Certain types of furnaces draw the air they heat from within the house. This creates a vacuum in the home that is filled by pulling air in from outside. Nice, dry winter air. As a result, we wake up feeling like we just emerged from a week in the desert with no water. Enter the humidifier. Humidifiers reduce the amount of static electricity in the air, help us sleep well, reduce asthma symptoms, make for healthier house plants and keep dry, cracked skin at bay among other things. Below are the best humidifiers on the market today.
The Best Humidifiers
The Urpower Cool Mist Humidifier is an ultra-compact humidifier and essential oil diffuser that’s ideal for small rooms. If you’re looking for a humidifier for that spacious living area in your loft with the 12-foot ceilings, this isn’t it. However, if you want a whisper quiet, affordable, reliable, easy to use a lightweight small room humidifier to put on the nightstand next to your bed you won’t find better than the Urpower.
The Urpower provides up to 6 hours of beneficial mist when on the low, intermittent setting and a little over 3 hours when running flat out. This cool mist humidifier has a very pleasing shape, is extremely stable once it’s placed on the counter or table top and also features a nifty nightlight that’s going to be a hit with your little ones. There are 7 different colors to choose from and all emit a soft, ethereal glow. The device looks nothing like what you’d expect a humidifier to look like, though it provides a delightfully cool mist that’s going to help you and your loved ones get the most restful sleep you’ve had in years.
Automatic shut off when tank is empty.
Contemporary Japanese styling.
Fully programmable on/off cycles.
Up to 6 hours of continuous operation.
Dual mist settings.
- Weight9.6 ounces
One of the quietest humidifiers on the market.
The automatic shutoff eliminates “running on empty” issues.
Lightweight, easy to set up and use.
Ideal for small to medium sized bedroom or office.
Cleans up in about a minute.
Not intended for large rooms.
The Pure Enrichment MistAire is another small room humidifier that’s redefining what a humidifier can be. It’s quiet, handsome, effective and weighs only a little over 2 pounds. It’s an ultrasonic device so there is no filter to clean or change and the built-in night light feature makes it the perfect compact humidifier for the kids’ room.
Even though the reservoir is small at just 1.5 liters you’ll get up to 16 hours of run time out of the PE MistAire. And when the water tank is approaching empty the humidifier will shut itself off to pre-empt any fire threat from running on empty. The company says this is intended for small to mid-sized rooms. But to be honest you’d be pushing things in a room that was much more than 300 square feet. Still, what it does it does well which is why it’s on our list.
1.5 liter water tank.
Soothing night light.
Dual speed control.
Up to 16 hours on a single tank.
Auto shut down feature.
2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- BrandPure Enrichment
- Weight2.27 pounds
The nozzle distributes the moist air evenly throughout the room.
Small enough to move easily from room to room.
The night light it is a nice feature for the kids.
Has an unobtrusive design that doesn’t fight with your decor.
For small and medium-sized rooms only.
We love the way this compact ultrasonic small room humidifier from VicTsing looks with its rich wood grain finish and pleasing organic shape. But what’s even better than the profile of this device is how easy it is for anyone in the family to use. The top pops off for easy access to the water tank, then all you have to do is fill it to the water line, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, replace the top and you’re ready to go.
On the left is your light control. It gives you the option of fixing the light on one color or simply letting it slowly cycle through all 7 available colors. On the right is the timer button that allows you to set the device to 1, 3 or 6 hours of operation or to simply let it run continuously until it shuts down automatically when the well is dry.
Attractive wood grain finish.
Automatic shut off.
7 color modes to choose from.
Program for 1, 3 or 6 hours or continuous operation.
300 ml tank capacity.
1-year limited warranty.
- Weight1.4 pounds
A very pleasing design that’s also easy to use.
Does a great job distributing air throughout the room.
Super easy to add oils to create pleasing aromas.
One of the lightest humidifiers on the market.
Capacity is limited.
With the Honeywell HCM350W Cool Mist Humidifier, we enter the world of medium to large room devices that will easily handle up to 500 square feet or 46 square meters. Honeywell, of course, is known for their precision electronics and this evaporative humidifier is a fine manifestation of the company’s commitment to quality. Control couldn’t be easier and the unit comes with its own humidistat so you can determine exactly the right time to power it up.
With a 1 gallon tank, there is no danger this humidifier is going to run dry in the middle of the night. In fact, depending on the settings you choose you can get up to 24 hours of continuous use out of the device on a single tank of water. The HCM350W provides high-quality Honeywell wick filters that protect against bacteria and viruses and which are easy to clean and change when the time comes.
Full 1-gallon capacity.
Patented UV tech kills 99.9% of viruses, bacteria, and mold.
Durable impact resistant dishwasher-safe shell.
QuietCare noise dampening technology.
3 year limited manufacturer warranty.
- Weight9.55 pounds
Large capacity won’t run dry during the night.
It’s very quiet for such a relatively large unit.
Runs for up to a full 24 hours on one tank.
The antimicrobial filter ensures you’re breathing clean, moist air.
The 3-year warranty is one of the best in the business.
Accepts only Honeywell filters.
No auto shut off (not that you’re likely to need it).
The tank on the TT-AH001 from TaoTronics holds just over a gallon of water which, when combined with its ultra-quiet operation and 30-hour max operational time, helps make this one of our favorite medium to large room humidifiers. You’ll get up to 30 hours of nearly silent continuous service from the TT-AH001 and the three mist levels allow you to achieve just the right moisture content in the air.
The unit has a built-in humidistat which is a big help when you’re trying to decide if you need to turn the device on. So many times people waste energy by running the humidifier when they don’t really need to. The humidistat will help ensure that doesn’t happen. That humidity level is displayed on the combination LCD/LED control panel along with other important information such as the mist level, low water indicator, and timer.
Fully programmable humidity level.
Large 1.06 gallon tank.
Comprehensive LCD display.
Up to 15 hours of continuous operation.
Good for rooms up to 540 sq ft.
- Weight3.53 pounds
The discrete design blends in well with most interiors.
The 15 hours of continuous operation means you don’t need an auto-off feature.
The quietest medium to large capacity humidifier we tested.
The nozzle features 360 degrees of adjustment.
The readout screen is not as clear as we’d like.
This is a really sharp looking unit that also happens to be easy to use and very effective in distributing the cool mist throughout the room. It has the largest tank of any of the humidifiers on our list at 1.6 gallons and, depending on the settings you choose, can run for up to 50 hours without needing to be refilled.
The is an ultrasonic humidifier and essential oil diffuser that releases up to 270 ml of moisture per hour into the environment, which is enough to handle any mid-sized room up to about 500 square feet. Although it is a filterless unit it provides you precise control over the humidity level which lets you minimize the risk of airborne contaminants. It also features an auto shut off. But with such a large tank you’ll probably never need it.
360 degree rotating nozzles.
Ultra-quiet, ultrasonic technology.
Auto shut off safety feature.
Antimicrobial, antibacterial and hypoallergenic.
Large 1.6-gallon tank.
- BrandEverlasting Comfort
- Weight4.41 pounds
Does a great job distributing the humidified air.
The large tank means you’re not constantly refilling it.
The auto shut off is nice, though it’s probably redundant.
A pleasing design doesn’t look like a humidifier.
Relative lack of programmability.
No way to keep track of humidity levels.
On the one hand, LEVOIT 6L Warm and Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier is a big, not terribly attractive piece of home hardware that looks like it belongs in a lab. On the other hand, it has one of the easiest to comprehend and use control panels, holds 1.5 gallons of water and offers both warm and cool mists. So who cares if it’s a bit sterile in appearance?
You might think that such a large unit would be a real noise generator. But because this is an ultrasonic device sound levels are kept to a very modest 36 decibels. Quiet enough for the kid’s room. Levoit has listened to their customers and built this iteration of their signature humidifier with tougher plastic so the tank is no longer prone to cracking as a result of incidental contact. And for such a large unit it’s actually remarkably light and portable.
Full remote control.
1.5 gallon capacity tank.
Quiet ultrasonic air diffusion.
36 hours of operation.
1-year warranty, lifetime support.
- Weight4.92 pounds
With a 1.5 gallon tank you won’t run dry at night.
Up to 36 hours of continuous operation on low setting.
The control panel is easy to read and use.
The built-in humidistat makes choosing the right settings easier.
Operates at less than 36 decibels.
The final entry on our list of best humidifiers is this beauty from Vicks. That’s right, the cough drop company. You might think this is some sort of gimmick device but in actuality, it’s a well built, thoughtfully designed unit that provides you precise control over the humidity in your room. And if you’re a bit under the weather, it will also let you slip a couple of VapoPads into the custom holder and breathe easier.
It’s ultrasonic quiet, has a 1.2-gallon tank and will provide up to 33 hours of continuous operation before it automatically shuts down when the tank nears empty. The design has a compelling simplicity to it although part of that is simply that you’re not given a lot of control options other than the humidity setting dial and the on/off button.
Up to 33 hours of continuous operation.
Auto shut off to prevent accidents.
No filters required.
Adjustable humidity levels.
Works with Vicks VapoPads.
1.2-gallon tank capacity.
- Weight4 pounds
The Vicks VapoPad feature is great when you’re under the weather.
The design is simple, compact and attractive.
The unit is very easy to clean.
The large capacity is good for up to 30 hours of operation.
For some reason, the fill opening is on the bottom.
Humidifier Buying Guide
Types of Humidifiers
Evaporative - In an evaporative humidifier, water from the tank is slowly absorbed by a wick filter in a separate chamber of the humidifier. Above this wick filter - which may be quite large - is a fan which draws air upward. As the air is pulled upward through the wick filter the moisture in the filter evaporates into the air. This process of evaporation causes the air to be cooled. The moist, cool air is then blown into the room by the fan. The advantages of the evaporative humidifier are that it is easy to maintain, the filter removes most minerals from the water before they can be released into the room and this type of home humidifier is usually less expensive than its ultrasonic counterpart.
Ultrasonic - In an ultrasonic humidifier, water from the tank is slowly leaked onto the surface of a metal diaphragm that is vibrating at ultra-high speeds. This vibration agitates the water causing it to break up into tiny water particles which collectively form a mist. A fan beneath the diaphragm pushes the resulting mist upward through a nebulizing chamber and out into the room. Ultrasonic humidifiers often allow you to choose either a cool or a warm mist, with many people preferring the warm mist. The advantages of this type of humidifier are the aforementioned warm mist option, the fact that there is no filter to change and the fact that they make almost no noise whatsoever.
Features to Look for in a Humidifier
Ease of Maintenance/Cleaning - Neither an evaporative or ultrasonic humidifier is going to require much by way of maintenance. That said, they are not entirely maintenance free. For the most part, maintenance includes cleaning the water tank to prevent the development of bacteria, mold or mildew and cleaning the outlets at the top of the device where the mist exits. With evaporative units, there is the added chore of occasionally having to change the wick filter, which is really more filter than it is wick. Because they don’t use a filter ultrasonic humidifiers are normally a little easier to clean and maintain. But the difference isn’t all that great. The most important thing with any humidifier is to make sure the tank and mist outlets are clean and free of mold or bacteria. If you use the device on a regular basis this cleaning should be done about once a week.
Run Time/Capacity - Run time - or operational time as it’s often referred to - is the length of time the device will operate continually before it runs out of the water. This time will vary greatly depending on the setting and the size of the water tank. A humidifier with a small tank that is run on high will run out of water in a matter of just a few hours. Conversely, a humidifier with a large tank that is run on low may operate continually for as long as 50 hours. If you are purchasing a humidifier primarily to run it throughout the night while you sleep you would be wise to purchase one with a larger water tank. Say, 1 gallon or more. If you just want a humidifier to run in the background while you’re working out or cooking a 1-liter tank, or even smaller, should suffice.
Room Coverage - Before you select a humidifier you need to determine which room you’ll be using it in. The size of the space will go a long way toward determining the size of the humidifier. In general, a small room is considered anything less than about 300 square feet. Anything up to about 500 square feet is considered a medium sized room. While rooms up to 1,000 square feet are considered large. Measure the room you have in mind and then check to make sure the home humidifier you have your eye on will be appropriate for that size room. It should give some indication on the box or in the literature how many square feet it is designed to cover.
Health Benefits - A health benefits of a humidifier are often measured in a negative sense. That is, you can tell your humidifier is working if you do not spend the winter months slipping from cold to cold, if your allergies or asthma are in check, if you are not waking up with sore, dry eyes and if your skin is not shriveling up like a prune while you sleep. If the humidifier is doing the job it is intended to do you should be sleeping well and waking up refreshed.
Noise - A humidifier is a mechanical device and as such, it would be unrealistic to expect even the best humidifiers to be completely silent. However, in recent years advances in engineering have resulted in humidifiers that are often so quiet you won’t realize they have been running until you turn them off. This is especially true of the best ultrasonic humidifiers. Since the fan they use is smaller than the fan you’ll typically find in an evaporative humidifier and the fact that it is buried deep inside the device, the ultrasonic humidifier is the closest thing to silent you’ll find. For this reason, many people prefer them for their bedroom and then get a less expensive evaporative humidifier for the public spaces in their house.
Cool vs Warm Humidifier - Evaporative humidifiers typically release a cool mist into the air. Some people find this quite refreshing while others find it a bit uncomfortable. Those that are not enamored of the cool mist can choose an ultrasonic humidifier since many of them offer a warm mist option. With the warm mist option, a heating module is embedded in the device that heats up the water before it is passed over the nebulizer and is released into the room. The warm mist typically enters the room at about 104 degrees Fahrenheit before gradually cooling. The ultrasonic humidifier typically lets you choose whether you receive a warm or cool mist. While with the evaporator it is strictly cool mist.
Filters - Filters are also called “wicks” or “wick filters”. They can be found in evaporative humidifiers and their job is not only to absorb water and release it into the air by way of evaporation but also to remove chemicals and minerals from the water so that you don’t breathe them in. Many filters have antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties that prevent these nasty microbes from taking up residence in the humidifier. This helps prevent allergies and a range of potential respiratory problems. Filters are usually made of either paper, metal or metal coated with clay. In most cases, the filter should be changed approximately every 3 months, dependent of course on how often you use the humidifier. If the idea of buying and replacing wick filters doesn’t interest you check out one of the ultrasonic humidifiers profiled above.
Automatic Shut Off - The last thing you want is for your humidifier to run dry in the middle of the night. Not only will you wake up with the desert mouth, dry eyes and perhaps a headache from the dry air but if the humidifier continues to run with an empty tank there exists a fire risk. If you purchase a humidifier with a large tank (say 1.5 gallons+) and fill it before you go to sleep you should be fine. However, if you have a smaller humidifier and you forget to fill it right before you hit the sack there’s a chance it might run dry in the middle of the night. As such, auto shut off feature is a must on these types of small room humidifiers.
Humidistat - The humidistat is nothing more than a gauge that measures the humidity in the air. Some humidifiers have them and some don’t. They can be useful in helping you find the right setting for your humidifier. If the humidistat shows that the air is exceptionally dry you simply crank up the humidifier a bit. If the humidistat shows that the air is already fairly damp you may want to forego using the humidifier for the time being. Without the humidistat, you are essentially flying blind and guessing whether or not the air is dry enough to warrant using the humidifier. Keep in mind that even if the unit you have your eyes on doesn’t have a built-in humidistat they are pretty easy to obtain either online or at many home improvement centers.