This is the fifth iteration of this guide, so we went into it with considerable knowledge of what makes for a good humidifier, in terms of technology and design. Because you generally have to interact with a humidifier daily—to refill the tank, sometimes more than once, and then restart and reset it—these factors always weigh heavily in our choice of which machines to pick for testing. So as always, this time around we researched popular models on Amazon paying attention to both positive and negative reviews , consulted AllergyBuyersClub.
We focused on portable humidifiers because you can easily add one to any home or apartment and move it around as needed.
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We restricted our search to models rated to cover between and square feet: The low end of that scale is more than enough coverage for an average bedroom which is primarily where these machines see use , and the high end is plenty for even the largest open spaces in most homes. We largely limited our search to the two most common types of portable humidifier. They both employ simple, proven, effective mechanisms, and are extremely energy efficient.
Ultrasonic humidifiers use a rapidly vibrating diaphragm to launch microscopic droplets of water into the air, where they quickly evaporate and become water vapor—the source of humidity.
Cool Mist Humidifiers and Children
These machines are generally very quiet though they do emit an audible, mechanical hum , and cleaning them is simple, typically a matter of rinsing the tank and wiping down the internals every few days or weekly. However, because they throw liquid water not gaseous water vapor into the air, minerals in the water can settle on surrounding surfaces as a fine white dust as the mist evaporates.
Also, ultrasonic humidifiers must stand on top of a dresser, table, or shelf: The droplets need a bit of time to evaporate as they fall downward, or they will puddle on the floor. Ultrasonic models can also overhumidify the air in a room, to the point that moisture condenses on floors, rugs, and furniture near the machine. And in the long term, overhumidification can promote the growth of mold and mildew in homes.
For these reasons, we heavily favored ultrasonic models with built-in humidistats, which shut the machine off when the air reaches the desired humidity. Evaporative humidifiers use the natural process of evaporation to add moisture to the air. A fan draws air through a wet wick or filter, humidifying it before blowing it back out into the room.
This technique has the big advantage of automatically preventing overhumidification: The evaporative process slows as the air gets wetter. Mechanically, evaporative humidifiers are robust and virtually failproof: Finally, they can operate without causing themselves any damage even if the tank runs dry.
4 Best Humidifiers For Your Bedroom
Maintenance of evaporative models, however, is slightly fussier than for ultrasonic designs: The wicks need regular replacing every one to three months as they clog with minerals, and because the wet wicks can potentially be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, you really need to do a thorough cleaning of the tank and internals at least once a week. We favored models that made these tasks easy and inexpensive.
We also considered two other types of humidifier. Warm-mist humidifiers work by heating water into steam. As you might guess, this approach is not terribly energy efficient, and the hot parts may present a burn risk. However, some people like the slight warmth that these models add to the air, so we tested a few popular models. Impeller humidifiers use a rapidly spinning disk to fling water against a diffuser plate that breaks the droplets into fine mist. They are quiet, but like the ultrasonic models they can produce a white dust.
After five iterations of this guide, we have placed 70 different humidifiers on our short list and tested It emits no bright light or loud beeps to keep you up at night. The Honeywell HCM performs the most important task of a humidifier—raising the amount of moisture in the air—exceptionally well.
In our real-world New York City apartment test, it raised the humidity by That put it within an insignificant 1. Moreover, the Honeywell humidified the air quickly, outperforming all our other picks over the first two hours of the test. If you come home to a dry house or apartment, the Honeywell will make it comfortable soon. Encouragingly, these results also accord with the findings of our earlier tests under controlled conditions see How we tested for details.
The Honeywell stands out for other, equally important reasons. Both of these concerns are a potential issue with ultrasonic humidifiers, including our pick for large spaces, the Levoit LVHH, because those designs throw a mist of liquid water into the air instead of water vapor. This means the Honeywell offers maximal options for placement: It can sit on the floor, behind a piece of furniture, or on a table or shelf. Ultrasonic models are more limited, as they have to reside on a table or shelf to allow enough time for the mist to evaporate before it falls onto a surface and makes a puddle.
And because the evaporative process slows down the more humid the air gets, the HCM is self-regulating: Compared with our runner-up evaporative humidifier, the functionally similar SPT SU, the Honeywell HCM has a number of thoughtful design elements that make it much easier and more pleasant to use. Take the water tank: No other machine we tested has this feature; instead, they offer only ridges around the cap rim that get slippery when wet.
Michael Hession. Super-simple controls and a single tiny lightbulb make the Honeywell bedroom friendly. You can easily adjust the settings even in the dark, which is handy if, as is common, you plan to use a humidifier in the bedroom. And both the tank and the water tray are dishwasher safe top rack only, no detergent. This is how it should be. Its most similar competitor in our test, the SPT SU, lets you clean the tray, but not the tank, in the dishwasher. The noise drops to a barely noticeable Finally, for several Wirecutter editors and writers who own the Honeywell, this model has proven extremely durable over the long term.
And the tank is blow-molded from a single, continuous piece of plastic like a milk jug. Larger tanks can support a full 24 hours of operation. Replacement filters are a simple drop-in affair. And Honeywell-made filters versus third-party filters are impregnated with an antimicrobial finish that, the company claims, virtually eliminates mold and bacteria growth. Regardless, depending on the hardness of your water, Honeywell recommends replacing the filter every one to three months.
But once the filter becomes saturated with minerals, the wicking ability is impeded, resulting in a drop-off in humidifying ability and water consumption. In January we investigated several complaints from readers about replacement filters for the Honeywell HCM The complaints noted poor fit and stated that the replacements were thinner than the originals, looked different, or did not perform satisfactorily. We spoke at length with a representative of Kaz, the manufacturer of the HCM In addition to answering our questions, the representative sent photographs and a physical sample of the current-issue replacement filter.
We also independently ordered a replacement filter from Amazon to be sure we were getting the same model that our readers would. Which is pretty great. After moving from an apartment with a standard 8-foot ceiling to one with foot ceilings—a big jump in volume though not area, as both rooms are about square feet—Michael noted an apparent drop-off in absolute humidification but also saw that the unit was still effective at reducing the symptoms of dry air, such as waking with a dry throat.
Additionally, he owns a cat, and he has found that the wick collects pet hair; a weekly vacuuming a two-minute job clears that up. Kevin and his wife live in a forced-air-heated Victorian house in Buffalo, New York; it gets very dry in the winter, and they also use their Honeywell HCM in the bedroom. He also has let water sit in the reservoir for days at a time.
He adds: It hides in a corner and does the job. As an evaporative humidifier, the SU has the same inherent benefits over ultrasonic models as the HCM And it has a number of features that some people might appreciate and that the Honeywell lacks, including an accurate humidistat and a timer mode. We can recommend it only if the Honeywell is totally unavailable and you need a humidifier immediately. As far as quantitative testing goes, the SPT model performed very well, scoring like all our picks at the top of our real-world tests in a dry, steam-heated New York apartment.
But the SU provides a significantly worse overall experience. The hand-wash-only tank is made of several plastic pieces fused together, and we worry about it leaking over time. For long-term livability, however, the Honeywell is a much better choice.
Its accurate humidistat maintains the humidity at your desired level. Among its downsides—as with all ultrasonic humidifiers—it has to stand above the floor to minimize the risk of puddling, and it can create a layer of white dust on surfaces if your water supply contains a lot of minerals. And its base unit is fussier to clean than it needs to be, owing to a design with lots of nooks and crannies.
The Levoit consistently placed at or near the top in our real-world test in overall humidification see How we tested , and its humidistat, unlike on many models we have tested, proved accurate, tracking within five points of what the data loggers registered. That means you can set a target humidity and the machine will turn itself on and off to keep the air at that level.
Our top pick, the Honeywell, with a 1-gallon tank, typically requires at least one refill during a hour period. Combined with the powerful ultrasonic mechanism, this tank capacity makes the Levoit a better choice for very large rooms or very dry homes; generally, wood-heated and forced-air-heated homes are drier than those with steam heat. It also has a fill hole you can fully reach inside, for ease of cleaning.
Best of all, the Levoit lets you shut off the bright display at night you hold down the Auto button for a few seconds. We measured It has to sit on a table or shelf, to give the mist time to evaporate before puddling on the floor; hard water can produce a white dust settling on surfaces near the machine; and it can potentially overhumidify a room. To be on the safe side, manually set the target humidity to 60 percent or below. One downside specific to the Levoit LVHH is the complex water channel and chimney in the base unit, which both have a number of tight nooks and crannies where gunk can accumulate.
We hope Levoit will emulate the simple, cranny-free design of the Honeywell HCM in future iterations. The Levoit is also usually a bit more expensive up front than the Honeywell, but because it has no parts that need regular replacing, its long-term cost may actually be a bit lower. After three weeks of running the Levoit, guide author Tim Heffernan noted a few more minor flaws.
The hum it emitted, though quiet, was readily noticeable if the machine was sitting on a bedside table, and both he and his wife who can sleep through almost anything found it distracting. That necessitated placing the humidifier across the room, which meant bringing in a chair to place it on—not ideal in a cramped bedroom. One last thing: The Levoit offers a warm-mist function. A two-week supply 3. The Venta works by drawing air over a set of slowly rotating disks. We speculate that this result might be due to the water additives you use with it: To test whether this machine was comparable to an actual air purifier , we used a laboratory-quality benchtop optical particle counter that measured particles in the 0.
Background particle concentrations ranged from 65 to particles per cubic centimeter. At the end of the testing period, the Venta lowered the particle concentration from a starting concentration of particles per cubic centimeter to a final concentration of 9, which sounds impressive until you consider that our top pick, the Honeywell HCM, which makes no claims of air purification, got the number down to 14 in a similar test.
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For reference, a HEPA-certified air purifier would bring the number down to virtually zero in less than half an hour. Find the best humidifier or filter for your bedroom or living room. Hide Filters Show filters. Clear All Filters. Clear Apply. These humidifiers boil water, killing bacteria and mould without the use of a filter. They are great for treating coughs and sinus problems. These units use high-frequency sound vibrations to produce a fine warm or cold water mist. They are energy efficient and great for smaller areas. The device doubles as a nightlight, too.
Simply activate the nightlight, and the Ultrasonic produces a gentle blue glow which serves as a perfect nighttime ambiance in the bedroom. With this device, the antimicrobial design is the real selling point. Unlike many humidifiers, the Honeywell HCMB uses a wicking filter to remove impurities such as germs, bacteria, and mold from the water it dispenses. The tank holds enough water for up to a full day of use between refills, too, and uses a wide opening for easy, spill-free refilling. The water tray and reservoir are dishwasher safe, making maintenance much easier than a lot of the competition.
While its matte-black finish and gentle contours represent nice design touches, the Honeywell HCMB is still rather cumbersome for a unit not suited to humidify your entire home. However, seeing as the unit might be prominently displayed in your home or office, design is certainly something to consider.
Many humidifiers are boxy and unattractive, but most of the Taotronics units are sleek and stylish. The 2-liter tank allows the unit to run for 24 hours while still being a compact size. It also has a degree nozzle, so you can choose exactly where you want the mist to go. It has an LED smart indicator light, that turns red when the water is low.
The humidifier will also shut off automatically when the tank is depleted. The real drawback rests with the fact its tank needs refilling daily. Other units come standard with larger tanks, but with affordability and design in mind, the Taotronics Ultrasonic is our top choice. The AirCare MA is the no-frills, all-business humidifier on our list. This device offers humidity control for 3,square-foot homes, and a set of wheels lining the bottom allow you to move the unit around with ease. This particular humidifier also adds moisture to the air by circulating dry air through a saturated wick filter.
As an added bonus, this filter also traps mineral deposits. Looking for a humidifier that does double duty? This one by Dyson works to humidify your home year-round, but it can also release high-velocity cold air to keep things cool in the summertime. The device also utilizes Ultraviolet Cleanse technology to destroy After killing the bacteria, the device releases hydrated air, and the long-range mist projection feature helps to distribute the mist evenly throughout the room.
Want to monitor the temperature of your home as well? This humidifier has Intelligent Climate Control that can measure the temperature and moisture in the air, helping to ensure your living environment is comfortable and not too humid or too dry.
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