Humidifiers can help maintain the ideal humidity level of 30%-50% for your home by emitting a fine, sometimes invisible, mist into the air. The proper humidity level protects your health from the effects of dry air like dry sinuses, itchy eyes, sore throats, and cracked skin or lips. They also can protect your home by preventing wood furnishings from warping or cracking. The ideal humidity level also helps prevent static electricity shocks.
When shopping for a new humidifier the first thing you should consider is the size of the space you want to humidify. The size of the area will help determine if you need a single-room table top unit, a console or whole-house model, or a whole house unit that attaches to your HVAC system. Secondly, you will want to consider how the humidifier adds moisture to the air – they use two main technologies that are ultrasonic and evaporative.
Ultrasonic units are quieter, however they can generate white dust from the minerals in tap water. Many buyers complain about the white dust problem on specific models, but the problem is actually with the water and not the humidifier. They will work better with distilled or soft water. Evaporative models use a wick filter and a fan to evaporate and blow the water vapor out. They are noisier, don’t have a white dust problem, but have filters that need to be replaced.
Some models output cool mist, which disperses at room temperature, while others output warm mist which boils the water before dispersing the moisture. Other things to consider include the noise level, maintenance and price of cleaning and changing filters, the size of the water tank, and advanced features like a humidstat.
We looked at many models ranging in size and cost to come up with our list of the top 10 best humidifiers which we review below.
The MH-701B has a couple of really nice features. First it has a ceramic filter which never needs to be replaced, just cleaned occasionally. It also has a digital humistat and programmable timer which makes it easy to set and use. One negative, however, is that you can’t see the water level in the reservoir, so you can run out unexpectedly.
Overall we highly recommend the Air Innovations MH-701B if you need to use a humidifier in a room up to 178 square feet.
Drawbacks to this unit include being more complicated to install and you will have to replace the filter at least once per year which adds to the expense.
We highly recommend the Aprilaire 700 for whole house applications with very dry air. For smaller homes and spaces without central air then there are less expensive alternatives.
There are no filters to replace and it can be used with regular tap water, but be aware you can get some fine white dust if you have hard water. The water reservoir is also the smallest of any model on this list at just 0.4 gallons, which means you will have to refill it often.
Overall the Pure Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier might just be the best cheap humidifier you can buy for small rooms.
On the downside the HCM-350 does not have an indicator light when the tank is empty, nor does it shut off automatically. It also lacks some of the controls of other units like a humidistat and only outputs cool mist, but it does have a unique germ killing ability from UV light which gives it antimicrobial properties.
The bottom line is if you are looking for a cheap humidifier that will work well in room sizes from about 300 to 500 square feet then the Honeywell HCM-350 is the perfect choice for you.
The HUL520 has a very simple control knob to adjust the output and auto shut-off when empty. It does not use filters, but it should be cleaned with vinegar, bleach, and water occasionally to de-mineralize and disinfect the unit (specific instructions are included in the manual).
Overall we would not hesitate to recommend the Honeywell Mistmate HUL520 to anyone who wants a cheap humidifier for a small bedroom.
The Boneco 7135 also uses a hydro cell to prevent microbial growth and a de-mineralization cartridge to reduce white dust. The hydro cell needs to be replaced once a year, while the de-mineralization cartridge needs to be replaced about every two to three months.
The downside is that all these features equal more cost since it is the most expensive humidifier on our list other than the furnace option. However, if you want a super quiet, large room humidifier that can output warm or cool mist and has programmable controls then the Boneco 7135 is for you.
It is also available at Amazon.
The SU-4010 can emit cool or warm mist and change the humidity output by using the simple dial controls. It also uses an ION exchange filter to remove minerals from the water so white dust will not be emitted into the air. The filter does need to be replaced about every 6 months at a cost of about $25.
A few users have complained about units that either leaked or quit working which makes us wonder a bit about the quality. However, when working everyone seems to love this machine.
Four rolling casters help you move the MA1201 to any room effortlessly. It also uses a mineral-absorbing wicking filter that needs to be replaced every 3-6 months at a cost of about $15.
One main drawback is that it is the loudest humidifier on our list with a max noise of 77.5 dB which is quite noisy.
Simply put the Aircare MA1201 is our choice for the best whole home humidifier that does not hook into your central air.
It is also available at Amazon.
One main complaint from users is the blue light that emits when in use is too bright and can disturb your sleep. You can put tape over that or cover it up to fix that.
For your home you should consider one of the other models on our list, but for traveling the Boneco 7146 is a great option due to its compact size and water bottle option.
On the downside each filling will only last about 12 hours and it only emits warm mist as it does not have a cool setting.
Overall the Vicks V745A is for those of you looking for a cheap warm mist humidifier for small rooms.
Best Humidifier Comparison Chart
Size (Sq Ft)
Size (Sq Ft)
|Air Innovations MH-701B||9.2||$71.83||Ultrasonic||178||178||1.7 gal||1.5 gal||Yes||Yes||< 40 dB|
|Aprilaire Model 700||9.1||$287.28||Evaporative||4200||2100||NA||18 gal||Yes||Yes||0 dB|
|Pure Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier||9.0||$39.99||Ultrasonic||300||120||0.4 gal||0.96 gal||No||No||28 dB|
|Honeywell HCM-350||9.0||$57.63||Evaporative||500||360||1.1 gal||2.3 gal||No||No||49 dB|
|Honeywell Mistmate HUL520||8.9||$24.25||Ultrasonic||150||100||0.5 gal||0.5 gal||No||No||< 30 dB|
|Boneco 7135||8.9||$199.99||Ultrasonic||650||650||1.75 gal||3.5 gal||Yes||Yes||25 dB|
|SPT SU-4010||8.8||$65.17||Ultrasonic||500||500||1.06 gal||2.5 gal||No||No||< 40 dB|
|Aircare MA1201||8.6||$109.95||Evaporative||3600||2000||3.6 gal||11.44 gal||Yes||Yes||77.5 dB|
|Boneco 7146||8.3||$49.99||Ultrasonic||25||25||16 oz||0.8 gal||No||No||< 40 dB|
|Vicks Warm Mist V745A||8.1||$29.86||Steam||250||250||1 gal||2 gal||No||No||~ 40dB|