist, set a timer, or fill the integrated diffuser with essential oils. If you don’t like having to stop and refill your humidifier multiple times a day, this might be a good choice for you, as it can go more than a day between refills. It’s quiet enough not to disturb sleep if placed in or near your bedroom. The Honeywell HEV685W is another low-maintenance option well suited for anyone who doesn’t want to have to refill their humidifier too frequently. Its two tanks have a capacity of three gallons and unlike some others, sports a simple top-loading design that makes it easy to fill. A couple of dials on the top allow you to choose your desired settings. One thing to be aware of is some users find the high setting to be a bit loud.

The Aircare Console, another easy-to-fill model, joins the list today, and its clear digital display shows your desired humidity level and the current speed of the van. Unlike many others, this one is available in quite a range of finishes, from matte gray to copper to brushed nickel to oak to silver. It operates quietly and conveniently provides reminders when it’s time to replace the filter. It joins a couple of other models on the list made by the same manufacturer. The Aircare EP9 800 boasts a sleek black design and a narrower footprint than many. It also offers nine fan speeds, which is more than most. It’s easy to set and read your desired settings on the digital display, and it’s equally easy to move it around on the built-in casters. Also on casters is the Aircare MA1201, which can handle home as large as 3,600 square feet. Today we also replaced the Proscenic 807C with the newer Proscenic 808C, which features a HEPA filter that makes it a good humidifier for people with allergies.

October 29, 2019:

During this round of updates, we eliminated both the Honeywell HCM-6009 QuietCare and the Venta Airwasher LW45, due to questions surrounding product availability. In their places, we included the Elechomes SH8820 – which caught our eye with its sleek design and convenient remote control, and the Proscenic 807C – which snagged the top spot for this category by being the only Wi-Fi connected option we ranked, and having its own app.

A few things to keep an eye out for in this category:

Capacity:Arguably the single most important consideration when it comes to this purchase decision, capacities for units in this category are measured in square-feet – in terms of the maximum area they’re equipped to service. Company’s tend to estimate high in this regard, so make sure the device you choose surpasses the area you’re humidifying.

Also, while this rating is administered in square feet, these machines humidify cubic feet, so to speak. So, if you’re looking to add moisture to a room with high ceilings, that’s a consideration you’ll need to factor in when determining the minimum rating that will suit your needs.

Installation: While most of the options presented here are simple, standalone units that require little installation past plugging them into any common 120-volt outlet, some options such as the Aprilaire 700 Automatic and the White Rodgers HSP2600 Comfort Plus are designed to integrate with existing forced-air systems in a house, and will likely require professional installation. Make sure to factor the value of your sweat equity or the cost of installation into your purchase decision.

Aromatherapy: If you’re into essential oils, you’ll definitely want to consider one of the many modern humidifiers that include an aromatherapy compartment, enabling the device to dispense the oils throughout your home. Both of our new additions this round – the Proscenic 807C and the Elechomes SH8820 – offer this feature.

Special Honors

Lennox Healthy Climate HCWP3-18 Attaching to your home’s furnace or air handler, this whole-house humidifier helps add moisture to the air that moves through your duct system. An integrated fan helps circulate humidified air even when the heating system isn’t operating. It’s less intrusive than portable models, and it conveniently does not need refilling or cleaning on a frequent basis.

4. Aircare EP9 800

5. Elechomes SH8820

6. Aircare MA1201

7. Honeywell HEV685W

8. Aprilaire 700 Automatic

9. Aircare Console

10. Vornado Evap40

It's Amazing What Water Can Do

Regardless of its capacity and size, the device's goal is very much the same.

When the weather turns cold and the air gets dry, this combination can cause several problems indoors, including an increased risk of respiratory tract infections and other viruses, aggravation of allergies and asthma conditions, dry skin, itchy eyes, wood cracking damage inside the house, and even painful static shocks. To prevent such problems, one needs to find the proper balance of humidity within their home through the use of one or several humidifiers.

A humidifier is either a point-of-use or whole-house device that increases the moisture level within a single room or an entire home. Regardless of its capacity and size, the device's goal is very much the same. Humidity is defined as the amount of water vapor currently in the air, which always contains some amount of water in it. Some geographic locations have humidity levels higher than others and this can change depending on the time of year. When standing in a bathroom after a hot shower, for example, you are in an environment with high humidity due to the steam that is currently present. In the middle of a desert that hasn't experienced any rainfall in several months, you'd be standing in an area with very low relative humidity.

Humidifiers are available in both point-of-use and whole-house models. Point-of-use (portable) humidifiers are specifically designed to increase moisture to a single room, whereas whole-house humidifiers connect to a home's central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to provide comfortable levels of humidity to every room. Portable humidifiers range in size from small, tabletop units to ones that are floor-mounted. They are equipped with their own independent storage tanks from which the devices will receive their water supply. These tanks need to be periodically checked and refilled. By contrast, whole-house humidifiers draw their moisture directly from a home's main water supply, maintaining a consistent and monitored level of moisture at all times, depending on the homeowner's preference and how they may set their thermostat.

Evaporative humidifiers are the most common and are capable of self regulation. Portable versions consist of a cold water reservoir, a wicking filter, and a fan to blow the moisturized air into the environment. The reservoir holds the water and deposits it into a basin. The wicking filter absorbs the basin water while the fan blows air through the filter, allowing some of the water to evaporate in the process. The higher the relative humidity, the more difficult it is for water to evaporate, hence the device's ability to self regulate.

As the humidity level increases, the output of the humidifier's water vapor naturally decreases. Whole-house evaporative humidifiers, hooked up to a home's HVAC system, operate in a very similar way using a metal mesh or screen located in the duct coming from the furnace or air conditioner. As air coming from the duct blows across the screen, it picks up moisture from the flowing water to deliver its moisture throughout the house.

There are also steam-powered humidifiers (also referred to as vaporizers) that operate by boiling water and releasing hot water vapor into the air. A medicated inhalant can be added to the steam vapor of a portable humidifier to help reduce coughs and other allergic tendencies, which can be useful if your child is sick. but this should be leveraged in moderation and a child should always be monitored when using the device in this way.

Keeping It Moist

One's location should be the first consideration when deciding to invest in a humidifier. Not every home needs a whole-house humidifier tied into the HVAC system. However, if you live in a particularly arid climate and your home has a lot of expensive wood furniture, then a whole-home humidifier can come in particularly handy. In this situation, it can be more cost-effective to have a centralized humidifier so you don't have to worry about maintenance or plugging in separate units in each room individually.

By contrast, if you have small rooms and only some of them tend to get dry in cold weather, portable units can work nicely.

Using a whole-house humidifier can also significantly reduce your energy costs simply due to the fact that humid air holds more heat, meaning that your central HVAC system won't have to work as hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature during the winter months.

Additionally, the whole-house humidifier operates quietly and does not have to be refilled constantly in the same way a portable device does. By contrast, if you have small rooms and only some of them tend to get dry in cold weather, portable units can work nicely. One simply needs to weigh the advantages of each solution against what they feel their home needs.

Finally, try to swing for a humidifier with built-in temperature and relative humidity monitoring capabilities, meaning that the unit can automatically turn itself on or off depending on the measurements it takes at a given time. This can help maintain a comfortable preset moisture level.

A Brief History Of Humidifiers

The concept of indoor air humidification has its roots in the mid-twentieth century. The first truly successful whole-home humidifier was introduced in 1954 by Aprilaire, now known for a wide variety of home indoor air quality products. The company has been manufacturing similar products since 1938. And one of the very first portable humidifiers was patented in 1965.

The innovation of the humidifier throughout the twentieth century has lead to additional portable varieties in today's market, which include impeller-operated and ultrasonic units among others.

Impeller-driven humidifiers leverage rotating discs, which fling water into comb-shaped diffusers designed to break water into fine droplets that are passed into the air. Ultrasonic units use a vibrating metal diaphragm to accomplish the same goal.

Karen Bennett
Last updated by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.

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