Humidifiers help you keep your home at the perfect humidity level. For most people the best level of humidity to have in your house is 35-45%. In some climates that humidity level is hard to reach, which is where the best whole house humidifiers for the money come in. They help ensure that your entire home, and not just a room or two, remain at that humidity sweet spot.
In this article we will discuss whole house humidifiers, how they can help your health concerns, and give you all of the most important information about these amazing products. Interest piqued? Then continue reading to find out everything you need to know about whole house humidifiers.
What To Consider Before Purchasing
Before you purchase your whole house humidifier, whether it is a humidifier and dehumidifier combo, a humidifier for gas pump, a humidifier for furnace, or any other type of whole house humidifier, you need to consider the following questions.
Do you have or are you planning on having a baby? If the answer is yes, then you need to buy a whole house humidifier that is specifically designed for children, and babies in particular. For babies, either a cool mist or a warm mist humidifier will work. Warm mist humidifiers are great for removing germs and viruses from your home, while cool mist humidifiers can sooth croup and other sicknesses. If your baby can touch the humidifier—if it is not a whole house humidifier—then you should use cool mist for their safety.
Humidifiers are a great addition to homes with babies. If you get a good product for the money, it will help protect against dry air. You don’t want dry air around your baby because it can cause a build-up of mucus and other health concerns. Instead, using a whole house humidifier can help reduce mucus build-up and even sooth health conditions in your baby like coup.
To resolve COPD
If you have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) then you need a whole house humidifier. These types of humidifiers will make your entire home suitable for treating the condition. You won’t have to worry about going from room to room if the humidifier allows all the humidity to flow through the entire structure.
To be properly humidified, the air is best kept at 40% humidity for people with COPD. This is at the higher end of the recommended humidity spectrum. But the higher humidity levels make it easier for you to remove mucus from your lungs. Just make sure to take steps to reduce the chance of mold or bacteria growing, which means that you should use a good air filtration system in addition to the whole house humidifier. An air conditioner is another great option for homes with COPD.
Warm mist or cool mist whole house humidifiers are both fine for COPD sufferers. However, keep in mind that temperature fluctuations can have a major effect on your health and cause COPD flare-ups. So, your choice of warm mist or cool mist humidifier should be coordinated with you doctor. You may even be able to purchase a model that provides both cool mist and warm mist option, which is ideal.
Asthma and Allergies
Like COPD, humidifiers are a great option for people with asthma. Increased humidity has been shown to ease both asthma and allergy symptoms. More humidity in your large home will keep mucus from building up in your lungs. Mucus build-up is a great problem for people with asthma, so controlling it with a humidifier will reduce asthma symptoms.
And, of course, these two conditions (asthma and allergies) and intimately linked. Allergic reactions typically set off an asthmatic reaction in people with the condition. So, adding to your air quality and increasing the humidity levels can majorly help you breathe better.
Eczema and Dry skin
Whole house humidifiers are also a great tool for getting rid of eczema or dry skin. The National Institute of Health even recommends using humidifiers for this purpose. Because they keep a large house at the proper humidity levels, your skin can especially benefit.
Humans have a lot of skin on them and we are made of a lot of water. This means that if there is not enough water in the air—i.e. humidity—then your skin will start to dry out. Signs of dry skin include chapped lips, cracks, and even bleeding.
You can always use moisturizer and chap stick on your dry skin. But, the best way to solve the problem permanently is to increase the humidity levels of your home. There is no better way to complete this process than with a humidifier, especially one for a gas furnace or fireplace, which are known to create dry air that can dry out your skin.
Filter or filterless
There are two different types of filter options for whole house humidifiers on the market: filtered and filterless. Neither is better than the other. However, they both come with a set of pros and cons.
A filtered humidifier has a filter inside itself that cleans the misted-water has a fan dispenses it into the air of your home. A filterless model just creates the mist and dispenses it using ultrasonic waves.
Filtered humidifiers are more common, but they are not as quiet because of their fan. Filterless humidifiers are much quieter, but they tend to expel dust and dirt with the misted air. So, your choice between the two filter options will come down to your own personal preferences.
Additionally, the biggest con about having a filter on your humidifier systems is that you have to clean it. We will discuss filter cleaning in more detail below. However, suffice it to say here that if you do not clean your filter regularly, then you could run into a lot of health concerns. And, no one wants that.
One final factor that you should consider before purchasing a whole house humidifier is how much space you need to humidify. Do you have a large house or a small house? What are the sizes of the rooms and the number of floors you will need to humidify?
Space considerations are essential to buying a whole house humidifier because they will determine the exact product you choose. Every whole house humidifier has its own space requirements. So, if you have a large house, you will need a larger, more powerful whole house humidifier. On the other hand, if your house is tiny, a smaller model will work well. And, if you only life in a small, studio apartment, then a portable humidifier—not a whole house humidifier—may be the way to go.
Whole House Humidifiers
Up to 4,000 sq. ft.
Up to 3,600 sq. ft.
Up to 6,200 sq. ft.
Up to 2,400 sq. ft.
Up to 4,000 sq. ft.
Whole House Humidifiers
Detailed Reviews of Each Product
1 Aprilaire 400 Whole House Humidifier
Aprilaire’s 400 Whole House Humidifier covers up to 4,000 square feet. And, you know that it will be good quality because it was made right here in the United States. Not only that, Aprilaire is a U.S. company, founded by the inventor of the whole home evaporative humidifier. It’s no wonder that the Aprilaire 400 is our top whole house humidifier choice.
This humidifier will also provide energy savings because it evaporates 100% of the water in the water panel. 100% is an amazing percentage of water conservation. Plus, the water reservoir has a 17-gallon capacity, so you will not be emptying it often. Finally, the dual sensors on the Aprilaire 400 allow the machine to monitor the humidity levels in your home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You don’t ever have to do the work with this product, which is a great deal for the money.
2 Aircare MA1201 Whole House Humidifier
Aircare is another very important brand in the whole house humidifier industry. Their MA1201 Whole House Humidifier illustrates why they have such an illustrious history. The MA1201 will humidify a house up to 3,600 square feet, and will run continuously for up to 36-hours. So, if you are out of town, you don’t have to worry about the MA1201 continuing to run and cost you more in utilities.
One drawback to the Aircare MA1201 is its 3.6-gallon water tank. Because it is so small, the tank will require emptying often. Therefore, this whole house humidifier is best used in non-dry climates and is not for harsh winters. But there are four different fan speeds, customizable humidity levels, and a check/replace filter light. For many people the convenience of the Aircare MA1201 may overcome its small water tank.
3 Aprilaire 865 Whole House Humidifier
The Aprilaire 865 Whole House Humidifier is a big machine. It is perfect for large houses because it will humidify up to 6,200 square feet. This is by far the largest and most extensive whole house humidifier that appears on our top five list. One major pro for the 965 is that is does not require ducts, it is fan powered. So, your installation costs will not be nearly as much as in duct-required whole house humidifiers.
There are a few other features that makes the Aprilaire 865 stand out from the pack. It is also designed and manufactured in the United States. The 865 comes with a wall-mounted fan, so that even if your home doesn’t have a duct system, you can still use this humidifier in each room. You can also choose from six different levels of mist output, which will provide from 11.5 to 34.6 gallons of moisture per day.
4 Aircare EP9 800 Digital Whole House Humidifier
Aircare’s EP9 800 Digital Whole House Humidifier uses digital technology to ensure your home stays are the correct humidity level. The digital humidistat will do all of the work for you. You just set the humidistat with your desired humidity level and walk away. It will monitor and maintain your home’s humidity levels automatically.
This whole house humidifier has a pedestal design and comes with a whopping nine different fan speeds. So, that aspect is completely customizable for this whole house humidifier. One drawback to the EP9 800 is that it will only humidify houses up to 2,400 square feet. This product will not work well with very large houses.
5 Aircare EA 1407 Digital Whole House Humidifier
Aircare’s EA 1407 Digital Whole House Humidifier is a console style evaporative humidifier. It will work in homes up to 4,000 square feet. It will automatically shut itself off when your desired humidity level is reached. Thus, you do not have to do much work with the whole house humidifier. It even has a medium sized water tank, with a 5-gallon capacity, so you won’t be emptying as often as some other products.
The digital aspect of this Aircare humidifier is on the humidistat and the readout. Like the EP9 800, the EA 1407’s humidistat will automatically monitor the humidity levels in your home. Additionally, the digital readout tells you the actual humidity level, your desired humidity level, and the fan speed. Aircare has taken the guesswork out of humidifiers with the EA 1407.
Health Benefits and Concerns
Because whole house humidifiers, whether cool mist or warm mist, directly affect the air that your breath, they can have a major impact on your health. This impact could either be good or bad depending on a number of factors. Below we’ve listed the top health benefits and health concerns for using a whole house humidifier.
- Smooth and more moisturized skin. While you will feel the moisturizing effects of the whole house humidifier throughout the year, they are most felt for winter. Winter is the driest tie of the year in most climates, which makes it even more important to keep your house at the correct humidity levels.
- Reduced symptoms of a number of medical conditions, including COPD, asthma, and allergies. Correctly humidified air will reduce mucus in your lungs. Humidifiers will also reduce the likelihood of your having an allergy attack, which is a major plus for your health.
- Great for children and babies. Because humidifiers reduce mucus and germs/bacteria, they are perfect for homes with young children. If you want to keep your children healthy, then get a whole house humidifier.
- If you do not use proper filter cleaning then bacteria and germs can seep in. Although whole house humidifiers typically reduce the number of sickness causing organisms in your home, they can easily come back and wreak havoc if you do not take care of your humidifier properly.
- More is not better when it comes to humidity. So, if you have too much moisture in your home, you could end up with mold and mildew. You do not want either of these things. Summertime can become an issue for extra humidity in your home, and that is why it is a good idea to have a humidifier and dehumidifier combo. The dehumidifier can take the water out of your home and reduce the problems caused by mold and mildew.
Whole House Humidifier Brands
There are a number of humidifier brands to choose from. However, the two listed below are the best known for their whole house humidifiers. This is a much narrower field than portable or other small humidifier brands. So, for the money, your best bet is to buy a whole house humidifier from either Aprilaire or Aircare.
Aprilaire has been around since 1938. The brand’s parent company is Research Products Corporation, whom Aprilaire has been working with their entire history. Aprilaire has and continues to be one of the trendsetters in air quality technology. In fact, they introduced the first, successful, whole house humidifier in 1954.
From their illustrious beginnings Aprilaire has been known as pioneer in humidification products. Today, they have branched out into making an entire family of whole home indoor air quality products, including air purifiers, dehumidifiers, ventilation systems, thermostats and controllers, and zoned temperature control systems.
Aircare is not nearly as old as Aprilaire. However, the company has still been in business over forty years. They were founded in 1979 by Richard Papaleo. The brand initially made a name for itself as leaders in air duct cleaning. But they have since expanded into other air quality products. They provide products for commercial and residential clients.
Aircare’s mission is to create affordable and successful products for their customers. And, truly, Aircare’s whole house humidifiers are some of the best on the market for the money. They are also known for being very quiet, which is a big plus in the industry.
Types of Whole House Humidifiers
There are two main types of whole house humidifier, cool mist and warm mist. We’ve mentioned both types in our discussion of what to look for in a whole house humidifier above. However, here we will delve into these two types of whole house humidifier systems in more detail.
Cool mist humidifiers are evaporative machines that make a cool mist out of the water. The name is a little misleading because cool mist humidifiers really just spray a room-temperature mist into your home using the cold air ducts. But it is significantly cooler than the warm air of the warm mist humidifier.
Cool mist humidifiers come in both evaporative and ultrasonic varieties. Both will equally humidify your home. Ultrasonic humidifier use sound waves to create mist from water in the cool mist humidifier. Evaporative humidifier uses a filter and a fan to create the mist.
Warm mist humidifiers are also evaporative, but their mist is warm instead of cold. Because the humidified air that comes out of the warm mist humidifier is warm, it is able to kill germs and bacteria. Thus, the warm mist humidifier improves the air quality of your home and your health.
Warm mist humidifiers can be dangerous to have around young children. Additionally, they can be found in steam and vaporizer types, which are great to use for the winter but will make more noise than the ultrasonic humidifiers. Also, warm mist humidifiers tend to collect minerals from the water, so they are not a great option for hard water or for well water.
How to Install/Setting Whole House Humidifier
Installing a whole house humidifier is not that hard. But, the amount of complexity will depend on a few factors. These include which type of whole house humidifier you purchase, how big it is, and where it attached to in your home.
Thankfully, any type of whole house humidifier is relatively easy to install. The two most common ways of attaching a whole house humidifier is in the return-air duct or by using a bypass duct. Your specific whole house humidifier will tell you which way to install the machine and what tools you will need. You’ll likely follow these steps.
- Turn off your furnace. This is an extremely important step as you don’t want to get hurt while you are working.
- Use the manufacturer’s instructions and template to mark the place for the hole. This is an important step, as you want everything aligned properly so that you don’t drill a hole in the wrong place and then have to fix your wall.
- Drill a starter hole, just to make sure that everything aligned properly. The best location for your humidifier will be indicated in your instruction manual.
- Following the instruction, cut out the hole for your humidifier.
- Install the humidistat, which is the part of the humidifier that controls the humidity level in your home. The humidistat works in the same way that a thermostat does for your home’s temperature.
- Install the humidifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Run the humidifier’s line to the humidistat.
- Enjoy all of your moisturized air and energy savings.
If these general instructions or your manufacturer’s instruction manual seems too complicated, you can always hire someone to install your whole house humidifier.
Best Location for Whole House Humidifier
Whole house humidifiers can be installed anywhere in your home. But, the best place for this appliance will be in a central area of your home. Each whole house humidifier only covers a specific area. This is why it is so important that you purchase a product that will cover all of the square footage of your home.
The top way to think about finding the best location for your whole house humidifier is to think about its range like a bubble. The humidifier itself is the epicenter of the bubble. And the range is the circle. Your entire home should fit inside the circle.
Mathematically, the best way to ensure that your home is covered by the range of the whole house humidifier is to put the product in the center of your home. This way the circle of its range expands out in equal directions on each side. If you have multiple rooms in the center of your home—because it is more open concept—then pick the room that will benefit the most from the highest concentration of humidified air.
Whole house humidifiers can be an expensive purchase. So, you may think that the installation costs must be astronomical. You actually do not have to be correct. In fact, depending on who does the installation work for your whole house humidifier, the installation costs can be quite low.
In general, the following are the average installation costs for a whole house humidifier in the United States in 2020.
Cost of the Humidifier itself:
Obviously, everything about the cost of humidifier installation is very variable. We have included these varying numbers for a reason. The size of your whole house humidifier, whether you use an outside company to install it or do it DIY, and the way that the humidifier creates its mist can cause the price to change dramatically
Whole House Humidifier Maintenance/Cleaning tips
Once you have your whole house humidifier installed and running, your responsibility transfers to cleaning and maintaining the machine. Whole house humidifiers do not need as much attention as smaller types of humidifiers. However, you will have to follow the steps below to make sure they keep running efficiently.
Maintenance is an extremely important part of keeping any machine running well. Maintenance on a whole house humidifier involves cleaning and replacing the filter/pad on time and checking for leaks.
You want to replace the humidifier filter on the proper schedule. If the filter gets too clogged or old, it will not mist out clean air. You don’t want to have humidified air with dust particles coming out of the humidifier, so keep up with the filter replacement schedule.
Similarly, filter cleaning is an important aspect of filter maintenance. You should perform filter cleaning at least once per year. Cleaning will remove the rust and hard water that can accumulate on the filter.
Also, every so often, make sure to check the whole house humidifier for leaks. Leaks are easy to spot if they are causing water to be dropped on your floors or walls. However, if you check the exposed areas of the humidifier often, you can prevent a leak from causing too much damage. If you find a leak in your whole house humidifier, it is time to call in the professionals to come and fix it.
In addition to the filter cleaning, you should regularly clean other parts of your whole house humidifier. If you have a reservoir style humidifier for gas furnace, then you will need to clean the water reservoir. The water wheel on these models will also need to be cleaned with an anti-bacterial solution.
Reservoir style whole house humidifiers need to be cleaned about once per month. Other types of whole house humidifiers that have water reservoirs also need to be cleaned. However, you can get away with only cleaning these types of humidifiers once or twice per season.
Whole House Humidifier or Portable?
So, is a whole house humidifier right for you? That is a question that only you can answer. But, as a final section for this article, we will answer the question, whole house humidifier or potable humidifier, and tell you which one is right for you.
Buy a whole house humidifier if...
- You have a large house that needs to be humidified.
- You have health concerns that require constant and consistent humidified air.
- You don’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining or emptying the humidifier.
- You don’t want to constantly look at your humidifier. Or, you don’t want to have to move the humidifier from room to room.
- You want to enjoy energy savings as well as humidified air—whole house humidifiers are more energy efficient.
Buy a portable humidifier if . . .
- You live in an apartment or small house.
- You only need a specific room kept at the proper humidity level. For example, a library or music room may require more humidity than other rooms in your home.
- You or someone in the home is sick and could use a boost of moisture.
- You are on a budget—portable humidifiers are generally less expensive and do not have installation costs.
Whole house humidifiers are a great too for any family. They work great for babies, children, and adults. Plus, if you or anyone you love has COPD, asthma, allergies, or eczema/dry skin, you need a one of the best whole house humidifiers for the money.
But don’t take our work for it. Use the information we’ve provided in this article to go find a great whole house humidifier for yourself. You will be surprised at how much better, healthier, and more comfortable your life becomes.