Staying on top of the humidity level in your home can be important. Humidity—the amount of water vapor in the air—can impact not only the health of you and your family, but can also affect some of your treasured pastimes.
In terms of health, understanding and adjusting your home’s heating and ventilation can do wonders for your sinuses, keeping passages clear and allowing you to breathe easier. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that relative humidity can have a profound effect on a variety of health issues. For people whose doctors have recommended a controlled-humidity environment, measuring humidity can be particularly critical.
And when it comes to non-health, but possibly equally meaningful, considerations such as wine and cigars, measuring humidity is also important.
Instead of guessing your home’s moisture level, use a hygrometer to point you in the right direction. Whether analog or digital, the best hygrometers sense and report the amount of humidity in the air. Check out these top products that measure humidity for various needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Govee WiFi Temperature Humidity Indoor Hygrometer
- RUNNER UP: ThermoPro TP55 Digital Hygrometer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Habor Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer
- BEST FOR GREENHOUSES: Govee Thermometer Hygrometer
- BEST FOR CIGARS: Cigar Oasis Analog Hygrometer by Western Humidor
- BEST FOR INSTRUMENT CASES: JEDEW 2-Pack Mini Hygrometer
- BEST FOR TERRARIUMS: binfrog 12 Pack Mini Temperature Humidity Meters
- BEST FOR WINE CELLARS: Govee WiFi Temperature Humidity Monitor
Types of Hygrometers
Hygrometers come in several variations, but each is effective at sensing and displaying the humidity in a given environment. While the most popular hygrometers today are electrical or mechanical, dew point hygrometers and psychrometers are worth learning about to appreciate the science behind these instruments.
Keep in mind that many hygrometers also display the temperature, which can be particularly helpful in food storage spaces or wine cellars.
Electrical hygrometers are the most widely used hygrometers available today, and the most high-tech. These devices measure the changes in electrical resistance—across a semiconductor or sensor—caused by the air’s moisture content. As the moisture content changes, it causes the resistance to increase or decrease, which the hygrometer displays digitally.
Today, most electrical hygrometers use batteries for power. Several models have Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to check the hygrometer’s readings from the convenience of your smartphone.
If you’ve ever been to a child’s science fair, you’ve probably seen a mechanical hygrometer. This popular science project uses the changes in organic materials caused by moisture content to display humidity levels.
In their simplest form, mechanical hygrometers use organic materials like ox gut or human hair to control a needle that points to a humidity scale. When the moisture content in the air rises, the organic material absorbs the moisture, contracting and becoming heavier, which in turn raises the needle. As the air dries, the material becomes lighter and stretches a bit, allowing the needle to fall.
Dew Point Hygrometers
Dew point hygrometers have polished metal mirrors on which moisture condenses. By noting the air temperature at which water begins to condense on the mirror, experimenters can determine the dew point. These devices require extremely consistent conditions, including constant atmospheric pressure and constant vapor content, to provide accurate readings.
Dew point hygrometers are very old-school technology, with the first invented in 1751. They aren’t used much, if at all, anymore, but modern hygrometers owe a bit of credit to this early device.
You won’t find psychrometers in many kitchen windows or greenhouses. They are still in use today in meteorology, however. They’re also popular for use in wildland firefighting for detecting the danger and potential for a fire.
Psychrometers use two types of thermometers to measure the air’s moisture content. It’s a rather complicated process that involves wrapping one of the thermometers in a wet cloth and spinning both thermometers. The experimenter then enters the readings from the thermometers into an equation to determine the humidity level.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Hygrometer
Choosing the best hygrometer for your needs depends on many factors. Where and how you use your new hygrometer, as well as ease of use and battery life, are worth keeping in mind. Before you choose the best model for your needs, read through this section of the top considerations.
The application for your hygrometer makes a significant difference when choosing the best model. For instance, if you’re monitoring the humidity level of a greenhouse, you might want a different product than if you’re checking on the conditions inside a reptile tank.
For most situations, a digital hygrometer that you can place on a bookshelf or table will serve just fine. However, you might prefer a minuscule hygrometer or one that operates without a battery for niche needs and applications. Whatever your needs may be, you’ll want to take them into consideration before you buy a hygrometer.
On the whole, hygrometers are relatively reliable and consistent instruments. Most are accurate within 5 percent. To ensure that you’re getting a quality hygrometer, ensure yours works within this percentage. Beyond that, accuracy comes down to calibration.
If you suspect your hygrometer’s accuracy might be off a bit, you need to calibrate it. You can purchase a hygrometer calibration kit (available on Amazon), which requires you to place your hygrometer in a sealed bag for a prescribed length of time. The hygrometer reading relative to the kit’s percentage will determine if you need to calibrate it. Digital hygrometers have calibration knobs and reset buttons. Most analog hygrometers have adjustment screws in the back.
Digital vs. Analog
How easily you can read your hygrometer has a lot to do with its usefulness and how much you enjoy using it. Enter the great debate: digital versus analog.
When it comes to reading your hygrometer quickly from a distance, it’s hard to beat an analog hygrometer. These mechanical hygrometers have needles that point to the general range on the dial, which is all you’ll need in most scenarios. The drawback of an analog dial is that it’s hard to tell the exact reading. Also, tiny changes in tenths of degrees are impossible to detect.
Digital displays are the choice to go with when you need to know the exact value of the humidity. With an electric hygrometer’s digital display, if the moisture begins to change, you’ll likely notice it sooner and more easily. The numbers will change as opposed to tiny movements from a needle. The downside is that low-quality or small digital displays can be challenging to read, as some digits can be hard to decipher from one another from a distance.
Power Source and Battery Life
If you’re using an electrical hygrometer, you need to choose the correct power source for your needs.
There are many countertop-style hygrometers that come with 110-volt electrical adapters that you can plug into an outlet. You may also have the choice of running these models on battery power, which can last more than six months at a time.
If you’re using a remote Bluetooth-enabled device, battery life may be more important. For instance, if you’re monitoring a terrarium that you’d prefer to keep closed as much as possible, it’s important to get a sensor that’s thrifty with battery life. Some models use rechargeable batteries, which can be particularly handy as long as the battery lasts for a significant period of time.
Remote Monitoring and Alerts
Monitoring humidity levels isn’t always about personal comfort or convenience. Sometimes, it’s required by a favorite hobby or pursuit. For instance, monitoring your wine cellar or cigar humidor’s humidity level can be the difference between maintaining a wonderful selection or spoiling an expensive collection.
For help keeping these areas within a crucial humidity range, it’s worth purchasing a hygrometer that you can check from your smartphone or a remote display. Most importantly, perhaps, is that several of these devices will allow you to set a particular range and send you alerts when the humidity is outside of that range. Thanks to that alert, you may be able to take action and save your cache before it spoils or molds.
Interconnectivity and User Interface
Thanks to advances in Bluetooth, WiFi, and smart home technology, you have plenty of options when it comes to connecting a hygrometer with your personal technology.
Many of these devices use their own apps, allowing you to monitor your humidity levels via Bluetooth from your smartphone. This can be a great help when you’re trying to avoid opening a sensitive environment like a greenhouse or terrarium. However, beware that not all apps are equal in usability and function, so check into this before deciding on a hygrometer.
From your smartphone, you can access temperature and humidity readings in your home when you’re not even there from a WiFi-enabled app. Some of the best hygrometers can interact with your smart home devices. You can access their readings with Alexa, Google Assistant, or other digital assistants. If you have access to your home thermostat from your smartphone, you can then adjust your home’s temperature settings based on information from your hygrometer’s app.
If you’re serious about controlling the humidity in your home for health reasons, hobbies, or any other reason, you need to collect data. You might want to consider a hygrometer that keeps a log of humidity values and temperatures. You can track your data and stay ahead of seasonal or environmental trends, maintaining a more consistent environment.
Some devices keep data logs in their apps, so you’ll have up to two years worth of information at your fingertips. Possibly more important, you can export a spreadsheet of this critical data, which you can then store on your computer or print out.
Our Top Picks
With your brief primer on the science behind hygrometers and the important factors to keep in mind while shopping for these handy devices, you’re ready to hit the market. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best hygrometers you can buy. There are old-school devices and high-tech models, so you’ll be able to find something to fit your needs.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded hygrometer option that you can integrate into your smart home, the Govee WiFi Temperature Humidity Monitor is worth checking into. This device has a digital readout that displays the temperature and humidity, but also reports to the Govee Home app, which is easy to navigate. If you’d prefer, the Govee will work with Alexa, allowing you to check the temperature and humidity via voice command.
The Govee has a 20-day onboard data log and it stores information in the app for as long as two years. It’s accurate within plus or minus 3 percent humidity and .3 degrees Celsius. It has a digital face that’s easy to read, and it sends push notifications to your phone if the humidity or temperature exceeds a preset range. The life of the three AAA batteries is about three months.
If you’d like to keep track of your humidity levels, but don’t need a high-tech and connected app or smart home interface, the ThermoPro TP55 Digital Hygrometer could be an option for you. This hygrometer has a 4-inch touchscreen display with large numerals that make it easy to check the temperature and humidity within the room. It’s incredibly accurate, providing readings within 2 percent to 3 percent in humidity and 1 degree Fahrenheit.
The ThermoPro provides accurate readings every 10 seconds, allowing you to stay on top of environmental changes. It also records the day’s highs and lows, as well as all-time records. It has three different mounting options: magnetic, a wall mount, and a tabletop stand. It uses two AAA batteries that can last up to a year.
If all you need from a device is a dependable and accurate humidity and temperature reading, check out the Habor Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer. This device provides temperature readings with an accuracy of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity readings accurate within 5 percent. It’s a no-frills meter at an affordable price.
The Habor Hygrometer is small, taking up very little space on a shelf or counter. Despite its size, it has a large LCD display that makes it easy to read the room’s current conditions. It also has three mounting options, including built-in magnets, a tabletop stand, and a hanging slot for attaching to a nail or screw in the wall. It uses one CR2 battery that can power it for up to six months.
The Govee Thermometer Hygrometer could be an option if you’re looking for a hygrometer with an easily read display as well as a long range. The Govee reports readings via Bluetooth to your phone, using the Govee Home app. It has a 260-foot range, allowing you to check the conditions in your greenhouse nearly a football field away. It’s also accurate to within 3 percent humidity and .5 degrees Fahrenheit, updating every two seconds for accurate readings in sensitive environments.
You’ll benefit from 20 days of onboard data, as well as two years of data storage in the app (which you can export as a spreadsheet if desired). The Govee will also send push notifications to your phone if the temperature or humidity exceeds your preset range—helping you stay on top of conditions in your greenhouse.
When it comes to monitoring your humidor’s humidity levels, it’s often as much about style as it is function. The mechanical Analog Hygrometer by Western Humidor has a nautical-themed dial that’s easy to read. The case is aluminum with a brass-style finish, and the gauge has a sunburst effect.
The Analog Hygrometer from Wester Humidor is accurate to within 1 percent, but you can calibrate it with the adjustment screw in the back should you find it needs adjustment. It has a magnetic mount that allows you to remove the hygrometer for testing or adjusting. The scratch- and fog-resistant glass face will stay clear and easy to read, as well.
Depending on the instrument, it can seem like adding so much as an extra reed to the case could overload it. When it comes to these cases, you’ll want a small hygrometer like the Mini Hygrometer from JEDEW. These small hygrometers will fit in most tight cases and provide easily read humidity and temperature values at a glance.
The JEDEW hygrometers’ faces are simple and uncluttered. They display the humidity readings in larger print than the temperature reading, allowing you to see the crucial value first. They are accurate within 5 percent humidity and 2 degrees Fahrenheit. They provide new readings every 10 seconds. Each hygrometer uses one 1.5-volt LR44 battery that is easy to replace.
If you’re into terrascaping, you probably realize how quickly your interest can grow into several separate tiny environments. Instead of swapping your hygrometer from jar to jar, you can purchase a 12-pack of easy-to-read hygrometers from binfrog. These tiny hygrometers are small and unobtrusive, allowing you to hide them in the back of your terrarium.
The binfrong Mini Temperature and Humidity Meters are accurate within 2 degrees Fahrenheit and 5 percent humidity. They take measurements every 10 seconds, updating you to the conditions inside your terrarium often. They use two LR44 batteries each, providing longer run-time than other models—vital if you try to avoid digging into your terrarium.
Protecting your investment is an essential aspect of wine collecting. You need to store your bottles at the right light, temperature, and humidity levels to maintain their value, quality, and flavor. The Govee WiFi Temperature Humidity Monitor will help, alerting you when your wine cellar’s conditions fall outside of your preset range. The Govee will send a push notification through the Govee Home app, warning you of changes. Since the Govee connects to your WiFi, you don’t even need to be home to check the conditions.
The Govee is accurate within 3 percent humidity and .54 degrees Fahrenheit and updates every 2 seconds, providing data in nearly real-time. It has an easy-to-read digital display, and it keeps 20 days of data stored in the unit, as well as two years’ worth of data in the app.
FAQs About Your New Hygrometer
If you still have some questions about your hygrometer, don’t sweat it. This section is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions about hygrometers and the corresponding answers. If you still have questions after reading this section, you can reach out to your hygrometer manufacturer’s customer service department.
Q. Where should a home hygrometer be placed?
A main living area is usually the best place for a hygrometer. Moisture created by a kitchen or bathroom can throw off the readings, so it’s best to keep your hygrometer in a drier space like a living room or office.
Q. How do you calibrate a hygrometer?
Using a calibration kit, you can determine how far off your hygrometer is before calibrating it. Analog hygrometers have adjustment screws in the back of the gauge that you can manipulate to adjust the reading. Digital thermometers have adjustment knobs that you can dial in to the proper humidity level.
Q. How do you adjust the humidity level in your home?
If you need to add some moisture to the air, you can use a humidifier, which emits water vapor into the air. If you need to decrease your humidity levels, a dehumidifier will help. These machines pull air in, remove the moisture, and release the drier air into the environment.
Q. How do you know if your hygrometer is working?
Outside of calibration, there are easy ways to check if your hygrometer is working. You can place it in an airtight container along with a bottle cap full of salt with a splash of water. After several hours, you should notice a difference in the hygrometer’s readings.