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A whole-house humidifier adds moisture to the air in your home. We researched and tested top whole-home humidifiers, evaluating them on ease of installation and use, effectiveness, efficiency, and durability.
Our top choice is the Honeywell Home HE280A Whole House Humidifier, an efficient model that connects to your HVAC system, is easy to mount, and covers a large area.
Here are the best whole-home humidifiers on the market.
Best Overall: Honeywell Flow-Through Bypass Whole House Humidifier
Connects to HVAC system
Large coverage area
Replacement parts could be costly or hard to find
Who else recommends it? Popular Mechanics also picked the Honeywell Home HE280A Whole House Humidifier.
What do buyers say? 84% of 100+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The best whole-home humidifier is the Honeywell Home HE280, which connects to your existing HVAC system. It can be mounted to almost any return air duct or warm air supply to evenly distribute moisture throughout each room. A user-friendly humidity control makes it easy to adjust to your liking.
In most homes, this humidifier can cover about 2,000 square feet, but for newer builds, you can expect up to 4,000 square feet of coverage. Thanks to Honeywell's water-saving technology, the HE280 uses 30 percent less water than most other models. And unlike portable units, you can have peace of mind knowing your wood floors and furniture are protected from warping, cracking, and other moisture damage.
Dimensions: 22.9 x 19.8 x 1.7 inches | Home Size: 2,000-4,000 square feet | Weight: 14.97 pounds | Power: 24 volts | Water Tank Capacity: N/A
Best Budget: AIRCARE MA1201 Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier
Large coverage area
For those looking for a wallet-friendly option, we recommend the AirCare MA1201. This console-style humidifier has a 3.6-gallon reservoir and can cover homes as big as 3,600 square feet. While it is bulky and lacks the stylish, modern design of some other humidifiers, our tester thought it worked well, no matter where you place it.
The evaporative technology releases moisture without any visible mist. Not only that, but it's notably low-maintenance (just make sure you have extra filters handy), and can be moved around with ease, thanks to the casters. Our tester also noted that set-up was simple—the humidifier was ready to go right out of the box aside from filling up the reservoir and plugging it in.
Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.5 x 20.5 inches | Home Size: 3,600 square feet | Weight: 14 pounds | Power: 120 volts | Water Tank Capacity: 3.6 gallons
"Performance is where the AIRCARE Console really shines. Despite our gripes with its clunky appearance, the unit works well. The large fan and large wick combine to crank out moisture to the point where we saw condensation on the glass of our windows on a cold night from the Console keeping our humidity high."— Justin Park, Product Tester
Best for Small Homes: Stadler Form EVA Ultrasonic Humidifier
May leak on surfaces
A little louder than expected
Small home? Check out the Stadler Form EVA. This sleek ultrasonic humidifier calls on high-frequency vibrations to turn water into a cool or warm mist.
The 1.6-gallon reservoir can hold enough water to cover homes of about 900 square feet. When the tank is empty, the EVA automatically powers down. We also like that it comes with a demineralization cartridge and has a hidden compartment for essential oils.
Dimensions: 7.7 x 7.7 x 16.5 inches | Home Size: 860-900 square feet | Weight: 7.26 pounds | Power: 10-95 watts | Water Tank Capacity: 1.6 gallons
Best for Large Homes: Aprilaire 800 Whole Home Steam Humidifier
Large coverage area
Mounts to furnace
Air ducts required
Aprilaire is known for its high-quality, whole-house humidifiers, and if your home is more than 4,000 square feet, this is the brand to get. The 800 model is designed to be mounted to a furnace, releasing moisture through your existing air ducts.
This steam humidifier can cover homes as large as 6,200 square feet. Its dual sensors monitor the temperature and moisture of the indoor and outdoor air, automatically adjusting to deliver optimal humidity. We also like that you don't need to use purified water.
Dimensions: 7.13 x 10.13 x 20.88 inches | Home Size: 6,200 square feet | Weight: 24.5 pounds | Power: Not listed | Water Tank Capacity: 11.5-34.6 gallons/day
Best Pedestal: AIRCARE EP 9 800 Digital Whole-House Evaporative Humidifier
AirCare makes the best pedestal humidifier. Measuring 18 x 18 x 27 inches with a 3.5-gallon tank, the EP9 can cover homes as large as 2,400 square feet. It uses evaporative technology to humidify without visible mist and automatically shuts off when it reaches your desired level. Plus, our tester noted that this humidifier didn't dampen anything around it in her living room.
This tower-style humidifier is designed to look and function like a side table so can blend right in with your living room decor. It even has a top tile that can be replaced to match your floors and furnishings. Our tester used it next to her couch as an end table and said although it wasn't completely quiet, even at its highest speed, she was able to hear the television.
Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 27.25 inches | Home Size: 2400 square feet | Weight: 27 pounds | Power: 120 volts | Water Tank Capacity: 7.4 gallons
"Since the device’s vents are located on the side of the pedestal, you can place anything on top of it. Rest a few books, a vase of flowers, or even a lamp on the AirCare and no one will know it’s a humidifier. Just make sure your belongings stay on top; if you were to drape something like a tablecloth over the sides of the device, it wouldn’t operate as expected."—Linnea Covington, Product Tester
Best Console-Style: Holmes Whole House Console Humidifier
Smaller than expected
We also like the Holmes Console Humidifier, which boasts a large reservoir, an adjustable thermostat, and a triple-layer filtration system. The filter is treated with baking soda and an antimicrobial agent to minimize odors and prevent mold growth.
This whole-house humidifier can moisturize the air in homes as large as 2,000 square feet, running for up to 24 hours on a full tank. While it doesn't have casters, the handles make it easy to move around your home.
Dimensions: 18.11 x 12.83 x 19.25 inches | Home Size: 2,000 square feet | Weight: 15.15 pounds | Power: 100 watts | Water Tank Capacity: 2.8 gallons
Best Furnace-Mounted: Hamilton Whole House Furnace Mount Flow Through Humidifier
Large coverage area
Professional installation required
Reaching adequate humidity levels may be a challenge
If you're in the market for a furnace-mounted model, you should definitely check out the Hamilton 12HF. With an output of 13 gallons per day, it can moisturize the air in homes spanning 3,000 square feet.
This whole-home humidifier is designed to work with your existing forced-air heating system for even distribution and easy maintenance. What's more, it uses as much as 80 percent less water than others in its category.
Dimensions: 12.5 x 8.5 x 12.5 inches | Home Size: 3,000 square feet | Weight: 15.15 pounds | Power: 24 volts | Water Tank Capacity: 13 gallons/day
Best Smart: Condair HumiLife Whole House Evaporative Humidifier
No visible mist
Installation kit not included
The Condair HumiLife is compatible with most smart home hubs, including Alexa, Google Home, and Siri. 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. Not only that, but the evaporative design means you won't see any mist coming out of your vents.
Dimensions: 18.4 x 10.4 x 6.9 inches | Home Size: 3,000 square feet | Weight: 18.4 pounds | Power: 110 volts | Water Tank Capacity: Not listed
Our top pick is the Honeywell Home HE280 (view at Amazon), a whole-house humidifier that mounts to your existing HVAC system to evenly distribute moisture throughout the air in your home. For households on a budget, we recommend the AirCare MA1201, a console-style humidifier with caster wheels and evaporative technology.
What to Look for in a Whole-House Humidifier
When shopping around for a humidifier, one of the most important things to consider is the size of your home. Most whole-house models cover between 1,000 and 4,000 square feet, though some have larger or smaller capacities.
If you have a very large house (5,000 square feet or larger), look for a product that explicitly states it can cover homes of that size. You may also want to consult with an HVAC professional to confirm it will work in your space.
There are a few different types of whole-home humidifiers. Furnace-mounted models connect to your existing HVAC system and offer even distribution throughout your home. Then there are free-standing options, including console-style and pedestal humidifiers. If you get a free-standing model, figure out where you plan to put it and check the dimensions to make sure it will fit in your space.
You'll also see a range of ultrasonic and evaporative options. Ultrasonic humidifiers turn water into mist using high-frequency vibration. Evaporative technology, on the other hand, moisturizes the air without releasing any visible vapor.
While many humidifiers simply balance the humidity in your house, others come with extra features. For example, certain units double as diffusers for essential oils. Also, if your humidifier will be on display in a busy area of your home, you may want to pick a design-forward unit that doesn't clash with your decor.
You'll also want to consider the set up requirements. Some whole-home humidifiers, such as furnace-mounted models, need to be professionally installed. Consoles, pedestals, and other free-standing units are usually easier to set up, though they vary in terms of maintenance requirements and how often you have to fill the water tank.
How do whole-home humidifiers work?
Unlike a single-room humidifier, which works through a regular wall outlet, whole-home models usually hook up to your house's heating or cooling system, and use the household plumbing for water supply. When air passes through the humidifier, it picks up water and sends that added vapor out into your home through the air ducts.
Do whole-home humidifiers cause mold?
To make a long story short, yes, whole-home humidifiers can cause mold, if you aren't careful. Models that contain standing water may end up with mold growing inside them, so it's important to maintain and clean them regularly. However, any unit can be the source of mold growth if it's pumping out too much moisture into a too-cold home. Humidity will adhere to cold surfaces and accumulate, which leads to mold if it goes unnoticed. This can happen anywhere around your home—even inside the walls and air ducts. If you're concerned about mold, be vigilant and set your whole-home humidifier's humidistat to a humidity level lower than 60 percent.
Are whole-home humidifiers safe?
In addition to mold, excessive moisture from a whole-home humidifier can also cause frost and water to build up in areas that are sensitive to water (like wood fixtures and surfaces), leaving stains and damage behind. Setting your whole-home humidifier to run only when the heating system is on (rather than continuously) and making sure your home is well ventilated can help prevent the issue of excess moisture.
When should I turn on my whole-house humidifier?
Turn on the whole-house humidifier when the air in your home starts to feel dry, and definitely as soon as you start heating your home for the winter. Whole-house humidifiers that are connected to your furnace can be set to a particular moisture level so that they automatically run when the humidity drops below a certain level.
Where should you place a whole-house humidifier?
Place your whole-house humidifier centrally in your home. If you have a portable unit, try placing it in different locations until you find the right spot to add moisture to your entire living area. For whole-house humidifiers that are connected to your furnace and water supply, these units are installed and cannot be moved.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a commerce writer with experience covering indoor air quality, home improvement, and lifestyle. A big proponent of humidity during the chilly Pacific Northwest winter, Theresa has a keen understanding of how humidifiers work and why they're important.
For this story, Theresa researched the different types, features, and installation requirements of whole-home humidifiers. She pored over user reviews, looked at key specifications, and considered the price range and overall design of dozens of models before landing on her final picks. For added insight, Theresa also interviewed Ken Spaeth, MD, a New York-based physician specializing in occupational and environmental medicine.