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Best Humidifier Review – Top 7 Hottest List for Jan. 2020 – with Buying Guide
Please find our detailed analysis, buying guide and test results of all the humidifier models after the summary table.
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Introduction and Humidifier 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.
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 7 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, such as congestion, then you might want to temporarily 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 Two Main 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.
Evaporative units are generally noiser, their filters must be replaced regularly and their mist is a bit cooler.
2) Ultrasonic humidifiers create high-frequency vibrations to break water drops into micro-fine particles which are released into the room for evaporation.
While ultrasonic humidifiers are extremely quiet but require the use of distilled water (unless they have a filter like the BONECO) 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: most humidifier tanks, and all of those on our current list, fill from the bottom, so just ensure you have a large enough sink so you can position the tank under your faucet (or you’ll waste lots of time transferring water from tap to tank).
Humidifiers and Noise
All humidifiers will make some noise (do not believe the “no noise” claims), and interestingly the types of noises they make do vary. In general:
- the better quality models (i.e. more expensive) will make less noise – better design and quality of build etc.
- the warm mist humidifiers are noiser – they need to heat/boil the water.
- the larger more powerful models will make more noise – logical we know.
We specify the dB levels of each of the models (at low and high settings) and try to describe the noise as best we can.
We have found that babies and toddlers are less sensitive to the noise of humidifiers, and some even find the background white noise comforting.
If you are a light sleeper then you can simply crank the humidifier up before bed, and either turn it off at night or buy a model with a humidistat so it will only turn on if the humidity drops below a certain level.
Humidifiers and “White Dust”
If you live in an area with hard water (water with a high mineral content) then there is a chance that you might end up with “white dust” on items in your room, after using a humidifier (depending on the model). When the mist created by your humidifier lands on different surfaces and dries, mineral deposits can be left behind. For most people “white dust” is nothing more than a small annoyance (it is very simple to wipe off), but if you have allergies or lung issues then these minerals can be a problem.
If you are concerned about “white dust” then there are a few ways to combat it:
1) Fill your humidifier with distilled water, or filtered water. If you live in an area with hard water then there is a chance you already filter it before drinking – maybe with something like the Britta filter Pitcher or buy installing a specialized at home water filter system?
2) Purchase a humidifier with a demineralization cartridge which will remove minerals before they become airborne.
3) Ultrasonic and impeller humidifiers typically create more white dust than evaporative and steam vaporizer models. There are no impeller models on our list, and we describe the type of humidification process each model uses so you can make an informed choice.
Here are the recommendations from the Groom+Style review team for the top 7 best humidifiers.
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.
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 very 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 7 best humidifiers.
Looking at the specifications of the Boneco/Air-O-Swiss AOS 7135 Ultrasonic Humidifier:
2. Levoit Humidifier LV600HH 6L Ultrasonic Warm And Cool Mist
You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a unit that can humidify with either warm or cool mist; this Levoit comes in at about half the price of Groom+Style’s top-rated humidifier.
How is that possible? It’s primarily because the 6L Levoit model has a much smaller effective coverage area, 280 square feet compared to the Boneco’s 650 square feet, which is the reason we’ve ranked this one at #2.
It also does not have a filter so you will need to use filtered or distilled water.
The Levoit has many of the same features that the review team loved on the Boneco: an automatic mode that judges conditions in the room and adjusts humidity levels accordingly, the ability to program humidity levels (from 40 to 80%), ultrasonic operation that’s very quiet it won’t disturb you (or a sleeping baby) – and of course, the ability to choose between warm and cool mist.
This humidifier doesn’t have a single 360° rotating spout but it does have two misting ports – which can be pointed in the same or different directions.
There are low/high heat settings and three fan settings, an easy-to-use remote control and a 12-hour timer with auto-shutoff, and a very cool aromatherapy feature which diffuses your choice of scent when you add a little essential oil to the built-in aroma box.
This Levoit is well-built and won’t leak, the 1.6G tank will hold enough water for 12-24 hours of operation, and it has an attractive, modern appearance. The only objection we’ve found is that the LED humidity indicator on the front of the unit is really bright, but you can turn it off with the remote control at bedtime.
The Levoit LV600HH 6L Warm and Cool Humidifier does a great job at a very nice price but is only suitable for smaller spaces like a bedroom.
Facts and figures for the Levoit Humidifiers 6L Warm And Cool Mist Vaporizer:
3. Honeywell UV HCM-350 Evaporation (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 to the temperature of the room and therefore the amount of moisture the air can contain. It still does a nice job, though, for the price – and it’s reasonably 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:
4. 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:
5. PureGuardian H4810 120-Hour Ultrasonic Humidifier – Warm and Cool Mist
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 included with the unit. So either buy the additional demineralization cartridge or 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 H4810 Ultrasonic Humidifier:
6. TaoTronics TT-AH001 Cool Mist Humidifier
One of the least-expensive models in the Groom+Style top five is another very quiet ultrasonic humidifier that does a terrific job in small rooms.
This TaoTronics has most of the features you’d expect in a cool mist humidifier including the ability to manually adjust humidity levels (from 40 to 95 percent), three fan settings, a nozzle that rotates 360°, and a 24-hour timer with auto-shutoff. The LED humidity indicator isn’t too bright and can be shut off completely if desired.
The TT-AH001 has a capacity of just over one gallon, which should last for the better part of a day. That brings us to the review team’s biggest issue with this TaoTronics humidifier; it’s one of those units which require you to remove the tank, bring it to the sink and tip it upside down in order to refill it. That can not only be annoying, it leaves water in the base of the humidifier which has to be removed regularly in order to prevent mold growth.
The refilling procedure isn’t a deal-killer, particularly for a low-priced model, but it should at least be one of your considerations. One other note: the ceramic filter does a good job in most cases, but you may see some white dust if your water is extremely hard.
For an inexpensive cool mist humidifier, the TaoTronics TT-AHAH001 is impressive. You may need more machine, though, if you have a large space to cover or very hard water.
Looking closer at the TaoTronics TT-AH001 Cool Mist Humidifier For Home Bedroom:
7. Vornado Evap2 Whole Room Cool Mist 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 Vornado 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 at a reasonable price.
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:
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.