Humidifier Buying Guide

So, what’s the best humidifier for the needs of your home? 

The answer to this question depends on what kind of home you have, and what kind of needs that home has.  Since there is no single “best humidifier” for every house, you might want to consider which of the five basic types of humidifiers are your own “personal best”;  then we’ll show you the most popular and economic brands (in other words, the ones with the best humidifier ratings). 

Hopefully this humidifier review will help you select a “best humidifier” for your particular home need and situation. 

What’s the best humidifier for your home?

In short, it would depend on what you wanted the humidifier to do.  For example, a cool mist model, according to consumer reviews of top rated humidifiers, is the best humidifier for dry skin, because it sooths and moisturizes the epidermis without the possibility of scalding.  This makes a cool mist model a preferred humidifier for a baby’s or child’s room as well, and the best room humidifier overall for these specific circumstances.  However, equally well reviewed and recommended are the warm mist humidifiers, which are the best rated humidifiers for congestive diseases, coughs, colds, flu and similar respiratory conditions.  Warm mist is also the best humidifier for allergies, according to the majority of consumer websites, and is an excellent room humidifier if heat and temperature are not a consideration (as in a greenhouse or adult’s sick room).  

If you spend a few minutes on any website with reviews for consumer humidifiers, you’ll be confronted with an embarrassment of riches in terms of models, makes and price ranges, but you’ll seldom find a consensus about the “best humidifier” anywhere; at the very least, however, you’ll get an idea of a good humidifier to use in most circumstances. 

The only real point of debate in humidifiers seems to rest with the customers prone to allergies, as they cannot appear to reach a consensus either in website reviews or in product reviews on Amazon or similar websites.   A model that comes highly recommended by a sufferer of asthma, a skin condition or a similar medical condition will be roundly blasted by another who complains that it was ineffectual, left the room too damp, too dry, too sticky, and so on. 

With that in mind, we herein present several models that can be called the top rated humidifiers for particular circumstances, and wish you a good and enjoyable hunt as you pick the best for your situation. 

What’s the best humidifier?  Here are what we found to be the three top rated models.

#1 Overall Best Humidfier - Air-O-Swiss AOS Ultrasonic Humidifier - 7135

The Air-O-Swiss is one of the most highly rated warm mist humidifiers on the market, and one of the most technologically advanced; it uses the high-frequency ultrasonic vibration to generate its mist, which is extra fine and thin, and permeates the air with relative speed and efficiency.  It also features a built-in hygrostat (for regulating moisture) and output regulation (for convenient operation), as well as automatic and sleeping modes, and customer-endorsed hygienically pure emissions.  It remains one of the top rated humidifiers in Consumer’s Reports website, and can be modified (usually with a simple flick of a switch) to cool mist if desired.

Air-O-Swiss 7135 Full Review

#2 Overall Best Humidfier - Honeywell HCM-6009

The Honeywell is solidly rated by Amazon customers (4 out of 5 stars) and features a large reservoir (9 gallon per 24 hours output); it is designed for larger rooms up and beyond 2200 square feet.  It also features three settings for moisture and output, has been endorsed by numerous customers as far quieter than models they previously owned, and has an exclusive antimicrobial filter to prevent bacteria and mold growing in the reservoir or mechanism.   It is highly recommended by consumers with dry skin problems, and reduces both nasal congestion and (added bonus) static electricity build-up in the home.

Honeywell HCM-6009 Full Review

#3 Overall Best Humidfier - Venta Ultrasonic Humidifier

The Venta ultrasonic is the best room humidifier for smaller areas according to consumers, as it creates both warm and cool mist (and is adjustable to both) in rooms over 550 square feet but not above 600.  It is also recommended, in cool mist mode, as an ideal baby’s and child’s humidifier.  Its capacity is over a gallon, and it is endorsed by consumers as very quiet (particularly for children) and easy-maintenance.  More economical than the other models (under $100 at most locations), the Venta is an excellent model for individuals needed different levels of humidity in more than one room of the house, and it usually runs 24 hours and more on a single filling in its tank.

Venta Ultrasonic Humidifier Full Review

Top 2 Humidifiers Under $50

#1 Best Budget Humidfier - Crane Drop Shape Cool Mist Humidifier

An allergists’ dream and an excellent budget model (priced at under $50 in most stores), the Crane Drop Shape (so named because it resembles a tear drop—it comes in white or orange, and in a “frog-costume” mode for the kids) produces a stream of mist into a smaller area (around 500 square feet or less).  It gives relief from allergy, cold and flu symptoms, asthma and congestive illnesses, dry skin and sinus irritations, at least according to the numerous allergy sufferers who recommend this compact, excellent fog-producing marvel.   Its simplistic and modern design makes it an unobtrusive visitor to any room, and on medium setting it will humidify for a day without refilling.

Crane Drop Shape Humidifier Full Review

#2 Best Budget Humidfier - Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier

Vicks is the company that first began humidifying to augment the effects of their VapoRub; it’s not surprising that their humidifiers are efficient, easy running and highly recommended.  The warm mist model is less than $50 in most stores, and produces a nearly bacteria free stream of soothing fog that relieves cold and flu symptoms as well as respiratory ailments and some forms of dry skin.  Ideal for a smaller room (although it may get too warm for a child’s or baby’s room), it boasts an automatic shut-off feature (if it senses too much heat, or if it is set to shut off at a certain time via its timer). 

Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier Full Review

Top Whole House Humidifier

#1 Best Whole House Humidfier - Aprilaire 700 Whole-House Powered Humidifier

A highly rated (4.4 out of 5 stars) whole house system, the Aprilaire features built-in blowers that activate automatically when a certain lack of humidity is sensed by the system; it also features flow-through fan technology and a compact frontpiece that can be set anywhere in the home.   The water runs through the system via gravity, and the unit can humidify a home of over 4000 square feet; installed vertically on ductwork, it is consider one of the best performing whole house units on the market today, and is usually available in most stores at a bargain price of less than $250.  

Aprilaire 700 Full Review

Types of Humidifiers

Looking through and analyzing humidifier ratings can quickly become a headache if you aren’t familiar with the various types of humidifiers available.  Good humidifier reviews for an evaporative model, for example, would not be indicative of quality for someone who needed a forced-air system or whole home system.   So, it’s best to consider the type of humidifier first. 

In general terms, a humidifier increases humidity and moisture, either to 1. an entire house or 2. a single room (the latter are known as point-of-use humidifiers).   The former are entire systems that connect to a house’s HVAC system to humidify the entire dwelling.   The majority of our humidifier reviews, however, are focused on point-of-use single room units.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

The most technologically advanced of the humidifiers under review, the water for steam in an ultrasonic humidifier is produced by a metal or plastic “diaphragm” that vibrates ultrasonically (hence the model’s name) and creates water in the form of a cooling mist.  Piezo-electric transducers create the high frequency movement, also known as oscillation, that produces this steam from the reservoir, and the mist produced is very fine.  

Ultrasonic humidifiers are now the norm in commercial businesses such as hospital diagnostic centers, storages for food, electronics manufacturers and photo labs.   Expensive as they undoubtedly are, the ultrasonic humidifier is nevertheless the most modern and efficiently humidifying product on the market.   If you are willing to pay a little bit extra for increased functionality and reliability the ultrasonic humidifier is unequivocally our recommendation as the best type of all around humidifier available.

#1 Rated Ultrasonic Humidifier

Air-O-Swiss AOS Ultrasonic Humidifier, Model 7135

Cool Mist - Evaporative Humidifiers

The most common point-of-use model, and one of the best humidifiers for single rooms, is the Evaporative model.  Also known as the “wick” form of humidifier or the “cool mist” (as opposed to warm mist) model, the evaporative model has a wick (a filter that sucks water from a tank or reservoir) and a fan.  The water on the wick dries (the filter provides a more capacious surface for the water’s evaporation) and the fan blows the evaporated moisture into the room.   The adjustment in humidity allows the evaporative model to self-regulate; the more humid the room, the less the humidifier will produce in terms of evaporated moisture. 

#1 Rated Cool Mist Humidifier

Air-O-Swiss AOS Ultrasonic Humidifier, Model 7135

Cool Mist – Impeller Humidifiers

A cool mist humidifier, much like the evaporative model, the impeller literally flings water from its reservoir (via a disc that rotates inside the model) to a diffuser; this mechanism further humidifies the room by breaking the water into droplets which permeate the air with moisture. Often used in homes where the moisture level is readily checked and the reservoir readily topped, the impeller can overdo its own bounds, and, if unattended, cause small amounts of water damage. The impeller is most often used in situations where actual damp conditions are regularly needed, such as a tropical or house plant greenhouse.  

#1 Rated Cool Mist Humidifier

Air-O-Swiss AOS Ultrasonic Humidifier, Model 7135

Warm Mist Humidifiers

A warm mist humidifier operates on the same principle as the evaporative, but there is a heating element included in the humidifier’s base, or in its reservoir.  This heating element facilitates quicker evaporation of the water in the reservoir (one reason that the warm mist model must be checked and topped off more often) and the mist produced is particularly soothing and invigorating.  Warm mist humidifiers are often used in spas for skin conditioning, in hospitals (it is a particularly good humidifier for patients with congestion and tubercular infections) and in the home (it is frequently used for home-dwellers with colds, flu and similar congestive infections, as well as some skin problems).  

#1 Rated Warm Mist Humidifier

Air-O-Swiss AOS Ultrasonic Humidifier, Model 7135

Warm Mist – Vaporizer Humidifiers

A warm mist humidifier, this model boils the water in its reservoir via its built-in heating element, and the unit thus releases hot steam into the air.  The vaporizer is actually the best room humidifier for patients with a need for medicated steam (for congestive illnesses and the like), since the vaporizer allows for the addition of medication (in the form of inhalants), either directly to the water or passing through a filter, tray or diffuser (one simply “lubricates” the tray or diffuser with the medication, and the steam is thus infused with the healing element).   This is the humidifier that uses the most energy in boiling its water to produce steam. 

#1 Rated Warm Mist Vaporizer Humidifier

Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier

In Summary

  • Warm mist – for those looking for a humidifier that not only humidifies but also produces warm humid air. The humidifier of choice for those with colds, allergies, or for infants.
  • Cool mist – a no frill humidifier. For those looking for increased humidity via cool air. Also safer for pets and young children compared to warm mist humidifiers.
  • Ultrasonic – the most versatile and technologically advanced humidifier. Can be cold or warm mist.

Good luck and have fun as you find the perfect humidifier for your home!