Indoor air often has very low humidity levels, particularly in winter. This causes an array of problems, ranging from irritated sinuses to nosebleeds to cracked lips. Fortunately, a humidifier is an affordable solution to add moisture to any indoor environment. There are quite a few things to consider when picking out a humidifier, such as ease of cleanup (bacteria growth can be a problem for these devices), type (evaporative, ultrasonic, or warm-mist), and size.
The most traditional type, evaporative humidifiers use a reservoir, porous wick, and fan to put moisture in the air. The wick absorbs water from the reservoir, and the fan then aids in evaporation by blowing on the wick. Ultrasonic humidifiers use high-frequency sound vibrations to create mist and is quieter than other types of humidifiers. Often there’s no filter, which can lead to mineral scale deposits. For smaller areas, warm-mist models are often preferred, as they’re quiet as well. They boil water via an internal heating element, killing bacteria and mold in the process, before dispelling the warm mist into the room.
Some machines help individuals who need a desktop offering for the workplace, while others represent full-home solutions and come loaded with antimicrobial features designed to limit bacteria growth. Below are five of our favorite models.
Best overall — XD803 Pure Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
The Pure Ultrasonic is one of the most popular humidifiers, and for good reason. With a 1.5-liter tank, it’s perfect for bedrooms, offices, and medium-sized rooms. The top-mounted, clear tank allows you to easily see its water levels, allowing you to keep track of your next refill time. However, considering Pure designed it to last 16 hours on a single tank, you shouldn’t need to replenish the humidifier very often.
The 360-degree nozzle offers quick and convenient speed and directional mist adjustments. The unit also shuts off automatically if it runs out of water, so you don’t have to worry about wasted energy if the humidifier empties while you’re out. The device doubles as a nightlight, too, if you so choose. Simply activate the nightlight and the Ultrasonic produces a gentle blue glow which serves as a perfect nighttime ambiance in the bedroom. If you need a humidifier for larger rooms or the entire home, however, you’ll need a more powerful device. Due to its shape, the device can be difficult to clean if you don’t stay on top of the recommended weekly cleaning, though it comes with a brush. That said, for under $20, the pint-sized Pure Ultrasonic remains a good option for those desiring a tabletop model.
Best design — XD801 Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
The ability to produce quality and consistent humidity is the primary focus when choosing any new air humidifier. However, seeing as the unit might prominently display in your home or office, design is certainly something to consider. Fortunately, the TaoTronics Ultrasonic sees function and Feng shui converge.
The 5-liter tank allows the unit to run for 13 hours, and lower power settings result in longer runtimes. With that in mind, the TaoTronics Ultrasonic also has four adjustable mist settings for greater control.
A clean, backlit LED display illustrates operational status, allowing anyone to easily adjust all functions — including preset humidity levels, the auto-timer, and sleep mode — via the surrounding six buttons. The unit fails at humidifying larger rooms (or your entire home), but handles on both sides of the unit offer convenient portability. Its ceramic filter doesn’t need to be replaced, but you should clean it regularly.
The unit also isn’t excessively wide or deep like many humidifiers on the market, enabling the TaoTronics Ultrasonic to fit discreetly around the home or office. The real drawback rests with the price and the fact its tank needs refilling daily. Other units come standard with larger tanks; however, with power and design in mind, the TaoTronics Ultrasonic is our top choice in the category of design.
Best for the whole home — XD805 Humidifier
XD805 Humidifier is our utilitarian choice.
This device offers humidity control for 3,600-square-foot homes, and a set of wheels lining the bottom allow you move the unit around with ease. A digital readout on the top of the device incorporates refill and “check filter” indicators, too, helping to eliminate any operational guesswork. The 4-gallon tank humidifies your environment for up to 36 hours. This particular humidifier also adds moisture to the air by circulating dry air through a saturated wick filter. As an added bonus, this filter also traps mineral deposits.
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