The Best Humidifiers Buying Guide of 2015 & 2016

Different Types of Humidifiers

Cool-mist evaporative humidifiers

Cool-mist evaporative humidifiers, which are sometimes just called evaporative humidifiers, work by blowing the dry room air over a wick filter, where the tank and water is located. The wick combines the air with moisture. The resulting moisture-filled air is then evaporated into the room to raise the humidity. The wick filter also absorbs any impurities from the water before the air is sent back into the room, negating the need for distilled water. Some disadvantages of these humidifiers include a higher noise level and having to replace the wick filter every few months.

Warm-mist humidifiers

Warm-mist humidifiers contain a heating element which boils the water before releasing it as a mist. Unlike cool-mist humidifiers, they do not have a wick filter that you need to replace. They do not use a fan, so they are also quieter than cool-mist humidifiers. People like these humidifiers because they are great in colder climates. Some problems include mineral deposits that cling to the inside of the humidifier, requiring that you clean with vinegar, and a higher power consumption. There is also a risk of burning yourself if you spill the humidifier when it’s running, which is not a concern with cool-mist.

Ultrasonic humidifiers

These humidifiers can produce both cold or warm mist, depending on your climate and desires. They are essentially silent, and use high frequency sound waves to break the water down into mist. If you do not want minerals or other impurities from the water sent back into the air, you have to use demineralization cartridges, which come with many ultrasonic models. However, it is better to use distilled water since the cartridges are not 100% effective.

Humidifier Features To Look For

Water capacity

Humidifiers work by turning water into moisture in order to make a dry room more humid. The larger the water tank, the less you have to refill it. Water capacity is typically measured in liters or gallons. Smaller tanks can hold as little as 3 liters, which is about .8 gallons, while larger ones can be over 3-4 gallons. For your convenience, it is best to make sure the water tank is removable for easy filling and cleaning. Some even have dual tanks so once one is used up, the humidifier starts using the other tank. A humidifier could run for 24 hours without needing to be refilled with a dual-tank system.

Output per day

If you want to use your humidifier all day, you will probably need to refill the tank at least once. Some are big enough to last all day, especially those with dual tanks, though it is more likely you will need to refill at some point if you want a lot of moisture released. If you live in a very dry climate and want more moisture in the air, it is important to look at the output-per-day specifications. Output per day is measured in 24-hour periods. Humidifiers range from 2-3 gallons every 24 hours, to as much as 9 gallons. When you use a lower setting, you can use the humidifier for a longer period of time because the moisture is being released more gradually.

Ideal room size

Based on their water capacity and output, humidifiers are suited to specific room sizes. Some are able to humidify large rooms, while others can only function well in smaller spaces. Smaller humidifiers are best for 600-700 square feet, which is about the size of a small to average 1-bedroom apartment. Larger humidifiers can handle 2300-3200 square-foot spaces. You could humidify multiple rooms with a large humidifier.

Quiet operation

Most humidifiers are relatively quiet. The only noise factor is the fan on cool-mist humidifiers. Ultrasonic humidifiers are the quietest humidifier you can get, even though they do have fans. Warm-mist humidifiers do not have fans. Humidifiers with more compact designs can be up to 30% quieter than tall tower models, and you can reduce the noise level by putting the machine on a non-wooden or ceramic surface. How you arrange a room can also affect noise level. Soft things like pillows, rugs, and so on always dampen noise, though humidifiers are rarely so loud that you need to take special care. If your humidifier is loud enough to actually bother you, there is probably something wrong with it.

Humidity settings

Most humidifiers include push-button controls with LED lights where you can control the humidity and speed. If you choose a fast speed and high humidity, the water will run out quickly. On most units you set the humidity using percentages, so when you want a lower humidity for your room, you would choose a setting like 20%-30%. Humidifiers vary in terms of how high a percentage they can generate. Once your chosen humidity is reached, most humidifiers will automatically shut off. If you do not know what specific percentage you want, most humidifiers have basic settings like “High,” where it releases twice as much mist continuously for 12 hours, or “Low,” which will release small amounts of moisture over a longer period of time.

Impurity-removing air filter

Unless you use distilled water for your humidifier, there are probably impurities that will get released into the air. Filters help capture these impurities. Some units even include two filters, with the pre-filter trapping dust, pollen, and dirt. Antimicrobial-treated filters prevent mold, fungus, and other bacteria from growing in the humidifier. For warm-mist humidifiers, a demineralization cartridge performs essentially like a filter (though they are not as effective) and removes lime scale and minerals from the mist.


Humidifiers can be extremely lightweight (1-5 pounds), or heavier at 20 pounds. The size of the water tank has a lot to do with this and when filled with water, a humidifier will be at least the weight of that water. Modern designs have been making humidifiers a lot sleeker and more compact, so they aren’t as clunky as they used to be. This is great if you don’t have a lot of space and don’t want the humidifier to overwhelm a room’s decorations.

Best Humidifier Brands


In 1890, Dr. Joshua Vick and his brother-in-law Lunsford Richardson began marketing a product they called Vick’s Family Remedies. It included castor oil, liniment, and ‘dead shot’ vermifuge. In 1905, it was rebranded as Vick’s Magic Croup Salve, and then as VapoRub. The company took off when Richardson’s oldest son began using his sales and marketing skills to promote the product. When the flu epidemic struck in 1918, sales skyrocketed from under one million to nearly three million. In 1985, the company was sold to Procter & Gamble. Vicks is known primarily as the producer of DayQuil and NyQuil cold and flu medications, but they also make humidifiers, steam inhalers, and air purifiers.


Founded in 2005, Crane USA has been committed to design as well as functionality. Most humidifiers and air purifiers are boxy and unattractive, so Crane has made style and color a priority. Crane’s humidifiers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including their famous teardrop design and animal-shaped humidifiers geared towards children. In addition to humidifiers, they sell warm-steam vaporizers, germ-defense humidifiers, air purifiers, night lights, and fans.


Honeywell is one of America’s largest companies. It’s history goes back to 1885 when an inventor produced what would become a thermostat. The company that bought his patent eventually merged with Honeywell Heating Specialty Co. Incorporated, which made hot water heat generators. By 1934, Honeywell was selling their products around the world and established itself as a global force. Currently, Honeywell manufactures and sells products in a wide variety of fields, from security to transportation to home/consumer, which includes humidifiers and air purifiers. You can choose humidifiers for smaller rooms or areas up to 4500 square feet. They also have many filter-free models that emit cool and warm mist.


Vornado was founded in the 1920’s and was originally created to improve aircraft design. After experimenting, Ralph K. Odor shifted his focus to the electric fan, which was also not effective. He perfected his design with an entrepreneur and together they planned to release Vornado fans. WWII delayed the fans, so it wasn’t until the late 1940’s that the first Vornado fans came out. In 1989, Vornado entered a new phase with a new company founded in Kansas. There, the first “whole room circulator” was created. Currently, the company produces all sorts of air comfort products like fans, air purifiers, humidifiers, and circulators.

Features of Professional & Commercial Humidifiers

Sleep mode

One of the features on more advanced humidifiers is the sleep mode. This ultra-quiet setting is designed to be as silent as possible while still providing moisture for a good night’s sleep. Using a humidifier at night – especially a warm-mist when you’re sick – is a good way to fight back against illness.

Superior germ-killing

There are several humidifiers that add medicine and powerful germ-killing to their skill set. Vicks in particular is devoted to reducing germs with their humidifiers that can kill up up to 99.99% of bacteria, mold, and spores that cause illness and allergies. Features like an ultraviolet light chamber, which is the light used in hospitals to kill germs, effectively fight off illness. Another feature for illness is a medicine cup where where you can put VapoSteam, creating medicated mist.

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