The ideal indoor humidity for a home lies somewhere between 30% and 50%. In the dry winter months, low humidity can dehydrate your skin and contribute to respiratory issues by drying out the mucous membranes in the nose and throat. Quite simply, maintaining proper humidity levels with a whole house humidifier helps keep you and your family comfortable.
The trouble is that maintaining optimal humidity throughout the home can be difficult (and expensive) if you’re using portable humidifiers. A whole-house humidifier attaches directly to your home’s HVAC system and disperses humidity evenly throughout the house.
If you’re looking for an effective way to boost humidity levels in your home without the hassle of portable humidifiers, a whole-house humidifier is the way to go. We’ve assembled a list of the top choices on the market to help you find the right one.
The Best Whole House Humidifiers
The best whole-house humidifier is one that is properly sized for your home and is compatible with your existing HVAC system. We scoured the internet for the best humidifiers on the market to bring you our top picks.
Best Overall: Honeywell Flow-Through Bypass Whole House Humidifier
Capacity: 2,000 to 4,000 square feet
Dimensions: 22.9×19.8×1.7 inches
Tank Capacity: N/A
This furnace-mounted home humidifier has the capacity to humidify homes as large as 4,000 square feet or as small as 2,000 square feet. It can be easily mounted to just about any warm air supply or return air duct to evenly and effectively disperse moisture throughout the home.
Not only does this Honeywell home humidifier offer generous coverage, but it utilizes water-saving technology to use 30% less than similar models. Because it’s an integrated unit, you don’t have to worry about water damage on your flooring, walls, or furniture.
On the downside, you have to purchase a separate installation kit for this model and some users have complained about the lack of a proper waste water drainage system.
- Great option for medium to large homes
- Hooks directly into the HVAC system
- Uses 30% less water than similar models
- Plastic construction may be less durable than other materials
- Installation kit must be purchased separately
Best Budget: AIRCARE Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier
Dimensions: 21.5×14.5×20.5 inches
Tank Capacity: 3.6 gallons
If you don’t have forced air heating, a console-style humidifier might be your best option. The AIRCARE Whole-House Console-Style humidifier is a standalone unit that can humidify up to 3,600 square feet.
This model features a digital humidistat which automatically maintains your home at your preferred humidity level with digital accuracy. Once the ideal humidity level is reached, the unit automatically shuts off. It also shuts off when the unit is empty to prevent it from running dry.
The AIRCARE console humidifier is simple to operate, easy to clean, and a budget-friendly alternative to furnace-mounted units. That being said, the design is a little bulky and the 3.6-gallon tank may need to be refilled often to maintain optimal humidity levels.
- Affordable alternative to furnace-mounted models
- Generous coverage up to 3,600 feet
- Low maintenance and easy to operate
- Design is somewhat bulky
- Tank must be refilled fairly often
Best for Small Homes: Stadler Form EVA Ultrasonic Humidifier
Capacity: 860 to 900 square feet
Dimensions: 7.7×7.7×16.5 inches
Tank Capacity: 1.6 gallons
For smaller homes, a furnace-mounted unit may not be necessary or economical. The Stadler Form EVA Ultrasonic Humidifier is a standalone unit that can humidify homes up to 900 square feet. It is an ultrasonic humidifier that offers remote control operation for increased accuracy.
This whole-home humidifier is affordably priced and easy to operate. What makes it unique is that it contains a demineralization cartridge you can use to diffuse essential oils.
While this model is advertised as running completely silently due to its EVA operation, some users found that it was a little noisier than they expected. It also has a tendency to leak on surfaces.
- Compact design ideal for small homes
- Demineralization cartridge for essential oil diffusion
- Remote control operation
- Limited tank capacity
- Some operational noise
- Has a tendency to leak
Best for Large Homes: Aprilaire 800 Whole Home Steam Humidifier
Dimensions: 7.13×10.13×20.88 inches
Tank Capacity: 11.5 to 34.6 gallons
It can be difficult to find a whole home humidifier that can accommodate homes over 4,000 square feet but this model from Aprilaire can humidify up to 6,200 square feet. It is a steam humidifier that features dual sensors to monitor indoor temperature and humidity levels so it can automatically adjust to suit your preferences.
Not only is this Aprilaire home humidifier generously sized, but it is designed for quality and convenience. It mounts directly to your furnace and is thoughtfully designed for easy operation.
On the downside, this model is fairly pricey due to its size, and it does require a forced air system with ductwork in order to work properly. Professional installation is strongly recommended.
- Generously sized for homes up to 6,200 square feet
- Dual sensors automatically adjust temperature and humidity
- Steam humidifier effectively humidifies large homes
- Fairly pricey
- Requires existing ductwork
- May require professional installation
What to Look for in a Whole House Humidifier
Before shopping for a whole-house humidifier, it’s important to understand how these devices work and what makes them different from other devices like air purifiers and air conditioners. Once you’ve determined that a whole-home humidifier is the right choice, think about what you actually need in terms of sizing, style, and additional features.
Here are some factors to consider when shopping for a whole-home humidifier:
The most important thing to consider is the size of your home. Most whole-house humidifiers are rated for spaces between 1,000 and 4,000 square feet but very large homes may require a bigger unit.
Many whole-house humidifiers attach directly to the HVAC system, but you can also consider a free-standing model. Consider whether you want an ultrasonic model that turns water into mist using high-frequency vibration or an evaporative model that increases humidity without releasing visible vapor.
Determine whether the unit needs to be professionally installed or if you can set it up yourself. Free-standing models are often DIY, but furnace-mounted humidifiers require professional installation. Some can even work in conjunction with a whole-home air purifier.
Though the main purpose is to humidify your house, these devices can serve other functions as well. Some can be used as a diffuser for essential oils and free-standing units often have attractive designs that don’t clash with existing décor.
Maintaining optimal humidity levels in your home can be a challenge but installing a whole-house humidifier makes it easy. By hooking into your existing HVAC system, you can control a whole-house humidifier through your thermostat. If you’re considering making this upgrade to your home, consider one of the options we’ve recommended above.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do whole house humidifiers work?
Unlike a portable unit, a whole-house humidifier attaches directly to your HVAC system. These units draw water vapor into the ducts and use a distribution tray to disperse humidity throughout the home. You can adjust the humidity to your preferred level using a thermostat.
Is it safe to use a whole house humidifier?
Yes, as long as you use it properly. That being said, there are some risks. Increasing the humidity too high could cause mold to grow which may trigger allergies or other respiratory issues. It can also be damaging to wood surfaces and may stain when it settles on surfaces like windows and walls.