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Humidifiers Buying Guide

Humidifiers provide the right amount of humidity to help improve your health, protect your furniture and investments, and save money on heating costs.


What is a humidifier and why might we need them? Humidifiers are designed to improve indoor air quality by regulating the amount of humidity and moisture in the air. By restoring moisture to a room, humidifiers relieve the discomforts of dry nose, throat, lips, eyes and skin. They can also help babies and grown-ups alike sleep more comfortably. Humidifiers also help alleviate nuisances brought on by winter heating, such as static electricity, peeling wallpaper, and cracks/warping in paint and furniture, hardwood floors, antiques, pianos and other wood instruments.

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Types of Humidifiers

There are a variety of common humidifiers available, each offering designs and performance styles that might suit your particular needs.


Tabletop Humidifiers

These portable models are generally the least costly humidifying option and are good for single room needs, but their small tank requires frequent refills. For areas up to 699 sq. ft. depending on the model.

Console Humidifiers

Although larger than tabletops, consoles can be moved from room to room. Typically free-standing and floor-positioned, console humidifiers generate a lot of moist air. Since a console can humidify more than one room, it allows more options for unobtrusive placement wherever an electric outlet is available. A console's larger tank needs less frequent refills, but can be more cumbersome to handle. For areas 700-2,900 sq. ft. depending on the model.

Whole House Humidifiers

Whole house humidifiers tap into your home’s air ducts and are plumbed into its water supply to create and disperse mist throughout your home. It should be cleaned annually and closed down for the summer when humidity is not needed.

If you are looking to humidify multiple rooms, this can be a less costly option when compared with running multiple smaller tabletop models. There will be less maintenance as they are usually connected directly to your home’s water supply, meaning they do not need to be manually refilled. These humidifiers generally require professional installation. You also might have less control over the humidity of individual rooms.

Cool Mist Evaporative Humidifiers

A cool mist evaporative humidifier adds moisture into the air using natural evaporation. A wick filter sits in the base of the humidifier and absorbs water. A fan then blows dry room air through the saturated wick filter, causing the water in the filter to evaporate into the room, adding moisture into the air.

Pro: Low power consumption.

Con: Most wick filters need to be replaced approximately every 2 months.

Warm Mist Humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers use a heating element to boil the water in the humidifier and release it into the air in the form of a warm steam. If you live in a cold climate, using a warm mist humidifier will help make the room feel warmer than it actually is (as opposed to a cool mist humidifier, which can have the opposite effect). Warm mist steam humidifiers are often quieter than cool mist evaporative humidifiers because they use a heating element, not a fan. Water in the reservoir is boiled into steam, which rises into the air, free of all minerals and impurities.

Pros: Quiet operation. No wick filters to replace.

Cons: Higher power consumption. May pose a burn risk for small children if accidentally tipped over.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers (cool or warm mist)

Ultrasonic humidifiers are often described as being near silent. They use the power of high frequency sound waves to vibrate a metal diaphragm and a mist is released using a very small and quiet fan.

Pros: Near silent operation. No wick filters to replace.

Con: Unless using distilled water, “white dust” can sometimes settle on indoor surfaces.

Warm Mist Vaporizers

A vaporizer can be described as a simpler, less powerful and less costly version of a warm mist humidifier. They are typically made in smaller sizes and for smaller rooms and do not have any moisture output controls.

Pros: Quiet operation. No filters to replace.

Cons: Higher power consumption. Limited to small rooms.

Cool Mist Impeller Humidifiers

In a cool mist impeller humidifier, a high speed rotating disc spins water towards a diffuser, which then breaks the water down into tiny droplets, which are released into the air. Although quiet, minerals can sometimes settle on surfaces and result in a white dust. It is advisable to use only distilled water with an impeller humidifier, as distilled water has no mineral content.

Pros: Quiet operation. No filters to replace. Low power consumption.

Cons: Limited to small rooms only. No humidity adjustment controls.

Ultraviolet (UV) Germ-Free Humidifiers

Some humidifiers feature UV germ-free technology, which uses ultraviolet light to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria, germs and viruses present in the humidifier’s water. This type of humidifier may appeal to those with babies or small children, as well as anyone concerned about limiting the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses.

Pros: Adds an extra level of sanitization. Available in both warm and cool mist models.

Cons: UV light bulb requires replacement every few months.

Top-Fill Humidifiers

These humidifiers allow you to pour water directly into the humidifier using your own water container. With these easy “pour-in” humidifiers, you can even use a small cup if you have difficulty lifting or carrying heavy water bottles, which can be helpful for those with arthritis or who have difficulties lifting or carrying.

Pro: Easy to maintain.

Con: You provide your own water container (e.g., cup or bottle).