The 8 Best Whole House Humidifiers of 2023

Our favorite is the Aircare EP 9 800 Whole-House Pedestal-Style Humidifier

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

A whole house humidifier might be just the thing that you need to prevent the unpleasant effects of low humidity in your home. If you're unfamiliar with the types of humidifiers, a whole house humidifier is a step up from a portable humidifier, and these systems provide customizable humidity to your entire home by pumping air through your ductwork. They can either add moisture from 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.”

While "the best" whole house humidifier on the market is largely defined by your home's existing HVAC system, size, and insulation, we researched the most popular whole house humidifier brands to recommend stand-out models for various home types.

Ahead are the best whole house humidifiers for efficiently adding moisture to your home's air.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall, Console

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

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


What We Like
  • Auto shutoff

  • Refill indicator

  • Pour-in water tank

  • Attractive design

What We Don't Like
  • May not be effective in large, multi-story homes

  • May not fit every home’s aesthetic

Although a console humidifier will not be best for every home, this type of humidifier is still powerful enough to circulate moisture through a single-level home or apartment. Our favorite design is the AIRCARE EP 9 800 Digital Whole House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier, because it’s easy to set up in a few steps and also easy to monitor, thanks to a digital display. We also appreciate its attractive, compact housing that can double as a side table or plant pedestal. During our brief at-home testing period with this humidifier, we especially enjoyed its ease of operation and low-maintenance design.

This humidifier is a pedestal—or more commonly known as a "console"—model, which makes it freestanding and ideal for home or apartment renters. Rather than being hooked up to a HVAC system, this humidifier only requires a standard 120-volt outlet. After attaching the caster wheels, installing the float bar, and filling the water tank, this humidifier is ready to operate. This humidifier is only available in a dark brown color, which may not appeal to everyone’s home aesthetics. We have included additional console models in this roundup that are more utilitarian in design. 

This humidifier’s vents are located on the side of the unit, so you’ll want to be sure it’s not placed flush against another piece of furniture or a wall. The digital display will also show an “F” if the water tank needs to be refilled. To refill the tank, all you have to do is open the fill door (where the AIRCARE plaque is adhered) and insert the funnel before pouring water into the 3.5-gallon tank. The digital controls allow you to adjust a desired humidity level and switch between nine fan speeds. The display also reports the current humidity level in your home, and it will automatically shut off once it reaches the target humidity level. 

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. We noticed during testing that some parts of the home were not as well humidified as others while using this unit, especially if doors were left closed. If you have a larger space or multiple floors you need to monitor, we recommend purchasing a model that connects to your home’s existing HVAC or purchasing an additional pedestal model for the second floor of your home. 

Price at time of publish: $175

Type: Console | Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 27.25 inches | Coverage Area: 2,400 square feet | Tank Capacity: 3.5 gallons

Best Overall, through HVAC

Aprilaire 500 Whole Home Humidifier

Aprilaire 500 Whole Home Humidifier


What We Like
  • Outdoor sensor helps cut energy consumption

  • Automatically adjusts humidity

  • Small unit

What We Don't Like
  • Installation kit costs extra

  • Must replace water panel each season 

This HVAC-compatible, whole house humidifier is our top pick, because it’s a true “set it and forget it” model with minimum required maintenance. It is ideal for homes up to 3,000 square feet and measures about 16 x 13 inches, taking up only a bit of space among your duct work. While you can install this model yourself, it is a bit more complex than freestanding units. The installation kit is also sold separately. We recommend contacting a professional to install this unit, especially since it includes an outdoor temperature sensor, which requires a more advanced understanding of electrical work. 

The Aprilaire Whole Home Humidifier is a bypass model, which uses warmth from your furnace to heat a water panel, and then the water particles travel through your home’s duct work similar to a steam whole house humidifier. This humidifier’s digital display shows the humidity level, and it has indicators that light when the unit is on, the water panel needs to be changed, or a specialist should be contacted for required maintenance. The dual sensors (one for the outside temperature and one for relative humidity) allow for a more accurate humidity reading, and the humidifier will automatically shut off or turn on, based on your desired set humidity level. 

Keep in mind that you will need to replace this humidifier’s water panel after each season of use, and it requires a floor drain for any unit condensation and dripping. Despite a few installation quirks, this humidifier is a great pick for the average-sized home and will save you money in the long run. 

Price at time of publish: $195

Type: HVAC compatible | Dimensions: 15.63 x 10.25 x 13 inches | Coverage Area: 3,000 square feet | Tank Capacity: Not applicable

Best Budget

AIRCARE 836000HB 6-Gallon Evaporative Humidifier

AIRCARE 6-Gallon Evaporative Humidifier


What We Like
  • Has caster wheels

  • Large water tank

  • Water refill indicator

What We Don't Like
  • Cannot be used as additional tabletop

A portable evaporative console humidifier is a budget-friendly solution to a smaller home’s humidity needs. We like this model from AIRCARE because of its large water tank capacity, impressive coverage capabilities, and simple to use control panel. This humidifier is set on caster wheels, so you can easily push it around a room or between areas of your home when needed. It also has a digital display that shows the current humidity level, and two dials are available to adjust the three-speed motor and desired humidity level. 

We also appreciate that this model has a water refill and check filter indicator, which help you understand your humidifier's maintenance needs. The water tank is also easily refilled through the front grate on the unit, so you won’t have to worry about carrying the 6-gallon tank to a sink. Unlike our best overall console pick, this model cannot be used for additional tabletop storage because of the fan located on the top of the unit. However, we won’t dock this design feature when the humidifier promises an impressive 2,300 square foot coverage area.  

Price at time of publish: $123

Type: Console | Dimensions: 21.5 x 13 x 17.75 inches | Coverage Area: 2,300 square feet | Tank Capacity: 6 gallons

Best for Small Homes

AIRCARE D46 720 Designer Series 2-Gallon Evaporative Humidifier

AIRCARE Designer Series 2-Gal Evaporative Humidifier


What We Like
  • Easy-to-fill dual water tanks

  • Refill and check filter indicators

  • Four-speed motor

What We Don't Like
  • Distilled water recommended

Aside from its attractive design and minimal floor footprint, this evaporative humidifier from AIRCARE is capable of adding 3.52 gallons of water to your indoor air per day. The four-speed motor makes it easy to adjust the rate at which your home’s air is humidified, plus a digital display offers a real-time reading of your home’s humidity. Although a 1,200-square-foot coverage area may not be enough for every home, this humidifier is a great option for apartment or home renters who cannot install a humidifier with their HVAC system. 

This humidifier features two 1-gallon water tanks, which are easy to refill and re-install on each side of the unit. Keep in mind that AIRCARE does recommend using distilled water with this humidifier to prevent mineral buildup on the filters. Check filter and refill status indicators are also incorporated on the digital display, so you know exactly how to maintain this humidifier’s long-term performance.  

Price at time of publish: $150

Type: Console | Dimensions: 26 x 15 x 10 inches | Coverage Area: 1,200 square feet | Tank Capacity: 2 gallons

Best for Large Homes

Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier

Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier


What We Like
  • Built-in fan draws in dry air

  • Built-in drain flushes mineral deposits

  • Automatic sensing

What We Don't Like
  • May not fully humidify poorly sealed homes

Similar to the Aprilaire 500 in functionality, the Aprilaire 700 system is designed for homes up to 4,200 square feet. In addition to its two sensors and monitoring system, this model also has a built-in fan that pulls air directly from the adjoining furnace and moves it through your home. Keep in mind that the larger square footage coverage does mean the unit takes up slightly more space than Aprilaire’s smaller humidifiers, so you’ll want to accommodate its larger footprint in your installation plans. It can be mounted in multiple positions just like other units. Just be sure to account for additional wiring and duct work. 

This humidifier is also a bit more expensive, although it’s still a great value for its performance and potential long-term energy cost savings. One major draw of this design is its built-in drain, which helps to flush out mineral deposits, resulting in less long-term maintenance and preventing water from accumulating in the unit. If you have a larger, older home with poorly sealed windows and doors, this humidifier may not be able to fully humidify your space because of the air that’s escaping from unsealed cracks. However, this humidifier is capable of distributing an impressive 18 gallons of moisture per day in a tightly sealed home. 

Price at time of publish: $325

Type: HVAC compatible | Dimensions: 15.91 x 10.34 x 18 inches | Coverage Area: 4,200 square feet | Tank Capacity: Not applicable

Best Smart

Honeywell Home HM750A1000/U 11-Gallon Electrode Steam Humidifier

Honeywell Home Electrode Steam Humidifier


What We Like
  • Can be mounted to a duct or wall 

  • Works with multiple Honeywell Home thermostats

  • Compact size

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

This Honeywell whole house humidifier uses steam that’s released throughout a home’s ventilation system, which uses more energy compared to the bypass models listed in this roundup. However, the smart features and convenience offered with this Honeywell humidifier make it an appealing option for homeowners. For starters, this humidifier can be connected to other Honeywell Home thermostats, allowing it to adjust the humidity based on your home’s temperature reading. 

For even more comprehensive understanding and control of your home’s central air, this humidifier can also be connected to the Resideo Total Connect Comfort app, which allows you to monitor and adjust live readings of your home’s temperature and humidity. We appreciate this humidifier’s compact size, making it easy to incorporate into a busy duct system, and it can be installed directly on a duct or wall, based on what’s best for your home’s layout. All of these smart features do come at a higher cost, especially since this humidifier runs on steam, but we think the cost can easily be justified if closely monitoring your home’s humidity is important to you.    

Price at time of publish: $901

Type: HVAC compatible | Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 7 inches | Coverage Area: 24,000 square feet | Tank Capacity: Not applicable

Best Portable

Vornado Evap40 4-Gallon Evaporative Humidifier

Evaporative Humidifier


What We Like
  • Easy to operate

  • Great for apartments

  • Multiple fan speeds

What We Don't Like
  • No carrying or rolling features

  • Water tanks may be challenging to replace

The Vornado Evap40 4-Gallon Evaporative Humidifier is one of the more compact, yet powerful console whole house humidifiers on the market. We recognize this humidifier is still more expensive than what some may want to pay, but it’s a less expensive option at just $150 with a decent (and realistic) coverage area. As we mentioned with the Aircare pedestal humidifier, this model from Vornado is not going to be the best option for multi-story homes or homes larger than its maximum coverage area. However, we think this is a great option for anyone living in an apartment, or anyone looking to just humidify the main living area or a bedroom of their home. Plus, it weighs less than 10 pounds, which makes it easy to pick up and move from room to room as needed.

This model features two control dials that allow you to adjust the humidity and fan speed, and an indicator light confirms that the humidifier is running. The multiple fan speeds allow you to adjust the humidifier’s power based on your home’s temperature and specific humidity needs day-to-day. We also appreciate the dual-tank design, which makes this model easier to refill than other consoles that just have one larger (and more difficult to maneuver) tank. Although we are suspicious of how easy these tanks are to replace in the humidifier since they don’t appear to have a stopper on their opening. This humidifier also does not have a carrying handle or caster wheels, so you may need an additional set of hands to move it from room to room when completely filled. Despite a few design quirks—which have no impact on overall performance—we think this console humidifier is a great option for smaller homes and anyone looking for an affordable alternative to an HVAC-compatible unit.  

Price at time of publish: $150

Type: Console | Dimensions: 13.5 x 19.5 x 10.5 inches | Coverage Area: 1,000 square feet | Tank Capacity: 4 gallons

Best for Hard Water

Honeywell Home HE280A Whole-House Flow-Through Bypass Air Humidifier

Honeywell Home Bypass Humidifier


What We Like
  • Flow-through design rinses out microorganisms

  • PerfectFLO water panel

  • DIY installation

What We Don't Like
  • Floor drain required

Hard water not only affects your home’s plumbing system and appliances, but it also can affect a humidifier’s long-term performance. This model from Honeywell Home features patented technology that rinses out micro-organisms and drains itself instead of drawing stagnant water from a reservoir. Honeywell Home’s PerfectFLO water panel also helps to filter out minerals from hard water and other impurities for cleaner moisture in your air. 

An installation kit with thorough instructions is also included when you purchase this humidifier, so you can confidently install it yourself without calling a professional. We will point out that this humidifier does require a floor drain near its installation location, since it may drip condensation. This unit’s unique design also uses 30 percent less water than other humidifier units, so you’ll save money on your water bill. 

Price at time of publish: $225

Type: HVAC compatible | Dimensions: 16.25 x 9.75 x 18.5 inches | Coverage Area: 2,000 - 4,000 square feet | Tank Capacity: Not applicable

Final Verdict

Our favorite console whole home humidifier is the Aircare EP 9 800 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. Its unobtrusive design also means it doesn’t need to be out of sight. If you have a larger home, we recommend the Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier, which includes all of the automatic features of our best overall pick, but can humidify 4,200 square feet in a well-sealed home.

What to Look for in a Whole House Humidifier


Whole house humidifiers can be divided into two categories, or styles: console humidifiers and HVAC-compatible humidifiers. Console humidifiers, also marketed as "pedestal" and "portable" humidifiers, are evaporative in nature, meaning they use a fan to pull water from a tank into the air and circulate it around a room. Console humidifiers do not have the same coverage area as their installed counterparts, but they are a great option for renters or homeowners who don't want to splurge on an installed unit.

Humidifiers that connect to your home's central air system can be further split into three types: steam, bypass, and fan. Steam whole house humidifiers use an internal heat source to boil water and then push the resulting push steam through your home's central air ducts. These humidifiers can be more expensive, since they use more energy. Our best smart pick, the Honeywell Home HM750A1000/U Electrode Steam Humidifier, is a steam humidifier that can also connect to Honeywell Home thermostats and be controlled through the company's compatible smartphone app. Bypass whole house humidifiers push warm air from your home's furnace over a water panel, adding water droplets to the air and then circulating it through your home's duct work. This type of humidifier is a popular choice, because it can save you money on your energy bill over time and require little maintenance if properly monitored. Fan whole house humidifiers generate their own air via a fan, which then blows across a pad soaked in water, subsequently releasing humidified air into your home's HVAC system. This type of humidifier can be especially convenient for homes located in hot and arid climates, who want to avoid an additional heating component.

Freestanding units don’t require as much setup but take can up more room in your actual living space. Installed units can be more expensive, and the cost of having a pro connect it to your existing system adds 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 damage to wooden home features and furniture, and it can even promote mold growth. The coverage area for both console humidifiers and installed whole house humidifiers is lessened in older homes (built over 20 years ago) or poorly sealed homes (meaning one with poorly fitted windows and doors) because the environment is not tightly closed, resulting in air loss through micro-cracks and under doorways. If your home is susceptible to drafts or isn't fully insulated, look for a more powerful humidifier model.

Keep in mind that the coverage area of console humidifiers is also relative to the style of your home. If you have an open floor plan, a console humidifier will be able to easily humidify an entire level of your home, but it may struggle to humidify rooms with closed doors or an entire second floor. A multi-story homeowner should consider investing in a whole house humidifier that connects to their central air.

Tank Capacity, Wicks, and Water Panels

While tank capacity only applies to console humidifiers, it's important to note that it does not correlate to a humidifier's run time. Just as the coverage area is affected by a poorly sealed home, so is a humidifier's run time, especially if your console humidifier is working in a larger area than its intended coverage. Humidifier tank capacities can run from 2 gallons up to 6 gallons. Our best budget pick, the AIRCARE 836000HB Evaporative Humidifier, has a 6-gallon tank that can be filled from the front of the unit, without having to remove the tank.

While browsing humidifier options, you'll notice that console humidifiers come with a "wick," which acts as a filter to remove minerals from the water before it is circulated in your home's air. The wicks also prevent buildup in a humidifier's water tank and other parts. Wicks should be replaced after each season of regular humidifier use. Similarly, bypass and fan whole house humidifiers have water panels, which function the same as wicks, to hold water and also remove any hard water properties before the water is turned into vapor. You should also replace your whole-home humidifier's water panel regularly, especially if your home has hard water.

Be sure to 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. Our best overall, through HVAC, pick, the Aprilaire 500 Whole House Humidifier, has an indicator light that will illuminate if the unit is in need of professional maintenance.

  • How do you install a whole house humidifier?

    Freestanding whole house humidifiers do not often require complex installation. You just need to install the casters (if applicable), screw in the float bar, fill the water reservoir, plug it into a power source, and then set the humidifier to your desired level.

    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—often sold with the models but sometimes purchased separately—which allow you to try your hand at DIY 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 $900, based on their capacities. Adding to the cost are digital controls, auto turn-on and shutoff settings, and smartphone compatibility. You will need to purchase water panels, installation kits, or filters, which can add to the price, in addition to costs of maintenance of your model over time.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Emma Phelps, an updates writer for The Spruce, refreshed this roundup's product list to incorporate the latest whole house humidifier models and provide recommendations for a variety of homes and lifestyles. For this roundup, Phelps considered the average size of a home and factored in the user experience and installation requirements of a variety of humidifier models before making the final selections you see in this article.

Vinny Lobdell, founder and past president of Healthway family of brands and Intellipure Inc, 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. 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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