Best Humidifiers of 2021
|Price||$90 List||$40 List|
$33.99 at Amazon
$41 at Amazon
|$75 List||$53 List|
|Pros||Powerful, accurate humidistat prevents over-humidification, convenient remote control, easy to clean||Exceptional output, low lifetime operating costs||Inexpensive, easy to clean, easy to use||Easy to clean, self-regulating evaporative humidifying||Good humidifying performance|
|Cons||Somewhat on the expensive side||Confusing user interface, prolonged cleaning process||Not the most powerful, no advanced features||Requires replacement filters, filter can get moldy if left unattended for too long||Somewhat difficult to clean|
|Bottom Line||A powerful model with all the bells and whistles you could want, perfect for those looking for high-end performance||With excellent performance ratings and low operating costs, this is one of our favorite models||The perfect budget model for smaller (<150 square foot) rooms||This is a good choice if you appreciate the simplicity of evaporative humidifying||Good for mid-sized bedrooms in arid climates, as long as you don't mind a little cleaning effort|
|Rating Categories||Levoit LV600HH||Levoit Classic 200||Honeywell HUL520B||Honeywell HCM-350||Ultrasonic|
|Humidifying Performance (35%)|
|Ease Of Cleaning (35%)|
|User Friendliness (15%)|
|Operating Cost (15%)|
|Specs||Levoit LV600HH||Levoit Classic 200||Honeywell HUL520B||Honeywell HCM-350||Ultrasonic|
|Weight||4.9 lbs||3.5 lbs||3.0 lbs||9.6 lbs||3.3 lbs|
|Dimensions||11.3" x 7" x 10.5"||13.8" x 7.8" x 5.8"||8.5" x 8.5" x 9.5"||18.6" x 10.4" x 13"||13.3" x 11.4" x 6.8"|
|Tank Capacity||1.6 gallons||1.1 gallons||0.5 gallons||1.0 gallons||1.6 gallons|
|Estimated Lifetime Cost||$159||$99||$56||$203||$98|
|Estimated Annual Electricity Usage||65.7 kWh||87.6 kWh||43.8 kWh||87.6 kWh||65.7 kWh|
Best Overall Humidifier
The Levoit LV600HH features a winning combination of best-in-class power, ease of cleaning, and set-it-and-forget-it functionality. For these reasons and more, we believe it's the best overall humidifier. It can precisely monitor surrounding humidity thanks to a built-in humidistat and adjusts its own settings accordingly. Operating it is as simple as selecting your desired humidity level, starting the LV600HH, and leaving it to do its thing until the water runs out. When it does run empty, its large tank sports an easy-to-fill opening. There is also plenty of access for scrubbing every part of the device when it's time for a cleaning. And if you want to adjust anything in the middle of the night, the remote control lets you turn the machine off without needing to get out of bed.
The price is the only real downside to the LV600HH, and we suspect that it's more expensive than most people will want to spend on a humidifier. However, if you want a powerful machine that will keep your home at just the right humidity year-round, the LV600HH is our favorite choice.
Read review: Levoit LV600HH
Great Value for a Mid-Sized Humidifier
Levoit Classic 200
The Levoit Classic 200 was one the best overall performing humidifiers we reviewed. It has truly excellent humidifying capabilities. Over the span of three hours, it was able to raise the humidity levels in our testing room by 145%, more than 50% more than the next best scoring model. With a low MSRP and reasonably affordable annual costs, this machine offers consumers a terrific value. The tank is both easy to fill and easy to clean. The suggested cleaning protocols are involved but thorough and thanks to the large access hole if mold does grow, it's not too difficult to scrub it out. With the ability to turn off the mode indicator light, this unit is ideal for sensitive sleepers.
The user interface does take a minute to get used to. The three modes have corresponding colors that are seemingly random, blue is low, orange is medium, and purple is high. You can't fine-tune the humidity levels with this system but the three modes cover the basics just fine. Unless you need a humidifier with a built-in humidistat and larger tank capacity, we couldn't recommend this model enough.
Read review: Levoit Classic 200
Best Bang for the Buck
If your bedroom is less than 200 square feet, the Honeywell HUL520B is one of the best machines to humidify your room on a budget. This simple model retails for much less than the competition, is very easy to clean, and was able to keep our 150 square foot testing room at a near-perfect 47% humidity. What more could you ask for?
When compared to higher-priced models, the HUL520B has some significant drawbacks. The first is power. An average-sized bedroom will likely take the HUL520B 1-2 hours to get to the right humidity. That's not too big of a deal, as you could turn it on just before bed and still enjoy its effects for the majority of the night. It also lacks any sort of off timer, so if you forget to turn it off before leaving the house, it will run all day. However, its capacity is too small to leave your room damp. All in all, this model is a good compact option for those on a budget.
Read review: Honeywell HUL520B
Best Evaporative Model
Evaporative humidifiers simply blow air over a wet wick so that the water naturally evaporates into the air. This is a self-regulating process — the evaporation will slow down as the ambient humidity increases. This more natural process is preferable to some people over the sonic humidifiers that essentially push water into the air. The Honeywell HCM-350 is our top recommendation for an evaporative humidifier. It is relatively powerful, quite easy to clean, and is less expensive in the long run than many other evaporative models.
Like all evaporative models, the Honeywell HCM-350 requires replacement filters, which generally makes it more costly than its sonic siblings in the long run. Also, if you're not diligent about cleaning this machine according to the manufacturer's recommendations, the filter can get moldy, and that mold can quickly spread to the rest of the machine. However, if you stay on top of cleaning your machine regularly and are intrigued by the benefits of evaporative humidification, this is the best option we've found.
Read review: Honeywell HCM-350
Why You Should Trust Us
Steven Tata and Max Mutter have been researching, using, and testing a variety of health and wellness products for the last three years. Spanning the worlds of air purifiers, fitness trackers, electric toothbrushes, and water filters, they have put dozens of models to the test. This testing team also lives in the arid climes of Tahoe, California, where ambient humidity levels rarely rise above 30%, pretty much necessitating the use of a humidifier lest you wake with a scratchy throat and parched lips.
This review represents over 100 hours of controlled testing with these humidifiers, as well as dozens of nights spent with them in our bedrooms. The cornerstone of our testing involved letting each model run for three hours on its highest setting, all in the same 150 square room, and measuring the resulting changes in humidity with an industrial grade humidity meter. In between tests, we ran a dehumidifier to ensure each model started at the same relative humidity level. We also ran each model through the normal paces of use, cleaning each at least five times and adjusting all the possible settings, searching for anything that made the machines more difficult to use or clean. Throughout it all, we measured each model's energy usage with a wattage meter, then used that data to calculate their estimated lifetime costs of ownership.
Related: How We Tested Humidifiers
Analysis and Test Results
We categorized our tests into four separate testing metrics and weighted them according to their importance, ultimately assigning scores in each metric for all of our models. This allowed us to find the best humidifier for every situation, from mist-breathing dragons that can keep large rooms from getting too dry to smaller, more budget-friendly models that are perfect for apartment-sized bedrooms.
Related: Buying Advice for Humidifiers
We know that most shoppers care about price just as much as performance. The Levoit LV600HH, for example, offers outstanding performance but commands a high price to receive it. The Honeywell HUL520B offers solid performance, but it costs substantially less. That's why it's our favorite for humidifying small rooms on a budget. Another well-valued option is the Levoit Classic 200. It is slightly smaller than the Levoit LV600HH but performs almost equally as well.
Good humidifying is all about balance. You want a machine that can efficiently add humidity to the air, but not to the extent that it leaves condensation all over the walls. Our first humidifying performance test focused on power; that is, how quickly and consistently each model was able to achieve a target humidity level and its ability to maintain a desired level of humidity. Models with humidistat controllers that read and react to the humidity of the room performed much better in this regard. All of our tests were completed in a 150 square foot room, about the size of an average bedroom.
The Levoit LV600HH is the overall top performer in this test. Although its humidifying power was bettered by a couple of models, it is one of only a few models in our test to offer the control and accuracy of a built-in humidistat controller, to help dial in your optimum humidity level.
All of our models were tested in a 150 square foot room, and we offer general recommendations based on those results. Please keep in mind that other factors can influence humidification performance and cause the results to vary. Ambient humidity, ambient temperature, and the ventilation in your home all play a role. Whenever you buy a new humidifier, it's best to start on a lower setting and slowly move up until you find a good humidity level, rather than starting on the highest setting and ending up with damp surfaces.
The Levoit Classic 200 and the AquaOasis Cool Mist were the clear winners in the humidity power test. Over the course of three hours, the Levoit was capable of increasing the humidity in our testing room by 145% while the AquaOasis was able to increase the room's humidity by 94%. Both significantly higher percentages than any of the other humidifiers. Neither of these models have built-in humidistats so you'll need to keep in mind you could easily over humidify small spaces. This shouldn't be a big concern for anyone in an especially arid climate because the probability of over-humidification is low. However, if you live somewhere where the ambient humidity is higher (20-30%) or prone to fluctuations, a humidistat would probably be a nice feature to have on your humidifier.
The Honeywell HCM-350 was another high performer. It was able to bring our testing room up to the ideal 45% humidity in just 34 minutes and reached a maximum of 58.9% after running on high for 3 hours.
Multiple models fell into the average range in this metric, providing noticeable but not overly impressive humidification capabilities. The Sunpentown SPT SU-4010 took a full hour to hit the ideal 45% humidity but did achieve a maximum of 56.8% by the end of the test. The Crane Drop got to 45% a bit faster, taking just 45 minutes, but stalled out at a maximum of 51.2%. The Honeywell HUL520B was the slowest of this group, taking a full 2 hours to hit 45% and maxing out at just 47.8%.
Although every device we tested was able to add humidity to our testing room, there were a couple of models that didn't perform quite as well as the rest of the group. It took the Pure Ultrasonic 2.5 hours to get our testing room up to 45% humidity, nearly the duration of our 3-hour test time. At the end of the test, the maximum humidity had only reached 47.5%.
Ease of Cleaning
Humidifiers that aren't cleaned regularly can become a breeding ground for bacteria and end up doing more harm than good. Therefore, if a model is so hard to clean that you end up neglecting it, it's just not worth the effort. Most machines will require basic scrubbing and soaking in a vinegar or bleach solution to get rid of mold. We cleaned every model multiple times and kept careful notes on how laborious the process was for each one.
The Honeywell HCM-350 was the only evaporative model we tested. These types of humidifiers eliminate those hard-to-reach corners around the sonic agitator where mold can slowly take hold in other models. The tank is large and easy to scrub, and the bottom tray is even dishwasher safe. The one caveat is the actual filter (which soaks up water before it evaporates) can get very moldy if neglected for a couple of days. If that happens, you're pretty much out of luck and will need to buy a new filter.
The Honeywell HUL520B was a close runner-up to its sibling. Its opening is nearly 4-inches wide, allowing for plenty of access for easy scrubbing. There are some nooks and crannies around the ultrasonic unit, but generally, you can scrub everything without too much maneuvering.
The Levoit LV600HH also fared fairly well in our cleaning tests. To make sure every crevice is clean, this model requires more focused scrubbing than the Honeywell HCM-350, but it's not particularly arduous.
Just verging into 'oh crap, this thing needs cleaned' territory is the Crane Drop and the Sunpentown SPT SU-4010. These products have smaller openings, and the internal construction is more crowded, making both access and scrubbing every surface more difficult. It can be done, but it requires some hand yoga and maybe even sacrificing a toothbrush to the humidifier cleanliness deities.
The AquaOasis was quite difficult to clean. Its small access hole and sharp cornered interior made it almost impossible to keep clean.
Humidifiers are generally very simple machines, but a few small design differences can make using them feel like either a walk in the park or a laborious undertaking that prompts you to question whether the air in your house really is too dry. From large water tank openings to remote controls that let you change settings without getting out of bed, choosing a thoughtfully designed model can save you from the scourge of extra logistics that many of our modern appliances can bring on.
The Levoit LV600HH and the Honeywell HUL520B proved to be our favorite models when it came to the overall user experience. This is mainly due to their easy-to-fill water tanks. The Honeywell's tank has a huge opening and is short enough to fit in any sink, making refilling a breeze. The Levoit's opening isn't quite as large, and the tank is bigger, so it may take some maneuvering to get it into a small sink, but it is still very easy to fill.
The LevoitLV600HH also has a convenient remote control that lets you adjust settings without leaving your bed, and has a simple and intuitive interface. The Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic features a simple, single dial control panel and relatively large 2.75-inch tank opening that made filling and operating the machine quite easy.
The Honeywell HCM-350 was fell just behind the top performers in this metric. Like its smaller sibling, it has a wide opening in its water tank, making refilling a painless process. It also uses evaporative humidifying, which self-regulates based on the room's humidity and requires less monitoring. However, it missed out on a top slot because this evaporative technique requires replacing the filter/wick every six months.
The Levoit 200 Classic was another option that was easy to fill. The removable tank had comfortable handles and slid in and out the main body with ease. A large access hole makes actually filling the unit with water easy to do. The controls revolve around a single-touch button that our testers found a little strange to operate.
Leading off the relatively poor performers in this metric was the Pure Ultrasonic. The tank's opening is rather small, but the tank itself is also small and easy to maneuver during refilling. It lost points due to its interface, which requires you to scroll through different settings by pushing a single button. There is no display to indicate which setting is currently selected, so you just have to remember how many button presses get you to your preferred setting.
Humidifiers generally do not use much electricity, but their operating costs can add up in the long run. To estimate operating and lifetime costs, we measured each model's electricity usage with a wattage meter. Then we assumed 12 hours of use each day at a cost of $0.12 per kWh (the national average) and a functional lifetime of 5 years. We also factored in each machine's upfront cost and the filter costs for those models that need filters. This resulted in estimated lifetime costs that spanned a range of nearly $400.
The Honeywell HUL520B was the most inexpensive model we tested, with an estimated lifetime cost of just $56. This is largely due to its incredibly low list price and the fact that it barely uses any electricity (less than 0.01kWh per hour to runs its sonic agitator. The Pure Ultrasonic wasn't too far behind, logging an estimated lifetime cost of just $63. It also has a low list price and uses even less electricity than the Honeywell.
Next in line was the Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic, with an estimated lifetime cost of $98.
The Crane Drop is one of the more inexpensive models we tested at a low list price, but it also uses more electricity than most models (0.02kWh per hour). This pushed its estimated lifetime cost a bit higher to $108. Just behind this was the Levoit LV600HH. It was mid-range both regarding electricity economy (0.015kWh per hour) and list price, resulting in a lifetime estimated cost of $159.
Thanks to its evaporative humidifying technology, the Honeywell HCM-350 has the additional cost of replacement wicks (essentially tall sponges). These will set you back $8 and must be replaced every six months. Combine that with the list price and 0.02 kWh per hour electricity usage, and you have an estimated lifetime cost of $203.
Now we get into the expensive, is this even worth the cost? kind of territory. First up is the Sunpentown SPT SU-4010. Its list price is relatively high, but its electricity usage is quite efficient at 0.015 kWh per hour. Where it adds a lot of extra cost is in its ION exchange filter. This filter is meant to reduce the amount of minerals in the water, and thus make the ultrasonic unit last longer. That's all well and good, but these filters cost $30 and must be replaced every six months. That skyrockets the estimated lifetime cost up to $447.
A humidifier can enhance the comfort of your home and minimize many of the adverse side effects of dry climates and parched winter air. Any humidifier, however, requires diligent cleaning and maintenance, and not all are created equal when it comes to the convenience of this upkeep. We hope our detailed testing results have led you to a model that is both powerful enough and user-friendly enough for your needs.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata