Pros and Cons of Different Types of Portable (or Room) Humidifiers?

Updated April 15, 2021

What Are the Pros and Cons of Different Types of Room Humidifiers?


There are five general categories of portable room humidifiers available: cool mist, ultrasonic, evaporative, warm mist, and vaporizers. Each type offers pros and cons for users – evaluate the qualities of each to determine which best meets the needs of your family and home.


Cool Mist Humidifiers


Cool mist humidifiers emit a cool vapor to add moisture to the air. They utilize a filter that captures water impurities and are easy to clean. These humidifiers are ideal for use during warmer weather and in areas that experience a warmer climate.



  • Emit cool vapor, safer for children and pets
  • Easy cleaning and little maintenance required
  • Filter out waterborne impurities
  • Can add inhalants, making them good for cold and flu sufferers
  • Cost effective
  • Helpful for asthma and allergy sufferers


  • Bacterial contamination can occur
  • Mineral dust may accumulate from water filtration
  • Operating noise

Ultrasonic Humidifiers


An ultrasonic humidifier employs a metallic diaphragm that vibrates at high frequencies to create water droplets that are added to the air. They use very little energy and have no operating noise, so they are great to use overnight and in areas where you don’t want to increase noise.



  • Extremely energy efficient
  • No operating noise
  • No hot surfaces, eliminating burn risk
  • Easy to clean, little maintenance required
  • Good choice for asthma and allergy sufferers


  • Bacterial contamination may occur
  • Mineral dust accumulates
  • More expensive than other options

Evaporative Humidifiers


An evaporative humidifier operates much like a cool mist evaporator – it does not heat water to create humidity. It is a wick humidifier that uses a fan to circulate humidity. Because they do not generate heat, they are ideal for homes with children and pets.



  • No hot surfaces, safe for children and pets
  • Affordable
  • Easy cleaning, low maintenance
  • Good choice to treat asthma and allergies
  • Self-regulating


  • Operating noise from system fan
  • Bacterial contamination
  • Mineral dust accumulation

Warm Mist Humidifiers


Warm mist humidifiers are often used to treat colds and the flu during colder months. They heat water to create vapor, which is cooled prior to being released. These systems are less likely to experience bacterial contamination because water is heated.


  • Reduced risk of bacterial contamination due to heat
  • Reduced mineral dust accumulation
  • Can add inhalants to treat colds and the flu
  • Quiet operation


  • Risk of burns, not suitable for use around children
  • Low energy efficiency
  • More difficult to clean

Vaporizer Humidifiers


A vaporizer may be either warm mist or cool mist. Inhalants can be added, making them a common choice to treat colds and the flu. They are typically quite affordable, making them a great choice for all budgets.


  • Bacterial contamination is less likely
  • Less mineral dust accumulation
  • Inhalants can be added to treat colds and the flu
  • Low operating noise


  • Heavy energy consumption
  • Burn risk
  • Harder to clean
  • Not for use near children