Best Humidifier Buying Guide

When the cold spell is back, you know it not only because Christmas decorations are hung everywhere, but also because your skin starts to feel dry and vulnerable. Whenever it’s that time of the year, I know I must get my humidifiers out from their storage place immediately, and start humidifying the air in my home. If I didn’t do that, I know my family and I will suffer from chapped lips, runny noses and some horrible allergies. This is also why I never go for second best when I’m buying a humidifier. The winter horrors are too skin-deep to be ignored.

So how do I always choose my humidifier? Read on to find my top picks, reviews and recommendations below.

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A humidifier is what you’d use to humidify a room or house. When the level of humidity in your living area becomes too low, especially in the cold winter, the dry air may cause damage to your home and your health. Dry air can make your furniture crack, but worse still, it’ll make your lips crack.

Using a humidifier will help in many ways, such as:
– prevent colds and coughs caused by respiratory infections;
– ease breathing and contribute to your comfort because oxygen intake is difficult in dry air;
– relieve asthma and allergies;
– prevent dry, flaky skin, itchy eyes and cracked lips.

Types of Humidifiers

There are several types of humidifiers in the market, which are not only different in the way they operate, but also give different results and have different maintenance requirements. The common types of humidifiers are:

Evaporative humidifier – Basic and affordable, needs regular wick replacement
Cool mist humidifier – Popular and affordable, many choices available, look for permanent filter
Warm mist humidifier – Better for health, but may be hot to touch.
Ultrasonic humidifier – Usually more expensive but with quieter operation.
Any type of humidifier works and the selection is usually between cool mist and warm mist because they can lower or increase the room temperature slightly.

How to Choose the Best Humidifier
After choosing a type of humidifier, you have to measure your room size in order to buy a humidifier that has the right capacity to work in that room. If you need to humidify the whole house, get a whole house humidifier instead of several separate humidifiers to save cost. For a small to medium room, a humidifier with roughly 2-gallon-per-day capacity is fine. If the room is large, you can get a console humidifier with about 9-gallon capacity.

I’ve had my fair share of bad humidifiers, which either broke down quickly, or are so badly designed that I don’t want to use them. Anyway, here are a few features/requirements that I feel are the most important to have in a humidifier:

1. Auto shut-off
2. Quiet operation
3. Easy controls
4. Well-designed tank for easy filling
5. Permanent or cheap, accessible filters
6. Warranty

You can read more in my guide here. Below you can find my favorite humidifiers reviewed and categorized for your easy browsing.

Reasons to Get a Humidifier

There are many reasons to get a humidifier. Most people buy one to retain moisture in the cold, dry winter, while some want to improve health conditions. If the humidity in your house is too low, you and those living in the same space will enjoy a more comfortable living with the help of a humidifier. Here are some reasons why you should list humidifier in your list of household appliance purchase:

1. Good health should not be compromised. The air that you breathe in daily is contaminated with dust and other unseen elements. When your breathing passage is dry, the dust and bacteria will stick to the walls of your respiratory tubes and trigger allergies and even asthma attacks. Humidifying the air will help moisten your windpipe and “wash away” germs.
2. During winter, the air is very dry. Dry air reduces oxygen intake, leaving you lethargic. Adding a humidifier instantly adds moisture to the environment you’re in and keeps the area comfortable.
3. Increasing moisture in an area helps a person to relieve a variety of ailments such as dry skin, itchy eyes, cracked lips, respiratory problems, colds and coughs.
4. Adding vaporizer to the water reservoir is especially useful for elderly people and kids with breathing problems.
5. A relieve to pets. Pets may also suffer from similar health symptoms.
6. In extreme cases, expensive furniture and certain musical instruments may run “dry”. Furniture may appear lackluster while musical instruments go out of tune. They will require higher maintenance, which translates to higher costs.
7. There is an increase in static charge in a dry area. This charge proves to be uncomfortable when you come into contact with another person or object.

There is a variety of humidifiers for you to choose from. Whether cool, warm or ultrasonic, you can find a humidifier that suits your needs best.

The most important point to bear in mind is to regularly clean your humidifier. Make it a point to empty stale water and consistently disinfect the water reservoir and evaporative pad. Allowing bacteria spores to breed is worse than not having a humidifier – you would not want to jeopardize your health and those of your loved ones with contaminated air.

Cool Mist Humidifier vs Warm Mist Humidifier

Cool Mist Humidifier
A cool mist humidifier break water into tiny droplets without heating and it sprays into the air as cool mist.

– It is much easy to clean
– It is affective for large areas
– As it sprays cool mist, it is good for warmer climate
– Cool mist makes it easier to breathe and does not make the place humid
– Safer for homes with small children as the water does not boil
– Certain models reduces dust particles in the air

As the water is unheated, the humidifier can become a breeding ground for fungi, harmful germs and molds
Slightly noisier than warm mist units due to the fan noise
Cool mist can feel slightly cool and clammy at certain room temperatures

Warm Mist Humidifier
Warm mist produces warm, soothing mist that you can see and feel. These humidifiers cool the steam before releasing the water droplets as a warm mist instead of real steam.

– A warm-mist humidifier boils the water, thus killing off the germs, fungi and mold that can grow in the appliance.
– As it produces warm vapors it is great for treating cold and flu
– More quiet than most cool mist units (although they can produce a boiling noise)
– Warm mist is more comfortable in cooler climates, especially during winter
– As it heats the water and boils it, the steam that is produces will be much cleaner and germ free

– It requires frequent cleaning and most difficult to clean, as the boiling water leaves mineral deposits behind
– It is only able to cover a smaller area than a cool mist
– As it is warm mist, it tends to leave the room feeling slightly humid
– As it needs the water to heat or boil, this could be harmful to children
– The choice between the cool mist and warm mist depends on personal choice and also the climate one is living in. Take the time to look at your surrounding environment and what you will need the humidifier to function as.

Safety Tips For Your Humidifier

Here are some safety tips in using a humidifier:
1. Follow instructions given in the manual for assembling and handling. If there is filter, consult the manual for further instructions.
2. Always ensure that your hands are dry when installing and handling the power unit. Keep the power outlet away from any form of liquid or dampness (i.e. bathroom.
3. Place the humidifier on a level surface. Ensure that the position of the humidifier is stable. This prevents accidents due to collapse or fall of machine.
4. When water is boiling (in warm mist humidifier), prevent tipping over by warning others beforehand. Keep children away from the device at all times.
5. Use a hygrometer to determine the appropriate level of humidity. Dust mites are more prevalent in overly humid conditions. Maintaining a healthy humidity level will keep them at bay.
6. Remember to turn off the power outlet and unplug the cord when you conduct your routine maintenance cleaning.
7. Always clean and maintain your humidifier properly. Check the humidistat, float, fan and evaporative pad at times to see whether they need replacement.

When using a humidifier, these are the general safety reminders that you should bear in mind. Do not compromise on your safety or health by tolerating the use of a dirty and bacteria-laden device. You and your family deserve the best!

How to Repair Your Humidifier

All household appliances require general maintenance from time to time to retain its usefulness and prolong its shelf life. It is much easier if your appliance is still under warranty- you only need to send it back to the manufacturer!

However, if it has broken down after the warranty period, what should you do? Listed here are some common problems concerning humidifiers and repair tips to help you fix your non-functioning humidifier quickly and easily.

1. Check your humidistat

A humidistat functions as an automatic detector-it monitors the humidity levels in a room or house and turns the humidifier on or off accordingly. If you sense something amiss with the device, you should check the humidistat. It should work well with your heating system, especially during winter.
– Check your electrical control panel for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. Replace the blown fuse.
– If this is not the problem, set the humidistat at a higher level (higher than the current humidity in the room).
– Switch off the electrical service panel.
– Open the humidistat body for examination.
– Using a volt-ohm meter, attach a wire clip to the two terminal screws.
– Switch on power to the humidistat. If the drum operates, the humidistat is faulty and requires replacement.
– To replace the humidistat, switch off the power at the electrical service panel and disconnect the humidistat.
– You can purchase a new humidistat from your local electronic and home equipment store. Install the replacement unit.

2. Check the float control

The hollow float inside a humidifier helps control water level. You will need to refill the reservoir from time to time.
– Open the water reservoir panel.
– Fill the water to an appropriate level and determine whether the float rod is straight.
– Adjust the float switch is necessary.
– Tighten all connections to the float.
– If faulty, purchase a new float and replace the faulty float.

3. Check the fan motor

Usually preceded by unusual noise, a faulty fan motor may require servicing or replacement.

4. Check your evaporative pad

– Clean your humidistat. A dirty filter or damaged filter foam can be cause for the problem when the humidifier is not cleaned and maintained regularly.
– Purchase water conditioners to soften the water and reduce algae formation. This helps to make your unit last longer.
– A clean pad prevents emission of bad smell.

Best Cool Mist Humidifier

We highly recommend the cool mist humidifier if you want a baby humidifier or to place one in the children’s room, because it poses less safety risks than the warm mist or steam humidifier. So how do you choose one then? Continue to my guide or skip to my top picks and humidifier reviews here.

How to Choose a Cool Mist Humidifier
What is a good cool mist humidifier? Many users have different opinions, but certainly the right humidifier is one that suits you best! Think about these points when you shop for it:

Room size
The humidifier must have the capacity to humidify the area you want it to, so buy one with the capacity to suit your room size.

Tank size
A bigger tank means fewer refill trips, but you’ll have to compromise with a heavier load to carry.

User friendly
A flat-bottomed tank is easier to fill; get a model with two speed settings or mist regulation settings for more control; and it should have auto shut off when the tank is empty to save power.

Easy maintenance
Is it easy to clean out? Does it have filters to replace? Buying a cool mist humidifier is easy but also we must also consider the effort and costs for maintenance afterward.

Cool mist humidifiers are often noisier than the other types thanks to its fan. More models are designed to produce less noise now, so check the humidifier reviews to see what users say about it.

Cool Mist Humidifier – Top Picks

Best Cool Mist Humidifier – Adorable Crane humidifier
Crane cool mist humidifier
This Crane humidifier is absolutely the best and the most popular cool mist humidifier! I have two of these, one for each kid’s room, and they humidify the place nicely to get rid of our allergic symptoms. The tank is so easy to fill that my six-year-olds can do it themselves. They truly loved the cute animal design it came in (there are so many designs to choose from), and I love the easy, lost cost maintenance. No filter needed! It is affordable and more budget friendly than its brother Crane humidifier model, but performs just as well.

Budget Cool Mist Humidifier – Vicks humidifier V3100
Vicks cool mist humidifier
If you have a lower budget, this Vicks humidifier is the one for you. This humidifier is simply easy to use with two speeds and leaves no mineral deposits in the tank for you to clean. You do have to replace the wicking filter every 2 – 3 months but these are easily found and come in a reasonable price. The best thing is the 3-year warranty! Those who have replaced their humidifiers every year would love this.

Console Cool Mist Humidifier – Holmes HM3501-U
I recommend you this Holmes console cool mist humidifier if you want to humidify the whole house with less effort. This model humidifier works well for 2000 – 2300 square feet. The two tanks add up to a big 2.27 gallon volume so it means fewer trips to the sink (they could be heavy though). With dual tanks you can leave the humidifier running with one tank while you refill the other. I like the humidistat that keeps your most comfortable humidity level too.

Best Whole House Humidifier

You want a whole house humidifier because you got fed up with moving the humidifier from room to room? Or maybe you are tired of replacing humidifiers every year? It is easier to maintain one humidifier for the house than one for each room. I realized that some years ago after my fifth humidifier broke, and now I’m enjoying the fuss-free control of humidity in my home.

Looking for the best whole house humidifier? Ok, let’s cut it short and see how we can choose a whole house humidifier. Click here if you want to see my recommendations first.

How to Choose a Whole House Humidifier
There are three types of whole house humidifiers. Personally I choose the flow-through system, but each person to his own. Each type is named according to how the whole house humidifier works, but I am not going to elaborate on that, because it only helps in confusing the buyer.

1) Drum system – The cheapest whole house humidifier. This type has a tank or drum to hold water, just like the small portable humidifiers, but it humidifies the whole house. Because it has a tank, you have to refill it and clean it out regularly to prevent mold growth. In short, spend less and do more work.
2) Flow-through system – This whole house humidifier is installed with your furnace or heating system. It doesn’t have a tank; the water flows and drains through the system, so no refills or clean outs needed. The only work you need to do is change the foam pad in due time.
3) Spray mist system – This is similar to the flow through system but it uses a spray mist instead of a pad. It does not have a tank to refill or a pad to change, but if your water has high mineral content the mist head will clog up. It is also recommended for oil or gas powered heating systems only.

When picking a type of whole house humidifier, consider your existing heating system and how high the mineral content of the water is, then choose the right size for your home.

Tip: If you choose a flow through whole house humidifier like me, you might want one with a bypass gate, so that you can close it off when humidity is high in the summer.

Whole House Humidifier – Installation
We wanted to order a whole house humidifier online (there was a nice deal on Amazon when I bought mine), she was worried that we might not install it right. Well, it is a legitimate concern, so I thought I would address it here. There are a few options regarding installation:

1. Do-It-Yourself – You can get the whole house humidifier cheap and refer to online videos and guides to install it. I did this and it had been fairly easy for me (read guide).
2. Buy one and find someone to install it for you – Service fees range from $50 to several hundreds.
3. Buy your whole house humidifier from a contractor – They include the installation fees in the price but you don’t have to lift a finger.

Whole House Humidifier – Top Recommendations
Best Whole House Humidifier – Aprilaire Humidifier 600
I myself use this model. I love the sleek look of this whole house humidifier, and the outdoor temperature sensor is a plus. This prevents condensation on my windows, because it automatically adjusts itself in the humidity output. It is easy to use and very little maintenance is needed.

Best Budget Whole House Humidifier
This is the most affordable bypass whole house humidifier! I recommended this model to my sister and she loved it. For $100, there is hardly anything to complain. It humidifies up to 3000 sq ft, which is good for most homes.

Drum Whole House Humidifier – Essick Air H12-400
Best Drum Whole House Humidifier
Using an evaporative wick to filter the water, this home humidifier does not spit white dust. It comes with 3 speed settings, auto shut off feature, and wheels for easy moving around. This is the best whole house humidifier if you are not considering to install one on your heating system.

Whole House Steam Humidifier – Honeywell TrueSteam HM509H8908
Best Whole House Steam Humidifier
If you prefer making your house warmer with a steam humidifier, try this whole house steam humidifier. It uses very little water to create steam and humidify the house, but the disadvantage is the high initial price you have to pay for it.

A whole house humidifier is an investment to make if you want to solve the humidity problem at home with the least effort, costs and upkeep each year. Make your choice now and relax afterward; you will be glad you chose a whole house humidifier!