Bloody noses from dry sinuses, annoying shocks from metal doorknobs, dust and pollen allergy symptoms, and even high heating bills are all issues that an evaporative humidifier can help remedy. Evaporative humidifiers are box-shaped units that feature a large basin of water with a wick filter that draws water from the basin. A fan blows air across the filter, causing the water to evaporate and circulate throughout the air, increasing the room’s humidity while removing impurities such as pollen and dust.
These devices range from smaller units that can boost the humidity in a bedroom or living area to whole-home units that can cover 4,000 square feet or more. Evaporative humidifier models include humidistats that sense the conditions in the room to control the humidity output.
This guide examines the important features to consider when shopping for the best evaporative humidifier and reviews some of the top models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Aircare Console Evaporative Humidifier
- RUNNER-UP: Vornado EV200 Evaporative Humidifier
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pure Enrichment MistAire Eva Evaporative Humidifier
- UPGRADE PICK: Venta LW45 Original Humidifier
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACE: Honeywell Cool Moisture Humidifier
- BEST FOR LARGE SPACE: Vornado Evap40 Evaporative Humidifier
- BEST WHOLE-HOUSE: AprilAire 700 Whole-House Evaporative Humidifier
- BEST TOWER: AircareTower Evaporative Humidifier
- BEST WOOD: Aircare Alliance Whole-House Humidifier
- BEST MODERN: Aircare Titan Whole-House Evaporative Humidifier
How We Chose the Best Evaporative Humidifiers
We researched the best evaporative humidifiers in a variety of categories with high customer satisfaction. The list factors in tank capacity, coverage, fan settings, humidity output, and special features from the top brands. To accommodate different user preferences, we included both whole-house and room humidifiers.
When selecting the top evaporative humidifiers, we focused on devices with tank capacities between .74 and 5.4 gallons, capable of humidifying spaces between 500 and 4,200 square feet. The top picks prioritize humidifiers with multiple fan settings and humidity outputs. Additionally, some of the humidifiers have extra features including wheels, night lights, and digital displays.
Our Top Picks
The following list takes into account all these considerations to trim the field to some of the best humidifiers on today’s market. The list includes some of the top models by capacity, but any of these humidifiers will help improve the humidity in a home.
With an output that can cover an entire home and intuitive controls that make running it easier, this model from Aircare boasts an impressive 3,600-square-foot capacity, which is suitable for larger homes. And, this unit includes a digital humidistat that automatically shuts off the unit when the home reaches the proper humidity.
Adjusting the humidity level is precise via the digital display. Its 3.6-gallon tank enables up to 36 hours of continuous run time before a refill. Four fan modes add versatility, while an auto fan mode automatically adjusts speed to suit the home’s humidity level. Refill and check filter indicators help with maintenance, while casters allow the unit to be maneuvered around a room. This model uses 80 watts on high, which is about twice as much as smaller humidifiers.
- Tank capacity: 3.6 gallons
- Coverage: 3,600 square feet
- Dimensions: 20.5 inches high by 21.5 inches wide by 14.5 inches deep
- Digital humidistat helps keep track of humidity levels
- The digital display is easy to read and control
- 4 fan modes can adjust to what is required at a given moment
- Can start to vibrate and buzz loudly during operation, requiring some adjustment
Get the Aircare Console evaporative humidifier at The Home Depot.
Some evaporative humidifiers are difficult to refill, but this model from Vornado features two large external basins to carry to the sink, fill, and reinstall. This model also features large deep-pitched fan blades that can move enough air to humidify spaces up to 700 square feet.
This model uses Vornado’s intelligent humidification, which senses the amount of humidity and airflow needed to automatically adjust its settings to maintain the desired humidity level. The Vornado has a 1.5-gallon capacity, which is enough to run continuously for 24 hours before a refill. Push-button control allows the user to quickly change between three fan settings and six humidity output levels.
- Tank capacity: 1.5 gallons
- Coverage: 700 square feet
- Dimensions: 10.15 inches high by 18.8 inches wide by 9.05 inches deep
- Large water tanks are easy to refill
- 3 fan settings can adapt to the current humidity levels
- 6 humidity output settings plus automatic control
- Some parts of the unit have difficult areas to keep clean
Get the Vornado EV200 evaporative humidifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, Target, or Vornado.
This affordable model from MistAire can humidify rooms of up to 500 square feet. It features four fan speeds and an auto-off timer that shuts down the unit after two, four, or eight hours.
This unit has a tank capacity of 2.8 liters, which gives it about nine hours of run time on high. It includes an antimicrobial filter that helps allergy sufferers by removing pollen, dust, and other airborne allergens from the air. At just 9 inches in diameter and 13 inches tall, this unit consumes a small space in the home. Three night-light settings and three light color choices make it a good pick for kids’ rooms.
- Tank capacity: 0.74 gallons
- Coverage: 500 square feet
- Dimensions: 13.4 inches high by 9.3 inches in diameter
- Affordable humidifier with impressive coverage
- Built-in antimicrobial filter helps remove unwanted particles
- 3 night-light settings can support a relaxed sleeping environment
- Smaller unit; limited coverage compared to other options
- Replacement filters are only available through the brand
Get the Pure Enrichment MistAire evaporative humidifier at Amazon or The Home Depot.
This humidifier and air purifier combo from Venta looks like a large box. It houses a fan and filtration system to treat spaces up to 600 square feet. In addition to raising the humidity to a comfortable 40 to 60 percent, the Venta also purifies the air to 10 microns, eliminating dust and pollen from the air.
Thanks to a removable housing and motor that allows for easy access to the basin, periodical cleaning is relatively easy. Venta also makes a water treatment additive that helps prevent mold growth, extending the time between cleanings. When combined with Venta’s scented water treatment, this humidifier also becomes an aromatherapy machine. The Venta humidifier uses 40 watts of electricity on its highest setting.
- Tank capacity: 3 gallons
- Coverage: 600 square feet
- Dimensions: 13 inches high by 17.7 inches wide by 11.8 inches deep
- Purifies air to 10 microns; helps remove dust and pollen
- The large water reservoir is easy to clean
- Can double as an aromatherapy machine using essential oils
- May struggle to humidify larger rooms up to the max 600-foot coverage
Get the Venta evaporative humidifier at Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Venta.
Shoppers looking to treat dry eyes or chapped lips in a smaller space or an individual room might want to consider this humidifier from Honeywell. Unlike larger units that can tackle larger spaces, a smaller unit like this one is better suited to a bedroom or office and can help provide a more comfortable air quality while sleeping or working from home.
The 1.1-gallon (and dishwasher-safe) water tank has wide enough openings for easy cleaning compared to most models on the market, which can sometimes be difficult to clean thoroughly. The tank also has a handle to make carrying it from the sink to the unit an easier trip.
Tank capacity will keep this running for up to 24 hours, but there is no humidity sensor or automatic operation here, so you might need to keep an eye on the room humidity and set it higher or lower depending on the levels.
- Tank capacity: 1.1 gallons
- Coverage: Not specified (“medium” rooms)
- Dimensions: 11.4 inches high by 17.9 inches long by 9.37 inches wide
- Tank is easy to clean; it’s even dishwasher-safe
- Includes a filter to help remove water minerals that create dust
- Suitable for small- to medium-size rooms; great for the bedroom or office
- No humidity sensor to allow for automatic operation
Get the Honeywell evaporative humidifier at Amazon or Honeywell.
Thanks to a three-speed fan that moves air at a rate of up to 1,600 rpm, this Vornado can cover a large space. It distributes enough humid air to fill up to 1,000 square feet. The basin has a 4-gallon capacity, which allows the unit to run for up to 24 hours on high before a refill.
With its intelligent humidification technology, this humidifier can automatically sense the humidity levels in the room, which allows it to set itself to the optimum output to maintain an ideal humidity level. The unit’s two basins are easy to remove for periodic cleaning. It uses about 40 watts of electricity on high.
- Tank capacity: 4 gallons
- Coverage: 1,000 square feet
- Dimensions: 13.5 inches high by 10.5 inches wide by 19.5 inches deep
- 2 simple dial adjustment options keep the unit easy to operate
- Automatically senses humidity levels and adjusts accordingly
- 2 large removable basins are simple to clean and maintain
- Humidistat can sometimes fall short of accurately reading and adjusting to room levels
Get the Vornado Evap40 evaporative humidifier at Amazon, Newegg, or Vornado.
Capable of humidifying up to 5,300 square feet (for tightly constructed homes), this model from AprilAire can add up to 18 gallons of water to the air per day. It connects directly to a water line, eliminating the need for refilling a basin. The unit comes equipped with an automatic sensor that monitors the home’s humidity and adjusts the humidifier’s settings accordingly.
The unit’s built-in fan connects to the home’s furnace via the ductwork to pull warm air directly into the unit’s water panel evaporator. The evaporator turns the water into vapor, which then circulates through the home’s existing ductwork. Mount its digital thermostat to a wall in the house to set the unit.
- Tank capacity: 18 gallons per day
- Coverage: Up to 5,300 square feet
- Dimensions: 18 inches high by 15.91 inches wide by 10.34 inches deep
- Connects directly to waterline; no need to refill a water tank
- The digital thermostat is clear, simple, and easy to use
- Dual sensors monitor humidity throughout the home
- Requires professional installation
Get the AprilAire 700 evaporative humidifier at Amazon.
This low-profile Aircare humidifier has enough output to humidify multiple rooms while not taking up much space. It boasts a maximum capacity of 1,200 square feet, and its 2-gallon basin provides enough water for up to 50 hours of run time before a refill.
Controls feature four fan speeds and an adjustable humidistat that automatically turns the unit off and on, depending on the conditions in the room. An auto shutoff keeps the humidifier from running dry, while filter and check water indicators let the user know when it needs maintenance. Its two water tanks are removable for easy cleaning. This humidifier uses about 40 watts on high.
- Tank capacity: 2 gallons
- Coverage: 1,200 square feet
- Dimensions: 26 inches high by 15 inches wide by 10 inches deep
- Impressive 50 hours of runtime before needing a refill
- 4 fan speeds and adjustable humidistat
- Includes both filter and check-water indicators for smoother operation
- Removable water tanks for easy cleaning
- Refilling the water tanks can easily lead to spillage (keep a towel close at hand)
Get the Aircare Tower evaporative humidifier at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or The Home Depot.
This model from Aircare features a wood panel design that allows it to blend with furniture. It’s also powerful, with a maximum output of 12 gallons per day, which is enough to humidify up to 3,700 square feet. A refillable basin holds up to 5.4 gallons and can last up to 24 hours.
It features four fan settings to control distribution and sits on sturdy casters for easy maneuvering from room to room. A comfort sensor automatically adjusts the unit to maintain optimal humidity. This model comes in three faux wood patterns, including copper night, light oak, and oak burl.
- Tank capacity: 5.4 gallons
- Coverage: 3,700 square feet
- Dimensions: 23.5 inches high by 21.8 inches wide by 13.8 inches deep
- Attractive wood panel design can fit with existing decor
- 4 fan settings and automatic humidity adjustments
- Portable unit with wheels; can be transported from room to room as needed
- Also available in 3 faux-wood patterns
- Constant high-output settings can lead to a rattling noise in the motor
Get the Aircare Alliance evaporative humidifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Menards.
This Aircare humidifier can humidify enough air to cover 3,000 square feet. The evaporative humidifier features a digital humidistat that automatically senses the air’s humidity, which it uses to maintain the desired settings. The unit automatically shuts off when it reaches the set humidity level or when the basin is empty, preventing it from overheating.
The control panel allows for easy adjustments to set the humidity level and fan speed while displaying the current humidity level. Two plastic basins hold a total of 4.75 gallons, giving the humidifier a long runtime of up to 45 hours.
- Tank capacity: 4.75 gallons
- Coverage: 3,000 square feet
- Dimensions: 20 inches high by 24 inches wide by 15 inches deep
- Digital humidistat provides accurate and reliable readings
- A larger tank capacity can run for up to 45 hours
- Easy-to-use control panel; ideal for hassle-free settings
- Plastic outer components can be less durable compared to similar options
Get the Aircare Titan evaporative humidifier at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing an Evaporative Humidifier
The first consideration when buying a humidifier is to find one that can produce enough humid air to cover the desired area. Also look at operating time and maintenance, among other features.
Evaporative humidifiers generally have a greater output than their cool mist cousins. Most manufacturers list coverage by square feet, which can vary significantly from 500 to 4,000 square feet. Many factors can affect a humidifier’s coverage area, including open doors, windows, and ceiling height. Many consumers look for a humidifier with a larger capacity than the space to ensure it can meet demand.
Humidifiers use a built-in basin to provide the water that creates water vapor. This is a significant factor, especially if the humidifier will be running through the night. Most humidifiers can run for at least eight hours before running out of water, while larger models can last for up to 48 hours or more on a single tank. Running time also depends on other factors, such as the humidifier’s output setting. And, naturally, running a humidifier on low makes the water last longer than a humidifier on high.
Room-size evaporative humidifiers use between 3 and 4 watts, while large whole-home models might use as much as 8 watts of energy. Although this is relatively insignificant compared to other appliances in the home—refrigerators use around 200 watts—it’s important to consider since humidifiers will run for many hours at a time. Evaporative humidifiers with auto sensors that shut down the unit when the room has reached the desired humidity level help save energy by cutting off the unit when it’s not needed.
Humidifiers have wick filters that collect water from the basin. The fan blows warm air through these filters, converting the water into vapor. The fan then blows the humidified air into the room. The size of the filter typically determines how much humidity the humidifier can produce. Most filters have a coating that slows mold growth on the filter; however, these filters will not eliminate fungal growth. The filter should be replaced every few months depending on use to prevent the humidifier from releasing dangerous mold spores into the air.
Noise levels can vary significantly from model to model; however, all evaporative humidifiers produce a noticeable amount of noise because of their fan. The average humidifier creates around 40 to 45 decibels, similar to the sound level of a refrigerator. Some ultraquiet models run between 28 and 35 decibels, about the same as a whisper.
Many humidifiers include an auto-shutoff feature that prevents the unit from running dry, which could damage the machine. Some include timers that turn off the humidifier after running for a designated amount of time, while others have humidistats that automatically shut off the humidifier when the room reaches the desired percentage of humidity. While most evaporative humidifiers are too large to be portable, humidifiers with casters allow the owner to maneuver it around a room. Other handy features include water level and filter change indicators.
Evaporative humidifiers require an occasional cleaning to keep them in good working order and ensure they don’t foster mold growth. Routine maintenance involves changing the water every day or two to prevent mold, cleaning the basin once a week, and soaking the wick filter in clean water to remove mineral deposits.
The Advantages of Owning an Evaporative Humidifier
When used correctly, an evaporative humidifier has a wide range of benefits, from easing cold and allergy symptoms to extending the life of your home’s furnishings. Evaporative humidifiers:
- Provide comfort in dry weather. Low humidity can lead to a variety of ailments, from dry sinuses to dry skin. Low humidity also can exacerbate allergy and cold symptoms. A humidifier alleviates those problems by adding soothing moisture to the air.
- Decrease static electricity in the home. Static electricity that causes clingy clothing and uncomfortable shocks when touching metal doorknobs thrives in a dry environment. By adding moisture to the air, evaporative humidifiers help eliminate static electricity.
- Extend the life of furnishings. Wood, paint, leather, and other materials benefit from humidity levels that range between 40 percent and 60 percent. Dry conditions can shorten the lives of furnishing and wall coverings, causing paint to peel, wood to dry out, and leather to crack.
- Filter out dust and pollen. An evaporative humidifier helps filter dust and pollen from the air, which can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
- Promote plant growth. Plants love a humid environment. By adding humidity to the air, an evaporative humidifier can help improve the health of a home’s flora as well as its fauna.
If you’re still wondering what size humidifier is right for your home or how long a humidifier should run, keep reading to find answers to these and other commonly asked questions about these appliances.
Q. What size humidifier do I need?
Size depends on the space you plan to humidify. Humidifying a room or two may require a humidifier with an output of 500 to 700 square feet. Humidifying an entire home requires a model with a capacity of 3,000 square feet or more, depending on the size of the house.
Q. Where should I put my evaporative humidifier?
Place the humidifier in a place in the room that’s out of the way of traffic but far enough from furniture and walls to promote optimal airflow. Doing so allows the humidifier to circulate air throughout the room to treat the entire space.
Q. When should I run a humidifier?
The best time of year to run a humidifier is during dryer months, which typically occur in the winter when the outside humidity is generally low and heaters are on that dry the air.
Humidifiers with auto sensors that monitor the humidity in the room and turn the humidifier on and off are safe to run both day and night. Models without these features should be run only during daytime hours when the user can monitor them.
Q. How often should I change the water in my humidifier?
Change the water in a humidifier every day or two to prevent mold from growing in the basin. If possible, use distilled water, which prevents the buildup of minerals in the humidifier.
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