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To find the best humidifiers, we researched more than 40 of the top appliances on the market before buying the 12 best for some side-by-side testing. We measured the humidifying performance of each model using a professional-grade humidistat, cleaned them multiple times to appraise the difficulties of their required maintenance, and calculated their operating costs. We also lived with each in our homes for multiple days to get a feel for how they worked in real-life scenarios. We found great models in every price range, whether you're looking to humidify a large living space or a small kid's room.
Air quality is a top priority for many households. Tap into the technology of air quality meters to discover how you can best manage the health of your home. You may need an air purifier to remove particulates, a tower fan to circulate air, a space heater to cut the winter chill, or a portable air conditioner to provide some relief from the heat of summer. Whatever your needs, our in-depth reviews cover some of the most popular appliances available today and help you find the best product for your particular needs and budget.
Editor's Note: The product review for Humidifiers was updated on June 20, 2022, with three brand new humidifiers added to our lineup for side-by-side testing.
Tank Capacity: 1.6 gallons | Dimensions: 11.3" x 7" x 10.5"
REASONS TO BUY
Accurate humidistat prevents over-humidification
Convenient remote control
Easy to clean
REASONS TO AVOID
The Levoit LV600HH features a winning combination of best-in-class power, ease of cleaning, and set-it-and-forget-it functionality. We believe it's the best overall model for these reasons and more. It can precisely monitor surrounding humidity thanks to a built-in humidistat and adjusts its own settings accordingly. Operating it is as simple as selecting your desired humidity level, starting the Levoit LV600HH, and leaving it to do its thing until the water runs out. When its water does run empty, its large tank boasts an easy-to-fill opening. There is also ample access for scrubbing every part of the device when it's time to clean. And as a bonus, if you want to adjust anything in the middle of the night, the remote control lets you turn the machine off without getting out of bed.
The price is the only real downside to the Levoit LV600HH, and we have a suspicion that it's more expensive than most people will want to spend on a humidifier. But if you are looking for a powerful machine that will keep your home at just the right humidity year-round, the Levoit LV600HH is our first choice.
Tank Capacity: 1.1 gallons | Dimensions: 14" x 8" x 6"
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptional humidifying capabilities
Low life time costs
REASONS TO AVOID
Confusing user interface
Prolonged cleaning process
The Levoit Classic 200 was one the best overall performing products we reviewed. It has truly excellent humidifying capabilities. Over three hours, it raised the humidity levels in our testing room by 145%. This machine offers consumers a terrific value with a low MSRP and reasonably affordable annual costs. The tank is both easy to fill and easy to clean. The suggested cleaning protocols are involved but thorough, and thanks to the large access hole, it's not too difficult to scrub it out if mold does grow. With the ability to turn off the mode indicator light, this unit is ideal for sensitive sleepers.
The user interface takes a minute to get used to. The three modes have corresponding colors that are seemingly random: blue is low, orange is medium, and purple is high. You can't fine-tune the humidity levels, but the three modes cover the basics. We couldn't recommend this model enough unless you need a humidifier with a built-in humidistat and larger tank capacity.
Tank Capacity: 0.5 gallons | Dimensions: 8.5" x 8.5" x 9.5"
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to clean
Easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the most powerful
No advanced features
If your bedroom is less than 200 square feet, the Honeywell HUL520B is one of the best machines to humidify your small rooms on a budget. This simple model retails for much less than the competition, is very easy to clean, and was able to keep our 150-square-foot testing room at a near-perfect 47% humidity. It's hard to ask for more.
This model is not without its drawbacks. The first is power. An average-sized bedroom will likely take the Honeywell HUL520B approximately 1-2 hours to get to the right humidity. This is not a dealbreaker, as you could turn it on before bed and still enjoy its effects for most of the night. It also lacks any sort of timer, so if you forget to turn it off before leaving the house, it will run all day. However, its capacity is too small to leave your room damp if you forget to turn it off. All in all, this model is a good compact option for those on a budget.
Tank Capacity: 1.2 gallons | Dimensions: 8.6 x 7.5" x 13.4"
REASONS TO BUY
Fantastic user interface
Extensive controls via smartphone app
Easy to clean
REASONS TO AVOID
Mediocre performance for price
The Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart is a high-performing option and our top choice for its convenience and usability of the models we tested, thanks to numerous ergonomic features. Its user-friendly screen, controls, ease of operation, and cleaning are what set it apart. A step up from other models in our lineup, the four control buttons and digital screen enable you to switch and view settings easily. If you prefer apps or smart home integrations, it has an app that allows your phone to function as a remote and pairs with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With inset handles on each side of the tank and a completely removable lid, filling and cleaning the tank is a breeze.
The Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart is one of the more expensive models we tested, and its performance is average for the price. Still, unless you have higher than average humidification requirements, we would recommend this model to anyone who wants a no-fuss humidifier that is easy and intuitive to use.
Tank Capacity: 1 gallon | Dimensions: 18.6" x 10.4" x 13"
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to clean (when done regularly)
Self-regulating evaporative humidifying
REASONS TO AVOID
Requires replacement filters
Filter can get moldy if ignored
Evaporative humidifiers simply blow air over a wet wick so that the water naturally evaporates into the air. This is an automated process — the evaporation will slow down as the ambient humidity increases. This more natural process is preferable to some people over the sonic humidifiers that essentially push water into the air. The Honeywell HCM-350 is our top recommendation for an evaporative humidifier. It is relatively powerful, quite easy to clean, and is less expensive in the long run than many other evaporative models.
Like all evaporative models, the Honeywell HCM-350 requires replacement filters, which generally makes it more costly than its sonic siblings in the long run. If you're not diligent about cleaning this machine according to the manufacturer's recommendations, the filter can get moldy. This would, in turn, quickly spread to the rest of the machine. However, if you stay on top of cleaning your machine regularly and are intrigued by the benefits of evaporative humidification, this is the best option we've found.
Genaveve Bradshaw and Hale Milano have spent countless hours researching, using, and testing a variety of home appliance products. Spanning the worlds of air purifiers, dehydrators, and many other household items, they have put dozens of models to the test. The testing team also lives in the arid climate of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where ambient humidity levels rarely rise above 30%, necessitating a humidifier lest you wake with a scratchy throat and parched lips. After extensive online research, our test team settled on 12 of the best humidifiers available today to test. This review represents over 100 hours of controlled testing with these products and dozens of nights spent with them in our bedrooms.
Our in-depth testing process of humidifiers breaks down into four rating metrics:
Humidifying Performance (35% of overall score rating)
Ease of Cleaning (35% of overall score rating)
User Friendliness (15% of overall score rating)
Operating Cost (15% of overall score rating)
The cornerstone of our testing involved letting each model run for three hours in the same 150-square-foot room. Between tests, we ran a dehumidifier to ensure that each model started at the same relative humidity. We measured the changes in humidity with an industrial grade humidity meter and then charted this data over time. These two specific tests — measuring the percentage change in relative humidity and tracking consistency over time — comprise the Humidifying Performance score. This is the most important aspect of a humidifier and, as a result, makes up 35% of the overall score.
We also ran each model through the normal paces of use, cleaning each at least five times and adjusting all the possible settings, searching for anything that made the machines more difficult to use or clean. We measured each model's energy usage with a wattage meter, then used that data to calculate their estimated lifetime costs of ownership. Our experts conducted more than 93 individual tests to help you find the best humidifier to match your needs and budget.
Analysis and Test Results
We categorized our tests into four separate testing metrics and weighted them according to their importance, ultimately assigning scores in each metric for all of our models. This allowed us to find the best humidifier for every situation, from mist-breathing dragons that can keep large rooms from getting too dry to smaller, more budget-friendly models that are perfect for apartment-sized bedrooms.
Good humidifying is all about balance. You want a machine that can efficiently add humidity to the air, but not to the extent that it leaves condensation all over the walls. Our first humidifying performance test focused on power; that is, how quickly and consistently each model was able to achieve a target humidity level and its ability to maintain a desired level of humidity. Models with humidistat controllers that read and react to the room's humidity performed much better in this regard. All of our tests were completed in a 150-square-foot room, about the size of an average bedroom.
The Levoit LV600HH is the overall top performer in this test. Although its humidifying power was bettered by a couple of models, it is one of only a few models in our test to offer the control and accuracy of a built-in humidistat controller to help dial in your optimum humidity level.
We tested these models in a 150-square-foot room and offer general recommendations based on those results. Please keep in mind that other factors can influence humidification performance and cause the results to vary. In your home, ambient humidity, temperature, and ventilation all play a role. Whenever you buy a new humidifier, it's best to start on a lower setting and slowly move until you find a good humidity level, rather than starting on the highest setting and ending with damp surfaces.
The Levoit Classic 200 and the AquaOasis Cool Mist were the clear winners in the humidity power test. Over three hours, the Levoit could increase the humidity in our testing room by 145%, while the AquaOasis increased the room's humidity by 94%. Both are significantly higher percentages than any of the other models. Neither of these models has built-in humidistats, so you'll need to keep in mind you could easily over-humidify small spaces. This shouldn't be a big concern for anyone in an especially arid climate because the probability of over-humidification is low. However, if you live somewhere where the ambient humidity is higher (20-30%) or prone to fluctuations, a humidistat would probably be a nice feature to have on your humidifier.
The Honeywell HCM-350 was another high performer. It was able to bring our testing room up to the ideal 45% humidity in just 34 minutes and reached a maximum of 58.9% after running on high for 3 hours. Multiple models fell into the average range in this metric, providing noticeable but not overly impressive humidification capabilities. The Sunpentown SPT SU-4010 took a full hour to hit the ideal 45% humidity but did achieve a maximum of 56.8% by the end of the test. The Crane Drop got to 45% faster, taking just 45 minutes, but stalled out at a maximum of 51.2%. The Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart fell into the average performance category as well, taking an hour and a half to reach the ideal 45% humidity, and maxed out at 50% humidity. The Honeywell HUL520B was the slowest of this group, taking a full 2 hours to hit 45% and maxing out at just 47.8%.
Although every device we tested was able to add humidity to our testing room, a couple of models didn't perform quite as well as the rest of the group. It took the Pure Ultrasonic 2.5 hours to get our testing room up to 45% humidity, nearly the duration of our 3-hour test time. At the end of the test, the maximum humidity had only reached 47.5%. The Fridababy 3-in-1, even after 3 hours of continuous use, failed to reach our ideal 45% humidity, maxing out at only 41% humidity. Despite its relatively weaker performance, the Fridababy does have redeeming qualities; it is inexpensive to run, and the whole tank lights up to your color preference, making it a great nightlight for kids.
Ease of Cleaning
Humidifiers that aren't cleaned regularly can become a breeding ground for bacteria and do more harm than good. Therefore, if a model is so hard to clean that you neglect it, it's not worth the effort. Most machines will require basic scrubbing and soaking in a vinegar or bleach solution to eliminate mold. We cleaned every model multiple times and kept careful notes on how laborious the process was for each one.
The Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart earned high marks in both of our ease of cleaning tests. Thanks to a completely removable tank lid, cleaning is a straightforward process, and you can easily fit a hand or brush in every crevice of the tank. It was also the only option we tested that included a bottle cleaning brush.
The Honeywell HCM-350 was the only evaporative model we tested. These types of humidifiers eliminate those hard-to-reach corners around the sonic agitator where mold can slowly take hold in other models. The tank is large and easy to scrub, and the bottom tray is even dishwasher safe. The one caveat is that the actual filter (which soaks up water before it evaporates) can get moldy if neglected for a couple of days. If that happens, you're out of luck and will need to buy a new filter.
The Honeywell HUL520B was a close runner-up to its sibling. Its opening is nearly 4-inches wide, allowing for plenty of access for easy scrubbing. There are some nooks and crannies around the ultrasonic unit, but generally, you can scrub everything without too much maneuvering. The Levoit LV600HH also fared fairly well in our cleaning tests. To ensure every crevice is clean, this model requires more focused scrubbing than the Honeywell HCM-350, but it's not particularly arduous.
Just verging into 'oh crap, this thing needs cleaned' territory is the Crane Drop and the Sunpentown SPT SU-4010. These products have smaller openings, and the internal construction is more crowded, making both access and scrubbing every surface more difficult. You can do it, but it requires some hand yoga and maybe even sacrificing a toothbrush to the cleanliness deities. The Fridababy 3-in-1 was difficult to clean; the tank opening was small, so using anything other than a bottle brush was futile.
Humidifiers are generally very simple machines, but a few small design differences can make using them feel like either a walk-in-the-park or a laborious undertaking that prompts you to question whether the air in your house is too dry. From large water tank openings to remote controls that let you change settings without getting out of bed, choosing a thoughtfully designed model can save you from the scourge of extra logistics that many of our modern appliances can bring on.
The Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart and the Levoit LV600HH proved to be our favorite models for the overall user experience. This is mainly due to their easy-to-fill water tanks. The Classic 300S possessed a plethora of features contributing to its high performance: recessed carrying handles on the tank, a completely removable top tank lid, and the ability to fill the tank right-side up. All these made carrying and filling the tank a breeze. The Levoit LV600HH's opening isn't quite as large, and the tank is on the larger side at 1.6 gallons, so it may take some maneuvering to get it into a small sink, but it is still very easy to fill.
The LevoitLV600HH also has a convenient remote control that lets you adjust settings without leaving your bed and has a simple and intuitive interface. Meanwhile, its sister humidifier, the Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart, does not have a remote but instead pairs with a smartphone app and Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to accomplish the same results. It also has a straightforward interface allowing you to control and view current settings. The Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic features a simple, single dial control panel and 2.75-inch tank opening that makes filling and operating the machine quite easy.
The Honeywell HCM-350 fell just behind the top performers in this metric. Like its smaller sibling, it has a wide opening in its water tank, making refilling painless. It also uses evaporative humidifying, which self-regulates based on the room's humidity and requires less monitoring. However, it missed out on a top slot because this evaporative technique requires replacing the filter/wick every six months.
The Levoit 200 Classic was another easy option to fill. The removable tank had comfortable handles and easily slid in and out of the main body. A large access hole makes filling the unit with water easy to do. The controls revolve around a single-touch button that our testers found a little strange to operate.
Leading off the relatively poor performers in this metric was the Pure Ultrasonic. The tank's opening is rather small, but the tank itself is also small and easy to maneuver during refilling. It lost points due to its interface, which requires you to scroll through different settings by pushing a single button. There is no display to indicate which setting is currently selected, so you just have to remember how many button presses get you to your preferred setting.
Humidifiers generally do not use much electricity, but their operating costs can add up in the long run. To estimate operating and lifetime costs, we measured each model's electricity usage with a wattage meter. Then we assumed 12 hours of use each day at the cost of $0.12 per kWh (the national average) and a functional lifetime of five years. We also factored in each machine's upfront cost and the filter costs for those models that need filters. This resulted in an estimated lifetime cost of nearly $400.
The Honeywell HUL520B has an estimated lifetime cost of just $56. This is largely due to its incredibly low list price and the fact that it barely uses any electricity (less than 0.01kWh per hour to run its sonic agitator. The Pure Ultrasonic wasn't too far behind, logging an estimated lifetime cost of just $63. It also has a low list price and uses even less electricity than the Honeywell. Next in line was the Fridababy 3-in-1 with an estimated lifetime cost of $76.
The Vicks Filter Free Cool Mist was one of the more inexpensive models we tested with a low list price. Thanks to its relatively low electricity usage and no filter replacements, it performed well in overall annual costs as well ($17).
Two of our award winners, the Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart and the Levoit LV600HH, performed similarly in electricity usage, with the Classic 300S edging out a slightly better performance thanks to its lower list price (lifetime estimated costs were at $120 and $159 respectively).
Thanks to its evaporative humidifying technology, the Honeywell HCM-350 has the additional cost of replacement wicks. These will set you back $8 and must be replaced every six months. Combine that with the list price and 0.02 kWh per hour, and you have an estimated lifetime cost of $203.
Now we get into the 'is this even worth the cost'? territory. First up is the Sunpentown SPT SU-4010. Its list price is relatively high, but its electricity usage is quite efficient at 0.015 kWh per hour. It adds a lot of extra cost in its ION exchange filter. This filter is meant to reduce the number of minerals in the water and thus make the ultrasonic unit last longer. That's all well and good, but these filters cost $30 and must be replaced every six months. That skyrockets the estimated lifetime cost up to $447.
A humidifier can enhance the comfort of your home and minimize many of the adverse side effects of dry climates and parched winter air. If you've never owned one before, you'll be amazed that you can wake up after a hot, dry summer night with dewy, fresh skin, or without chapped lips and a scratchy throat after running the heat all night in the middle of winter. Any humidifier, however, requires diligent cleaning and maintenance, and not all are created equal when it comes to the convenience of this upkeep. We hope our detailed testing results have led you to a model that is both powerful and user-friendly enough for all your needs, all while fitting into your budget.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.