Whole House Humidifiers and Portable Humidifiers: The best humidifiers for your home

Constantly living and breathing in dry air can affect your skin and respiratory health.A whole house humidifier offers a number of benefits, like relieving the discomfort of dry throat and lips and alleviating cracks to your wood furniture or floors. While the benefits of humidifiers for home are plenty, you need to know which one is built to meet your needs at your budget.

We’ve taken the time to research the market, gather key information, and offer it here. Your decision on which home humidifier to purchase just got much easier. Before we dive into the best systems on the market, let’s cover what a humidifier is and what it is not, to ensure you’re making the best investment for your family and home.

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What is a humidifier?

A humidifier is a home appliance that typically relies on cool or warm mist ultrasonic technology that creates water droplets that are dispersed into the air, increasing a room’s humidity level. Depending on the type of humidifier unit you purchase, it will create and expel moisture in different ways. As you consider the moisture-creating device for your home, evaluate whether a whole house humidifier is appropriate or if you simply need to create change in a single room.

Ideal Indoor Humidity Level

The ideal indoor humidity level falls between 30-50%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While you want relief from your dry indoor air, you don’t want to add too much moisture to the environment. A humidity level above 55% can often feel sticky and hot. Plus, the added moisture can support mold and mildew growth, so keeping your home in the recommended indoor humidity level window keeps your family comfortable and your home and furniture in good condition. The best indoor humidity level for your home can also be skewed based on different climates.

A home humidifier is not a device you want to rely on in place of medical recommendations from your doctor. Never swap a good device for necessary quality treatment. As helpful as a humidifier is, it does need upkeep (even if it’s minimal). Your humidifier is not a self-cleaning device. Read the directions thoroughly, and, depending on the model you purchase, clean or change the filter as recommended. If you’re in the market for a model that takes very little upkeep, skip to our list of easy-to-clean humidifiers.

Cool mist humidifiers vs Warm mist humidifiers

The difference between a cool mist humidifier and a warm mist humidifier is pretty straight forward. The cool mist unit creates a room-temperature vapor that adds humidity to the designated space. As the name implies, a warm mist humidifier creates a warm vapor that can create a cozy atmosphere during cold winter months.

When deciding which is best for your room, it’s mostly a matter of preference. The pros and cons of each style will help you decide which will make a bigger impact in your space. In our humidifier mist explainer, we list the benefits and potential challenges of each style and why many parents prefer cool mist in a child’s room.

How to measure indoor humidity

A hygrometer is the simplest way to measure your indoor humidity level. The small device is relatively inexpensive and makes it easy for you to determine if your home needs more or less moisture in the air.

The winter months are notorious for sweeping in cold, dry air that can spark the need for a home humidifier. However, you’ll experience the benefits of the device throughout your home year-round. Before tapping a shopping app and grabbing the first option that’s generated from your search, explore the different types of humidifiers below. Use our product insights to help you purchase the best whole house humidifier or portable humidifier for your family and home needs.

Best humidifier for a bedroom

With more than 42,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, the Pure Enrichment® MistAire™ Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is our top choice for a bedroom humidifier. Enjoy year-round comfort and relief from sinus and allergy congestion with the dual misting speed (high or low) function. The 360° mist nozzle allows you to maintain a consistent flow of humidity throughout a small- to medium-sized room. We especially love this model for nighttime use thanks to its ultra-quiet fan and automatic shut off. Plus, the night light feature makes it a great option for a child’s room. You won’t mind adding this sleek design to your nightstand or dresser and easy tank refill and cleaning mean you get all the benefits of a bedroom humidifier with minimal maintenance. 

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Best humidifier for large rooms

Adding moisture to the air in a large space has never been easier than with the Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier. The 1.5-gallon tank modifies the humidity level in rooms up to 753 square feet. The larger tank also allows up to 60 hours of operation time on the lowest mist setting. We found the built-in humidity sensor to be a great bonus. The sensor reads the room and adjusts the mist flow to keep the humidity level consistent. If you want to change the settings from across the room, use the handy remote control included in the packaging. Set a time for auto shutoff and add essential oils for a touch of aromatherapy. 

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Best ultrasonic humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier climbed its way to our top ultrasonic choice with its nearly-silent operative performance and consistent distribution of humidity in the room. We also like the LED display sleep mode for uninterrupted rest, or you can opt for a soft glow that’s perfect for a little one’s room. The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier also adjusts the humidity in a 400 square foot room in a little over an hour, which is faster than other tested ultrasonic humidifiers and why it’s our pick as the best ultrasonic humidifier. Select from the three mist levels for up to 30 hours of run time without refilling the tank. The ability to control the device from your smartphone via the SunHome app makes creating the optimal environment easy, even when you’re on the go. 

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Easiest-to-clean humidifier

If you’ve researched humidifiers for any amount of time and wondered, “How good is the Honeywell humidifier?”, we have the answer! Make adjusting the humidity level in your space fuss-free with the Honeywell HCM350B Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier. This device has a patented process that kills up to 99.9% of water-borne germs and bacteria, eliminating the pollutants before they’re distributed into your home. With three different levels of moisture output and sound, you can customize the humidity level and volume to your comfortability. When it’s time to clean the humidifier’s tank, simply add the parts to your dishwasher. We chose it for our easiest to clean humidifier because cleanup really couldn’t get any easier than that. 

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Best small humidifier

Get big results in a small space with the Mooka 2-in-1 Cool Mist Humidifier. We voted this device as the best small humidifier because of its dual-mist levels, 180° mist nozzle, and run time of up to 21 hours. This small humidifier is a great option for an office, mudroom, or other small space. You can also enhance your room with essential oil fragrances diffused by this humidifier. The base and tank will need to be cleaned every two to three days, and you never have to worry about the unit running while dry thanks to the auto-shutoff when the water reservoir gets low. 

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Choosing the best portable humidifier for your home depends on a variety of factors. From the size of your space to the desired moisture output level, selecting the unit that works best will create a comfortable environment that allows you to breathe easy. If, however, you’re more interested in keeping a consistent humidity level throughout your entire home without refilling or cleaning a mobile unit, a whole home humidifier is the better option.

What is a whole house humidifier?

When you need a humidifier for the whole house, you need a unit with more reach than one of the portable devices we’ve mentioned above. Complete home humidifying systems are integrated into your heating system and ductwork. The humidifier will release a set amount of moisture, which travels through the ductwork and into the rooms of your home.

Unlike portable humidifiers, there’s no tank to refill on home humidifiers that connect to your heating system. Plus, each room in the house benefits from a consistent, healthy indoor humidity level. Below are our top three picks for the best whole house humidifier.

Best whole home humidifier

Aprilaire 800 Steam Humidifier

The Aprilaire 800 is a steam humidifier that is capable of delivering balanced humidity across areas up to 6,200 sq ft, making it ideal for large homes and other spaces. Customize the humidity level in your home with this unit’s six output levels that can disperse between 11.5 to 34.6 gallons of moisture into the air per day. The Aprilaire 800 Steam Humidifier is truly a set-it-and-forget-it unit, as it operates automatically for perfectly balanced humidity levels. This unit snagged the top spot for humidifying the whole house thanks to its minimal maintenance of changing the steam canister, which typically needs to be done only once a year.

Honeywell H280 By-Pass Humidifier

The Honeywell H280 By-Pass Humidifier offers easier installation than most whole home humidifiers with fewer wire and ductwork connections. The unit is powerful enough to offer a consistent humidity level for homes up to 4,000 sq ft. We like that this unit comes with a one-year warranty and the maintenance only requires yearly replacement of the humidifier pad and cleaning out any mineral deposits (more frequently if your home has hard water). 

Aprilaire 700 Power Humidifier

The Aprilaire 700 Power humidifier is a fan-powered whole-home humidifier that is installed with your HVAC system. The unit can operate independently or with your furnace, delivering an 18 gallon per-day output that effectively humidifies homes up to 4,200 sq ft. Our favorite feature is the dual sensors that monitor and respond to the outdoor temperature and your home’s indoor relative humidity to deliver optimum humidity. 

Portable humidifier or whole home humidifier?

Determine if a whole house humidifier or portable humidifier is best based on your family’s needs. For homes in extremely dry climates, a humidifier for the whole house is likely best. To create a more comfortable sleeping environment, try a portable unit. Explore more benefits of maintaining a healthy indoor humidity level with our humidifier fact sheet.