What We Like
Lightweight and easy to move
Small enough to go unnoticed
Quiet operation (even on top speed)
Effectively humidifies medium spaces
Can save you money on your heating bill
What We Don't Like
Need to change the filter every six weeks
Doesn’t cover as much square footage as advertised
Dry air is more than a minor inconvenience. It can heighten the symptoms of health issues like asthma and the common cold, as well as kill your plants and crack your wood and leather furniture. One way to remedy dry air is to outfit your space with a humidifier. While the mere mention of ‘humidifier’ may bring to mind loud, ginormous, clinical-looking devices, fear not, for humidifiers have come a long way. In our pursuit of moisturized air, we decided to try out the Essick AirCare MA0800 Evaporative Humidifier—a relatively small console which promises whole-home humidification. Read on for our assessment of the humidifier’s design, performance, price, and competition.
Setup Process: Fill and plug in
The AirCare MA0800 is a snap to put together—as in all you have to do is fill the 2.5-gallon water chamber and snap it into place. The console ships completely assembled, with the first wicking filter included and ready to go.
Once filled and placed where you want it, simply plug it in, push the “On” button, and then push the water droplet button to program your desired humidity level. The three-button control panel also gives you the option to program your fan speed to low, medium, high, or auto. If you fail to set a humidity level or fan speed, the humidifier will default to low speed and 65 percent humidity.
The AirCare MA0800 is a snap to put together—as in all you have to do is fill the 2.5-gallon water chamber and snap it into place.
If you’d like to check your space’s humidity level, you can press the water droplet button for a reading of both the actual and desired humidity. Note that the humidifier will cycle on and off to maintain desired humidity once the percentage is met.
Design: Clean and smooth
Let’s be honest, there’s not much that separates the design of whole-home humidifiers. Like most, the AirCare MA0800 is a white, vented box with a small digital screen. The humidifier’s simplicity and relatively small size—it measures 12 x 18 x 16.5 inches—is its saving grace, though. When nestled into the corner of our master bedroom, the device offered ample airflow and proved inconspicuous enough.
The best part of this humidifier isn’t even its compact size or subtle exterior, though. What we enjoyed most was the fact that it mists the air invisibly. Even standing in close range, you won’t see any mist stream from the gate. That’s because the humidifier moves dry air through a saturated wick in the body of the device. The wick is essentially a giant filter that not only moistens air, but traps airborne dust and dander. The machine’s sound is mild, too—a major plus as you won’t be woken in the night as the gauge turns on and off assessing the humidity level.
When nestled into the corner of our master bedroom, the device offered ample airflow and proved inconspicuous enough.
Performance: Mini but mighty
Many humidifiers tout the ability to moisturize a whole house, but we’ve yet to find one that actually does that. Unfortunately, the AirCare MA0800 wasn’t able to live up to its promise, either. The humidifier is advertised as being able to humidify a 2,600-square-foot space, but it wasn’t up to the job in our two-story, 1,500-square-foot condo. While its coverage was disappointing, we weren’t completely disillusioned with its performance.
Given that the console sports only a 2.5-gallon tank, we were impressed with how well it worked in our master bedroom. The humidifier lasted a good 24 hours on one tank and kept the room stabilized at 55-percent humidity, quietly turning on and off as needed. It managed to do that even with our door open to the hallway; so despite not humidifying our whole home, it proved steadfast where and when we needed it most. Plus, best of all, it didn’t dominate the space with its sound or size.
Cleaning: Quick and easy
The major downfall of most humidifiers is how hard they are to clean. Luckily, the designers at Essick made the AirCare MA0800 a cinch to freshen up. With only five pieces, the machine is easy to take apart and wipe down—something you’ll need to do frequently to avoid mold and odor. Essick’s care instructions say to unplug the unit, pour out any remaining water in the reservoir, and half-fill the base and bottle with water and 8 ounces of diluted vinegar. After letting it sit for 20 minutes, you can then wipe out the compartments, paying special attention to any scale that’s accumulated. If your humidifier needs to be fully disinfected, you can swap out the vinegar for 1 teaspoon of bleach.
In between cleanings, you’ll also want to change the filter. Essick recommends you do this every six weeks to prevent bacteria growth and keep the humidifier operating efficiently. This process simply involves lifting the case and removing the filter (also called the wick), replacing it, and then setting the case right back on top after a quick wipe down of the base.
Price: High but worth it
Plunking down $110 for a humidifier may hurt a little, but given the performance of the machine—and the fact that Essick states it can actually save you money on your heating bill (moisture makes the air warmer, so you can turn down the thermostat)—it’s a reasonable asking price. Just keep in mind you will also have to purchase replacement wicks every six weeks or so. It’s important you stay on top of your replacement schedule as we found the machine’s efficiency was drastically lowered when using an old filter. Note that this isn’t a design fault of the AirCare MA0800, specifically though—any evaporative humidifier that uses wicking filters will frequently need replacements.
Competition: Many to choose from
Essick makes many of the humidifiers on the market, and the company does a pretty good job. A quick search will bring up many models that appear nearly identical to the MA0800, though they all have some unique attributes. For example, the $65 AirCare 5D6700 has a larger. 3-gallon water chamber, but a coverage area of only 1,250 square feet—less than half the MA0800.
Honeywell does an admirable job, too; their $120 Cool Mist Console Humidifier proves similar to the AirCare MA0800 both in size and function. The difference—aside from a slightly higher price—is that the Honeywell offers a larger, 3-gallon water chamber, visible mist, and additional color options.
Lastly, we have the $80 OPOLAR EV01 Digital Evaporative Humidifier, which has a reusable filter that you can wash. The machine operates just as quietly as the MA0800, but the tank holds just 0.8-gallons of water, so you have to refill it more frequently and it definitely won’t work for whole-home humidification. If you want to save on both the upfront cost of your humidifier and recurring cost of filters, though, it’s still a great choice.
- Product Name AirCare Digital Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier
- Product Brand Essick Air
- MPN MA0800
- Price $109.99
- Weight 8.5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 12 x 18 x 16.5 in.
- Capacity 2.5 gal
- Coverage Area 2,600 ft
- Warranty 2 years