Why Buy a Humidifier?
The top performers in our review are the Boneco 7135 (formerly branded Air-O-Swiss), the Gold Award winner; the Heaven Fresh HF 710, the Silver Award winner; and the PureGuardian H4610, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a humidifier to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 products.
If you live in a dry or desert climate or just need a boost of moisture in your air to fight off a cold or sleep better, a humidifier is your best bet to raise your comfort levels in your home or office. The best humidifiers increase the moisture in a room quickly and allow you to adjust the amount and direction of the mist with ease.
Additional moisture in the air can alleviate many health conditions, including dry and irritated skin, lips, nasal passages and lungs. They can also reduce the amount of pollen and dust in the air, giving allergy sufferers the assistance to breathe easier. Air humidifiers also work well in the winter months when cold and flu symptoms run rampant. For more information on the benefits of adding moisture to the air you breathe, read our articles about humidifiers here.
Humidifiers: What We Looked For, What We Found
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the manufacturers in advance of publication.
As we evaluated the humidifiers in our lineup, we discovered many features and design elements that set apart the best humidifiers from the rest. When choosing a humidifier for your room, whole house or office, consider the following criteria.
The most important aspects to consider in a humidifier are the room size it can effectively humidify and its method of mist dispersal. While small models like the Avalon 2.8 Liter Cool Mist Humidifier and Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier are affordable options for a small bedroom, they are not optimal for rooms over 250 square feet. Humidifiers with 1-gallon or larger tanks are better equipped to provide a high output of mist for family rooms, dens and other large rooms.
While older humidifiers, and some modern ones, use a heating element to boil the water in their reservoirs to produce steam, this is not the safest method, especially if you have curious children or pets in your home. We did not evaluate this kind of machine in our humidifier reviews, instead focusing on the more modern and safer mist production methods.
With a wide assortment of humidifiers of all shapes and sizes on store shelves, you will likely find yourself wondering what the difference between an evaporative and an ultrasonic humidifier is. Evaporative humidifiers generally use a filter that is in direct contact with the water in the reservoir tank. The water wicks up the filter, and the humidifier then blows air through this large, wet surface, dispersing mist into the room. This process removes many impurities, but you need to be vigilant about cleaning your humidifier and regularly replace the filters to ensure you are trapping, not spreading, germs and bacteria that can contribute to respiratory problems or mold growth.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are lightweight and operate by using vibrations to turn water into a fine mist. Some of the benefits of ultrasonic humidifiers is that they are nearly silent and require very little electricity to run. However, an air humidifier that uses this method with mineral-laden hard water can produce a fine white dust that settles on your furniture and floors over time. While it's not required, using purified water reduces this unwanted effect. The best ultrasonic humidifiers use a demineralization cartridge to remove impurities in the water, giving you a purer mist to breathe.
Some humidifiers offer both cold and warm mist outputs. The ones that provide warm mist move the water over a heating element. While warm mist typically leaves an ultrasonic humidifier at a safe 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a curious child could still tip over the unit and get burned by the water inside. To be safe, always use cool mist humidifiers around children or infants.
You will also want to look for a model that shuts off automatically when the tank runs out of water. This protects the motor from overheating and lowers the risk of an electrical fire. If the unit you are considering does not have an automatic shut-off, make sure it has a transparent reservoir so you can see when it needs refilling. Many top-quality humidifiers feature both transparent tanks and automatic shut-off capabilities, adding a level of safety.
The best humidifiers on our lineup have built-in humidistats that measure the amount of moisture in the air. This helps you get the exact humidity level you want in your room instead of guessing at the unit's output. Digital displays can also help you set your air humidifier to the precise level you desire.
Humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes, but they share some design aspects, such as a water reservoir, humidity controls and an output nozzle. The most effective cool mist humidifiers also include a mineral removal filter that purifies hard water to eliminate bacteria and unwanted minerals before they are dispersed into the air.
The humidifier should be light enough for you to carry so you can place it where you need it in your home. The larger the humidifier and its reservoir, the heavier it is. It's also useful if the device features built-in tank handles that are easy to grip when the tank is wet and slippery. The overall size is important, not only so you can find the optimal places in your home to operate the humidifier, but also for storage purposes. If you have a particular location you plan to place your humidifier, check the unit's measurements to be sure its size is a good fit.
Warranty & Support
All of the humidifiers we reviewed come with at least a one-year warranty. The best manufacturers back their products for even longer – typically three years, and one for an impressive five years. A solid warranty offers you peace of mind, because it means the manufacturer will repair or, in some cases, replace defective parts. Look for companies that offer a toll-free number or an email option so you can reach a customer support agent in the event you run into any problems setting up, running or cleaning your humidifier.
Humidifiers: Our Verdict & Recommendations
We found the Boneco 7135, formerly known as the Air-O-Swiss 7135, to be an excellent humidifier. This ultrasonic model diffuses 3.5 gallons of water into the air during the day, can humidify a 650-square-foot area and is lightweight. It also has a full list of useful features, such as automatic shut-off capability, both cool and warm mists, and a mineral removal filter.
The Heaven Fresh HF 710 holds up to 1.6 gallons of water and disperses cool or warm mist into the air quietly. The digital display makes it easy to see the current humidity levels in the room, and a convenient remote control allows you to adjust the dispersal level or turn the unit on or off from across the room.
The PureGuardian H4610 is an ultrasonic cool and warm mist humidifier that can run for up to 120 hours on its lowest setting. It also has a 2-gallon water tank constructed with patented mold and mildew fighting materials to keep the humidifier cleaner longer.
Reasonably inexpensive and versatile, humidifiers provide your home and body with a multitude of benefits. When you are sick, you will appreciate the comfort and relief that moist air brings to your lungs, throat and nasal passages. If you are healthy, this same moist air can help you ward off colds and flu, improve your skin tone, sleep better, and keep allergies at bay.