Living in an environment with dry air and low humidity can be harmful in a number of ways. Dry air with a humidity level below 30 percent can have negative implications on your health as well as your home. Many people find that dry air can aggravate existing respiratory problems and allergies and make them more susceptible to colds and the flu. Wood floors and furniture may also suffer by cracking in dry environments. Certain climates may be dry all year long, while others may experience this seasonally. Luckily, purchasing a humidifier is an easy way to maintain a healthy humidity level and to restore balance in dry times of the year. Whole house humidifiers are installed into your home’s heating and cooling system and humidity is controlled by the homeowner using a thermostat.
This article will outline the different types of whole house humidifiers, popular humidifier brands, the top 10 whole house humidifiers, and suggestions to help you choose the best product for you and your family.
Table of Contents
- 1 Different Types of Humidifiers
- 2 Humidifier Brands
- 3 Reviews of the Best Whole House Humidifiers
- 3.1 1. Aprilaire Model 500 M Whole-house Bypass Humidifier, (4.6, 73 reviews)
- 3.2 2. Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier, (4.6, 9 reviews)
- 3.3 3. Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier, (4.4, 273 reviews)
- 3.4 4. Aprilaire 600M Whole House Humidifier, (4.4, 65 reviews)
- 3.5 5. Essick Air AIRCARE MA1201 Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier, (4.2, 727 reviews)
- 4 Honorable Mentions
- 5 Humidifier Buying Guide
- 6 Conclusion
Different Types of Humidifiers
Portable humidifiers, as the name suggests, can be moved from room to room throughout a house. They contain a tank that must be filled with water by the owner whenever it is empty. However, portable humidifiers are small and are generally only able to humidify single rooms. If you suffer from low humidity throughout your entire house, a whole house humidifier may be your best option.
The main types of whole house humidifiers are bypass, fan-powered, flow-through, and steam.
Bypass humidifiers work with your existing furnace system to add moisture to the warm air it produces. Bypass humidifiers draw warm air from your home’s heating system, where it is then passed through a water panel. The air absorbs moisture which is delivered back into the air stream then into your home. Bypass humidifiers can be installed on either the supply or return air plenum (where air is pressurized for circulation) of a forced air handling system. For those who don’t have a floor drain, there is a drainless bypass humidifier available. These drainless styles recirculate their own water, minimizing water usage.
Fan-Powered Evaporative Humidifiers
A similar option is the fan-powered humidifier. Fan-powered humidifiers work the same way as a bypass humidifier, but also include an energy-efficient fan that blows air across the water panel for increased and enhanced water evaporation. These humidifiers do not require a bypass duct and produce more humidity than bypass humidifiers, and are therefore easier to install in smaller spaces.
In a flow-through humidifier, water is sent directly through the unit to add moisture to the air in your home. Water from your water supply moistens the evaporator pad, and the warm air from your furnace creates humidified air by absorbing the moisture. Flow-through humidifiers are programmed to switch on when the humidity level of your home falls below a set level.
Steam humidifiers are usually the most expensive options, but are the fastest and most efficient way of achieving a comfortable level of humidity in your home. There are two main types of steam humidifiers: cold water and hot water forms. Steam humidifiers heat water electrically, creating humidity in the form of steam even if the furnace isn’t on. The steam is pushed throughout the vents in your home to increase humidity level.
Aprilaire is a respected company producing humidifiers that consistently receive positive reviews. Aprilaire only produces whole house humidifiers (not portable units) and their humidifiers can regulate the air in a home as large as 6,000 square feet. They offer seven types of whole house humidifiers with the option of manual or automatic controls, and their products carry a five-year limited warranty on parts from installation date when installed by a licensed HVAC installer.
Honeywell is another popular manufacturer of high-quality humidifiers. Honeywell offers both whole house humidifiers and portable humidifiers to meet the needs of all customers. Like Aprilaire, Honeywell offers a five-year warranty from installation date on units installed by a licensed HVAC technician.
Emerson Climate Technologies has also produced a range of popular climate control products and now offer a steam whole house humidifier that has received positive reviews. Their products are known for being simple, quiet, and easy to clean and they offer a one-year warranty.
Essick Air produces a line of AIRCARE whole house humidifiers and portable humidifiers. AIRCARE’s primary products are evaporative cool mist humidifiers which use wick filters to absorb water while a fan circulates cool mist. Essick Air AIRCARE products feature multiple humidification speeds, easy-fill reservoirs, automatic humidistats, and user-friendly controls and are able to humidify space up to 2,700 square feet.
Lasko’s products are technically portable humidifiers, but their nine- and 12-gallon models can reach from 2,000 to 3,800 square feet. They also manufacture a three-gallon unit. Lasko’s recirculating humidifiers use continuous flow over their filter pad to eliminate stale standing water.
Reviews of the Best Whole House Humidifiers
When deciding on a whole house humidifier, homeowners generally take into consideration a number of factors such as cost, installation requirements and humidification range. The following is a list of 10 of the top humidifiers on the market today with high ratings and positive reviews.
1. Aprilaire Model 500 M Whole-house Bypass Humidifier, (4.6, 73 reviews)
Aprilaire’s 500 model automatic whole house bypass humidifier humidifies homes up to 3,000 square feet in size with an evaporation capacity of 0.50 gallons per hour. It delivers optimum levels of humidity control with the Automatic Digital Humidifier Control and is also able to provide vital service, temperature and relative humidity indicators in manual mode. It is 15.62 inches wide, 13 inches tall and 10.25 inches deep and includes a water panel, outdoor temperature sensor, saddle valve, 24V transformer, and a built-in bypass damper. Aprilaire’s products must be installed by a licensed HVAC technician in order to ensure that the warranty is valid.
2. Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier, (4.6, 9 reviews)
The White-Rodgers HSP2000 manufactured by Emerson Climate Technologies is a whole house steam powered humidifier that includes the stainless steel humidifier assembly, automatic flushing timer, automatic humidistat, water filter, saddle valve, fan control relay, blower safety switch and mounting frame. When the humidistat detects the need for humidity, the steam humidifier is turned on. The steam humidifier has a thermal switch that is wired to turn on the furnace blower.
3. Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier, (4.4, 273 reviews)
Aprilaire’s 700 model is designed to humidify up to 4,200 square feet and has an evaporation capacity of 0.75 gallons per hour, one of the highest capacity humidifiers on the market. It is reported to be very quiet when operating. The outdoor temperature sensor monitors changes in temperature, and the temperature and relative humidity are displayed in the manual mode. This model requires very little maintenance. Aprilaire’s products must be installed by a licensed HVAC technician in order to ensure that the warranty is valid.
4. Aprilaire 600M Whole House Humidifier, (4.4, 65 reviews)
Aprilaire’s third product on the top five list is the 600M Whole House Humidifier. This model has an automatic digital humidifier control with a built-in bypass damper with summer and winter settings. is capable of humidifying spaces of up to 4,000 square feet. This product’s evaporation capacity is 0.70 gallons per hour, very close to the high-capacity 700 model. Aprilaire’s products must be installed by a licensed HVAC technician in order to ensure that the warranty is valid.
5. Essick Air AIRCARE MA1201 Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier, (4.2, 727 reviews)
Essick Air’s AIRCARE MA1201 is technically a portable humidifier but as it is able to humidify spaces of up to 3,600 square feet it is capable of humidifying small to medium homes. It is reported to run very quietly and at 20.5×21.5×14.5 inches in size it will not take up a lot of space. The desired humidity level is set with a digital humidistat, and the unit turns off automatically when the set humidity level has been reached or when it is empty. This model is widely known as one of the best ways available to achieve whole house humidification without having to modify your home’s HVAC system, making it an effective lower-cost option than the traditional whole house humidifiers.
- Aprilaire 800 Residential Steam Humidifier
- AIRCARE EP9 500 Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier, Nutmeg
- Honeywell HE300A1005 TrueEASE Fan Powered Humidifier
- Honeywell Quiet Care Cool Moisture Multi Room Humidifier HCM-6009ier
- Lasko 1128 Evaporative Recirculating Humidifier, 9-Gallon
Humidifier Buying Guide
Before deciding on a product, there are several factors to take into consideration.
Portable vs. Whole House Humidifier
The first decision that should be made is whether you require a portable or whole house humidifier. If you are concerned about the humidity of a single room, or you only need to use a humidifier when you are ill, you will likely be happy purchasing a small portable humidifier. However, if you are concerned about air dryness throughout your entire house, it is worth looking into installing a whole house humidifier.
If you have decided that you require a whole house humidifier, it is important to consider the particular humidifier coverage size in terms of the actual size of your house. Whole house humidifier models do come in different coverage sizes and it is important to make sure that the coverage size matches the actual size of your house.
How much are you willing to spend? Portable humidifiers are generally less expensive than whole house humidifiers with a smaller humidification range. You will need to decide on a budget and balance this with your humidifier coverage needs.
Make sure to check the details of the warranty. You can find “do-it-yourself” guides online for installing your whole house humidifier, but in some cases the warranty is only valid if the unit is installed by a licensed technician. Check to determine length of warranty, details of installation requirements, and maintenance coverage.
For any whole house humidifier it is important to be aware of the maintenance requirements. Can you perform maintenance yourself, or will you need to hire a technician? Make sure that you are aware of the maintenance that is required before you decide that you are willing to do it yourself, and check your warranty information to determine whether or not it requires maintenance to be performed by a licensed technician.
Automatic or Manual Controls
Some units have manual controls, and some have automatic. This decision is really a matter of personal preference and budget.
The presence of this feature in whole house humidifiers means that moisture output will adjusted automatically according to calculated humidity.
If you have decided that a whole house humidifier is the best option for your home, it is a good idea to contact an expert to asses your home, determine your needs, and make a product recommendation that is right for you. Experts will understand your home’s heating and cooling system and will be able to assist with product selection based on this as well as the size of your house.
Whole house humidifiers can be very effective in improving and maintaining the health of your family and preserving your furniture and home. There are a number of high-quality brands and products on the market today to choose from, and by understanding your needs and doing some research on your options you will have no trouble choosing the model that is right for you. It is important to determine the area you need to humidify, your available budget, and whether you want a portable or whole house model, and from there you will be able to easily narrow down your options. When in doubt, do not hesitate to seek professional assistance from a licensed technician who will be able to provide recommendations based on your home and your requirements.