How To Choose The Best Home Humidifier – A Buying Guide

Air humidifiers are your simple household tool to reverse the effect of dry air caused mainly by the drop of outside temperature. This commonly happens during the cold months and winter season when air moisture is low. A humidifier is used to counteract the lack of moisture by producing mist that increases humidity levels at home. This in return helps remedy many season-induced ailments, such as colds and coughs, headaches and asthma, dry skin and cracked lips, and sinus infections. But you don’t want to over-humidify either as this can cause sickness as well. You need the right balance of moisture in your rooms and homes (shall we say, the Optimum Humidity), and humidifiers enable you to do just that. Humidifiers balance humidity levels and improve air quality.

Humidifiers can be your ‘go-to’ machines that can help improve your family’s health. This being your top priority, getting a humidifier surely is a “no-brainer” nowadays. But how do you get a humidifier that is most suited for your home needs (or even at the office)? For a start, you need to be well versed on the important things to consider when purchasing a humidifier. This article will help with that and detail everything you need to know. Consider it your complete guide to buying your new (or next) air humidifier.

Let’s first do a quick rundown of questions that you should ask yourself before buying your humidifier unit:

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    What type of humidifier do I need?
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    How big is the area I wanted to humidify?
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    A room or entire house?
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    What features do I need to look for in a humidifier?
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    Do I have the money to buy?
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    And is it a value for my money?

Now, let me respond to these questions to help you choose the best home humidifier for your needs.


There are various types of humidifiers available in the market. While all the types are surely useful, knowing each one will help you make an informed decision before buying. You can then select a unit that best suits your needs and preferences.

Warm Mist Humidifier (also known as vaporizers)

How to choose the best home humidifier

This humidifier has a heating component to put water into a boil, thus releasing warm steam into the air. This is best during colder months for its warming effect. Medicinal solutions can also be supplemented to the water to provide health benefits.

Mineral filters that trap water deposits are sometimes supplied with the unit, however these need to be replaced regularly and so entail a maintenance cost. Furthermore, cleaning the humidifier often is essential to prevent bacterial growth.

Caution should be made in using a warm mist humidifier as it holds warm or boiling water.

Cool Mist Humidifier (also known as evaporative humidifier) 

how to choose a humidifier

As its name suggests, this humidifier uses the principle of evaporation to release cold moisture into the air.

Because it has a cooling effect, evaporative humidifier has become the most widely used type. The humidifier’s system uses a wick filter that absorbs the water and a fan that blows dry air causing the water to evaporate into the air. The filter traps mineral dust and bacteria that make this type of humidification the cleanest. But still, regular cleaning is necessary to avoid bacteria growth in the filters.

Now we've given you the basics on the two most common types of humidifier: warm mist and cool mist. If you're trying to decide between the two, our article Humidifier vs Vaporizer provides some further information that might help you.

Ultrasonic Humidifier

how to choose the best humidifier for your home

A hybrid of the two previous humidifiers, ultrasonic humidifiers can produce both warm and cool mists to one’s liking. Being the most advance type, this humidifier uses a vibrating nebulizer to cause high frequency sound waves to diffuse water mist into the air.

This feature also makes it the most silent type in the list. Ultrasonic humidifiers come with demineralization cartridges that trap minerals and bacteria, so vapors are clean as they immerse in the air.

Impeller Humidifier 

how to buy a home humdifier

Like the evaporative type, an Impeller Humidifier also produces cool mist. However, it uses a rotating disc to break and release the water as fine droplets into the air. Also, the disc acts as an air washer that captures dust and other air impurities in replacement for filters that other humidifier types have. This type also requires frequent cleaning to maintain cleanliness.

In-duct or Furnace Humidifier 

in duct furnace humidifier

Unlike the previous types which are small portable units, In-duct humidifiers are big units and are built within a home’s HVAC system to humidify an entire house. These are the most robust, energy-efficient, and safest type of humidifiers and can cover large areas. However, they are much more expensive than their portable counterparts.

Warm Mist HumidifierLow noise from boiling and mist emissions.High electric consumption (as heat requires more power)
Cost-efficient because there is no replaceable wick/filter.Risk for burns, especially to kids
Boiling purifies the output as it is dispersed in the air.
Sometimes has a cup to place medicine for additional healing benefits.
Cool Mist HumidifierCleanest humidification.Noisier that other humidifier types because of built-in fan.
Comes with a wick filter to cleanse and purify moisture output.Regular replacement of wicks that means cost.
Energy-saving, low power consumption.Wicks are prone to bacteria and other impurities
Cools the room.
Ultrasonic HumidifierNoise-free operation.Higher cost.
Cost-efficient because there is no replaceable wick/filter.Needs regular replacement of cartridges.
Versatile, can produce both warm and cool mist.Units available are usually for small areas.
Demineralization cartridges traps bacteria and germs.
Impeller HumidifierEnergy-saving, low power consumption.Rotating disc produces more noise that other types.
Cost-efficient. No extra costs to buy replaceable wick or filter.Need to clean impellers regularly.
Cools the room.
In-duct HumidifierHumidify large areas.Very high cost of installation.
Convenient as water source is connected to water system.High-maintenance.


The second question on the size of the area to humidify is another important factor in choosing your humidifier.

  • Do you want to put a humidifier in the bedroom or in the living room? 
  • Or do you intend to humidify the entire house?
  • A humidifier for your office room or the whole work space? 

Determining where in the home or office, or more precisely the floor area you want to humidify makes or breaks your choice. Remember, a humidifier works most efficiently if it is appropriately sized for the room. You can be exact by measuring the space to humidify in square feet/ meters.

To simplify, let us classify humidifiers by size and its capacity to moisten a room.


Tabletop Humidifier (or portable) 

tabletop humidifier

This small and portable humidifier is perfect for small to medium sized areas of up to 50 square-meters, such as a single home or office room. Some also call it simply a ‘room humidifier’ as it is light enough to be carried easily from one room to another. Evaporative, vaporizers, and ultrasonic humidifiers have tabletop variants you can choose to your liking. And this type is the least expensive.

Console Humidifier 

how to choose a home humidifier

Moisten multiple rooms or the entire house with consoles that are ideal for a hundred square-meter areas. Also known as whole house humidifier, this can be placed in a central area to cover the different rooms at home. This type can also be moved to a preferred location but are heavier and less portable than tabletop versions.

In-duct Humidifier

Types of Humidifier

As discussed previously, this humidifier is hooked into the house’s HVAC system connected to the water supply and thus, is the largest and most expensive type. These units are suitable for large homes and entire office spaces. They are powerful enough to significantly elevate and continually fill the humidity needs of up to 3,000 square-meter areas. As the humidifier is tapped into the water system, water can be drawn whenever required without the need to manually refill.


It is important to note if a humidifier excels in certain aspects, which can provide added functionality and value as a result. A humidifier is more than just an appliance or your ordinary décor, it should serve its purpose and follow the function it was built for.

Have a checklist ready and tick which ones below are available in your preferred humidifiers.


Mainly deals with the ease of use of your humidifier. Is it easy to move and be used in different areas? Portability is a plus with tabletop and console, while fixed in-duct is more stable and permanent.

Is filling the water tank easy? Yes, for portable and console, while with an in-duct, water supply is continuous as it is connected to the water pipes.

Are the filters or wicks removable and replaceable? And are controls and displays ergonomically designed? Some more features you need to look at in the specific unit under consideration.


Is the humidifier easy to clean? Are the filters replaceable? These are some considerations to deal with in maintaining your unit. Regular maintenance should be followed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. But common cleaning involves daily draining of contents and of residues, washing and cleaning, and drying. This is to ensure that the moisture your humidifier disperses in the air is safe and healthy. Smaller humidifiers are easier to clean, while in-ducts need to be maintained by a professional.


This is the mechanic that manages the amount of humidity needed in a room. Relatively, humidity levels between 25% to 55% are considered healthy air levels. This is the range you need to maintain and with a humidistat, operation automatically shuts off once it exceeds the ideal range or preset. Sometimes, there are also hygrometers in your unit, with gauges that display the humidity level.


This gives you more control with your humidifier by enabling you to set up the time and program it to turn on and off.

Noise factor

Humidifiers are also used to relax and help with sleep, so the quieter units are more beneficial. Smaller humidifiers produce less noise than larger ones. Ultrasonic humidifiers tops the list for being quietest, with warm mist humidifier coming in second.

Health claims

Evaporative humidifiers and vaporizers have filters or wicks that claim to defy germs and bacteria, while ultrasonics come with ions or activated carbon as natural antimicrobial agents. Also, look for UV lights that are designed to help kill those nasty bugs we’ve mentioned. As humidifiers are used to benefit one’s health, having these anti-bacterial features are a real advantage.


Bigger water reservoir means longer humidifying time. Less hassle comes with bigger tanks because you won’t need to refill as frequently. Logically, larger types have a larger reservoir. However, be cautious as when water sits longer in a tank, it attracts growth of bacteria and other contaminants.


How to choose a humidifier

The end point of this guide is all about your budget. Do you have the money to spare and buy your chosen type? Or do you settle for less because your money can afford just that? As we often believe that quality comes with price, in some cases it doesn’t always follow. You only need to be wise in your purchasing decision, this by being informed.

Prices of small, Tabletops humidifiers range from $25 to $100, medium-sized Consoles are priced $100 to $300, and In-ducts cost, including installation, between $400 and $1,000. There is also a large variance between different brands of humidifier. For example the Dyson AM10 Humidifier is one of our favorite portable units but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Other trusted and popular humidifier brands include Crane, Honeywell, Hunter, Vicks, Essick, and Holmes.


You have started the buying process right by reading this Humidifier Buying Guide, as researching and comparing types and brands could make your selection process a lot more informed.

Maybe you have figured out the right humidifier for your needs after reading all the considerations that we’ve outlined. Now, you can be able to make a wise decision and get the best humidifier for you and your family that’s within your budget. It’s certainly possible to pick both quality and value for money.

Lastly, when buying your humidifier, functionality and purpose should be your main motivations in deciding. If it is for the wellness and good health of your family, then you should go for it!

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