Why Buy a Humidifier?
The top performers in our review are Boneco 7135 (formerly named Air-O-Swiss), the Gold Award winner; Stadler Form HERA, the Silver Award winner; and the Winix AW600, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a humidifier to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 products.
Whether you have sick children, tiresome allergies that make life miserable or live in an excessively dry climate, the moist air from a humidifier can help alleviate a multitude of health problems, including symptoms of colds and flu. In addition, a good humidifier can alleviate some of the discomfort of extra dry skin. A humidifier can help your home as well since it reduces the levels of dust and annoying static electricity, and can prevent furniture from excessive dryness in an arid climate. To learn more, you can read our articles on humidifiers.
The most impressive humidifiers raise the moisture level of your room quickly and efficiently while keeping germs and bacteria at bay. Newer models also offer features like humidistats and LCD display screens. You will pay more for these extras, but they often add functionality and convenience.
There are three types of humidifiers: ultrasonic, evaporative and units that boil water to produce steam. When deciding which type is best for your family and home, there are some pros and cons you'll want to carefully consider.
Ultrasonic units operate by using vibrations to pulverize water into fine mist. With this method, mineral-laden hard water can produce a fine white dust that settles on your furniture and floors. If you purchase an ultrasonic humidifier, look for a unit with a demineralization cartridge that removes such impurities so you're not breathing this unhealthy dust, and the surfaces in your home will not be coated with this unattractive mess. Ultrasonic humidifiers are almost silent and consume very little electricity compared to other humidifiers.
Evaporative coolers humidify by moving air through a wick sitting in water. Air is then blown through this large, wet surface and is dispersed into the room as mist. This process removes many impurities, but you still need to be vigilant about cleaning your humidifier to ensure you are trapping, not spreading, germs and bacteria that can contribute to respiratory problems and that you're not helping create mold in your home.
Steam units work by boiling water and directing the resulting steam into the room. Steam humidifiers destroy germs and mold as they moisten the air, but they are a known scalding hazard for small children, and we did not feature them in our humidifier review.
Some ultrasonic humidifiers offer both cold and warm mist output. In these units, water moves over a heating element and becomes warm. While warmed mist typically leaves an ultrasonic unit at a safe 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a child could tip over the unit and get burned by the water inside. Evaporative warm-mist humidifiers frequently heat the water to near boiling temperatures, and the steam leaving these units may exit at much higher temperatures. To be safe, always use cool-mist humidification around children or infants.
Humidifiers: What We Looked For, What We Found
The best humidifiers have built-in hygrostats or humidistats that measure the amount of moisture in the air. This helps you get exactly the humidity level you want in your room instead of guessing at the unit’s output.
You will also want to look for units that shut off automatically when the tank runs out of water. This protects the motor from overheating and lowers the risk of an electrical fire. If the unit you are considering does not have an automatic shut-off, make sure it has a transparent reservoir so you can see when it needs refilling. Many top-quality humidifiers feature both transparent tanks and automatic shut-off capabilities, which adds a level of safety.
Good quality humidifiers offer characteristics that you undoubtedly want to investigate to see if these are precisely what you need in your home. These include:
The humidifier you choose should be light enough for you to carry to the sink so you can empty it and clean it easily. It also is useful if the device features built-in tank handles that are easy to grip when the tank is wet and slippery. The overall size is important, not only so you can find the optimal places in your home to operate the humidifier, but also for storage purposes. If you have a particular place you plan to place your humidifier, check the unit’s measurements to be sure its size is a good fit.
Warranty & Support
All of the humidifiers we reviewed come with at least a one-year warranty. The best manufacturers back their products for even longer – typically three years and one for an impressive five years. A solid warranty offers you peace of mind, because it means the manufacturer will repair, or in some cases, replace defective parts. Look for companies that offer a toll-free number or an email option so you can reach a customer support agent for assistance in the event you run into any problems setting up your humidifier, running it, or cleaning it.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the manufacturers in advance of publication.
Humidifiers: Our Recommendations
We found the Boneco 7135 (which was formerly known as the Air-O-Swiss 7135, our former number one product) to be an excellent device. This ultrasonic humidifier can diffuse 3.5 gallons of water into the air during the day, can humidify a 650-square-foot area and is lightweight. It also presents a full list of useful features such as automatic shut-off capability, both cool and warm mists, a mineral removal filter, and more.
Our second place winner, the Stadler Form HERA, puts slightly less water into the air at 3 gallons per day, but it can humidify a 760-square-foot area, shuts off when the water tank is empty, gives you cool and warm mists plus a convenient carrying handle. This ultrasonic humidifier gives you a digital display, removes minerals from the water inside it so you will not have to endure white dust in your home and offers a 2-gallon water tank.
The Winix AW600, our third-place winner, is an interesting hybrid of a humidifier and air purifier. It does not emit water mists, but reduces water to even finer particles that are room temperature and pushes them into your home's atmosphere. It comes equipped with a HEPA/carbon filter, so you not only avoid the messy and potentially unhealthy white dust from dried minerals, but you also can enjoy air that has been nicely cleaned of much of the dust, pollen and other particulates that air purifiers remove.
Relatively inexpensive and certainly versatile, humidifiers provide a multitude of benefits. If you are sick, you will appreciate the comfort and relief that moist air brings to your lungs, throat and nasal passages. If you are healthy, this same moist air can help you ward off colds and flu, improve skin tone, protect your fine wood furnishings and keep allergies at bay.