Dry indoor air is a common issue in the wintertime that can cause dry skin, stuffy noses, irritated eyes and more. These issues are compounded when people are fighting off seasonal colds, flu and other viruses. The best way to prevent these issues is to use a home humidifier.
Home humidifiers boost the humidity levels in a room. This effect counterbalances the dry indoor air that occurs when outdoor temperatures dip and home heating systems run full force. Our guide is packed with information to help you choose the best model for your needs. At the end, we've featured our top picks, including the whisper-quiet Levoit Smart Classic 300S, which we put to the test and found to be both effective and easy to use thanks to its smart functions.
What to know before you buy a home humidifier
When shopping for a home humidifier, you have many options. Understanding a few important factors will guide you as you shop for the best one for your home.
Humidifiers are available in different sizes to suit various needs. Compact models are ideal for small spaces, such as bedrooms or offices, but you'll need a larger model to cover more more spacious areas.
Ease of use
No one wants to hassle with an appliance that's frustrating to use. In the past, humidifiers were often difficult to assemble and clean. Fortunately, our testers found that modern humidifiers have components that fit together easily. They also found them to be simple to disassemble in order to clean the interior components.
Warm mist humidifiers
These humidifiers heat the water until it boils. The steam mixes with the air to add moisture. Since the vapor may be hot, these models are not a good choice for families with small children.
Cool mist humidifiers
Cool mist humidifiers can be divided into three subcategories: evaporative, ultrasonic, and impeller.
Evaporative humidifiers force dry air through a wet wick filter to pick up moisture. These units emit the least amount of bacteria into the air.
Ultrasonic humidifiers have a small diaphragm that vibrates fast enough to atomize the water before misting it into the air. An ultrasonic humidifier typically produces a white film (from the minerals in the water) that settles on nearby surfaces.
Impeller humidifiers whirl the water into fine droplets that float into the air. This type of humidifier requires the most maintenance and is the least desirable option.
Home humidifier features
Humidifiers have a number of features that the user may find convenient. While all of these features may not be available on all models, they provide ease of use when offered.
The longer a humidifier runs, the less often you'll have to fill it. The size of the tank correlates to the hours of operation. While some compact models run as long as 16 hours, larger humidifiers can offer as much as 24 hours of continuous use.
When running, humidifiers make a humming sound. Our testers found that in some high-end models, this sound is barely detectable. In others, it's soft and pleasant. In fact, many people find the noise relaxing.
Some humidifiers offer the ability to change the humidity levels. They also have gauges so you can see the moisture rating being introduced into an indoor space. These features help you create the perfect humidity level for your needs.
Do you want a humidifier that shuts off without pushing a button? Opt for a model with a timer that you can set, so the unit shuts off automatically after the designated time frame.
Although not required to add humidity to an area, some models have extra features that consumers love. Remote controls, night lights, essential oil diffusing compartments, smart technology and medicated pads are some bonuses that provide added convenience.
Home humidifier cost
Home humidifiers start as low as $10, but at this price, they’re only effective for small rooms. From $40 to $80, you can find humidifiers that work in midsize to larger rooms. At $80 and above, the humidifiers are typically suitable for multiroom usage and may feature larger tanks, target humidity settings and automatic shut-off.
Home humidifier FAQ
What are some of the signs that the humidity is too low in my house?
A. Dry air causes easily recognizable conditions, such as dry or itchy skin, sore throat, irritated sinuses, itchy eyes or a bloody nose. Additionally, you know when the air is too dry because it's perfect for creating static electricity.
Are there any health risks due to living in a low-humidity environment?
A. Dry air can cause inflammation of your mucous membranes, such as the lining of your respiratory tract. This can make you more susceptible to colds, flu and other infections. Additionally, the flu virus survives longer in low-humidity environments, which also increases the possibility of the virus spreading.
Can humidity be too high?
A. Yes. In the summer, high humidity makes it harder for your body to cool itself. Year-round high humidity can cause a moisture buildup inside the home, which can lead to rotting. Additionally, humidity above 60% can create a breeding ground for dust mites and mold.
Which home humidifier should I get?
Best of the best home humidifier
Levoit Smart Classic 300S Humidifier: available at Amazon
Our take: If you are looking for a large humidifier with lots of bells and whistles, this model is likely to impress you.
What we like: This humidifier can be paired with an app and controlled with a smart device. Ideal for larger areas, it detects humidity in a room and adjusts accordingly. A night light and essential oil diffuser are nice extras.
What we dislike: Although rare, occasional reports of leaks have occurred.
Best bang for your buck home humidifier
Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier: available at Amazon
Our take: This is an affordable humidifier best suited for smaller rooms or offices.
What we like: Its adjustable nozzle and 1.5-liter tank can provide up to 16 hours of service. The tank is easy to fill, and the unit shuts off when the tank is low. It's available at a budget-friendly price.
What we dislike: Because of the design, it can be hard to clean the reservoir.
Honorable mention home humidifier
Honeywell Designer Series Cool Mist Humidifier: available at Amazon
Our take: This is a large cool mist humidifier that runs for hours and looks nice, too. It's a good choice for anyone who wants to add moisture to a midsized room.
What we like: The Honeywell Designer Series sports an attractive design that looks great in any room. It runs for as long as 24 hours. It's very quiet and simple to fill and clean. It can also diffuse essential oils into the air.
What we dislike: A few owners complained about leaks from the water tank.
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Jennifer Manfrin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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