Best Whole House Humidifier – A COMPLETE Guide
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So, you have a big home, and every day you wake up with dry skin and stuffy noses?
Saying that, you can’t afford to buy humidifiers for every single room, but you need to moisturize the air hiding in every corner of your house?
Well, installing a whole house humidifier was the solution to our low humidity issues.
No more DRY SKIN, SINUS ISSUES, or the like. That too at very minimal cost!
With so many products and online reviews available, it can, however, be overwhelming when trying to find the very BEST whole house humidifier for your needs.
That’s how we felt too at first.
That’s why we’ve decided to systematically review all the available whole house humidifiers in the market to arrive on the very best one.
Read on for an honest, no frills, review of reviews…
At a Glance: Our Top Picks of Humidifiers for the Whole House
- Aprilaire 800 Whole Home Automatic Steam Humidifier
- Aprilaire 400 Whole-Home Humidifier
- AIRCARE EP9 800 Digital Pedestal-Style Humidifier
- Honeywell HE240A2001 Whole House Humidifier
- AIRCARE 831000 Space-Saver Whole House Humidifier
- Vornado Evap40 Evaporative Humidifier
- GeneralAire 1000A Furnace Humidifier
- Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier
Types of Whole-house Humidifiers
Before selecting any unit, you need to know about the types of whole-house humidifiers to decide which type will suit you the best.
When it comes to humidifying the whole house with a single unit, we have two options to consider:
A) Central Whole House Humidifiers
Central whole house humidifiers need to be integrated with the HVAC system of our homes, where it adds moisture into the air as it circulates through the ducts.
If you aren’t lucky to have a ducted HVAC system, then you can go with its other type.
B) Stand Alone Whole House Humidifiers
For homes with no built-in ducted HVAC system, portable stand-alone humidifiers are best in terms of whole-house humidification.
These are stand-alone, plug, and play devices that add moisture directly into the house air while working independently.
Which type would best suit you solely depends on the type of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system you have in your home.
Now, on to the best humidifier for your whole house...
Best Whole House Humidifiers
- Massive coverage: Up to 6200 ft²
- Dual sensors monitor & respond to surroundings to deliver optimum humidity – simply set it and forget it
- Overall BEST for whole house coverage
In this article, we have done an in-depth analysis of selected units of both types of whole-house humidifiers and narrowed down to the top 8 products available on the market.
Look forward to the ins of outs of top 8 products to make a choice easier for you. Additionally, we have briefly explained the types of such humidifiers and their benefits and drawbacks.
Lastly, after reviewing over products, we have given a general insight into their installation process, their working principle and optimum use, and some suggestions for their maintenance.
THE BEST WHOLE HOUSE HUMIDIFIER:
#1 Aprilaire 800 Whole Home Automatic Steam Humidifier
This unit is a central, ducted, non-portable whole house humidifier that needs to be connected with the return duct via a steam tube, and it stands at the top in our list of best whole house humidifiers.
Just like other central humidifiers, this unit also delivers humidity by forcing dry air through furnace ducts.
High output, large coverage
This unit is ideal for desert and arid locations. Being a powerful humidifier with a broad coverage area, it can easily increase the humidity in your home.
If you live in a largely built home, this unit will be perfect as it can adequately cover spaces up to 6200 sq. Ft. On top of that, this unit can add 11.5 to 34.6 gallons of moisture into the home air per day.
Just like most central, non-portable whole-house units, this is an automatic humidifier with dual sensors in this unit that monitors outdoor temperatures and indoor humidity to ensure an optimum supply of moisture all day.
We also found this humidifier great for its in-built humidistat, which cuts off the water supply once the desired humidity level is reached.
This prevents the humidifier from releasing too much humidity in the house air, keeping it at a comfortable level. This is exactly what you’d want for your home.
Any type of water can be used
There is no limitation in the use of specific quality of water; hard tap water can also do the job perfectly.
Saying that, this unit can effectively convert the water, coming from the supply line into the evaporation chamber of humidifier, into steam. Thus, no water wastage and better water consumption.
But, you may have to change the canister quite often as the electrode will be coated due to mineral deposits.
One thing to note: Ducted humidifiers tend to be pretty noisy, and if the return duct, where humidifier will be mounted, is too close to your bedroom, the noise produced during operation will likely bother you!
But guess what? This isn’t the case with Aprilaire 800. Despite being a ducted unit, it is one of the quietest humidifier units with very minimal operational noise.
That being said, if the return duct of your HVAC system is far from your bedroom, you’ll have the flexibility to choose other noisier units.
This, however, is one of the areas where the Aprilaire 800 beats all other best whole house humidifiers.
Easy to understand instruction manual
Next, you will also get an easy to understand instructional manual with proper step by step guidelines on how to mount the humidifier on your own. Even the electrical connections of wires are explained.
However, don’t think for a second to install this unit on your own! Installation can be tricky for new users, so we would recommend you to hire a duct service company to do the installation for you.
The improper installation to the overall HVAC duct system can limit the amount of moisture released by the whole house humidifier.
The wrong installation of the humidifier is the second main reason of abrupt mold growth, so do consider our advice about hiring a professional for this job.
Good customer service
In the customer support department, hardly any reputable brand matches the professional customer support provided by the Aprilaire.
Other Great Humidifiers for the Whole House (Honorable Mentions)
#2 Aprilaire 400 Whole-Home Humidifier
This unit is a ducted whole house humidifier that will operate efficiently if installed on a supply duct in comparison with the return one.
Coverage and moisture output
It works efficiently in a house of 4000 sq. Ft. and will consume 17 gallons of water every day. So, if you live in a big house and you won’t want your water bills to spike, this would be the right product for you.
This humidifier requires a continuous water supply and needs to be hooked up with the home water supply line - something to keep in mind.
The dual sensors keep on tracking the outdoor temperature and indoor humidity to maintain a constant level of humidity throughout the day. You can manually adjust it as well.
With a dial-type selector, you can adjust the humidity level. When the room reaches that level, humidistat will automatically cut off the supply of water to the water panel tray to stop the unit adding excessive humidity inside your house.
This unit perfectly evaporates 100% of the water that enters the panel making this unit suitable for efficient water consumption with no chances of water wastage.
Additionally, you won’t have to worry about the Aprilaire 400 ‘s noise level. Even with the constant ticking of the humidistat, the unit itself won’t make significant noise.
Here you will also get an easy to understand instructional manual, but once again, if you aren’t a technical person, we would advise you to ask your local heating service company to do this task for you if you don’t want any trouble in the future.
Changing the water panel twice every season can help in prolonging the life of the humidifier, but we’ve seen in recent buyers that you may have to replace it every three months as it loses its efficiency due to excessive absorption of minerals coming from the water supply line.
From the day of installation, you’ll get five years of warranty on all its parts, but it will be considered contingent if installed by a licensed HVAC contractor.
Supportive customer support is also one of the reasons for loving this brand.
#3 AIRCARE EP9 800 Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier
Despite being in the category of non-ducted portable humidifier units, the Aircare EP9 800 has nearly the same humidification power as a ducted whole house humidifier, and can easily compete with them.
If you live in a single-story apartment, this unit can do the job of humidifying the whole house if appropriately placed. This unit is best suitable for an area of up to 2400 sq. Ft.
Being portable, this unit uses water from the tank instead of the home water supply, so you will have to refill it once the tank is emptied. The tank refilling process is pretty easy.
Additionally, with easy to install casters, you can move this unit around different rooms for better humidification. However, you likely won’t need it.
The humidifier has a wide digital display that’s pretty easy to read. And when a refill is needed it will start displaying “F” on the screen. Other parameters that you can see on display are fan speed level, humidity, and power. Each of the mentioned parameters can be adjusted in real time which we found great.
In addition, on its digital display, you will see a “CF” blinking, which is an indicator of changing the filter/wick. More on the filters later on.
This unit is touted to operate for up to 60 hours in one refill, thanks to its 3.5 gallon tank capacity, and it’s able to do just that. AND this is with the humidifier running non-stop. Thus, refilling the tank with the gap of two days would do the job!
Thanks to its advanced sensors, it will automatically turn off once the tank runs out of water. As you may already know, running a humidifier empty can harm the unit’s motor in the long run. Thus, this ensures no chance of harm to the unit in the absence of water.
In addition, these sensors work to always maintain a set level of humidity.
Type of water
If you have hard water problems and you are insisted to use the tap water, then we would advise you to use a water softener to prevent the buildup of deposits as this unit runs best on soft water.
This unit can operate at nine different fan speeds, which are auto-adjustable at the humidifier’s automatic operation. Higher the fan speed quicker will be the humidification process and vice versa.
However, the operational noise level isn’t disruptive at all, and you can let it run while sleeping as well. Still, if your kids sleep with you, we would advise you to use it at the lowest fan speed.
The installation of this humidifier unit is pretty straightforward. You will get an instructional manual to set up the unit from scratch.
Thus, it will save the fee that you have to pay to your local heating service company while installing central whole-house humidifier units.
The wicks installed in this unit are made up of special absorbent material, and upon cleaning, they may fall apart. So, do clean the rest of the humidifiers regularly without cleaning the wicks.
The filters prevent debris or any kind of minerals from entering the humidifier unit that may come directly from your supply line.
Still, replacing them after a few months will help in prolonging the life of the humidifier unit.
Warranty & Customer support
This unit comes with a limited warranty of two years. Still, it’s enough to trust this brand.
Just like Aprilaire, AirCare also has a very cooperative customer support team. You can give them a call 24/7 for any kind of troubleshooting or warranty assistance.
#4 Honeywell Home HE240A Whole House Humidifier
This unit is a central whole house humidifier unit, and it must be mounted on either warm air supply or return air duct of any air furnace.
Coverage & moisture output
This is another unit that can cover massive areas and is perfect for homes up to 3000 sq. ft., and can release nearly 25 gallons of water in one day.
Just like Aprilaire’s central humidifiers, you will have to connect it to a continuous water supply. This also means you do not have to worry about constantly refilling the tank.
As the water supply is constant, how well the humidifier is evaporates the coming water determines its efficiency. The more efficient the evaporation process, the better the water conservation will be and vice versa.
With the HE240A, this unit does the job, and does it well.
Just like the Aprilaire 800, noise won’t be a major concern as it’ll be installed in a separate room. But, it can be a bit noisy if your bedroom is right next to the HVAC duct.
Overall, the humidifier comes parts of pretty decent quality and its installation is very manageable.
Its kit will contain nearly all the necessary accessories, including the bypass duct that will be needed for its installation. So, you won’t have to visit your local store to buy any missing parts.
Honeywell provides the shortest warranty in this list of the best whole house humidifiers. With a limited warranty of a 1-year warranty, even some less reputable brands beat Honeywell in this department.
#5 AIRCARE 831000 Space-Saver Whole House Evaporative Humidifier
AIRCARE’s 831000 humidifier is an advanced version of EP9 800, and just like its previous version, it is a portable, non-ducted humidifier.
Thanks to its portable nature, you can perfectly humidify an entire house, or limit the unit to specific areas and rooms.
One benefit of this is that this can also significantly reduce unnecessary humidification of undesired areas/rooms of the house, thus dropping your energy bills.
Coverage & Moisture output
This unit can cover an area of up to 2700 sq. Ft.
There is a built-in tank to store water that has a capacity of 6 gallons and can last more than 70 hours. Thus, even if you plan to use it 24 hours a day, you will have to refill it on the third day. Pretty decent for a compact unit!
As with its previous model, this humidifier will automatically turn off as soon as the water is emptied in the tank, or when the set humidity is maintained inside the house.
What we really like is that this unit is equipped with a digital display that shows the humidity level in real-time. You can set the fan speed settings by looking at the display.
Just like most of the whole-house humidifiers, this unit also relies on its built-in humidistat to track the humidity level inside the room. It will turn the unit on/off depending on the set humidity level inside the room.
Type of water
Although it is recommended to use distilled water, that would be very expensive, so if you have hard water problems, using softener would prolong the filter’s health as well as improves the unit’s performance.
Fan speeds & Noise produced
Fan equipped in this unit can operate at three different speeds, which can be adjusted manually as well as automatically.
With its lights dim and at the lowest fan speed, the AIRCARE 831000 is great for a good nights sleep.
The same cant be said at its highest fan speed though, which might be a bit noisy during night time.
With easy to read the instructional manuals, you won’t need to spend more than 20 minutes making this unit ready to operate after taking it out of the shipping box.
Just like its earlier version, you will have to change the filter when the “CF” indicator starts appearing on the digital screen. You’ll have to buy the filters separately after the first use.
Warranty & Customer support
This unit is also backed by two years of the limited warranty, and the highly responsive customer support team is always there for any kind of troubleshooting.
With just a single call, you will get the warranty claimed replacement parts at your doorsteps.
Comparisons between other models
For this unit, there is less need to refill the water tank due to its larger tank size. Additionally, it comes at a lower price than the EP9 800, which makes it the best choice for those on a budget.
If you are interested in buying an AirCare humidifier, our recommendation would be to go with this one.
#6 Vornado Evap40 Evaporative Humidifier
This unit is on the list of portable, non-ducted whole-house humidifiers and is best suitable for single-story homes with no HVAC ducts system.
Despite its portability, this is a powerful unit that comfortably fits into the list of best whole house humidifiers.
This unit can uniformly and completely humidify the areas up to 1000 sq. ft., which is the smallest on this list.
Hence, if you are looking for a single unit to humidify bigger, multi-story houses at one time, this humidifier isn’t the one you should go for!
Vornado’s Evap40 is also unique in that there are two water storage tanks, each with a capacity of 4 gallons.
The tanks are spill-proof and easy to clean with zero chances of leakage. Additionally, one can single-handedly pull out the tank compartment and refill it with great ease.
As this unit automatically shifts to the other tank after emptying the first one, refilling the empty tank during mid-day will let the unit humidify room for continuous long hours.
Although the Evap40 doesn’t employ a digital control panel and uses an analog control, you will still enjoy the flexibility of changing the fan speed and humidity settings with its knob-control system. By rotating the knob, you can set both parameters at your desired settings.
Type of water
Tap water will degrade the humidification capability of this unit, so always use distilled water. As with humidifiers that do not run on hard water, you easily work around this with a water softener, which will not only prolongs the life of filter but also enhance the humidifier’s performance.
Fan speeds & Humidification
The installed fan can operate at three different speeds (750 RPM, 1150 RPM, and 1600 RPM). While running at the highest fan speed, it will double the humidification rate in comparison with working at the lowest fan speed.
This unit humidifies house air by vortex action to ensure that every corner of rooms maintains constant humidity, and it is considered as Vornado’s signature.
Even if you place it beside your bed by setting it at the highest fan speed, it won’t be noisy at all. Still, we found that setting it at the lowest fan speed during sleep is still the best option for light sleepers.
The installation is pretty straight forward if you follow the instructions. On top of that, it is also super easy to clean!
Warranty & Customer support
With five years of warranty and 24/7 super customer support, you will quickly hear back from them in case of any emergency. They are also quick in assisting during warranty claims.
#7 GeneralAire 1000A Furnace Humidifier
This ducted, non-portable humidifier is only limited to be used in homes with the proper HVAC system.
Coverage & Moisture output
This unit can perfectly maintain a constant level of humidity in homes up to an area of 3000 sq. Ft.
Depending on the plenum temperature, this unit can release up to 18 gallons of water per day. This value may vary depending on the use.
The GFX3 automatic digital humidistat, which is a common humidistat used in most humidifiers, is integrated into the system.
Along with the outdoor temperature sensor, they maintain the desired level of humidity inside the room and automatically turn the unit off in the absence of water or when the set humidity level is attained.
Type of water
There is no limitation on the use of water. Still, using distilled water will not only make the humidification process more effective but will prolong the life of the unit as well.
Most of the time, some portion of water entering into the unit doesn’t fully evaporate, so you may have to account for the water overflow. We would recommend you use a clear, flexible poly tubing to direction the excessive water into the drain.
In terms of installation, you can mount this unit both on the return side and the output side of ductwork, but the later one having warm air is generally preferred. Still, the humidity sensor is always mounted on the return side.
To enjoy the warranty, however, you must hire a professional to install this unit; otherwise, the company won’t entertain any cases of faults before its use. Still, if you are confident in your technical skills, with the provided instruction manual, you can install it on your own with minimal difficulty.
Just like any whole house humidifier, improper installation can also lead to mold growth. So, the advice of inspecting the pipelines every season is still valid for this unit as well.
You will get ten years of warranty with this unit, but as mentioned earlier, it will only be entertained if a certified person installs the unit.
#8 Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier
This unit humidifies half of the area covered by the other ducted whole house humidifiers, with exact value 1400 sq. ft. and adds 13 gallons of moisture per day.
Emerson HSP2000 is suitable for small condos, but in comparison with Aprilaire 800, it isn’t that effective in controlling mold growth and covering large space. Additionally, due to no transparency in the warranty period, this humidifier unit is not as reliable as any other humidifier unit in the list.
The humidistat and outdoor temperature sensors also control humidity in this unit. If you plan to set it manually, refer to this link to see the optimum humidity level in comparison with the outdoor temperature.
Type of water
You can use any type of water, but distilled is recommended by most of the manufacturers.
Unlike some of the other whole house humidifiers, this unit consumes a small amount of water and perfectly evaporates it, so don’t worry about any kind of water wastage. Just make sure water doesn’t leak from the supply line.
If the blower of your HVAC system isn’t noisy, you won’t hear any other noise as the unit itself operates quietly.
Just like GeneralAire 1000A humidifier, you can also mount the unit itself on the output side of the ductwork and humidity sensor on its return side to track the humidity level.
Warranty & Customer support
It isn’t evident how much warranty you will get with this unit, but their customer support is very responsive, so you won’t have to wait for days to hear back from them in case of any emergency.
Overall, the Emerson HSP2000 is good but its not great. For this reason, it pales greatly in comparison to a product like Aprilaire’s 800 Whole Home Automatic Steam Humidifier.
Main Factors to Consider when buying a Whole House Humidifier
Do Whole House Humidifiers Work?
Low humidity is indeed a severe problem and must be taken seriously at the initial stage as it aggravates over time and can lead you to have consistent health problems.
That's where a whole house humidifier comes in handy!
How Does a Whole House Humidifier Work?
Central whole house humidifiers typically have two main components to distribute the water in the home’s air, which are humidifier pad and a steaming system.
Water coming from the direct water supply goes into the humidifier pad where it is collected and later converted into the steam in the steaming section.
On the other side, air entering into the ducts has to pass through the steaming section of the humidifier where it is exposed to the water inside.
It gets mixed with the water vapors that increase the moisture content in it, and this high moisturized air is allowed to exit from its other end.
It gets mixed with your home air supply, where it is uniformly distributed into every room of your home.
Portable humidifier units also work on nearly the same principle.
Whole House Humidifier Pros and Cons
Regardless of which type of whole house humidifier you have chosen, you’ll enjoy nearly the same benefits with stand-alone humidifiers having limited features. Saying that, you’ll have to consider their drawbacks as well:
How to Choose the Right Sized Whole House Humidifier?
Humidifier units are typically tested in controlled conditions, but there are a lot of factors that come into play during their actual operation that needs to be understood by a consumer beforehand.
Talking about area coverage, the advertised value is mainly based on homes that are tightly sealed where the testing is done. In reality, humidifiers may not always cover the advertised area in loosely sealed homes.
Let’s explain the above terms in detail for a humidifier having area coverage of 3000 sq. ft.:
How to Use a Whole House Humidifier?
You will indeed be buying the humidifier unit to increase the humidity level inside your home, but keep on checking its level with a hygrometer as too high moisture level can also lead to many problems just like low humidity.
The outdoor temperature has a direct relationship with the indoor humidity. Hence, keep your humidity low if the outside temperature is low. This is because too high a humidity can cause condensation on your window, which you won’t want to see!
Keep the ducts warm to decrease the chances of mold growth as high temperature favors mold to grow abruptly.
Do check your humidistat that measures the indoor humidity, and temperature sensors that monitor the outdoor temperature are working correctly before turning on the unit as they will be directly controlling the desired humidity inside your room.
Furthermore, do check regularly that there is no issue in the waterline as in its absence, the humidifier will automatically shut off.
Regularly check the humidity in all rooms while the humidifier is operating. If it is not maintaining your desired humidity in one of its rooms, do check the ducts system of that room.
How to Install a Whole House Humidifier?
Before installing central, non-portable humidifiers, the first thing you will have to do is to turn off the furnace.
Now, carefully cut the hole in the main stack of the furnace and attach the mounting plate into it.
The next thing you have to do is to make space for the humidistat mounting plate by cutting a hole on the cold air plenum.
Now, after installing the humidistat onto the mounting plate, connect it with the furnace controls and, by carefully following the instructional manual, join it with the humidifier.
After successfully installing and connecting the humidifier and humidistat, you’ll have to connect the unit with the water supply line. Either you can install a saddle valve on the waterline and run it into the humidifier or install a T-fitting.
If you carefully follow the above steps, your humidifier will be ready to moisturize your home air!
Make sure that you clearly understand what you are doing to avoid any serious problems. A few suggestions are as follows:
Although you can do the above task on your own, hiring a professional would be a wiser decision if you aren’t a technical person.
One more thing you need to consider in this domain that you can only claim warranty from most of the humidifier manufacturing companies only if you’ve installed a unit from a certified company. So, don’t take its installation lightly.
No such installation is required in the case of portable humidifier units. You just need to assemble its part and plug the unit to play with it.
How to Maintain a Whole House Humidifier?
Humidifiers don’t need any significant servicing other than the replacement of the water panel once every season.
While doing maintenance, take the evaporator pad out from the humidifier drum and check any mineral deposits. Try to clean it if it isn’t very hard otherwise replace it with a new one.
Regularly check the water supply hose fitting to make sure there isn’t any leakage. Repair it on time to avoid the wastage of water.
Whenever you get a chance, do clean the waterline and fitting attachment to prevent the accumulation of any kind of debris.
Do clean the ducts once every six months to prevent any mold growth inside them. Of course, you won’t want your loved ones to breathe mold along with the air.
Cleaning the unit with a water-vinegar solution in the ratio of 1:3 can give you the best performance!
Guidelines for Cleaning, Installation, & Maintenance:
Here are the guidelines for installation, cleaning, and maintenance of all types of whole house humidifiers are listed below:
Bottom Line - What is the Best Whole House Humidifier?
Here is the list of 8 best whole house humidifiers and an in-depth buyer’s guide.
To this point, the things to consider while buying any humidifier should be clearer to you, and now you should be in a more informed position to choose the right unit for your house.
Overall the Aprilaire 800 Whole Home Automatic Steam Humidifier emerged as the overall best whole house humidifier.
And, its not surprising why this unit stands at the top in the list:
Still, the choice is yours to make. Buy the unit that best matches your requirements.
Just a reminder, only buy the central, non-portable whole-house humidifier if you have an HVAC system with ducts installed. Otherwise, go for its other type!
Say goodbye to low humidity this summer and enjoy the time with your lovely family!