Best Humidifier Review – Top 5 Hottest List for Nov. 2017 – with Buying Guide
If you are having issues with dry skin, your eyes constantly itch, you wake up at night because of coughing and a dry throat, you get unexpected nose bleeds or you can’t live without a tube of Chapstick in your hand – particularly in the winter months – the air in your house is too dry and you need a humidifier.
Take your time and read the humidifier buying guide information just below, and then read through the top 5 list one by one. Alternatively, click this link to check out our top 5 best humidifier comparison table at the bottom of the article.
And if your woodwork, wood floors and wood furniture are drying out and cracking, or your wallpaper is starting to peel, your home needs a humidifier.
That’s a good start. But where do you go from there?
Naturally, you read our buying guide first and then check out Groom+Style’s rankings of the top 5 best humidifiers. We happen to have both of them right here for your convenience. You can thank us after you feel better.
Recommended Humidity Level?
Sales of humidifiers skyrocket in winter. The key reason being that cold air holds less water, so as the temperature drops the amount of moisture in the air drops and symptoms can start to appear (this also means symptoms are worse overnight as it is generally colder).
There are a few ways to measure humidity levels in the air, but the most commonly used when talking about humidifiers is relative humidity, which is expressed as a percentage.
A general comfortable humidity level for people is about 40-60%. If you are experiencing any humidity related symptoms then you might want to crank up the humidity level in your room to 70-80% to get some relief. Left unchecked, humidity levels in winter can drop to as low as 10%, especially as central heating units can remove even more moisture from the air.
The more advanced humidifiers have built-in humidistats (sensors that measure relative humidity) which you can use to set the desired humidity level in your room.
Humidifier Buying Guide – Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist Humidifiers
The function of humidifiers is to put moisture back into air that’s too dry, and they generally fall into two categories: cool mist and warm mist. Since you normally need a humidifier when the weather is cold, it would be natural to assume that a warm mist model would be a better choice. In reality, they’re equally effective and there are arguments in favor of each.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
Warm mist humidifiers release their moisture-containing mist after either boiling water or warming it with a heating element.
The boiling process may be the healthiest option because it kills germs, but boiling water can create danger if there are children in the household. The mist from a water-heating model loses most of its warmth by the time it hits the air, so only a boiler model truly releases heat that you’d be likely to notice.
These humidifiers are particularly helpful for clearing clogged noses and sinuses and work best in smaller spaces.
There are Three Types of Cool Mist Humidifiers.
1) Evaporative models take air from a room and add moisture by passing it through a wick/filter that’s saturated with water. The humidified mist is then blown back out by a fan and the water evaporates into the air, making the atmosphere more humid.
2) Ultrasonic humidifiers create high-frequency vibrations to break water drops into micro-fine particles which are released into the room for evaporation. Noisier and less-popular impeller models do much the same thing, but by flinging the water at a diffuser with a rotating disc.
3) Evaporative units are noisy, their filters must be replaced regularly and their mist is a bit cooler, while ultrasonic humidifiers are extremely quiet but require the use of distilled water to prevent minerals from tap water being released as “white dust.”
Warm vs Cool Mist Humidifiers
All types of cool mist humidifiers use less electricity and can cover larger areas than warm mist models, but must be cleaned more frequently (to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria). They’re the best choice for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Some humidifiers “cross categories.” You can buy ultrasonic warm mist models, as well as ones that have both warm and cool mist capabilities. Several types of whole-home humidification systems are available as well. Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers are the most commonly-sold units.
Ideal Humidifier for Your Room Size
Once you’ve chosen the style of humidifier, the next task is to understand what model to choose for the area required.
Generally, a small humidifier will work effectively in rooms up to about 250 square feet (about 24 meters squared), or 16 feet by 16 feet.
Medium-sized models can cover up 700 square feet (about 65 meters squared), or rooms about 27 feet by 27 feet.
Large (up to 1000 square feet) and extra-large (1000+ square feet) humidifiers usually come in console form. Some have wheels and can be moved fairly easily, while others are designed to sit permanently in one spot. They have much larger tanks but are more of a chore to clean.
Smaller and medium-sized models can sit on a nightstand or tabletop and be moved from room to room as required. They’re obviously less-expensive than larger humidifiers, but their tanks will have to be filled more frequently.
Our list focuses on small and medium-sized models – we do not cover any of the larger models.
Best Humidifier – Helpful Features
Budget humidifiers won’t give you much more than a dial to control moisture level (from low to high) and hopefully, auto-shutoff or a warning light for when the machine runs dry.
Several features on higher-level humidifiers, however, are extremely desirable. The best is a humidistat that automatically turns the unit on or off in order to maintain a target humidity level. Also quite helpful is a timer, which lets you (for example) set your bedroom humidifier to turn on a few hours before bedtime so your room is comfortable when you’re ready for sleep.
Another plus is a built-in anti-microbial system, either a filter or ultraviolet light, which kills most of the bacteria and germs that could be expelled with the mist.
One final tip: tanks that fill from the top are easiest to work with; just be sure that the tank isn’t too big to fit under your faucet or you’ll waste lots of time transferring water from tap to tank.
Oh, and noisy humidifiers are generally a no-no unless you like “white noise”.
Here are the recommendations from the Groom+Style review team for the top 5 best humidifiers.
New Models Currently Being Tested (November)
With Winter approaching we have just started testing a few new humidifiers that are looking really promising. We will be finished testing these by the end of November, but here is a sneak peak.
Levoit Humidifier Vaporizer – Warm and Cool Mist Ultrasonic. This is an alternative to our #1 choice – it will handle a smaller room and seems to be just a touch noisier, but the price is very competitive.
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier with No Noise – Cool Mist Humidifier. This is an alternative to our #4 choice, it had such great reviews on Amazon that we just needed to test one.
Our Initial thoughts on the TaoTronics Cool Mist -> it is performing well, but, it does make reasonably noisy (random) gurgling sounds, which are quite distracting if you are trying to sleep.
Continue reading below for our tried and tested models.
1. Air-O-Swiss/BONECO AOS 7135 Ultrasonic Humidifier – Warm and Cool Mist
Most lower-priced humidifiers either create a warm mist or a cool one, using different techniques to add humidity to the air. This is definitely not a lower-priced humidifier, so it gives you a choice between cool and warm. Many users prefer warm mist because the process of creating it is quieter, but the cool mist is safer around children and pets.
The BONECO (formerly Air-O-Swiss) is ultrasonic, utilizing high-frequency vibrations to convert water into a mist which is then sprayed into the room. It’s a powerful machine capable of covering a 650-square foot room with mist; the warm mist comes out at 104 degrees which is not only safe but is not as hot as the mist produced by competitive machines.
The large tank lets the machine run for a full day before it has to be refilled, and the spout rotates 360 degrees so you can point it in any direction.
There are some terrific features on the AOS 7135, including a humidification selector (with pre-sets) which can be set between 40-percent and 75-percent, a temperature gauge which can adjust humidity automatically depending on the conditions in your room, a “sleep” function which runs the machine for eight hours at 60-percent humidity at night, and a “clean me” light. It also has a beautiful, modern look.
Sleeping with the Air-O-Swiss running is easy because it’s extremely quiet. The unit is well-built and ships with the essential demineralization cartridge included (if you don’t have this cartridge on your ultrasonic machine, the mist can come out mixed with a fine powder that gets all over everything in the room).
There’s nothing Groom+Style can think of that’s been left out, making this machine tops on our list of the top 5 best humidifiers.
Looking at the specifications of the Air-O-Swiss AOS 7135 Ultrasonic Humidifier:
2. Vicks V745A Warm Mist Humidifier
Don’t be put off by childhood memories of Vicks VapoRub or the relatively-low price of this humidifier. This is the best warm mist model you can choose for when you’re dealing with a cold or the flu.
The V745 is a boiler-type humidifier, so you’ll want to keep your toddlers away from it if they’re overly inquisitive, active or uncoordinated. However, it can keep them (or you) breathing easy by producing a large amount of warm mist.
What really makes this model uniquely effective is the included medicine cup that can be filled with Vicks Vaposteam or other over-the-counter inhalants, to produce not just mist but a medicated vapor that will really help during cold and flu season.
This Vicks humidifier can cover a 500 square foot area even though it fits nicely on a tabletop, with a one-gallon tank that is enough to last through the night (and drains completely so there’s no standing water for excessive bacteria or mold growth). There are no extravagant features, but the high/low moisture dial and auto-shutoff are more than sufficient for the V745’s intended use. There’s a nightlight, too.
This is not a humidifier suitable for use year-round, and you may not even want to use it all winter. But an enormous number of people use humidifiers just when they’re sick, and the Vicks V745A is the perfect prescription.
A closer look at the Vicks V745 Warm Mist Humidifier:
3. PureGuardian H4610 120-Hour Ultrasonic Humidifier
This is a slightly less-functional plastic unit, with a slightly smaller price tag to match – the PureGuardian is a warm and cool ultrasonic mist machine which can humidify a 500-square foot room quite well.
It provides a choice between three different levels of humidity with a push-button control panel (and of course, the choice between cool or warm mist); one noticeable difference between this and the more expensive units is that the Guardian’s warm mist isn’t overly warm.
This machine is very quiet, and a nice function is the ability to turn off the indicator lights while you sleep. There is no filter or demineralization cartridge in the unit, so it is critical that you use soft water and not hard water, or you will end up with white particles shooting out of the spout along with the mist.
It does include a “Silver Clean” protection system to prevent mold and mildew growth inside the tank, as well as a dual-direction misting system similar to the Stadler Form William.
The Pure Guardian is pretty and modern-looking in silver and blue, but the tank is not transparent so you’ll have to keep an eye on the low-level indicator to know when it’s time to add water. It’s also harder to take apart for cleaning than most of its competitors.
Overall, this is a solid performer without bells-and-whistles that’s extremely quiet, and a good choice for those who want to keep the cost down a bit.
The specs for the Guardian Technologies PureGuardian Ultrasonic Humidifier:
4. Honeywell UV HCM-350 Cool Mist Humidifier
The Honeywell HCM-350 is a very reasonably-priced cool mist evaporation unit (meaning water is passed through a large wick placed in the tank), which does a good job of humidifying a small-to-medium room. The manufacturers claim that it has a 700-square foot coverage area, but it seems to be smaller than that in reality.
There’s not a lot of user control possible; the machine relies on its “self-regulating evaporative system” to automatically adjust the temperature of the room and the amount of moisture the air can contain. It still does a nice job, though, for the price – and it’s very, very quiet.
An interesting twist to the Honeywell is its use of ultraviolet light as well as an antimicrobial filter to kill bacteria and germs in the tank. A not-so-optimal fact is that the machine does not have an automatic shut-off feature, so you have to keep a close eye on the water level which is shown in a small side window.
The HCM-350 is larger than most of the competitors, but still, has a sleek blue-and-silver appearance which doesn’t ruin the ambiance of a room.
At less than the price of our top-rated models, this is a very good option for those searching for a simple humidifier. Key specifications of the Honeywell HCM-350 Cool Mist Humidifier:
5. Vornado Evap2 Whole Room Evaporative Humidifier
The Groom+Style team wouldn’t use this humidifier in our bedroom if we were trying to sleep because it can get quite loud when running at its highest setting (you might even need a white noise machine running at the same time).
Otherwise, it’s a powerful cool mist machine which can humidify in a hurry even though it’s one of the smallest models on the market.
The Evap2 is designed for medium-sized rooms up to 600-square feet, and like most other less-expensive options it doesn’t allow you to control the humidification level. However, if you don’t just leave it running full-time, an internal humidistat will turn the machine on and off as needed to keep the room full of moist, cool mist.
As mentioned, the Vornado has a very small footprint for an effective humidifier, and its black plastic case with blue and silver accents will look good almost anywhere. If they could just make it a bit quieter, it could easily be a top-three choice next to much more expensive alternatives.
Here’s a check of the Vornado Evap2 Whole Room Evaporative Humidifier’s specs:
Stadler Form William Ultrasonic Humidifier
This is an older model that is no longer available on Amazon.
The William provides most of the same functions as the Air-O-Swiss, with a couple of extra goodies (including a nominal effective area of 860 square feet). It has a warm/cool mist ultrasonic machine, meaning it’s versatile, quiet and effective.
This unit includes what the manufacturer says is a patented “Silver Cube” system which will stop mold and bacteria from growing in the tank, a major problem with most humidifiers over time. Like the Air-O-Swiss, it has humidity control levels (although with fewer settings to choose from), a timer and sleep mode, automatic shut-off, and an included demineralization cartridge.
Two nice features unique to the William are a dual direction nozzle so the spray can be sent into two different directions at once, and a diffuser on the nozzle so you can choose how fine the spray will be.
With a sleek black and silver design making the machine look more like an audio component than a humidifier, this is an appliance which will look great no matter where you put it, and it provides excellent performance.
Specs for the Stadler Form William Ultrasonic Humidifier:
Groom+Style’s Best Humidifier Comparison Table
Use the comparison table to help you identify if there is a specific humidifier that meets your needs, and identify the key differences. You can then choose to:
- use the “Quick Navigation” button at the bottom of the table to navigate straight to the model you want to read more about
- use the “Check Price on Amazon” button if you know exactly what you want to buy
- Take your time and read more about the different types of humidifiers and their buying considerations back at the top of the article
1. Air-O-Swiss/BONECO AOS 7135
- For the person who wants the best, fully featured, warm and cool mist humidifier.
- PRO: Choice of both cool and warm mist, large coverage, safe mist temperature, large tank, quiet, automatic humidity mode, looks great.
- CON: Not much that we can think of?
2. Vicks V745A
- For the person who wants warmth and comfort when they are sick, a product that is truly soothing.
- PRO: Affordable, can include Vicks medicine in the steam, covers a huge area.
- CON: Boiler type humidifier so keep away from toddlers, warm mist only.
3. PureGuardian H4610
- For the person who wants a warm and cool mist humidifier but doesn't need any other complicated functions.
- PRO: Very quiet, ability to turn off the lights, prevents mold and mildew inside the tank.
- CON: Smaller volume of mist than other models, harder to clean, no water filter.
4. Honeywell UV HCM-350
- For the person who wants a budget, cool mist only, humidifier.
- PRO: Very very quiet, kills germs in the tank with UV light, sleek appearance, cheaper than the other reviewed options.
- CON: Only cold mist available, no automatic shutoff feature, a larger footprint than the others.
5. Vornado Evap2
- For the person who wants a cool mist humidifier, with speed and power in a small package.
- PRO: Small footprint, very quick to humidify a room, internal humidistat maintains humidity levels.
- CON: Loud, no manual settings.
If you are interested in humidifiers, for yourself or your baby, you could also consider reading Groom+Style’s Review of the Top 5 Best Air Purifiers.