Winter is Coming – Dry winter air can cause your humidity to drop substantially, to levels of 15 percent or even less. Ideal indoor humidity during winter should hover around 45 percent. This lack of humidity can wreak havoc on your skin and respiratory system, including your throat and nose.
Having the best whole house humidifier in your home not only can help put moisture back into your air and alleviate symptoms like a scratchy throat, dry sinus passages, cracked lips, and respiratory ailments, but the increased moisture can make your home feel warmer, providing comfort throughout the day, especially while sleeping.
If you’re looking to buy a whole house humidifier to keep the proper humidity level in your home during the winter, you’re in the right place.
Our whole house humidifier buying guide covers everything you’ll want to know before you buy a whole-house humidifier. Below, we also review some of the best whole house humidifiers available today that we think are worth your money.
Comparing Top Whole House Humidifiers
Our Recommendations for You – Aprilaire Bypass Automatic Whole House Humidifier
Our top pick of the best whole house humidifier for most people is the Aprilaire Bypass Automatic Whole House Humidifier. For over 50 years, Aprilaire has been one of the leaders in whole-home air quality solutions. Aprilaire’s humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and thermostats work extremely effectively and work with all types of your HVAC systems for whole-home comfort.
Aprilaire Bypass Whole House Humidifiers are Aprilaire’s best selling whole house humidifiers and also the most economical. This whole house humidifier comes in 3 different sizes to fit your home size.
- Large Bypass Humidifier – Aprilaire 600 – is designed for homes between 1,500 and 4,000 square feet with a capacity of 17 gallons per day. This is the most popular option among all Aprilaire’s whole house humidifiers.
- Small Bypass Humidifier – Aprilaire 500 – is designed for homes up to 3,000 square feet with a capacity of 12 gallons per day.
- Water-saving humidifier – Aprilaire 400 – is designed for homes between 1,500 and 4,000 square feet with a capacity of 17 gallons per day. This model uses a unique evaporation process that also eliminates the need for a floor drain – minimizing water use.
The Aprilaire Bypass Whole House Humidifier is very easy to install. It’s installed directly onto your HVAC system and use your furnace’s blower to move air over a rotating wet belt or pad, providing the humidified air throughout your home. The humidifier is connected to your home’s water supply, water automatically flows from the water line into a reservoir located inside the humidifier.
This whole house humidifier is an automatic humidifier which comes with dual sensors to monitor and respond to both outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity to deliver optimum humidity 24/7 throughout the home. That means you don’t have to do anything after installing your whole home humidifier. Simply set the proper humidity level and forget it.
Easy to install, less maintenance, and ease of use, Aprilaire Bypass whole house humidifiers are well worth the investment for long term relief for many homeowners. Manufactured in the USA with high-quality materials but the price is very reasonable, this is one of the best whole house humidifiers that will keep your home comfort during the winter at a minimum cost.
Video: How to install Aprilaire whole house humidifier (Aprilaire 600/600M)
Why You Need A Whole House Humidifier?
Low indoor humidity during the winter months – and year-round if you live in certain climates – often spells trouble for you and your home. Dry air symptoms like itchy dry skin, parched lips, respiratory irritation, and nasal allergies can all be triggered by low humidity.
Your skin with over half is water will start to dry out when the air lacks humidity. This can cause painful cracking of the skin and chapped lips. Overly dry air can also cause flare-ups of existing skin problems, including eczema and acne. Humidified air from your whole house humidifier can help keep your skin feeling great throughout even the most miserable winter.
When it comes to your home, chronically dry air undermines your home’s infrastructure, causing walls, woodwork, and hardwood floors to crack. You’ll notice that there are gaps between ceilings and walls, and doors. When air in your home is too dry, even your electronics can fall victim to harsh static electricity.
Installing a whole house humidifier in your home is the best way to protect your respiratory, your skin, your home and especially your comfort. Plus, maintaining healthy humidified air during the colder months can actually help you feel warmer, leading to reduced heating costs.
Today’s best whole house humidifiers are controlled by a humidistat allow you to set your desired humidity level. They will automatically turn on or off to maintain your indoor humidity at your setting.
How Do Whole House Humidifiers Work?
Although whole house humidifiers can differ from model to model, they operate on similar principles:
A whole house humidifier is installed as part of your HVAC system to add moisture to the warm air and delivers it through the duct system to your entire home, making you and your family more comfortable.
Inside of a whole house humidifier is either a wet belt or pad (bypass and fan-powered whole house humidifiers) or a steaming system (steam whole house humidifiers) that is used to distribute water to your home’s air.
Whole house humidifiers are typically controlled by a humidistat. When the humidistat senses that the indoor humidity level is below your desired setting, the humidifier will turn on to draw water from your water supply to soak a foam/pad or to convert water to steam. The humidified air is then pumped through your ductwork by your furnace’s fan or humidifier’s fan. When the desired humidity level is reached, the humidifier will turn off.
Types of Whole House Humidifiers
There are three different types of whole house humidifiers available on the market: Bypass humidifiers, fan-powered humidifiers, and steam humidifiers. Which is the best whole house humidifier for your home?
Generally speaking, they’re all effective in raising your indoor humidity levels. The main differences between them are how much they cost, installation levels, and the amount of maintenance required.
Bypass humidifiers, such as the Aprilaire 600 Whole House Humidifier, install directly onto your HVAC system and get water from your home’s water supply into the distribution tray at the top of the unit. The water in the tray will pass over the belt, causing it to evaporate before being dispersed. These are the most economical choices and they require very little maintenance.
Bypass humidifiers use the blower motor of the furnace. The furnace must be running for a bypass humidifier to work. Bypass humidifiers require extra ductwork, known as a bypass duct, and air must be recirculated back through the furnace before distribution into the home.
Fan-powered humidifiers, such as the Aprilaire 700 Whole House Fan Powered Humidifier, tend to be more expensive than bypass humidifiers, but still cheaper than steam humidifiers.
Fan-powered humidifiers work the same way as a bypass humidifier, but unlike bypass humidifiers, power humidifiers use their own fan to push air through the unit for increased water evaporation. The furnace must be running for a bypass humidifier to work; a fan-powered humidifier can operate on its own.
Fan power humidifiers can generally produce a gallon more of humidity each day compared to the bypass humidifier. The electricity required for the internal fan equals that of a 25-watt light bulb. Fan-powered whole house humidifiers don’t require a bypass duct, therefore they can be installed in smaller spaces. Fan power whole house humidifiers are perfect for homes built on slabs or with HVAC systems in a closet.
Steam humidifiers, such as the Aprilaire 800 Whole House Steam Humidifier, deliver steam humidity to the rooms of your home by heating the water. Steam humidity then flows through a steam hose and is injected into the moving air stream through a distribution tube. Humidified air then travels evenly through your air ducts and into the rooms of your home.
An advantage of steam whole house humidifiers is that unlike bypass humidifiers is that your heating system doesn’t have to be on for the humidifier to work. Steam whole house humidifiers provide an even greater benefit. Since the steam is warm, increasing your indoor humidity can also help you to feel warmer, requiring less reliance on your heating and helping to lower winter heating costs.
Steam humidifiers are the most expensive options, which can cost up to $500-$1000 for a single unit. However, since steam humidifiers create much more humidity than bypass and fan-powered units, they are particularly effective for larger homes.
On the downside, steam humidifiers use submerged electrodes to heat the water. If your home has hard water and you don’t have a water softening system to soften the water properly, it can cause scale build-up inside the unit.
So, which type of whole house humidifier is Best?
Steam humidifiers offer the fastest and most efficient method of increasing and maintaining the appropriate and comfortable level of humidity in your home. Additionally, steam whole house humidifiers deliver a pure and best natural form of humidity and also make your home feel warmer in the cold winter month. So if there is extra room in your budget or if you have a larger home with many rooms, steam units are the best whole house humidifiers to purchase.
Fan-powered humidifier can generally produce more humidity than bypass humidifiers. These humidifiers also don’t require a bypass duct and can be installed in smaller spaces. Typically, bypass humidifiers experience fewer breakdowns and repair needs because the unit contains no fans, so there are fewer moving parts that could malfunction.
Whole House Humidifiers VS. Portable Humidifiers
A whole house humidifier should not be confused with a portable humidifier. A portable humidifier is a device that you plug into the wall and place in the middle of a room. It can only control the humidity of one room at a time, and it does require frequent maintenance like changing the water and keeping the device clean.
A whole house humidifier, on the other hand, is installed directly in your heating system’s ductwork. When your furnace is cycling and heating air in your home, that air is also humidified by the whole house humidifier. This means that every room in your home can enjoy humidified air by using a single unit.
There are large portable humidifiers that work as a whole house humidifier, for example this AIRCARE EP9800 Digital Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier.
This is actually a portable tabletop humidifier that is designed for a very large room, up to 2400 square feet. It is a combination of an evaporative cooler, a tower fan, and a digital humidistat to create a device that can deliver moisture effectively to multiple rooms or your entire house.
This is the best humidifier for your whole home if you decide against the installation of the furnace humidifier. But remember that portable humidifiers typically require daily maintenance such as filling water tanks and cleaning.
Features To Look For
Before checking out our reviews of the best whole house humidifiers on the market, here are some features you’ll want to consider when comparing whole house humidifiers.
- Operates Automatically or Manually: Some whole house humidifiers allow you to set your desired humidity level and the humidifier will automatically maintain that level.
- Corrosion Resistant: Some whole-house humidifiers are enclosed in corrosion-resistant housing to protect the longevity of the unit.
- Overflow Protection: As water evaporates from humidifier reservoirs, it replaced by fresh water. A float valve prevents the unit from overflowing by shutting off the water at the desired level.
- Low Water Cutoff: The whole house humidifier will turn off should the water reservoir ever drop below the heating element.
- Water Reservoir Change Indicator: Useful for alerting you to when it’s time to either empty or replace the water reservoir in some drum whole house humidifier.
Beyond these features, you’ll need to figure out how big your humidifier should be. Do you have a large family? Are the rooms in your home particularly large or small?
The lesson is when buying a whole house humidifier, go bigger than what you think you might need. A bigger unit won’t struggle with maintaining your comfortable humidity levels. Since the humidifier will automatically turn off when the desired humidity level is reached, there is less noise as well as less energy usage.
Best Whole House Humidifier Reviews
1. Aprilaire 600 Whole House Humidifier – Best Overall
The Aprilaire 600 Whole House Humidifier is our pick as the best whole house humidifier for most people. This is an in-duct bypass humidifier that works with your existing HVAC system to provide comfortably humidified air throughout every inch of your home.
Functioning as an evaporative humidifier, this whole house humidifier evenly distributes up to 17 gallons of moisture per day. This is enough to humidify tightly sealed homes up to 4,000 square feet, average sealed homes up to 2,000 square feet, and loosely sealed homes up to 1,500 square feet.
The Aprilaire 600 is ideal for larger homes that require a large humidifying capacity. It comes with a digital humidity controller that supports automatic humidity control. This allows you to set your desired humidity level on the humidity control. The humidifier automatically maintains that level, no intervention needed.
This Aprilaire whole house humidifier is very easy to install and requires very little maintenance. It incorporates a built-in bypass damper and right/left discharge change-over for easier installation and operation. It’s also equipped with a built-in drain to flush mineral build-up from the machine. As a result, water does not accumulate inside the unit, which means humidified air is always fresh and clean. There is a helpful indicator that reminds you when it’s time for a replacement.
All these features plus a reasonable price make Aprilaire 600 one of the best whole house humidifiers money can buy. This humidifier was designed and manufactured in the USA, so you can count on it to maintain healthy humidity in your home for many years.
The Aprilaire Model 700 whole house humidifier is a fan power humidifier that is among the highest-capacity whole house humidifiers sold. It’s designed to be installed onto your heating system but it features its own fan – not your HVAC blower – to push air through the unit. This allows the humidifier to deliver humidified air faster than bypass units.
If you own a larger home or want a humidifier that can deliver moisture fast, then the Aprilaire 700 may be the best whole house humidifier for you, as it will handle up to 4,200 square feet if your home is tight in construction, up to 2,100 square feet if your home is averagely sealed, and up to 1,050 square feet if your home is loosely sealed.
The Aprilaire 700 works by piping water into the distribution tray located at the top of the humidifier. The water is uniformly distributed across the width of the tray and through a scientifically designed system of outlets. There are dual sensors to monitor and respond to both outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity to deliver optimum humidity 24/7 throughout the home.
Best Portable Whole House Humidifier
If you decide not to install a furnace humidifier directly onto your home’s HVAC system, this is one of the best whole house humidifiers to buy. The AIRCARE EP9800 Evaporative Pedestal Humidifier can cover a very large area, it boasts a 7.4-gallon daily output for rooms up to 2,400 square feet.
This humidifier comes with several useful features to humidify your entire house effectively. It features 9 speeds, from the quietest setting, perfect for the nighttime, to the powerful burst provided by the highest level. Its automatic humidistat allows you to set your ideal humidity level to keep the air throughout your home comfortably humidified. You can adjust the settings by using onboard buttons or remote control.
Even though the AIRCARE EP9800 humidifier is great choice to humidify your whole home, it’s also relatively affordable and doesn’t require installation, there are some potential drawbacks.
Humidified air is only exiting through the humidifier’s vents, so humidified air is NOT going to be evenly dispersed throughout your house, like with an HVAC/ducted humidifier. And although this humidifier comes with a 3.5-gallon water tank and a flashing light that reminds you when the unit is empty, it does require frequently maintenance.
This is still one of the best whole house humidifiers you can buy. It is available in 3 finishes and comes with a decorative natural stone tile inset, creates a stylish pedestal for your plant, vase, or figurine.
Best Steam Humidifier
The Aprilaire 800 Steam Humidifier is an awesome whole-home humidification option for anyone who has a large home, or has a home where the installation of an evaporative humidifier is not feasible. This whole house humidifier can be mounted to your wall if you do not have enough room by your duct – or it can be installed and mounted directly to your HVAC system.
If you do not have a centralized forced-air duct system in your home, you can still use this steam humidifier! However, you must purchase the Aprilaire Model 865 steam humidifier. The Aprilaire 865 model is the exact same humidifier as the 800 model, however, it comes with a fan pack that allows the humidified air to be distributed throughout your home without the need of ductwork.
The Aprilaire 800 steam humidifier is installed to run independently of your HVAC system, delivering steam humidity to the rooms of your home using your existing ductwork. It generates steam by energizing 2 electrodes that extend into the canister’s water reservoir. The current flowing between these 2 electrodes causes the water to boil, creating steam.
Since the submerged electrodes are in a replaceable canister, maintenance on this humidifier is very easy to take care of. No cleaning, no scrubbing, simply replace the canister and you’re ready for the next humidifier season.
The Aprilaire 800 steam humidifier is able to cover an area up to 6,200 square feet in tightly built homes. You can choose from 6 levels of output adding 11.5 to 23.3 gallons of moisture into the air per day based on voltage and installation. At 110 volts, this whole house humidifier delivers 11.5 gallons of moisture per day. At 208 volts, it releases 20.5 gallons of humidity per day. At 240 volts, it delivers 23.3 gallons per day.
Overall, these unique features and others make Aprilaire 800 one of the best whole house humidifiers on the market. It’s most ideal for homes where crawl space and attic installation is most practical, or homes located in areas of the country that experience milder winters.
Honeywell is a well-known supplier of home comfort solutions for over 100 years, Honeywell’s humidifiers, portable air conditioners, and air purifiers are very popular in the US market. Honeywell whole house humidifiers feature simple humidity controls, easy installation instructions, and low maintenance costs for hassle-free comfort during winter.
Honeywell Model HE360A humidifier is a fan-powered flow-through humidifier works exceptionally well with your home’s furnace to maintain a proper and comfortable level of humidity throughout your home. No bypass ducting required – simply mount this unit directly onto the warm air supply or air handler of your forced-air furnace using the included connecting components.
Note that you’ll need access to a nearby floor drain to provide drainage for air conditioner condensation as well as the humidifier. If you do not have access to a floor drain, consider the Honeywell HE120 Whole House Drum Humidifier, which requires no drain, as an alternative solution.
The Honeywell HE360A humidifier is designed to service homes sized up to 4,500 square feet, with up to 18 gallons of water can be distributed per day, this is one of the best whole house humidifier options for larger homes. To control the humidity, use the combination of relative humidity/outdoor temperature setting scale on the humidistat and refer to the recommendation table listed in the owner’s manual.