To find the best humidifiers of 2020 we researched more than 40 models before buying the 12 best for some side-by-side testing. We measured the humidifying performance of each model using a professional-grade humidistat, cleaned them multiple times to appraise the difficulties of their required maintenance, and calculated their operating costs. We also lived with each in our homes for multiple days to get a feel for how they worked in real-life scenarios. In the end, we found great models in every price range, whether you're looking to humidify a large living space of a small bedroom.
The Best Humidifiers of 2020
Best Overall Humidifier
Combining best in class power, an easy to clean configuration, and set-it-and-forget-it functionality, the Levot LV600HH is the best overall humidifier we've tested. It has a built-in humidistat that accurately (we compared it to our calibrated humidistat) monitors the surrounding humidity, and adjusts its setting accordingly. This means you don't have to worry about over-humidification, you can just set your desired humidity level, start up the LV600HH, and not touch it again until the water runs out. When the water does run out the tank has a big, easy to fill opening and the machine itself allows easy scrubbing access to all the bits that need to be cleaned. The remote control lets you turn the machine off in the middle of the night without leaving the comfort of your bed.
The only real downside of the LV600HH is its price. It is probably more than most people figured on spending when they decided to start shopping for a humidifier. But if you want something powerful that won't have you returning to a damp house if you forget to turn it off, the LV600HH is the best choice.
Read review: Levoit LV600HH
Best Bang for the Buck
Many people will just want to humidify their bedroom while they're sleeping in order to avoid a morning scratchy throat. If your bedroom is less than 200 square feet, the Honeywell HUL520B is one of the best ways to do that on a budget. This simple machine sells 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 want?
The HUL520B does have some significant drawbacks when compared to higher priced models. The first is power. It will likely take the HUL520B 1-2 hours to get an average sized bedroom in a dry area to an ideal humidity. That's not too big of a deal, as you could turn it on right before bed and still enjoy its effects for the majority of the night. It also doesn't have any sort of off timer, so it will keep running all day if you forget to turn it off. However, its tank is too small and its humidification power too low to leave your bedroom overly damp, so again this isn't a big issue.
Read review: Honeywell HUL520B
Best Buy for Large Rooms
We know there are probably many people that want something powerful enough for a large (200+ square feet) room, but don't want to spend extra money on the LV600HH. If that's the case, we would suggest the TaoTronics TT-AH001. It was able to match the humidifying performance of the LV600HH in our tests while costing just a fraction of the price. It even offers a humidistat that tempers the output to prevent rooms from getting over humidified — a feature generally only seen on much more expensive products.
The biggest sacrifice you make in opting for the TT-AH001 over one of its higher-priced competitors is in ease of cleaning. We found the nooks and crannies of the TT-AH001 to present more of a cleaning challenge than many other models. It also has an oddly placed air vent on its base that cannot be blocked, meaning you can't place the unit on rug or carpet. However, for larger rooms with hard flooring, the *TT-AH001 offers a great all-around value.
Best Evaporative Model
Evaporative humidifiers simply blow air over a wet wick so the water naturally evaporates into the air. This is a self-regulating process, as the evaporation will slow down as the ambient humidity increases. Many people prefer this more natural process to the sonic humidifiers that essentially push water into the air. If you're one of those people, the Honeywell HCM-350 is our top recommendation. It is relatively powerful, is quite easy to clean when you do so regularly, and is less expensive in the long run than many other evaporative models.
Like all evaporative models, the Honeywell HCM-350 requires replacement filters, making it generally more costly in the long term than its sonic brethren. Also, if you're not diligent about cleaning this machine per the manufacturer's recommendations the filter can get moldy, and that mold can quickly spread to the rest of the machine, creating a difficult to clean mess. But if you don't mind being pedantic about cleaning your humidifier, 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 3 years, including humidifiers, air purifiers, fitness trackers, electric toothbrushes, and water filters. Both also live in the arid climes of Tahoe, where humidity levels rarely get above 30%, pretty much necessitating the use of a humidifier lest you wake with a scratchy throat and parched lips.
This test represents over 100 hours of controlled testing of these humidifiers, as well as dozens of night spent with them in our bedrooms. The cornerstone of our testing involved letting each humidifier run for 3 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 out in the same relative humidity level. We also ran each model through the normal paces of use, cleaning each at least 5 times and adjusting all the possible settings, searching for any ease of use or cleaning annoyances. 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.
Analysis and Test Results
We categorized all of our tests into 4 separate testing metrics, weighted them according to importance, and assigned scores in each for all of our testing models. This allowed us to find the best humidifier for every situation, from mist-breathing dragons that can keep large rooms from becoming dry, to smaller more budget-friendly models that are perfect for apartment-sized bedrooms.
We compare the performance of each model to its price (place your cursor on a dot to see its corresponding product). You can see that the Editor's Choice winning Levoit LV600HH offers the best overall performance, but asks a relatively high price for that performance. In comparison, the Best Buy winning Honeywell HUL520B performs well but not amazingly, at a much lower price. Finally, the Dyson, while incredibly cool looking, doesn't live up to its huge price tag.
Good humidifying performance is all about balance. You want something that can quickly add humidity to the air, but that also won't add too much humidity and leave condensation all over the walls. In our humidifying performance testing we focused first on power, or how quickly and how much humidity each model was able to produce, along with consistency, or the 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 and the TaoTronics TT-AH001 were the clear winners in this test, earning the leading score of 9 out of 10. Of these models the TT-AH001 was slightly faster and more powerful. It hit the ideal level of 45% humidity in 17 minutes and reached 70% after 3 hours. The LV600HH took 30 minutes to hit 45% and reached 65.8% after 3 hours. Both models have humidistats which proved to be quite accurate in our testing. The bottom line, both of these models are powerful enough for a large bedroom.
Rounding out the top scorers with a 7 out of 10 was the Dyson AM10. It reached 45% fairly quickly (29 minutes) and maxed out slightly below the top scorers at 57.6%. Its score was buoyed by the built-in humidistat, which was the most accurate amongst the models we tested. This allowed the Dyson to never waver more than 1% from the desired humidity. The Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic also earned a 7 out of 10, hitting 45% in 40 minutes and reaching 63.4% after 3 hours.
We tested all of our models in a 150 square foot room, and have made general suggestions based on those results. Please keep in mind that humidification performance can vary greatly based on ambient humidity, ambient temperature, and the ventilation in your home. Whenever you buy a new humidifier you should start out on a lower setting and slowly move up until you find a good level of humidity, rather than starting on the highest setting and risking over humidification.Related: Buying Advice for Humidifiers
Beyond the top scorers, none of the remaining models we tested have a humidistat. This isn't an issue if you live in a very dry area, as over humidification won't be an issue. However, if you're home's humidity naturally falls around 20-30%, a humidifier left running on high without a humidistat to cut it off when the humidity gets too high, could lead to an undesired amount of dampness. Thus you may have to adjust the settings a bit to see if you really need to use the high setting, or if medium or low could create a more pleasant environment.
Our favorite of these non-humidistat models is the Honeywell HCM-350, which scored a 6 out of 10. It brought our testing room to 45% humidity in just 34 minutes and reached a maximum of 58.9% after 3 hours. That's not too far off from the top scorers. Also earning a 6 out of 10, the TaoTronics TT-AH002 reached 45% humidity in a slightly slower 60 minutes and maxed out at 56.7% at the 3-hour mark. Just creeping into the 6 out of 10 range the Levoit LV450CH took a full 2 hours to get our testing room up to 45% humiditiy, but did eventually push that mark to 52%.
Multiple models fell into the average 5 out of 10 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 push it to 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%.
While every device we tested effectively added humidity to our testing room, there were a few models that clearly fell behind the rest of the group. The Pure Ultrasonic took 2.5 hours to get our testing room up to 45% humidity, nearly missing our 3-hour testing window. Both models also only managed a maximum humidity of 47.5% in that 3-hour window. The VicTsing 2L Cool Mist went just a bit faster, pushing to 45% in 2 hours and 35 minutes. However, it only reached a maximum of 46%.
Ease of Cleaning
If you don't clean your humidifier regularly it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and end up doing you more harm than good. Therefore, if a model is so hard to clean that you end up neglecting that responsibility, it becomes not only useless but counterproductive. Most require some basic scrubbing and a soaking in a vinegar or bleach solution to get rid of mold. We cleaned every one of our models multiple times throughout our testing, and kept careful notes on how arduous the process was for each one.
The Honeywell HCM-350 was the only evaporative model we tested, which eliminates those hard to reach corners around the sonic agitator in other models where mold can slowly take hold. The tank is large and easy to scrub, and the bottom tray is dishwasher safe. The one caveat is the actual filter (that soaks up water before it is evaporated) can get very moldy if you neglect cleaning or let stagnant water sit in the tank 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, garnering a top score of 8 out of 10 in this metric. It has a wide, nearly 4-inch opening that allows for easy scrubbing access. There are some nooks and crannies around the ultrasonic unit, but generally, you can scrub everything without too much maneuvering.
The Levoit LV450CH was also one of the top performers in our cleaning metric, earning an 8 out of 10. This is mostly due to the large, 3" opening on its water tank that provides relatively easy access for scrubbing, and the fact that it doesn't have many hard-to-reach crevices where gunk can build up. We also found the manufacturer suggested 30-minute vinegar/water soak to be quite effective at loosening any mineral deposits.
The Levoit LV600HH scored 7 out of 10 in this metric. This model requires a bit more focused scrubbing than the Honeywell HCM-350 to make sure every crevice is clean, but it's not particularly annoying in that regard.
The VicTsing 2L Cool Mist also earned a 7 out of 10. It is actually quite easy to clean, with a large 3.25" tank opening, but the sonic unit does have some area where gunk could accumulate. The manual is also heavy on touting its antibacterial properties (which we found to be dubious, we saw some mold after just over a week of use without cleaning) and short on cleaning instructions. We'd suggest you go with the classic vinegar soak.
Earning scores of 6 out of 10 and just verging into 'oh crap I need to clean that thing' were the TaoTronics TT-AH002, the Crane Drop, and the Sunpentown SPT SU-4010. These products have smaller openings and more crowded internal construction, 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.
Starting off the list of models that are almost too hard to clean to be worthwhile is the Pure Ultrasonic, which earned a 5 out of 10 in this metric. Its cleaning difficulty arises from the small tank opening, which necessitates some creative toothbrush and/or chopstick use in order to get every surface scrubbed. The Everlast Comfort Ultrasonic also earned a 5 out of 10. It has a bigger opening, but has lots of little crevices where mold can hide.
The Dyson AM10 is even worse in this regard and scored a 4 out of 10 in our ease of cleaning metric. The opening on the tank is so small that you really can't scrub the inside whatsoever. You just have to trust that regular citric acid soaks and the Dyson's ultraviolet water purifier are going to keep mold and mineral buildup at bay. The TaoTronics TT-AH001, which also scored a 4 out of 10, has a bigger 2" opening. However, it's still hard to scrub inside, and it comes with no directions for demolding. urp
Humidifiers are generally very simple machines, but a few small design differences can make using them feel like 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.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two models we found most user-friendly were the two that won awards, the Editors' Choice Levoit LV600HH and the Best Buy Honeywell HUL520B. These models shared the top score of 8 out of 10, largely because of 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 Levoit also has a convenient remote control that lets you adjust settings without leaving your bed. Both models have simple and intuitive interfaces. The Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic also earned an 8 out of 10 in this metric. Its simple, single dial control panel and relatively large 2.75" tank opening made filling and operating the machine quite easy.
The Honeywell HCM-350 was just off the top scorers with a 7 out of 10. 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 humidity of the room and requires less monitoring. However, it missed out on a top score because this evaporative technique requires replacing the filter/wick every six months.
Another member of the 7 out of 10 club, the VicTsing 2L Cool Mist keeps things simple with a single knob control. The tank also has a handle and large, 3.25" opening for easy filling, and the 7" height allows it to easily fit into most sinks. It only missed out on a higher score because it lacks any extra features like a remote or a humidistat.
The final model to earn a 7 out of 10 was the TaoTronics TT-AH001. The 2" opening of the water tank is just on the borderline of being too small, but also isn't too bad. It also has an optional nightlight and built-in handles.
Outside of these top scorers, all of the models we tested had some little thing that annoyed us about them. Three of those models, the TaoTronics TT-AH002, the Dyson AM10, and the Sunpentown SPT SU-4010 , scored 6 out of 10 in this metric. The TaoTronics has a relatively small opening on its tank. Additionally, the tank is quite tall, which can create a geometric puzzle if you have a small sink. The Dyson has the smallest water tank opening of all the models we tested at just one inch. This can make refilling feel like trying to dock with the international space station. However, a convenient remote control and the ability to use this as a fan as well as a humidifying device saved it from a lower score. The Sunpentown's tank also has a large opening, but the tank itself is fairly long, so you may not be able to fill it directly from smaller sinks.
Leading off the low scorers in this metric is the Pure Ultrasonic, which scored 4 out of 10. The tank's opening is fairly small, but the tank itself is also small and easy to maneuver during refilling. It really 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 gets you to your preferred setting.
The Levoit LV450CH also earned a 4 out of 10. We don't hate its user experience, but it does have some quirks. First off, though the water tank has a large, 3" opening, the 10" height may be a bit too high to fit under some sink faucets. Also, its single button toggles between off, on, low, medium, and high, but there is no label to tip you off to this fact. You either have to figure it out yourself, or read the manual.
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 and a cost of $0.12 per kWh (the national average), and a functional lifetime of 5 years. We also factored in filter costs for those models that use filters, and of course we considered the upfront cost of each machine. This resulted in estimated lifetime costs that spanned a range of more than $500.
The Honeywell HUL520B, our Best Buy Award winner, 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. In a slightly more distant third was the TaoTronics TT-AH002 with an estimated lifetime cost of $89. Its list price is quite low, but it uses a bit more electricity than average (0.015kWh per hour).
The VicTsing 2L Cool Mist has a low list price and sips electricity, using just 0.01 kWh per hour in our tests. This equates to an electric bill of only $5.26 per year, and an estimated lifetime cost of just $66.
Next in line was the Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic, with an estimated lifetime cost of $98. The other TaoTronics model, the TT-AH001, wasn't far behind, clocking an estimated lifetime cost of $101.
The Levoit LV450CH uses a bit more electricity than the top scorers, burning through 0.02 kWh per hours in our tests. However, it sells for a very reasonable price, leading to an estimated lifetime cost of $112. While this is more than the above model, it does offer a bit more power and a much larger tank, so might be worth the tradeoff.
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 Editors' Choice Award winning 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.
The Honeywell HCM-350, thanks to its evaporative humidifying technology, has the added cost of replacement wicks (essentially tall sponges). These will set you back $8 and must be replaced every 6 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 really 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 6 months. That skyrockets the estimated lifetime cost up to $447.
The Dyson AM10 is in a league of its own when it comes to cost. First off, it uses the most electricity of any model we tests, burning through 0.03 kWh per hour. This is most likely due to its UV light, which is meant to disinfect the water in its tank, Then there is the list, price, an astronomical $500. That combines for an estimated lifetime cost of $579. Honestly, we only think this cost is worth it if you want a bladeless fan, and wouldn't mind there being a decent humidifier attached.
A humidifier can make your home much more comfortable and negate many of the adverse side effects of dry climates and parched, winter air. However, any humidifier requires diligent cleaning and upkeep, and not all are created equal concerning the ease 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