Best Whole House Humidifier Reviews And Buying Guide 2017 For Your Home

Purchasing a major appliance for your home is always stressful.  You want to make sure you are getting the very best you can for the money you have available to spend, purchasing an appliance that will perform well and last decade after decade.  For many household appliances, figuring this out isn’t too difficult; we have a pretty solid idea of what makes a refrigerator good or what washing machine brands we can trust.  But what about the best whole house humidifier for the money?  This is an appliance that most of us have little experience with, which is no doubt why you are currently seeking out whole house humidifier reviews.

Here, we have compiled all the information you need to navigate this major purchase for your home. By the time you are done reading, you will find yourself less confused by the various features whole house humidifiers offer and better able to determine which features are crucial for you. Our goal is to ensure that you are confident as you go into your purchase, and happy with the ultimate result.
Ready to get started with our reviews? Let’s jump in!

Best Whole House Humidifier Reviews 2017

Ease of Use

Do you need to manage the settings, such as the humidity level, or will the unit do it for you? If there is a display, is it easy to read and operate?

Maintenance Level

Do you need to clean the unit often? Is there a possibility of mold growth? Will you need to fill the water yourself or does the humidifier take care of that for you?

Square Feet Covered

Even humidifiers that use your HVAC system will have their limits, as the humidifier can only produce so much at a time. It is important that you check the square feet covered before you buy and compare it to your home. If your home has high ceilings or an open floor plan, you may need a humidifier that can cover more square feet than your home actually has.

Purpose of Purchase

Are you looking to use a whole house humidifier for allergies?  Or perhaps for dry skin or eczema or another health concern entirely?  Your motivation for purchasing a humidifier can help to determine which one is the right choice for you.

Best Whole House Humidifier On The Market 2017 - Comparison Table

PRODUCT

Image
/General Type

Maintenance Level

Square Feet Covered

Biggest Pro

Biggest Con

 Ranking  

Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier

Flow Through

Low: simple, yearly maintenance is all that is needed.

4,200
square feet

Once it is working, you can pretty much forget it is there.

Requires installation

Our Choice #1

Aprilaire 600 Humidifier Auto

Flow Through

Low: annual maintenance

4000 square feet

Almost silent operation.

Installation is awkward

#2

Aprilaire 500 Humidifier, 24V Whole House Humidifier w/ Auto Digital Control Bypass Damper .5 Gallons/ hour

Drum

Low: just need to check it once a year.

3000 square feet

Superb 5-year warranty

Needs professional installation

#3

Honeywell HE360A Whole House Powered Humidifier

Flow Through

Low: simple, yearly maintenance is all that is needed.

4,200 square feet

Easy to install for those going DIY

The installation kit must be purchased separately

#4

AIRCARE MA1201 Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier, White

Portable Console (evaporative)

High—frequent cleaning and filling the tank.

3,600 square feet

Great for renters

Must have open space and good air flow

#5

PRODUCT

Image
/General Type

Ranking

Maintenance Level

Square Feet Covered

Biggest Pro

Biggest Con

Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier

Flow Through

Our Choice #1

Low: simple, yearly maintenance is all that is needed.

4,200
square feet

Once it is working, you can pretty much forget it is there.

Requires installation

Aprilaire 600 Humidifier Auto

Flow Through

#2

Low: annual maintenance

4000 square feet

Almost silent operation.

Installation is awkward

Aprilaire 500 Humidifier, 24V Whole House Humidifier w/ Auto Digital Control Bypass Damper .5 Gallons/ hour

Drum

#3

Low: just need to check it once a year.

3000 square feet

Superb 5-year warranty

Needs professional installation

Honeywell HE360A Whole House Powered Humidifier

Flow Through

#4

Low: simple, yearly maintenance is all that is needed.

4,200 square feet

Easy to install for those going DIY

The installation kit must be purchased separately

AIRCARE MA1201 Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier, White

Portable Console (evaporative)

#5

High—frequent cleaning and filling the tank.

3,600 square feet

Great for renters

Must have open space and good air flow

Our top pick for the best whole house humidifier is the legendary Aprilaire 700.

Having championed the first flow-through evaporative humidifiers, Aprilaire continues to roll out cutting edge technology without costing the earth.

For a great all-rounder that will keep humidity levels in check throughout the house, we cannot recommend the Aprilaire 700 strongly enough.

Check it out here…

 #1  Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier

First up in our look at these whole house humidifiers is a consistent best seller from the industry heavyweight Aprilaire. This manufacturer was the first to roll out flow-through evaporative humidifiers onto the market.

The 700 is a whole house evaporative humidifier that is good for leveling out the humidity in houses up to 4,200 square feet. Even if you have a large home, the 700 has you covered.

With an evaporative rate of 0.75 gallons per hour (GPH), the Aprilaire 700 will deliver up to 50% more moisture into the air than its closest competitor. The reservoir is a generous 18 gallons.

Despite packing all this power, the unit is surprisingly compact. It measures 16 x 11 x 18 inches and tips the scales at less than 16 pounds.

This humidifier doesn’t come with an installation kit. If you are highly experienced with DIY, you should be okay on this front. For anyone not so confident, factor in whole house humidifier installation cost.

You can control the amount of humidification precisely using the nifty digital controls. Readings are clearly displayed on an LED screen. Settings can be tweaked between whisper, medium, or high. This is a great way to avoid any buzzing or humming disturbing your sleep.

The last thing most people want when buying a dehumidifier is regular and troublesome maintenance. An annual service is all you’ll need with the Aprilaire 700. Look after it and it will last for years.

Some humidifiers will only run properly with distilled water. While this will extend the life of your appliance and ensure that no minerals are belched into the atmosphere, it can be costly. With the 700, you can opt for hot or cold water, distilled or even harder water without a problem. This whole house humidifier even works with well water.  This flexibility is a nice touch.

With a 5-year limited warranty, you can buy this without worrying about it letting you down.

For a no-nonsense whole house humidifier, you simply can’t go far wrong with the Aprilaire 700.

PROS

  • Extremely easy to set up once installed
  • Very quiet in operation so no disturbing background noise
  • ​Almost no maintenance required
  • ​Digital controls for completely uniform humidification
  • ​Crisp, clear LED screen
  • Operates with any type of water for your convenience

CONS

  • Installation kit not included so you might need to call in for professional assistance

 #2  Aprilaire 600 Automatic Humidifier

Next up is another superb model from Aprilaire, this time the 600.

If you have dry air in your house or an excess of static electricity, it could be time to step in and regulate the humidity.

With a maximum coverage of 4,000 square feet, this whole house humidifier system is enough for even larger homes.

The 600 is a compact unit measuring 15 x 10 x 16 inches. It’s incredibly lightweight, too, at less than 9 pounds.

This model comes with an integrated bypass damper. This gives you a choice of summer or winter settings for complete adaptability, making it a great whole house humidifier for winter or summer. It also means there are less parts to be installed.

Regarding installation, as with the 700 you might be advised to call in a contractor. Once you’re up and running, though, you’ll enjoy the same low maintenance requirements as with all Aprilaire humidifiers.

The 600 is fully programmable over 7 days so you can mix things up without needing to keep revisiting the control panel. There’s also a programmable fan for enhanced overall air quality.

You’ll enjoy a 5-year warranty and the build quality associated with any Aprilaire product. For a scaled-down humidifier that does not compromise on performance, the 600 is well worth adding to your shortlist. It will not disappoint.

PROS

  • Fully automatic so let the machine do all the work
  • Completely silent when in use
  • Extremely little maintenance required
  • ​Bypass damper to save money and water
  • Outdoor sensor helps reduce condensation in duct system

CONS

  • Some unevaporated water can pool and collect
  • Awkward to install without professional help

 #3  Aprilaire 500 Automatic Humidifier

The third and final Aprilaire we’ll look at today is the 500. We have deliberately stepped down in size from the bulky 700 to the smaller and cheaper 500.

If you have a small to medium-sized home, the 500 is the most suitable model. While you want enough performance for your needs, paying for too much power and capability is pointless. This unit is good for humidifying areas up to 3,000 square feet.

Measuring 16 x 10 x 13 inches and weighing a mere 7.3 pounds, you get outstanding results without needing a hulking piece of equipment that gets in the way.

The 500 has the same 3GPH rate of water feed but the water panel is smaller. This means that less moisture will be released into the air.

As with the other Aprilaire models, you’ll get fully automatic digital controls, a bypass damper, and an outdoor sensor. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, making it one of the best whole house humidifiers on the market.

For a dependable humidifier that will regulate moisture without becoming a nuisance, the Aprilaire 500 is a safe bet.

PROS

  • Perfect for smaller homes up to 3000 square feet
  • Extremely compact but no loss of power
  • Impressive 3GPH water feed rate
  • Outstanding 5-year warranty for peace of mind
  • A whole house humidifier that offers energy savings

CONS

  • The standard Aprilaire issue of installation

 #4  Honeywell H360A Whole House Humidifier

Honeywell HE360A Whole House Powered Humidifier

You can take a look here:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000DZHFDW

As we near the end of our humidifier reviews, it’s time for a solid and affordable unit from Honeywell: the consistently well-reviewed H360A.

As with many contemporary humidifiers, the installation kit is not included. While the initial price tag is competitive, factor in the expense of installation if you do not know how to install a whole house humidifier.

Covering large spaces up to 4,200 square feet, the Honeywell works well even in expansive houses.

Weighing 18 pounds and with dimensions of 21 x 17 x 16 inches, this is a more substantial humidifier and packs a real punch.

This is an extremely efficient humidifier using less water than much of the competition. This translates to reduced utility bills.

The Honeywell can be mounted with ease on your warm air supply or on the return air duct of your furnace.  It is a good humidifier for gas furnaces or electric furnaces.

On the downside, there’s no digital display with this unit. This makes operating it slightly more difficult. Only you know how important this functionality is to you.

If you want a basic unit that does little more than kicking out a cool mist, this fits the bill perfectly. If you’re looking for something with bells and whistles, it’s likely to disappoint.

That said, there is some pioneering technology with the Honeywell. You’ll get fan-powered flow-through humidification and a PerfectFlo tray for water distribution. This will help to keep your equipment clean while slashing the need for maintenance.

With a 1-year warranty, you get at least some coverage in the event of anything going wrong.

 Check out the Honeywell today and enjoy a properly regulated atmosphere in your home tomorrow!

PROS

  • Covers 4200 square feet so perfect for even larger homes
  • Keen price with no sacrifice on quality
  • Impressive 3GPH water feed rate
  • Simple and flexible to mount
  • Cost-effective option from a brand you can trust

CONS

    • You need to buy the installation kit separately
    • No digital display

 #5  Aircare MA1201 Evaporative Humidifier

Rounding out these whole house humidifier reviews is a very inexpensive option from Aircare. We try to include something for all tastes and budgets.

With the MA1201, you can humidify houses up to 3600 square feet in size. This is ideal for mid-sized homes.

There’s a 3.6-gallon tank capacity and the MA1201 is highly energy-efficient.

Using a digital display, you can read all salient information with ease. The variable 3-speed motor comes equipped with a quiet nighttime setting so you can sleep easily with no disturbance.

This humidifier is incredibly cheap but some users complain that this translates to a less than optimum build quality. The other main negative with the Aircare is that mineral deposits accumulate quite rapidly on the filter which needs replacing. Bear in mind these ongoing costs when budgeting.

The 2-year limited warranty means you can buy the Aircare stress-free.

For an effective and affordable method of humidifying your home, road test the MA1201 today!

PROS

  • Incredible value for money
  • Digital humidistat for user-friendly experience
  • Perfect for medium-sized houses
  • Trouble-free operation with no wheels, belts or pulleys
  • Extremely lightweight unit

CONS

      • Questionable build quality
      • Filter needs replacing on a regular basis

What Is a Whole House Humidifier?

 humidifier making our homes comfortable

When it comes to making our homes comfortable, we tend to focus on certain things: cozy couches, supportive mattresses, inviting décor, welcoming layout, and other, similar items. But what about the air in your home?

Dry air can be very uncomfortable, even if you are someone who prefers a dry heat. We need moisture in the air to breathe comfortably, keep our skin hydrated, and keep our home healthy. But not all homes are able to retain moisture well.

In fact, if you were to check the humidity in your home, you might find that it is at a lower percentage than the desert air; many homes have a level around 25%, which is roughly the same as what one would find in the Sonoran Desert. While you don’t want your home to be a sauna, you don’t want it to be dry either.

Whole house humidifiers fix this issue throughout your entire home. These units are general integrated with your HVAC system, pumping the right amount of moisture into your ducts and throughout your home. They can work with baseboard heat, gas furnaces, and air conditioners, depending on the model you choose.  However, there are some portable, stand-alone units that are considered whole house humidifiers because they have the ability to humidify the air in larger spaces; these are often referred to as console humidifiers. These humidifiers allow you to choose the best location for them since they do not need to be hooked up to the HVAC system.  Since they cover the entire house, they simplify the process of making your air more comfortable, allowing you to sit back, relax, and forget you even own a humidifier.

Health Benefits of Whole House Humidifiers

A major motivation for using a whole house humidifier is comfort, but just as common is to purchase it to improve your health and the health of your family.  You might not think that such a simple change could make such a big difference, but believe it or not, it can.  Below are some benefits of using whole house humidifiers for health concerns.

  • Viruses and bacteria are what make you sick.  It ends up that they travel better in dry air than moist air.  By moisturizing the air in your home, you help to reduce their ability to get into the body and make you and your family sick. 
  • Many skin conditions, from simple dry skin to eczema, can be helped by moisturizing the air.  With a humidifier, your skin will look and feel better, and you can even fight signs of aging. 
  • If you have sinus troubles, moisturized air can help.  When your nose is stuffy, it is usually because your body is trying to moisturize your dried-out sinus passages.  By keeping them moisturized with humidified air, you eliminate the need for your body to cause stuffy nose. 
  • If you have a cold or suffer from asthma, dry air can cause your symptoms to flare up.  If you keep moisture in the air, you will find yourself breathing easier and your throat and lungs less irritated. 
  • Just like dry air allows viruses and bacteria to travel, it also helps allergens get around.  If you have allergies, you will notice a big difference in your symptoms after you purchase a whole house humidifier. 
  • When your throat and sinuses are dry, snoring is more likely to occur.  If you are the one snoring, you can wake yourself up and fail to sleep deeply enough.  If others are snoring, the results can be even worse.  And a lack of sleep impacts your overall health.

However, there are more benefits to enjoy than just health benefits.  Some other positives to having a whole house humidifier include:

  • Keeping food furniture, detailing, doors, and frames from drying out
  • Protecting pictures and artwork
  • Preventing electronics from being damaged
  • Reducing energy costs
  • Lessening static shock
  • Keeping plants healthy

Health Concerns with Whole House Humidifiers

Overall, humidifiers provide amazing health benefits, but if they are not used properly, they can cause health problems.  Proper maintenance of your system ensures that it remains healthy for everyone in the home.  Also, you need to take care to choose the correct system for you.  Below are some things to keep in mind so you can negate any health concerns you have regarding a whole house humidifier. 

  • Certain respiratory conditions, like asthma and COPD, can be aggravated by too much humidity as well as any humidity produced by warm mist.  Only purchase cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers and use those with a humidistat so you can make certain there is never too much moisture in the air. 
  • If your home has hard water, look for whole house humidifiers for hard water or install a water softener.  The minerals in hard water can be dangerous when breathed in.  In truth, the best option is to install the water softening system since hard water can damage more than just your humidifier.
  • Clean your humidifier as often as the user manual tells you to.  In some cases, this may be once a year, while in others it will be once a day or once a month.  Cleaning it regularly and properly ensures there are no mold spores growing inside that can be put into the mist and breathed in.
  • Change your filter or clean your filter as directed.  When a filter is dirty, it does not clean properly.  And when it doesn’t clean properly, you end up breathing in dirty air.  Some whole house humidifiers are filterless, so you may or may not have a filter to clean. 

Whole House Humidifier Brands

There are many whole house humidifier brands on the market, but many of these companies are not well-known.  As a result, you can feel reluctant to trust them.  With that said, there are a few brands that have built their reputation over the years by offering excellent products, quality service, and dependable warrantees.  Below are three whole house humidifier brands you can always trust. 

Aprilaire

aprilaire Humidifier logo

This brand isn’t one that most people have heard of, mostly because it knows its niche—home air care solutions—and sticks to it.  Their biggest product line is their whole house humidifiers, so you know that you are getting the best when you purchase one.  However, they offer a variety of products to help you improve the air in your home.  Some other items they sell include: temperature control, purification, ventilation, and dehumidification solutions.  And if you have a smart home or want to switch yours over to being one, they even offer items that are smart home compatible. 

Holmes

Holmes Humidifier logo

Holmes also offers home air care solutions, but they are more of a household name.  This is mainly because most homes have at least one heater or fan in their home made by Holmes.  Found at most any store, you can easily locate Holmes products.  They do not offer a significant selection of whole house humidifiers, but those they do offer are solid products backed by their comprehensive warrantees.  At the moment, they are experimenting with smart home options, though these have yet to reach their whole house humidifiers. 

Honeywell

honeywell humidifier logo

Out of the names on this list, Honeywell is the one you likely know best.  This is because they offer a wide variety of products and do not restrict themselves to just home air care solutions.  You might expect this would result in lower quality products, that the company is spread too thin, but in truth, each division offers amazing products that last—including their humidifier division.  And since it is a large company, it has the resources to stand behind all its products with confidence-inspiring warrantees. 

Kinds of Whole House Humidifiers

To figure out which is the best whole house humidifier for you, you first need to decide the general type of humidifier you are interested in. There are five primary types of whole house humidifiers.

Types of Whole House Humidifiers

Drum Humidifiers

This type is cheap and easy to install if you are looking to go DIY. These are placed on the cold air return line. The motor pulls cold water from the drum and forces it into the system, allowing the natural process of evaporation to turn it into a mist that can then be forced through your HVAC system and into the air of your home. Compared to other types, these are high maintenance, as you must frequently clean the drum to ensure no mold grows, and you must also replace the belt quite frequently.

Flow Through Humidifiers

This type of humidifier offers greater flexibility, as you can install them on the return or supply line. Like the drum type of humidifier, they use evaporation to work. However, they do not use the drum, so there is no standing water. This helps to cut down on the maintenance needed, but you still need to perform some to keep it at optimal function. With this type, water flows through a filter and air blows through the filter to force the moisture out. To use this type of humidifier, you need to be able to hook it up to a water line.

Warm Mist/Steam Humidifiers

This type of humidifier tends to be costly, but it is highly effective and very low maintenance. Rather than relying on evaporation, it uses steam to add humidity to your home. This steam is created by pulling in water and then heating it to the point of boiling; the steam created is then forced into the HVAC system and throughout your home.  This gives you incredible control over the humidity level, but does come with the added risk of mold growth, so you must weigh your options carefully. This type of humidifier is installed on the supply line and must be hooked up to a water supply line.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

Out of the various types of whole house humidifiers on the market, this is the least common. These humidifiers use a transducer to create moisture. Water passes over the transducer as it vibrates, causing the molecules in the water to become excited, resulting in the droplets breaking up into many smaller droplets, which are then injected into your HVAC system and dispersed throughout your home. These models are rather costly and high maintenance as they produce “white dust,” which must be cleaned away frequently.

Console Humidifiers

These humidifiers are sometimes single room, but there are also models that can cover the entire home. All console humidifiers use a tank of water attached to the unit. However, the way they create humidity will vary. Console humidifiers are high maintenance, as you must fill and clean the tank often. Also, you must set them up in an open space to reduce the chance of mold growth and make sure your air moves enough to disperse the moisture throughout your home. Some console humidifiers are portable as well, while others must be installed much like a window or wall unit air conditioner would be.

Whole House Humidifier Installation

Each type of whole house humidifier requires a different approach to installation.  As such, you will want to consult your user manual if you choose to go DIY on this.  Depending on the model, installation may be quite simple or complex enough that a professional is needed.  Below is a general installation guide, however, double check it with your user manual before you get to work to avoid damaging your product or voiding the warrantee. 

Step One: Gather Supplies

You want to have what you need on hand before you dive in.  Get the following items together, and keep in mind that some of these will have been part of your installation kit:

  • Pen or marker
  • Drill and bits
  • Aviation snips
  • Screwdriver—check screws in kit to determine type and size
  • Wire strippers
  • Wrench—check guide to determine which size you need
  • Vent pipe
  • Sheet metal screws
  • Wire nuts
  • Humidifier

Step Two: Mark Holes

The unit should come with a template for this.  Following the instructions in your user manual, mark where the holes should be using the marker or pen.  Use the drill to create a starter hole and use the aviation snips to finish it.  Once the holes are ready, attach the mounting plate using sheet metal screws. 

Step Three: Cut Hole for Humidistat

The ideal location for the humidistat should be explained in the user manual.  In general, it will detail how close it needs to be to the overall unit.  Measure it out, trace the outline of the humidistat, then cut the hole so it can be placed. 

Step Four: Place Humidistat

For this step, read your user manual very carefully.  Some units require a step-down transformer, which means running new electrical wires, and that can get dangerous.  In any case, you will need to connect the unit to the mounting plate and to the furnace controls. 

Step Five: Connect Humidifier

Ensure you have the right size of wire nuts for the job.  Using them, connect the leads between the humidistat and the solenoid valve on the humidifier.  Run the wire ends through the wire nuts and twist the nuts until they are firm around the wires. 

From here, there may be different steps to take depending on the type of humidifier you purchased.  For example, if you purchased a drum humidifier, you will need to fill the drum.  If you purchased a flow-through humidifier, you will need to install it on a water line.  If ever you are in doubt, hire a professional to get it done.  They will be able to determine the best location and whole house humidifier installation costs are generally quite affordable.

Whole House Humidifier Maintenance Tips

The first step in getting good results from your whole house humidifier is buying the right one.  The next is installing it properly.  After that, it all comes down to proper maintenance.  To keep your system performing well, keep the following whole house humidifier maintenance tips in mind.

  • Clean the pump and fan as often as the user manual says to.  Dust, debris, and allergens can easily collect here, making your air more difficult to breathe.  A half-and-half vinegar-water solution should clean it well. 
  • Check the media panel for deposits, dust, and debris once a year.  Turn off the power before removing the panel to be safe.  You should not need a special solution to clean this—just scrub it firmly and all the gunk should come off. 
  • Check the drain line for blockages once a year.  There is a high potential for buildup in the drain line, and eventually a blockage can occur, damaging the entire unit.  If there is buildup that needs to be removed, use a long wire brush to get it out. 
  • Switch out or clean the filters, if your unit has them, as often as directed in the manual.  This may be once a month, once a year, or never if there is no filter. 
  • Check the flow in the solenoid valve every six months.  If water is not flowing properly, your home will not be getting humidified as much as you want it to be.  This also translates into higher energy costs since your system will work harder. 

Benefits of Whole House Humidifiers Over Single Room and Small Portable Humidifiers

At this point, the benefits of using humidifiers are quite clear. What isn’t so clear is why you should opt for a whole house humidifier over those for single rooms or portable humidifiers. So, let’s take a look at the benefits only whole house humidifiers can offer.

Benefits of Whole House Humidifiers
  • They are efficient. Many models require no electricity at all, and those that do use less than running multiple single-room or portable models.
  • If you opt for a smart model, they control the humidity level based on the temperature of your home. The higher the temperature, the more humidity you need. The lower the temperature, the less you need. This regulation ensures comfort while also reducing the chances of mold growth.
  • You do not need to turn things on and off or move a unit from room to room. When you use a whole house humidifier, you can freely move throughout your home without giving any thought to the humidity in the air, breathing easy the whole time. This is true for both HVAC models and the portable models.
  • They are affordable. Many people are tempted to use single room or portable units to save money, but this often backfires. Portable units tend to break after a year or so, costing you anywhere from $20 to $100 every year. Single room units run around $100 themselves. A whole house humidifier can be found for as little as $140, plus installation.
Best Whole House Humidifier Reviews And Buying Guide 2017 For Your Home
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