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Humidifier Reviews

By: Carl Laron on October 24, 2016

Editor's Note:
Humidifiers, even top rated ones, don't always get raves from their owners, but our research found some top performing cool mist and ultrasonic models. The best ones have been around for years.

Honeywell HCM-350 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Tank size -- 1 gallon Coverage -- 500 sq. ft. Size -- 18.5" x 13" x 10.5"

Best cool-mist humidifier

The Honeywell HCM-350 cool mist humidifier is an evaporative tabletop humidifier with sufficient output to handle medium sized rooms -- 400 to 500 square feet, depending on who you ask. This humidifier is a little bit louder than some ultrasonic humidifiers, and can only output cool mist, but it is effective, easy to clean, and there's no white dust residue from minerals in hard water to worry about. See our full review »

Buy for $59.99
Crane Adorable Ultrasonic Humidifier Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Tank size -- 1 gallon Coverage -- 250 sq. ft. Size -- 10.5" x 13" x 5"

Humidifier for a child's room

Upon first look, the Crane Adorable Ultrasonic Humidifier may seem more like a toy than a home appliance, because of its cute animal and other designs. However, its straightforward, easy-to-use design and quiet operation make this machine well regarded among many experts and users. This 1-gallon tank humidifier can regulate the moisture level of a space of around 250 square feet, perfect for a child's bedroom. See our full review »

Buy for $45.39
SPT SU-4010 Ultrasonic
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Tank size -- 1 gallon Coverage -- 500 sq. ft. Size -- 5.3" x 12.4" x 13.2"

Best ultrasonic humidifier

The SPT SU-4010 is an ultrasonic tabletop humidifier that can produce either warm or cool mist -- enough to humidify 500 square feet of space. The moisture output can be adjusted with a manual dial, but there is no built-in humidistat. It does well in expert tests, and users say that this humidifier produces plenty of good, fine mist, and it runs quietly. See our full review »

Buy for $72.65
Vicks Warm Mist V750 Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Tank size - 1 gallon Coverage -- medium room Size -- 12" x 7.9" x 14.2"

Warm mist humidifier

Although experts generally say cool mist humidifiers are better for most purposes, the Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier is an option if you want to make a room feel warmer during the winter. The Vicks humidifier has two vapor settings and, while some noise complaints are seen, others seem not to be bothered. The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier has an automatic safety shut-off and a nightlight.

Buy for $29.86
Essick AirCare MA1201 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Tank size -- 3.6 gallons Coverage -- 3,600 sq. ft. Size -- 14.5" x 20.5" x 21.5"

Best whole house humidifier

The Essick MA1201 is an evaporative humidifier that can put out up to 12 gallons of moisture per day, enough to humidify 3,600 square feet of space. Its humidistat allows you to adjust the humidity in 5-percent increments, and its double-fill tank system reduces the number of trips you must make to the sink. Users say this machine is easy to fill, and that its value is terrific. See our full review »

Buy for $99.98

Picking the right humidifier

Humidifiers can help restore the balance of moisture in your home, particularly in dry climates and during the winter. They also can alleviate discomforts ranging from dry skin to the symptoms associated with colds, asthma and other ailments.

Types of Humidifiers

Cool Mist

These can be evaporative humidifiers, which soak up water into a wick and use a fan to expel the moisture, or ultrasonic, which use high-frequency sound waves to vaporize water. Evaporative cool mist humidifiers can be inexpensive, but replacing their wicks or filters is an ongoing cost. In addition, evaporative humidifiers can be noisy. Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers are quieter, but this type has a propensity to emit dust, especially if you live where water tends to be harder than average.

Ultrasonic

All ultrasonic humidifiers emit cool mist. Some, however, can also emit a warm mist, which some people prefer, saying the heated vapor is easier to breathe (especially if you're congested). Unlike warm-mist only humidifiers (discussed below), water temperatures in ultrasonic humidifiers stay relatively low -- a negative if you are concerned about germ killing, but a positive for safety, especially if little ones are around. Otherwise, they have the same pros and cons as ultrasonic humidifiers that only emit cool mist.

Warm Mist

While warm mist ultrasonic humidifiers can also emit cool air, warm mist-only humidifiers (also called vaporizers) work by boiling water and then expelling it as steam. This can eliminate bacteria that's present in the water if it's heated to a true boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but it also means that minerals can build up in the tank and on the heating element over time, and vaporizers are not always easy to clean. More concerning for some, is the increased safety hazard because vaporizers can be tipped over by young children, potentially scalding them.

Whole House

Tabletop humidifiers can provide moisture in a single room, whereas whole-house humidifiers (sometimes called console humidifiers) can humidify several rooms at once. Since a console humidifier has a larger tank, it needs refilling less often than a tabletop model, but the process can be awkward. Whole-house humidifiers are typically evaporative rather than ultrasonic, are louder, and require the use of replacement filters. However, these humidifiers will not produce white dust like ultrasonic models.

Finding The Best Humidifiers
Our Sources
"Humidifiers"
"The Best Humidifier"
"The Hunt for the Best Humidifier"

In selecting the best humidifiers we weighed several factors, including performance (moisture output), ease of use, noise and the ownership experience, looking for both the best performers, and those that deliver the best bang for the book.

Both expert and user reviews were evaluated. On the expert side, it's tough to find a better resource than ConsumerReports.org, which tests more humidifiers than anyone else. However, not all of the humidifiers listed on the site are current models (though many are) and the results of its hands on tests can only be viewed by subscribers. TheSweethome.com consults ConsumerReports.org and other experts and reviewers, but then conducts its own testing to find the best choice. BabyGearLab.com conducts its own hands-on evaluations, and, while that review is aimed at someone looking for a humidifier for a nursery, anyone looking for a single-room humidifier will find the insights there useful.

While experts often -- but not always -- agree on which humidifiers are best, we found a sometimes startling divergence of opinion when it came to user reviews. This is likely because issues that don't always manifest during the short time experts have to evaluate a humidifier do show up after weeks or months of use. In some cases, issues that apply to one user, or a minority -- hard water, for example -- don't apply to others. As a result, user ratings for humidifiers as a class are often mixed. Be that as it may, we consulted the user reviews at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Sears.com and others in compiling these recommendations.

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