The best whole-house humidifiers all offer great quality and little maintenance costs. Whether it’s an HVAC system or a console-style evaporative humidifier, the right choice will depend on your house’s size, noise tolerance, and other factors.
Picking a console evaporative humidifier will not help if you like to set things and forget about them. On the other hand, installing an HVAC system will be a hassle, even if you’re really into DIY.
Also, the price. Your budget will ultimately determine what specific model you’ll pick. If your house is small and you don’t care about having to manually replenish the water tank in your humidifier every once in a while, choosing an HVAC will end up being a waste of money.
So, after reviewing all the options available with that in mind, these are our top picks for the best whole-house humidifiers today:
- Best Overall: Aprilaire 500
- Best Budget Option: Honeywell Home HE240
- Best for Large Houses: Aprilaire 700
- Most Portable: Aircare MA0800 Mini-Console
- Best for Raw Performance: Aprilaire 800
Best Overall: Aprilaire 500
- For homes up to 3,600 square feet
- Max capacity of 12 gallons per day
- Automatic humidifier has dual sensors to monitor and adjust humidity based on outside temperature and indoor relative humidity
- Keeps your humidity between 40% – 60% to help reduce respiratory issues
The Aprilaire 500 takes the podium as our overall best pick, and it’s easy to see why. It’s packed with great features and boons while staying below $200. First, it’s a bypass humidifier, so it uses your home’s already-installed central heating and cooling systems to distribute the humid air. It uses water panels instead of fans to humidify the air, making it more economical and efficient than other options.
It covers up to 3600 sq. ft, but if your home is larger than that, we’d recommend going for a bigger model. However, it comes with a dual sensor for relative humidity and outside temperature. Once calibrated, it automatically adjusts itself to reduce its power consumption while maintaining efficiency.
This model deserves recognition for its ease of use and efficiency, making it the perfect option for the average American household.
Check out the Aprilaire 500 on Amazon.
Best Budget Option: Honeywell Home HE240
- For homes up to 3,000 square feet
- Easy mounting on either warm air supply or return air duct of any forced-air furnace
- Flow through design helps keep unit clean of microorganisms and decreases the frequency of maintenance
- PerfectFLO water distribution optimizes efficiency and water usage
- Protects wood floors and furnishings from drying and cracking
The Honeywell Home HE240 holds an impressive package of qualities for its price. First, it’s a bypass humidifier, which means it works with your home’s heating and cooling system. Still, its system can humidity a house up to 3.000 sq. ft. In fact, it has an internal humidistat that allows you to set your desired humidity level and forget about it. This model will automatically turn on and off to keep that set humidity level around your house.
Yet, the fact that it’s a budget option has some negatives. It’s a much simpler unit with a less accessible user interface and fewer unique features to boast about.
However, its simpler design means it is much easier and cheaper to install, so you should keep that in mind when comparing this budget option against other whole-house humidifiers.
Check out the Honeywell Home HE240 on Amazon.
Best for Large Houses: Aprilaire 700
- Automatic fan powered furnace humidifier
- For homes up to 5,300 square feet
- Max capacity of 18 gallons per day
- Dual sensors monitor and respond to outdoor temperatures and indoor humidity
- Helps you maintain optimal humidity of 40% – 60%
If your house is over 4000 sq. ft, but you don’t want to overspend on a huge unit, the Aprilaire 700 is for you. Its integrated fan system can output up to 18 gallons of water a day, which is enough to humidify 4.200 sq. ft to the EPA’s recommendation of 30-50% humidity. You can try it on larger surfaces, but it won’t be as efficient.
However, it’s quieter than other models, and its water panels only need to be replaced once a year, making it exceptionally low-maintenance. This HVAC system will need to be installed by an expert, as you’ll probably get lost past the first few cables and ducts. However, it makes up with its automatic humidistat, which uses special sensors to maintain your desired level of humidity all the time.
So, while it isn’t as “set it and forget it” as other models in this list, it’s still one you should consider. Particularly if you have a large home, this system is a great compromise if you want a reasonably priced humidifier that requires little attention.
Check out the Aprilaire 700 on Amazon.
Best Portable: Aircare MA0800 Mini-Console
- Mini-console style humidifier
- 2.5-gallon unit for 2600 square feet coverage
- Adjustable humidistat plus refill and filter indicators
- Automatically maintains desired humidity level
- Automatic shut-off when empty
- Up to 36 hours of runtime
This small evaporative humidifier will probably surprise you. First of all, the Aircare MA0800 Mini-Console is the smallest and lightest on this list, making it perfect for tiny homes or for moving it around the house. It can hold up to 2.5 gallons of water and theoretically cover up to 2.600 sq. ft, although that might be a stretch.
It is a fairly simple system aimed at people who want a small, easy-to-use humidifier. Proof of this is its small digital display that tells you when it needs a refill, allows you to choose between 3 different fan speeds, and also lets you set a desired humidity level. While its automatic shut-off system is not as advanced as some other models, it’s still impressive for such a small humidifier.
It is relatively quiet, but it carries all the cons of having a fan: while it has a run time of 36 hours, keeping it on for so long will probably consume more power than other systems would. However, due to its size, price, and range, it’s an ideal option for people who want a simple, portable system.
Check out the Aircare MA0800 Mini-Console on Amazon.
Best for Raw Performance: Aprilaire 800
Among whole-house humidifiers, this beast is perfect for you if you’re looking for a state-of-the-art system that can withstand anything you throw at it. The Aprilaire 800 uses steam to humidify the air instead of water panels, which is more efficient for larger surfaces. In fact, it can effectively humidify up to 6.200 sq. ft, making it the humidifier with the largest range available today. It’s also one of the few that can purify water with its electrode system, so you don’t have to worry about only using soft water.
It also has a built-in system of sensors that’s impossible to beat. However, for its price, you’d expect it to have only the best of the best, as this system will run you over four times what the Aprilaire 500 will cost you.
However, this system is ideal for you if you only want the best of the best, your home is exceptionally big, or you have plans to expand your house in the future.
Check out the Aprilaire 800 on Amazon.
How To Pick The Best Whole-House Humidifier: Step by Step
There are only really three things to consider when buying a whole-house humidifier: portability, performance, and price. Let’s review each one more closely to decide which model will suit you best.
The most significant factor is always how much coverage each model has. You’ll be looking at different price ranges and less portable systems if your home is over 3.000 sq. ft. Additionally, the larger the coverage of a unit is, the higher its installation cost tends to be.
So even if a system can output 1 or 2 more gallons of water per day or it’s advertised as being more efficient than other options, you should keep the size of your house in mind when making a decision.
If you want a system you can install and forget about or don’t like refilling a humidifier every other day, then portable systems aren’t for you. Portability matters when you want a simple system from which you don’t expect to draw the absolute best performance.
Portable whole-house humidifiers are ideal if your house has an unusual layout or you only want to humidify the air in a few rooms at a time. They also tend to be cheaper, but you should keep in mind they generally use less cost-efficient fan systems and require more maintenance.
And finally, the ultimate decider. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can get budget options like the AirCare MA1201 for as little as 145 bucks. However, the newest, most powerful systems can cost upwards of $1.000, and it’s likely you aren’t looking to spend that kind of money if your house isn’t larger than average.
Most people can get a system that suits their needs for around $200, but your needs will vary depending on other factors, and with that will vary the price range you’ll be looking at.
Ultimately, buying a whole-house humidifier is a significant investment that will add another layer of comfort to your life. You should generally be prepared to spend a few hundred bucks, considering most systems will also have installation costs.
What To Know Before Buying Whole House Humidifiers
We’ve already covered most things, but there are some specifics you should remember.
Most systems will have an installation cost. They come with instructions for their installation, but most people don’t have the skills necessary to install them in their homes. Always factor this in when deciding how much money you’re willing to spend.
Also, electricity bills. While energy costs are likely not an issue for you if you’re buying a whole-house humidifier, you should keep in mind that fan systems consume more energy overall. This could impact your total energy consumption, just like a central cooling or heating system can.
Finally, remember that different systems require different amounts of maintenance. If you’re looking for a system you can install and forget about, you’re probably going to be spending a bit more money. Otherwise, most smaller models require you to refill their water tanks every 36-48 hours and replace filters or panels every few months.
Using Whole House Humidifiers: What it’s Like
Whole-house humidifiers provide a more comfortable experience than single-room humidifiers, as they generally require less attention and care to function and can affect much larger areas. They ensure the humidity levels of the air in your house stay where you prefer, helping with allergies, dry skin, and other issues that arise from dry air.
You’ll get the most out of whole-house humidifiers if you buy a system that needs little maintenance and has an easy-to-use interface. Most people find that setting their preferred humidity levels and letting automated humidistat systems do their magic does the trick.
To buy the humidifier that best suits you, we recommend considering what kind of output you’ll need, how portable you want it to be, and how much money you’re willing to spend.
Our list has compiled only the systems made by the most reputable brands in the industry, so you can have a satisfying experience without overspending or worrying about high maintenance costs.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©BOKEH STOCK/Shutterstock.com.