Humidifiers are inherently simple machines and the Honeywell HUL520B leans into that simplicity. With a foolproof, single knob interface, you could probably train your dog to use this humidifier. It is also relatively powerful for its size, but not so powerful that you'll have to worry about dripping ceilings if you leave it unattended. Plus its water tank has the biggest opening of any of the models we tested, making for incredibly easy cleaning and refilling. Sure it's not quite as powerful nor has as many features as some of the higher end models we tested, but if you just want something that can sit on your dresser and keep you from waking up with a sore, scratchy throat, you can't beat its list price of $30.
Honeywell HUL520B Review
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to clean, easy to use
Cons: Not the most powerful, no advanced features
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Honeywell HUL520B combines simple operation and easy cleaning with decent humidifying performance in a tiny, affordable package. If you don't need advanced features like a self regulating humidistat or an off timer, this is a great low price option.
As you can see above, the Honeywell HUL520B ended up towards the top of our overall scoresheet, mostly due to a simple and user friendly design. In the following sections we discuss how it performed in all of the different tests we used to find the best humidifier.
The Honeywell HUL520B's humidifying performance was respectable given its small size and low price, but overall was fairly average. It earned a 5 out of 10 in our testing.
The Honeywell was somewhat slow in our testing, taking a full two hours to get our 150 square foot testing room up to 45% humidity. The good news is that it plateaued at around 47% humidity. This means that in most average sized bedrooms the Honeywell will reach something close to the ideal 45% humidity and settle in there. This makes it perfect for bedroom use, and generally negates the risk of over humidifying if you forget to turn it off. The two hours it takes to reach that humidity can be a bit of a drag, as you'll have to remember to turn it on well before bedtime if you want to snuggle into a pleasantly humidified room.
If you want something with more humidifying power, you're unfortunately going to have to spend quite a bit more. The Honeywell HCM-350 would be a decent upgrade and hit 45% humidity after just 34 minutes in our testing, nearly 90 minutes faster than its younger sibling, but it does cost $40 more (list price: $70). If you want more power than that you're looking at the $120 range with the Levoit LV600HH and the PureGuardian H1250.
Ease of Cleaning
Ease of cleaning is one area where the Honeywell HUL520B really shined, picking up a score of 8 out of 10. The only model that scored better, the Honeywell HCM-350, did so because some of its parts are dishwasher safe.
The Honeywell HUL520B's water tank has a 3.5" diameter opening, the largest opening of any of the water tanks we tested. All but the largest of hands are able to get in there and give everything a good scrubbing. The sonic agitator itself is fairly blocky, so there aren't any tiny nooks where mold can escape your sponge and start to take hold. The manual also gives clear instructions for using either a vinegar or bleach (never use both at the same time) soak for deeper cleaning. Scrubbing, prepping the soak, and drying everything off took us about 15 minutes, with a 15-minute soak in between. This was on par with most other models in terms of time, but felt like less effort than models that require more diligent scrubbing with difficult to reach spots.
The Honeywell HUL520B is incredibly simple, and thus incredibly user friendly. Accordingly, it shared the top score of 8 out of 10 in this metric.
The Honeywell HUL520B has a single dial to turn the machine on and select the level of mist it puts out. It also has an auto-off feature, so it automatically turns off when all the water is gone, which prevents the sonic agitator from buzzing away with no water in the tank and possibly damaging itself. That single knob makes it incredibly easy to operate, but it also means there are no additional features like an off timer or a self-regulating humidistat. If you're looking for those features we think the Levoit LV600HH is the simplest fully featured model to operate.
The large 3.5" tank opening that we mentioned in the ease of cleaning section also makes the Honeywell HUL520B very easy to refill in almost any sink. In fact, it was the easiest to refill of any of the models we tested.
The Honeywell HUL520B was far and away the most inexpensive model to buy and own that we tested. It lists for just $30 and uses only 0.01kWh of electricity per hour of operation. This led to an estimated lifetime cost of just $56, the lowest that we calculated.
While the Honeywell HUL520B lacks some power compared to larger models, it can still handle a small bedroom and lists for only $30. You'd be hard pressed to find a better value for use in a smaller room.
The Honeywell HUL520B isn't the most powerful humidifier, but it is easy to use and clean, can still get the job done, and is incredibly inexpensive. If you're looking for something simple and cheap, this is the perfect model.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata