The 9 Best Whole-House Humidifiers of 2023

We like the Aircare Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier

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AIRCARE MA0800 Digital Whole-House Evaporative Humidifier
The Spruce / Linnea Covington

If you experience dry skin, excess coughing, dry eyes, and generally unpleasant feelings in your home, a whole-house humidifier might be just the thing that you need to keep the indoor air quality top notch. A step up from a portable humidifier, these systems provide customizable humidity to your entire home by pumping air through your ductwork with extra moisture, either from its own generated steam or by using the fan that is installed in your air handler or furnace.

“Whole-house humidifiers treat the whole space, which is a benefit to treating a local area,” says Vinny Lobdell, founder and past president of Healthway family of brands and Intellipure Inc. “They can be easily controlled by a thermostat or a connected device to add moisture to the entire home instead of one individual room or space.”

Our top pick, the Aircare Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier, works like a portable humidifier and is easy to set up but still provides enough power to monitor and adjust the humidity levels in an entire home. It also has a sleek design that doesn’t need to be out of sight.

Here are the best whole-house humidifiers.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

AIRCARE EP 9 800 Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier

4.8
AIRCARE EP 9 800 Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy setup

  • Adjustable humidity levels

  • Works for most small homes

  • Attractive design

What We Don't Like
  • Not great for larger spaces

This whole-house humidifier is effective, easy to install, and stylish. It is a pedestal-style unit, so it’s freestanding in your space. That makes it ideal for installation, because you can put it out of sight or in a room you use without worrying about it being an eyesore.

The digital controls allow you to adjust the humidity level, speed, and power, and you can choose from nine fan speeds. The display also reports the current humidity level in your home. When it reaches the target humidity level you set, it automatically shuts off. There is also an automatic shutoff when the unit is empty, so you needn’t worry about it burning out or becoming a fire hazard.

This unit is good for homes up to 2,400 square feet but can work for most one- or two-bedroom houses, as well as larger apartments. If you have a larger space or multiple floors you need to monitor, it may not be powerful enough. It does not need to be connected to the ductwork, which makes setup easy.

Price at time of publish: $165

Type: Freestanding | Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 27.25 inches | Square Footage: 2,400 square feet | Water Capacity: 3.5 gallons

Best Budget

AIRCARE MA0800 Mini-Console Digital Whole-House Evaporative Humidifier

4.4
AIRCARE MA0800 Mini-Console Digital Whole-House Evaporative Humidifier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Tends to large space for its size

  • Affordable

  • Digital display

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Wicks need to be replaced

Even though this humidifier is a mini-unit and only holds 2.5 gallons, it still works for spaces up to 2,600 square feet. It is also one of the most affordable recommendations on our list, costing less than half of some larger units. It has a digital display that you can use to adjust the humidity level, and it also indicates when it is time to refill the reservoir or check the filter.

Cleaning this unit is also very easy. “Although moisture is an important element to a healthy home or building, too much moisture can create the perfect breeding ground for mold,” says Lobdell. “Ensuring the relative humidity is set accurately and that your machine is cleaned frequently will help limit any chance of mold forming and growing inside the humidifier or in the home." If you have hard water, this is an especially important step to maintaining your whole-house humidifier.

The Aircare Mini-Console also has built-in evaporative wicks that trap mineral deposits. You need to replace these periodically, depending on your water, which adds to the overall cost.

Price at time of publish: $125

Type: Freestanding | Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 16.5 inches | Square Footage: 2,600 square feet | Water Capacity: 2.5 gallons

Best Freestanding

Aircare 696 400HB Whole House Credenza Evaporative Humidifier

Aircare 696 400HB Whole House Credenza Evaporative Humidifier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Furniture-style look

  • Two water tanks are easy to fill

  • Casters let you move it

What We Don't Like
  • Made of plastic

  • Can't put anything on top

If you want the benefits of a whole-house humidifier without the industrial look that comes with most installed systems, the Aircare Credenza Evaporative Humidifier is the best choice. Resembling a piece of furniture rather than a humidifier, it works best in homes up to 3,600 square feet. To adjust the humidifier, just lift the top of the credenza-style plastic covering to get to the unit inside. It also has two water tanks, easier to fill than one large tank.

You might be tempted to use this humidifier as a real credenza, but we strongly recommend not to, since the top must be clear for the moisturized air to circulate into your home. It is also made of plastic, which makes it better for long-term use but may clash with your idea of a sturdy, wooden credenza. It weighs 23 pounds before being filled with 5.6 gallons of water, making it pretty heavy to move. Fortunately, it comes with four casters that help you slide it in place easily. The water tanks also come out when they need to be filled.

Price at time of publish: $195

Type: Freestanding | Dimensions: 15.5 x 28.25 x 23.75 inches | Square Footage: 3,600 square feet | Water Capacity: 5.6 gallons

Best With Existing System

Aprilaire 500 Whole Home Humidifier

Aprilaire 500 Whole Home Humidifier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Great value

  • Can automatically turn on when furnace runs

  • Compact footprint

What We Don't Like
  • Requires complex installation

  • Installation kit costs extra

This installed whole-house humidifier is one of our top picks because it is a great value for its performance and features. It is ideal for homes up to 3,000 square feet but measures less than 16 x 13 inches. It extends less than 12 inches from the mounting, making it perfect for small spaces next to your furnace. While you can install it yourself, it is a bit more complex than freestanding units. The installation kit is also sold separately.

The system has a digital display that shows the humidity level, an indicator light that shows it is running properly, a notification to change the water panel and for required maintenance, and whether the unit is set to continuous monitoring. You can also adjust the humidifier so it will only kick on when the furnace runs. This is great for homes that tend to become dry in the winter or when the heat is on.

Price at time of publish: $195

Type: Existing system | Dimensions: 15.63 x 10.25 x 13 inches | Square Footage: 3,000 square feet | Water Capacity: Not applicable

Best Bypass

Aprilaire 500M Whole Home Humidifier with Manual Control + Bypass Humidifier Installation Kit

Aprilaire 500M Whole Home Humidifier with Manual Control + Bypass Humidifier Installation Kit

Amazon

What We Like
  • All installation needs included

  • Labeled wiring, tubes, ductwork

  • Small footprint

What We Don't Like
  • Other units can cost less

  • Professional installation adds to cost

The same humidifier from Aprilaire also comes with a bypass installation kit, which adds all of the wiring and ductwork you need to get your whole house humidifier set up quickly and efficiently. As its cousin, the unit performs reliably for homes up to 3,000 feet and has a small footprint.

The unit comes with 3 feet of ductwork that is compatible with most furnaces, as well as the collars needed to install it. The thermostat wiring is also included, as well as a sensing relay. Also included are supply and drain tubes, although you may need to figure out how to connect them, depending on your system. If this all sounds confusing, it’s best to opt for professional installation.

Price at time of publish: $210

Type: Existing system | Dimensions: 15.63 x 10.25 x 13 inches | Square Footage: 3,000 square feet | Water Capacity: Not applicable

Best Fan

Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier

Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Built-in fan

  • Works on larger homes

  • Two sensors

  • Auto humidity-level adjustment

What We Don't Like
  • A bit expensive

  • Takes up a lot of space

The larger Aprilaire 700 system has a built-in fan that pulls air directly from the adjoining furnace and moves it up to 5,300 square feet in your home. Its two sensors monitor the humidity, and automatically adjusts it to get the best results without constant adjustment on your part. It also responds to indoor and outdoor temperatures.

The larger size means the unit takes up more space than its cousins, measuring 18 inches tall, almost 16 inches wide, and almost 11 inches deep. It can be mounted, but make sure you have enough space for the unit and the required ductwork, tubes, and wiring. It is also a bit more expensive, although still a great value for the performance.

Price at time of publish: $325

Type: Existing system | Dimensions: 15.91 x 10.34 x 18 inches | Square Footage: 5,300 square feet | Water Capacity: Not applicable

Best for Dry Climates

Aprilaire 800 Whole Home Steam Humidifier

Aprilaire 800 Whole Home Steam Humidifier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Adds steam to the air

  • Kit comes with everything needed

  • Digital control

  • Adjustable fan speed

What We Don't Like
  • Not a lot of coverage for the cost

Lobdell recommends steam humidifiers to prevent mold growth. If you have such a problem, or if you live in an area with dry air, such as an arid or desert climate, a steam humidifier may be desirable to reach optimum humidity levels.

This unit’s digital control displays the current humidity level, and a manual dial lets you adjust among seven fan speeds. The steam canister also is included in this expensive kit, as are all the tubing and wiring.

You can purchase this product in one of two models: needing air ducts (lower price) and not. We've noted that the air ducts can be complicated to install. And even with a detailed diagram, the electrics alone are difficult for the average homeowner to tackle. You may want to get the help of a professional for installation.

Price at time of publish: $810

Type: Steam | Dimensions: ‎7.13 x 10.13 x 20.88 inches | Square Footage: 6,200 square feet | Water Capacity: Not applicable

Best Manual

Aprilaire 700M Whole Home Humidifier with Manual Control

Aprilaire 700M Whole Home Humidifier with Manual Control

Amazon

What We Like
  • Great value

  • Built-in fan

  • Works for larger homes

What We Don't Like
  • Manual adjustment

A large-capacity whole-house humidifier can set you back significantly. One way to maximize your money is to purchase a model with a manual controller. The Aprilaire 700 unit with a manual controller costs less than its same-size digital counterpart without sacrificing performance. Like the digital option, it has a built-in fan and works in homes up to 5,300 square feet.

You need to manually adjust the target humidity via a dial on the control panel, which has an “off” setting in addition to 15 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent, and 45 percent humidity levels. There are recommended settings based on the outside temperature for optimum use and comfort.

Price at time of publish: $285

Type: Existing system | Dimensions: 15.91 x 10.34 x 18 inches | Square Footage: 5,300 square feet | Water Capacity: Not applicable

Best Smart

Condair HumiLife Whole House Evaporative Humidifier

Condair HumiLife Whole House Evaporative Humidifier
What We Like
  • Even distribution

  • Smart controls

  • No visible mist

What We Don't Like
  • Installation kit not included

The Condair HumiLife is compatible with most smart home hubs. This makes it easy to control remotely and adjust to your exact liking.

We like that this whole-house humidifier mounts directly to a furnace for evenly distributed moisture throughout homes up to 3,000 square feet. The evaporative design means that you won't see any mist coming out of your vents.

Type: Existing system | Dimensions: 15.8 x 15.4 x 9.9 inches | Square Footage: 3,000 square feet | Water Capacity: Not applicable

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Aircare Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier. It requires no ducting or professional installation but can adjust the humidity levels in most small to medium-sized homes. The Aircare Mini-Console Whole-House Evaporative Humidifier is a great budget-friendly choice that also works in similar-sized areas and is easy to use.

What to Look for in a Whole-House Humidifier

Type

Whole house humidifiers push warm air from the furnace over a water panel. The warm air causes the water to evaporate into the air, making it more humid before it circulates throughout your home. Freestanding whole house humidifiers have their own water sources, usually in a reservoir or tank, and generate their own air via a fan.

Whole house humidifiers are generally larger and more powerful than their portable counterparts and they connect to your home’s ductwork to move air throughout the space. Freestanding units don’t require as much setup but take up more room. Installed units can be more expensive, although this is not always the case. The cost of having a pro connect it to your existing system does add to the overall cost.

Coverage Area

Look for a whole house humidifier designed for the size of your home. Too large or too small, and you may find uneven humidity levels, which could result in physical discomfort and even promote mold growth. Homes larger than 3,000 square feet often require larger, more powerful systems or those that can connect to the ductwork.

Warranty and Service

You should check your whole-house humidifier periodically to make sure that it is working properly. Small issues can become big problems if water is not draining properly or if the system is having electrical malfunctions. Some whole-house humidifiers come with warranties that cover service; others cover defects or broken parts.

FAQ
  • How do you install a whole house humidifier?

    Freestanding whole house humidifiers often do not often require complex installation. You just need to fill the water reservoirs, set the humidifier, and plug it into a power source. Units that use air from your furnace system require ductwork, as well as a water source and drain line. Some products include compatible installation kits, but having to purchase those separately adds to what could seem initially to be a low cost. Others require plumbing and/or electrical professional installation.

    However you proceed, avoid cutting corners, advises Vinny Lobdell, founder and past president of the Healthway family of brands and Intellipure Inc. “The HVAC system is essentially the lungs to the home,” he reminds, “and if something is not installed properly, it could have an adverse implication on the heating, cooling, or ventilation of the system. Anytime you are installing a mechanism into an existing HVAC system, I always recommend professional installation.”

  • How much does a whole-house humidifier cost?

    Whole-house humidifiers’ prices range from $120 to $800, based on their capacities. Adding to the cost are digital controls, auto turn-on and shutoff settings, and smartphone compatibility. You also may need to purchase water panels, installation kits, or filters, which can add to the price.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was researched and written by Katie Melynn, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. She has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. To learn more about ways to keep the indoor air in your home comfortable and safe, she talked to Vinny Lobdell, founder and past president of Healthway family of brands and Intellipure Inc. Lobdell is an air quality expert and global entrepreneur with more than 25 years of indoor air quality experience. He shared ways that whole house humidifiers can improve overall air quality, steps to take to keep them clean, and when to call in a professional.

Article Sources
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  1. Moisture and Mildew and Mold, Oh My! How Moisture Management Can Combat Microbial Growth. Local Energy Alliance Program.

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