Whether you have dry skin or a respiratory issue, a humidifier could be just what the doctor ordered. These machines can calm uneasy sinuses, and the right type of systems can be used at any time of the year. There are dozens of other benefits to owning a humidifier, but finding the best humidifier is a more in-depth process than most homeowners realize.
- The Best Humidifiers
- How to find the Best Humidifier
- Humidifier FAQ
The Best Humidifiers
Below you’ll find a list featuring seven of the best humidifier money can buy. While opinions may vary on our picks, we chose these models based on strict criteria and the fact that everyone has different needs. We also included machines that can be used in the summer, winter or throughout the year with coverage ranging from 250 to over 2,000 square feet.
Pure Guardian H410AR
- Type: Ultrasonic
- Mist: 2-in-1
- Coverage: 600 sq. ft.
- Capacity: 2 gallons
- Essential: Yes
- Warranty: 3 years
- Type: Evaporative
- Mist: Cool
- Coverage: "2,700 sq.? ft."
- Capacity: 6 gallons
- Essential: No
- Warranty: 2 years
- Type: Ultrasonic
- Mist: Cool
- Coverage: 269 sq. ft.
- Capacity: 0.66 gallons
- Essential: Yes
- Warranty: 1-year
- Type: Steam
- Mist: Warm
- Coverage: 860 sq. ft.
- Capacity: 1.85 gallons
- Essential: Yes
- Warranty: 3 years
- Type: Evaporative
- Mist: Cool
- Coverage: "3,000 sq. ft."
- Capacity: N/A
- Essential: No
- Warranty: 5 years
Stadler Form OSKAR
- Type: Evaporative
- Mist: Cool
- Coverage: 540 sq. ft.
- Capacity: 0.8 gallons
- Essential: Yes
- Warranty: 1-year
- Type: Hybrid
- Mist: Cool
- Coverage: Portable
- Capacity: 400 sq. ft.
- Essential: No
- Warranty: 2 years
The 2-in-1 Humidifier
#1 Pure Guardian H4810AR Ultrasonic Humidifier
There are plenty of ultrasonic warm mist room humidifiers available, but there are also a handful of 2-in-1 systems for around the same price. If you are interested in a system that can work throughout all four seasons of the year, the H4810AR from Pure Guardian is a humidifier we highly recommend.
The Pure Guardian H4810AR is one of those humidifiers that prove looks can be deceiving. Despite its simple appearance, this humidifier is only 12.5” high but can cover 600 square feet. What’s more impressive is the runtime, which is listed at 120 hours on low. While you can expect to lose some time when it’s on high, it can get you through several nights with a warm or cool mist.
The ability to choose between warm or cool mist is a huge selling point off the H4810AR, but it’s also compatible with essential oils. There’s a soft glow nightlight, a dual mist nozzle, a notification light for when the tank runs dry. It can shut itself off when the water runs out, and the company has included a 12-hour timer on this model as well.
Pure Guardian designed this system with ease of use in mind. There is an electronic control panel across the front, and the tank is coated with Silver Clean Protection to reduce that chance of bacteria buildup. While it’s easy to clean, some consumers found it can be difficult to fill. That’s partly due to the size and because it fills from the bottom. That’s not uncommon with humidifiers, but can be challenging with 2 gallons of H20 in the tank.
Outside of the tank being tricky for some, there’s really no drawback to this humidifier. The PureGuardian H4810AR can run longer than most humidifiers and provides excellent coverage for an ultrasonic system. The fact it has a 12-hour timer and works with essential oils is the icing on the cake. This affordably hybrid humidifier comes with a 3-year warranty.
Pros: High-capacity humidifier that produces warm or cool mist and can run for up to 120 hours. Compatible with essential oils, 12-hour timer, and nightlight feature.
Cons: Tank may be difficult for some to fill and replace.
The Best Whole House Humidifier
#2 AIRCARE Space-Saver Whole House Humidifier
Whole house humidifiers come in two basic form factors as there are portable systems and ones that are installed directly into your HVAC system. When you want to skip the professional installation, the AIRCARE 831000 Space-Saver humidifier is an ideal option for homes or rooms up to 2,700 square feet in size.
This system is similar to a console humidifier, although it’s tall and skinny with caster wheels. The design isn’t exactly eye-catching, but will blend in with any room nicely. The 831000 has a small digital display on the top that allows you to control the humidistat, but the controls and features are minimal on this system overall.
The humidistat provides a humidity range between 25 – 65%, and auto mode ensures your home stays at the level you set. As the tank can hold 6 gallons of water, you’ll be thankful for those caster wheels if you need to move this system around your home when full. That tank gives the AIRCARE 831000 humidifier an operating time of 70 hours as well.
With three fan speeds and an output rating of 8.5 gallons per day, the runtime will drop on high but remains respectable. For ease of use, you can fill this system from the top, and a notification system will send alerts when the tank gets low, or the filter needs to be changed. There are no other features on this machine, aside from auto-shutoff.
The AIRCARE 831000 whole house humidifier is an interesting alternative to other large room humidifiers. Homeowners found this machine easy to fill and felt the company’s Super Wick filters held up for a reasonable amount of time. The price tag is also attractive considering the coverage this system can provide, even if it’s light on features. The build quality of this system could be better, however, and it’s a bit noisy at high speed.
Pros: Can cover homes up to 2,700 square feet without breaking the bank. 6-gallon fixed top-fill water tank, three speeds, and an operating time up to 70 hours.
Cons: Feels cheap from a quality standpoint and is around 61dB on high.
You may also like: AIRCARE Humidifier Reviews and Buying Guide
The Best Humidifier for Children’s Rooms
#3 TaoTronics 3-in-1 Humidifier for Babies
A humidifier for a child’s room can look like an ordinary canister or take the form of something fun like a robot or animal. In the case of the TaoTronics TT-AH038, that animal would be a whale. This humidifier is our top pick for a kid’s room or nursery, and it’s just as capable as it is cute.
This ultrasonic room humidifier produces enough safe, cool mist air to humidify rooms up to 269 square feet. It can shut itself off when the 0.66-gallon tank runs dry and is simple to use with only two controls. There’s a button on the side for the night light and a dial on the front that lets you adjust the mist level on this small humidifier.
You can expect a runtime between 18 to 30 hours from this system. Noise reduction technology keeps the decibel level down to 26dB while your child sleeps, and it has a fragrance diffuser as well. The ability to use essential oils is a bonus, and so is the fact the system is made from BPA-free material. Last but not least, is a 360-degree mist nozzle on top where that acts as a blowhole for this adorable whale.
Parents appreciated the gender-neutral approach to this humidifier as it can be used in any child’s bedroom. It’s simple to clean with a wide opening at the bottom of the tank, and you can use the nightlight feature even when the humidifier function isn’t in use. There are no real drawbacks to the TaoTronics TT-AH038, but there is a cloud-based alternative in the MistAire Cloud if you prefer clouds to animals in your child’s room.
Pros: Cute design that can go with any décor. It’s quiet, simple to use, and has a nice coverage range for the price. Essential oil compatible and a built-in nightlight.
Cons: Nothing significant.
The Best Steam Humidifier
#4 Boneco S450 Digital Steam Humidifier
Steam humidifiers are often confused with warm mist systems, but there are some significant differences between these types of machines. Boneco is one of a handful of companies that makes a dedicated steam humidifier, and the S450 is the best choice for medium to large rooms.
The Boneco S450 gives off a classy vibe that will look great in any room, although it’s deeper than comparable humidifiers. You’ll want to keep placement in mind, even though it can sit directly on the floor despite the fact it’s only 13” tall. We’re fans of the functional design as well, which features a narrow water window and a digital touch panel on the front.
This steam humidifier has a removable 1.85-gallon tank and is rated for rooms up to 860 square feet. The output is listed at 3.6 GPD per day, and you can tune in the settings to your liking through the humidistat. While the system boils water to produce steam, the mist released is considered “hand warm,” thanks to their ClearMist technology.
You’ll get plenty of features on this high-tech humidifier as well. It has a 9-hour timer, an anti-mineral pad, and several modes. Cleaning mode helps with decalcification while Econ and Auto mode adjusts your system automatically. Sleep mode ensures you’ll sleep soundly if the Boneco S450 is in your room, although that shouldn’t be an issue with an operating range of 30 – 40dB.
From the built-in fragrance container to cleaning mode and the digital humidistat, there are dozens of reasons why we recommend this humidifier if you need a steam-based machine. It’s not exactly cheap, but it brings a lot to the table, with the only drawback coming through quality control issues. Some consumers had trouble with the cap on their system, although the problem appears to be hit or miss. The Boneco S450 steam humidifier is backed by a 3-year guarantee.
Pros: Packed full of features including a timer, special modes, and a digital humidistat. Compatible with essential oils and produces hand warm steam. Solid warranty, and there is a wealth of replacement parts for their systems.
Cons: Some homeowners had issues with the tank cap. The price tag.
The Best Bypass Humidifier
#5 Aprilaire 600 Large Bypass Whole House Humidifier
If you need to humidify an entire home instead of a single room, a whole-house humidifier is the best option. While Honeywell and Skuttle both have excellent systems, the Aprilaire bypass humidifier is our recommendation for the best bypass whole house humidifier.
The Aprilaire 600 is a bypass humidifier with an output rating of 12 gallons per day. It’s capable of humidifying small to large homes, although that depends on how well they are sealed. If your home is tightly sealed, you can expect around 3,000 square feet of coverage, but only between 750 to 1500 square feet otherwise.
Aprilaire designed this system so that you can set it and forget it. There is a permanent memory function that keeps your programming set in case of a power outage, and a copy function for scheduling that can save a great deal of time. Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of humidifier most homeowners will be able to install themselves, especially if you want to take full advantage of Aprilaire’s warranty.
This humidifier has a mouth-watering price tag considering the space it can cover and the fact it has a 5-year guarantee. That’s a good thing considering the potential cost of a professional installation, especially if you need to have a water line run for the Aprilaire 600. There are no negatives to this humidifier from a performance standpoint; just check on the price of a professional installation beforehand.
Pros: Simple to use and highly effective in homes up to 3,000 square feet. Memory and scheduling functions along with a 5-year warranty.
Cons: Requires a professional installation.
You may also like: Aprilaire Humidifier Reviews and Buying Guide
#6 Stadler Form OSKAR Humidifier
Stadler Form is a well-known brand in Europe, and their systems have managed to make their way into millions of homes stateside as well. The company produces humidifiers that have a modern style, and the OSKAR is a machine that will definitely stand out in a room.
The Stadler Form OSKAR is more in-line with a subwoofer for a home audio system that a humidifier from a design standpoint. This boxy beauty is 11” high and around 9.5” around the sides with a slick silver base. Thanks to its design and the mistless nature of this evaporative humidifier, the OSKAR can be used on the floor as well.
While this humidifier is relatively small in size, it can still humidify an area up to 540 square feet. It’s suitable for a wide variety of living spaces within a home and has a respectable output level of 2.5 gallons per day off one tank of water. That tank is listed at 0.8 gallons, and the machine itself has two output levels with high and low.
There aren’t many flagship features on this machine, although it does have a night mode that dims the LEDs while you sleep and an essential oil diffuser. There is also a reminder light to let you know when the filter needs to be changed, a hygrostat, and an automatic-off feature, but no timer, which was disappointing.
The OSKAR initially caught our eye because of its design, but consumers have been impressed by its performance. While we like the discreet controls and simple design of this side-pour system, we feel a few more extras would have been beneficial considering its price compared to similar humidifiers. Replacing the dual filters can also get expensive, depending on your usage.
Pros: Attractive direct-pour system that’s efficient and quiet at only 26dB. Hygrostat, night mode, and a coverage range up to 540 square feet.
Cons: No timer and a short warranty. Filter replacements could become costly.
The Best Smart Humidifier
#7 Dyson PH01 Pure Humidify + Cool
Dyson may not be the first name to come to mind with humidifiers, but they made a positive impression with consumers when they released the AM10. The Dyson PH01 Pure Humidify + Cool is their next-gen hybrid system, and it happens to be the smartest humidifier available on the market today.
While the AM10 introduced the world to Dyson’s unique humidifier, the PH01takes things a step further. That’s because this machine is a 3-in-1 hybrid system that acts as a tower fan, air purifier, and humidifier. It’s a step beyond an air washer like you’d find from Venta, and considerably smarter than any other system on our list.
The PH01 has real-time monitoring, which automatically detects the temperature and humidity levels as well as the air quality in a room. The water tank is listed at 1-gallon but provides up to 36 hours of humidification. If you’re worried about bacteria buildup in the tank, it won’t be a concern thanks to a deep cleansing mode that uses UV tech to keep the water clean.
Outside of the Dyson PH01’s humidification features, you’ll find a bladeless tower fan with 10 speeds and 90-degree oscillation. The air is filtered through a glass HEPA filter, and it’s currently the only humidifier recognized by the national psoriasis foundation. This machine is also compatible with the company’s mobile, app which lets you control the humidifier with your phone of voice.
This humidifier won’t be for everyone because of the cost and the fact it’s not a traditional humidifier. With that in mind, it’s perfect if you need or want to get rid of an existing air purifier or tower fan in your home and are looking for a new humidifier. It’s loaded with features, but we expected a longer warranty from Dyson, given the price tag.
Pros: Hybrid system that can humidify, purify, and monitor the air quality. Operating time of 36 hours, deep cleaning cycle, and real-time monitoring. Dyson Link app compatible with several unique fan modes and excellent filtration.
Cons: It’s expensive and has a short warranty for the price.
You may also like: Dyson Humidifier Reviews and Buying Guide
How to find the Best Humidifier
At any time, there are a hundred or more air humidifiers available to purchase in the U.S. from different brands. While some companies continually roll out new models on a yearly basis, you can find models that are 5 years old more sitting on the shelves alongside brand new systems.
Needless to say, that can make finding the best humidifier a challenging endeavor, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. In this guide, we are going to cover some common ground, including capacity and coverage, while also touching on some overlooked areas like the build quality and safety.
How often will you use your humidifier?
Choosing a new humidifier for your home can be exciting, whether it’s your first purchase or you are simply looking to upgrade from a previous system. If you plan on retiring your old machine in favor of a new one, you can skip ahead as you already know why you need a humidifier and how often you’ll use it.
If this is your first humidifier, take a minute and consider if your system will run seasonally. We found that many consumers only run a humidifier during part of the year and leave it boxed in the off-season. Whether that’s summer or winter varies, but there are machines that can run all year long.
If you need something to keep your plants healthy or the humidity levels steady in rooms with instruments or antiques, there are dozens of options as well. With that in mind, this journey begins by deciding if you need a cool or warm mist humidifier.
Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist Humidifiers
While there are different types of humidifiers, all fall into one of two categories – warm or cool mist. There are hybrid systems that can produce both as well, but they usually aren’t a replacement for a dedicated machine with one function.
A cool mist humidifier is often preferred by parents that have homes with small children. They are considered safer if there is an accidental spill, or a child gets too close to the mist. They are also ideal for homes with pets and built to handle larger areas over 4,000 square feet or more. Cool mist humidifiers can leave you feeling chilly in the winter, however, and are “usually” noisier than a warm mist system.
Warm mist humidifiers are often purchased for use in the winter but are used year-round by millions of homeowners as well. Water in these humidifiers is heated before a warm mist is dispersed, and it’s common to find these humidifiers with an essential oil or aromatherapy tray. Aside from safety concerns, they use more electricity than a cool mist humidifier and are geared towards small to medium rooms.
What about 2-in-1 Humidifiers?
As mentioned, there are room humidifiers that can produce both warm and cool mist as well. These systems are ideal if you need humidity indoors regardless of the temperature outdoors. While having a humidifier you can run all year long may seem like a great idea, they are not without their drawbacks.
Warm and cool mist humidifiers are more expensive than a system that just serves one purpose. The coverage range is also limited on these machines and tends to top out at around 600 square feet. There are a handful of models that can produce both types of mists effectively, but you are usually better off buying a dedicated system if you plan to use a humidifier on a regular basis.
Once you know whether a cool or warm mist humidifier is right for you, it’s time to consider the different types of humidifiers available to consumers today. Many homeowners believe there are only two types, but there are several styles and hybrid systems to consider as well.
- Evaporative – If you have owned a humidifier in the past decade, there’s a strong chance it was evaporative. These machines have a wick filter that draws water from a tank before it’s dispersed into the air with assistance from a fan. While there are a few variants of this style, all fall under the cool mist category.
- Ultrasonic – An ultrasonic humidifier uses high-speed vibrations to turn water into an ultra-fine mist. These systems can produce a cool mist, warm mist, or both depending on the system, but they can also leave white dust behind. That’s an issue if you don’t use distilled water it these systems or have a high mineral content in your H20 at home.
- Steam – Often confused with a warm mist humidifier, a steam humidifier is a completely different machine. They boil water, instead of simply heating it and can be considerably more expensive than other styles. They are considered more sanitary, however, as there’s less chance for bacteria and mold to breed.
- Hybrid – A hybrid humidifier can mean many different things today, but for us, it’s a system that can do more than just humidify the air. Dyson humidifiers and air washers fall into this category as do the 2-in-1 humidifiers that produce warm and cool mist. You’ll always pay more for a hybrid system, but the cost can be worth it if it replaces other machines in your household.
- Whole House – Whenever you hear the term “whole house humidifier,” it refers to the system that can handle a lot of square footage, although not necessarily an entire home. That’s because there are console humidifiers that can cover areas between 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, along with bypass and drum-based systems are designed to work with your HVAC system to distribute humidity.
One question we often get from our readers has to do with humidifier placement. It’s something some manufacturers briefly touch on in their user manuals, and something we also covered in our humidifier placement guide.
The first thing you’ need to do is check the dimensions of the system. If it’s in the desktop class, make sure it’s not too large for the table you plan to place it on. Humidifiers are lightweight when completely empty, but water can make them hefty, so always use a surface that’s flat and level.
Unless you plan on picking up a small, persona air humidifier, think about plug access. A humidifier should never be placed close to a wall, near curtains, or around any HVAC vents in your home. As ultrasonic systems are smaller than evaporative humidifiers of the same capacity, placement can definitely have an impact on which type of machine you choose.
With whole house humidifiers, you’ll need to call in a professional if you buy a system that’s tied into the ductwork. There are a handful of systems you may be able to handle yourself, but it’s best to leave new water lines and drains to the professionals.
Ease of Use
Every humidifier on our list was found to be a breeze to use by homeowners, but there are several factors that come into play when considering ease of use. The first would be the water tank. Top-fill systems are easy to fill, considering you don’t have to remove the tank, but aren’t ideal if you have to carry 2 gallons of water through the house every day.
Humidifiers with removable tanks can be problematic as well. Bottom-fill tanks have to be flipped upside down before being put on the base. Think about how frequently you may need to fill the tank against the method used to fill it and where your water source is located. Controls should be easy to access, but be wary of operating lights, which may be too bright at night if the machine doesn’t have a sleep mode.
To figure out the coverage or size of the humidifier you need in for your home, you’ll need to do a little math unless you already know the square footage of the room. For smaller areas like a bathroom or office, a personal humidifier may get the job done.
For areas like living rooms or bedrooms, you’ll want to get an estimate of the square footage. You can accomplish this by multiplying the length and width of one side of the room where the humidifier will be placed. A large living area measuring 20’ x 25’ would require a humidifier rated for at least 250 square feet at a minimum.
It’s also important to note that the ratings listed by humidifier manufacturers assume you have a tightly sealed room. While placement can have an impact on how well your humidifier performs, open doors, leaky windows, and other factors can affect the coverage range.
The size of the water tank on a humidifier is a specification you’ll find listed with almost every system on the market. While it is important and a worthy selling point for manufacturers, it is also tied to the speed and output level of a humidifier.
Humidifier tank size also varies by system, so you’ll find larger tanks on evaporative and console humidifiers than you will on an ultrasonic machine. We’ve seen ultrasonic humidifiers that range anywhere from 16 ounces to 2 gallons, while a large evaporative humidifier can have a 4 to 6-gallon water tank.
Operating time and Output
Operating time is another factor to consider when looking for the best air humidifier and something that can vary between a few hours or several days. On average, you can expect at least 8 hours of runtime from most medium to large humidifiers when they are at full speed.
The listed time given by manufacturers is usually the runtime on low, which can go beyond 100 hours on systems like the Pure Guardian H4810AR. Output is how much humidity a system can produce within 24 hours, and should be taken into account when factoring runtime and humidifier capacity.
If you’re interested in a humidifier that has a lot of bells & whistles, you won’t be disappointed but will want to keep your budget in mind. The fancier the system, the more expensive it will be. A humidifier that gives you a choice between cool and warm mist typically costs twice as much as one that only produces warm or cool mist.
That’s the most costly addition to a humidifier, but others aren’t far behind. Want a humidifier with a humidistat or hygrometer? Those come at a premium, although you can save a few bucks with analog controls. If you intend to run the humidifier continuously, it’s also a feature we highly recommend. A humidistat takes the guesswork out of setting levels and allows you to set your machine and forget about it until the tank is dry.
On that note, notification lights that let you know when the tank is empty are common, and there are plenty of evaporative machines with filter notifications as well. Nightlights are also easy to find on any style of humidifier, whereas timers are generally only on mid-range and premium machines. Other features of interest include multiple fan speeds, sleep mode, and aromatherapy trays.
Essential Oils and Humidifiers…
An aromatherapy or vapor tray is a way to use essential oils with a room humidifier. It usually consists of a door with a small pad where you can place your own oils or use premade pads from Vicks and others. It’s also the only time you should use essential oils in a humidifier unless you want to risk damaging the system.
Using essential oils or inhalants in a humidifier that’s not built for it can gum up the machine or even break down the material in the tank over time. In other words, if you want to medicate your mist or use aromatherapy, buy a machine that has that feature unless you want to void the warranty on your new system.
Humidifiers are built to be safe when used, but there are some hidden concerns you may not be aware of. Excess humidity can cause issues, and it’s more common of a problem than you’d think when you don’t have a thermostat in your home that reads humidity levels or a humidifier with humidistat. There are a number of inexpensive devices available that can help you measure the humidity levels in your home, however.
While there is always a chance for someone to slip from a puddle caused by poor humidifier placement, hot water inside warm mist humidifiers is a larger concern. Most manufacturers design warm mist humidifiers with safety in mind, but you can throw those rules out the window if you have rambunctious pets or children in your home.
The last area we want to touch on with safety is the material the water tank and machine itself is made from. Plastic is durable and used in everything from smartphones to humidifiers, but BPA can be a concern with containers, which is why it was banned in baby bottles. You can find BPA-free humidifiers but may have to contact the manufacturer directly to find out what their tank and system is made from.
A humidifier warranty largely depends on the company making the machine, not how much it costs. While that may seem like an odd approach compared to other products of this nature, it makes it easy to hone in on brands with excellent guarantees. After looking at over a hundred systems, we found that most manufacturers provide a warranty ranging between 1 – 3 years.
You can’t tell a lot about how well a humidifier is built by looking at it, but you can consider an extended warranty and can keep an eye out for companies that offer replacement parts. That’s hit or miss, although we found a number of brands that provide anything from a new fan or water tank to replacement remotes and caster wheels.
Q: What size humidifier do I need?
A: Humidifiers are generally sized to match the square footage of a room. While some manufacturers may use traditional sizes like small, medium, or large, many provide a square footage rating as well.
Q: When should I run a humidifier?
A: While warm mist systems are ideal in cold weather, you can use any humidifier year-round. A humidifier is commonly used for sinus issues and congestion, along with other problems like dry skin.
Q: What’s the best way to clean my humidifier?
A: While humidifiers are easy to clean, you should take care when using cleaning solutions with your system. If you need help cleaning your humidifier, check out our humidifier maintenance guide.
Q: What does humidifier output mean?
A: Humidifier output refers to how much moisture a system can produce in a day. It’s an important number when considering the room size, but a specification that can be challenging to find with some manufacturers.
Q: Is a cool or warm mist humidifier better?
A: Cool mist systems can freshen up rooms on hot summer days, while warm mist humidifiers can add some heat to a room in winter. Both serve the same purpose, so it’s a matter of preference and need. If you’re not sure which system is the right fit, our humidifier type guide can help you find the perfect style.