As seen in:
Honeywell
HCM-6009
PuraSense
Ultrasonic
Honeywell
HCM-350
Pure Enrichment
Ultrasonic
Air-O-Swiss
AOS 7146
Check Price
Check Price
Check Price
Check Price
Check Price
Good

Creates significant humidity for multiple rooms. Evaporative process leaves no residue. Dual tanks provide 24 hours of service.

Even mist distribution. Aromatherapy possible. Microporous filter treats water before release, improving mist quality.

24 hours of continuous service. Destroys 99 percent of harmful contaminants. Automatically adjusts output to match room humidity levels.

Portable and lightweight. Uses readily available bottles as water source. International AC adapter.

Optional night light adds soothing quality. Exceptionally quiet operation. 16-hour run time.

Bad

Fan motor can be loud on highest setting. Refilling tanks can be a challenge. Mold and bacteria growth possible without antimicrobial agent.

Mist generation adds water droplets to air, creating residue on objects. Cleaning/sanitizing can be difficult.

Large storage tank could be too heavy for some consumers. Filters require frequent replacement. Unit must be "primed" with water after drainage.

Attaching water bottles to unit can be tricky. Bright blue/red LED lights can be a distraction. Mist output is anemic compared to other travel models.

Diligent maintenance needed to prevent mold. Mist generation can be inconsistent. On/off switch uses bright LED light that bothers some sleepers.

Bottom Line

A workhorse humidifier designed to create thousands of square feet of humidified air. Great for whole-home treatment.

A user-friendly humidifier that is also capable of aromatherapy. Suitable for smaller spaces, such as a bedroom or office.

A high-maintenance machine that fills the gap between whole-home and one-room humidifiers.

Great for travelers and office cubicles, this low-priced humidifier offers many conveniences.

A quiet, affordable alternative to high-end machines. Ideal for small spaces such as an office or child's bedroom.

How we test
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
We buy products from the retailer just like you do
We test everything in our own lab
0
Products received from manufacturers
We purchase every product we review with our own funds - we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
16
Models Considered
5
Models Tested
68
Hours Spent
8
Experts Interviewed
142
Consumers Consulted

HUMIDIFIER BUYING GUIDE

The ideal relative home humidity level is 45 per cent. Achieving this ideal is a balancing act that often calls for a home humidifier. Modern humidifiers use one of four methods to deliver moisture to a room:

  • Steam
    Steam vaporizers create a cloud of hot steam, but they can be dangerous to use around children.
  • Impelling mist
    An impeller smashes water into mist-sized droplets. This type of unit sometimes creates an excess of moisture and residue.
  • Ultrasonic vibration
    Ultrasonic humidifiers use powerful sound waves to generate a layer of fine mist. Their output can be limited.
  • Evaporation
    Evaporative humidifiers use wicking action to evaporate water and a fan to force the resulting vapor into the air.

In this review, we focus on ultrasonic and evaporative humidifiers only.

We eliminated impeller-styled humidifiers from our equation because they just don't perform as well as their ultrasonic and evaporative counterparts. We eliminated steam humidifiers because they're best suited for purposes other than room humidification.

The BestReviews testing team switching on a dehumidifier to bring the relative humidity back down to 30% in the testing process.

Each product was put through its paces in a controlled laboratory environment. If you need to humidify a room for health or climate-related reasons, all of these models are clearly up to the task.

Our 10 foot by 10 foot by 10 foot sealed testing chamber in the BestReviews lab.

Dehumidifiers pull excess moisture from the air. A humidifier’s process is much more subtle.

At our testing facility, we created a cube out of industrial plastic to simulate the conditions of an average room. Our lab techs used a heavy-duty dehumidifier to lower the cube's relative humidity. Then, we systematically allowed each of our five contenders to restore the humidity to a comfortable range.

We measured the amount of time each unit took to humidify the space. Along the way, we noted other performance issues such as noise generation and quality of water vapor.

The BestReviews team evaluated humidifiers with the testing rig (10 foot by 10 foot cube).
Honeywell
Honeywell
Pure Enrichment
PuraSense
Air-O-Swiss
Relative Humidity Test (change in 30 minutes of time)

The Things We Tested For

Tested at BestReviews

Ease of Maintenance

Humidifiers have a few natural enemies, including mold, bacteria, and fungus. Standing water in the tank can become very hazardous, and excessive humidity in a room can promote mold and fungal growth.

Many manufacturers address these issues by including anti-microbial filters and chemical water treatments.

Even so, it's up to the user to keep the humidifier clean and dry between uses.

Evaluating ease of use and maintenance of humidifiers in the BestReviews Lab.

We reviewed the maintenance and care sections of each contender's owners manual and performed our own maintenance routines whenever possible.

Tested at BestReviews

Power and Capacity

Some home humidifiers are commercial-grade workhorses capable of delivering enough vapor to rehydrate hundreds of square feet of dry air.

Others are designed to humidify much smaller spaces, such as a child's room or office cubicle.

Some models have large-capacity tanks that deliver humidified air for hours at a time. Others have small tanks that require frequent refilling throughout the day.

Power of each humidifier being tested at the BestReviews lab.

In this section of our in-depth review, we looked closely at each contender's power consumption and average run time.

Honeywell
Honeywell
Air-O-Swiss
PuraSense
Pure Enrichment
Power (At highest setting)
Tested at BestReviews

Price / Value

When it comes to humidification, different consumers have different needs.

For some people, dry air during the colder months aggravates respiratory conditions or makes the home uncomfortable. A small, ultrasonic humidifier might be best in this situation.

For those who live in a dry climate year-round, an evaporative model that can humidify the entire house may be more appropriate.

Bill
Bill
Engineer, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Bill has been a hardware store owner, locksmith, and general home repair guru for over 40 years. His ability to solve problems and repair every item in every situation is a true gift. In his spare time, you may find Bill working in his garden, tending to his perfectly manicured lawn, or riding his bike.

PRODUCTS IN DEPTH

Products In Depth

Honeywell HCM-6009 Cool Moisture Console Humidifier

The Honeywell HCM-6009 is a true workhorse among home humidifiers. It's possible to reach a relative humidity level of 80 percent or higher with this unit—although the average level of comfort is around 45 percent.

As a large, evaporative-style humidifier, the Honeywell delivers mist in significant quantities. Most of this ultra-fine mist evaporates before settling onto exposed surfaces, minimizing the chance of unsightly residue.

The trade-off for the Honeywell's enhanced coverage area and ultra-fine vapor, however, is increased noise. In the BestReviews lab, we measured the decibel level at 61.4, which is quite noticeable. Considering the fact that this unit can run for about 24 consecutive hours, placement of the unit makes a big difference in the home.

Because standing water is a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and insects, it's important to keep a humidifier clean and dry between uses. The tank(s) should be drained and the filters checked between operations. The Honeywell's dual-tank configuration features two wide openings for easy filling and cleaning.

The Honeywell HCM-6009 is pretty silent when it comes to operation, and you can safely use tap or well water for it.

That said, we note that transportation of the tanks could be a challenge, especially for people with mobility or weight-bearing issues. When full, the tanks are heavy; each holds about 1.7 gallons of water. The tanks are not designed to balance vertically on a flat surface, and a full tank could certainly be difficult to lift and install into the main unit.

Distilled water is highly recommended to reduce mineral deposits on exposed surfaces, but tap water could also be used in the Honeywell HCM-6009. We recommend "back flushing" the unit's anti-microbial water filters while the tanks are drying to prevent the buildup of mold, fungus, or other pathogens.

The Honeywell's $82 price could be too much for those with modest humidification needs. For those who live in dry climates and/or have respiratory issues, however, its industrial strength could make a significant difference in the entire home's humidity level.

In addition, its surprisingly low power consumption (less than 80 watts per 24 hours, as measured in our lab) and generous run time also add to the Honeywell's value.

Products In Depth

PuraSense Ultrasonic Humidifier/Mist Diffuser

The PuraSense Ultrasonic Humidifier uses high-frequency sound waves to break water droplets into a fine mist. The mist is then released into the air via a 360-degree positional nozzle.

The unit's total estimated coverage area is 538 square feet, so it's definitely not a whole-home humidifier. In the lab, however, we found it to be far more effective than a steam vaporizer. It's a great solution for small spaces, such as a bedroom or office cubicle.

The unit can also be used for aromatherapy, as it includes a separate compartment for essential oils. Other features we like include a sleep timer, soothing LED lights in various colors, and quiet operation.

The PuraSense Ultrasonic Humidifier works pretty well for small spaces such as a bedroom or office.

The PuraSense is fairly easy to keep clean. The top section (with the directional nozzle) can be pulled off the main housing and cleaned with a small brush. The water tank is also accessible for a thorough wipe down, although some owners say it's a bit hard to reach.

Distilled water is not required, but very hard water could create a mineral buildup over time and reduce the PuraSense's efficiency. The unit arrives with an installed cartridge filter and two more for later use.

Based on its 1.3-liter water tank capacity, the PuraSense can operate for a max of about seven hours. Potential buyers who want to humidify 24/7 should anticipate refilling the tank several times per day. (Running the unit without water would not damage it, but mist production diminishes as the water supply runs out.)

The amount of moisture released into the air can be controlled by adjusting sound wave intensity. With numerous gradations of humidity available, we believe most people can find a setting that satisfies their needs.

Priced at $34, the versatile PuraSense makes good economic sense for those who want to humidify a small space and also might be interested in aromatherapy. We also noted that the multi-color LED display can serve as a soothing night light for children or a mood enhancer for adults.

Our measurement of the weight of the PuraSense Humidifier
Products In Depth

Honeywell Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier, HCM-350

The other Honeywell product on our shortlist is the Honeywell Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier HCM-350. Like its more powerful brother (the HCM-6009), the HCM-350 is an evaporative humidifier that uses wicking action to draw pure water from the tank.

Most dissolved solids cannot evaporate, so there is less of a chance for a white powdery buildup on exposed surfaces with this type of humidifier. But the HCM-350 goes one step further by using a UV light source to destroy over 99 percent of harmful bacteria, mold spores, viruses and fungi commonly found in standing water. As if that's not enough, it also includes a cartridge filter to strain out any solids found in tap, hard, or well water.

In terms of performance, this model is designed to provide enough cool mist to treat a medium-size room. Our own lab tests confirmed the coverage area, but we also noted a noise issue similar to the HCM-6009: both of these models can be loud during operation. On the plus side, they both provide up to 24 hours of continuous service and variable humidity level controls.

The single-tank HCM-350 is easier to refill than its dual-tank sibling. The tank stands vertically during refilling and can be easily cleaned and dried by hand, if necessary. Many of its parts are also dishwasher safe. With an impressive two-gallon capacity, however, comes an inevitable transportation issue. Some owners find the full tank too heavy to carry comfortably.

The Honeywell HCM-350 is not suited for aromatherapy or other medicinal uses. It's designed to balance the relative humidity in a medium-size room.

Although not as powerful as the HCM-6009, the HCM-350 is a robust humidifier.

We noted that if an enclosed room approaches its saturation point (100 percent relative humidity), a chance exists that the excess moisture could generate “rain” and cause water damage.

Noise Test of the Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Humidifier

Thankfully, the Honeywell HCM-350 offers a wide variety of humidity settings. Users should start on a lower setting and work their way up to a comfortable humidity level.

Priced at $54, the HCM-350 is a mid-range humidifier that performs far better than many of its direct competitors. Its most impressive benefits include UV light disinfection, a long-lasting cartridge filter, a stable tank design, and the capacity to generate lots of cool mist.

If you have a larger work or living space that needs humidification, the reasonably priced HCM-350 by Honeywell is up for the job.

Products In Depth

Air-O-Swiss AOS 7146 Travel Ultrasonic Humidifier - Cool Mist

The portable Air-O-Swiss AOS 7146, equipped with international power adapters, is designed primarily for travel. However, it could easily be used as a permanent cool mist humidifier in a small room or office cubicle.

Conveniently, this unit will accept any standard 16.9-ounce water bottle. (Larger bottles could also be used as long as their threads match those of the base.)

 

Users attach the bottle to the base, unfold the stabilizing “feet,” and position the humidifier on any flat, stable surface. A simple switch starts the mist; an LED light indicates when the water bottle is empty. There's also an automatic shutoff function.

Once empty, the water bottle can be unscrewed from the base and replaced with another (or refilled from the faucet). A metal ball at the base acts as a stopper while the unit is inverted, reducing leaks and drips. The attachment collar between the base and the water bottle is very snug by design, and some users may find the replacement process a bit challenging.

The Air-O-Swiss is a portable humidifier primarily designed for travel.

One bottle of water will allow the Air-O-Swiss to run for 5-6 hours. Over the course of 24 hours (and several refills), this quiet little machine puts out about 1.1 liters of water. That's enough to make a noticeable difference in a small room, but it's not enough to affect the relative humidity in a larger open space.

In the BestReviews lab, this humidifier performed just as well as other contenders with similar capacities. The fact that this model promoted by the manufacturer as a travel humidifier does not reflect on its ability to humidify a small space.

Its $39 cost is a bit high for its size and “travel” designation, but it does have some redeeming qualities that make it worth the investment.

Honeywell
Honeywell
Pure Enrichment
PuraSense
Air-O-Swiss
Noise test (measured 3 feet from products)
Products in Depth

Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

The Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is a tabletop unit with a multi-directional spout meant for small to medium-sized rooms. Two settings – High and Low – control how much vapor is released. On Low, one 1.5-liter tank of distilled or tap water can deliver up to 16 hours of continuous mist.

This humidifier is comparable to the others in terms of performance, but one issue that concerns us is ease of maintenance. There are internal areas of this product that are difficult to access. Those places could become a breeding ground for mildew and bacteria if left unchecked.

The unit makes occasional gurgling noises, but according to our experience with it in the lab, the sound is not bothersome. When the unit is empty, it shuts off automatically. This is a great benefit, as it prevents harmful dry runs. Users should be aware of a dry air exhaust port that needs to stay moisture-free.

The 1.5-liter tank's run time of 16 hours appeals to overnight users. (Compare this to the six-hour run time of the Air-O-Swiss.) An optional nightlight is available.

Testing the weight of the Pure Enrichment Humidifier

The Pure Enrichment's entry-level price of $49 makes it an affordable alternative to high-end, ultra-powerful humidifiers.

It may not have the versatility of an essential oil diffuser or steam vaporizer, but the Pure Enrichment can compete with humidifiers sold at three times the price.

When shopping for a humidifier, do not judge a model by its total capacity. Instead, look at its estimated coverage area, which is generally measured in square feet.
Best Of The Best

Honeywell HCM-6009

The Honeywell HCM-6009 is a monster machine that can continuously humidify your home 24 hours a day.

With a total water capacity of 3.4 gallons stored in two convenient tanks, the Honeywell-6009 acts quickly and efficiently.

There's a noise factor to consider; 61 decibels from a distance of three feet is definitely noticeable, but it's not necessarily disruptive.

Potential buyers should also consider the fact that the dual tanks are a bit unbalanced and difficult to move across the floor.

But if it's raw, large-scale humidification power you crave, and you're willing to front the large initial investment, the Honeywell HCM-6009 is definitely the one to consider first.

Note: Reviewers of this product told us that they found it difficult to fill the tanks because of their shape.

Best of the Best
Check Price
Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic

Best Bang for your Buck

The Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic Humidifier is a small unit for a smaller space. With a 16-hour runtime, it's perfect for an office cubicle, waiting room, or bedroom.

It's a handsome unit that looks more like a tabletop sculpture than a rigid industrial appliance. What's more, the Pure Enrichment's nightlight provides soothing illumination for children and adults who don't want complete darkness.

Other humidifiers in this price range (and higher) don't have as much capacity as the affordably priced Pure Enrichment humidifier. The unit's base and tank require diligent maintenance, but it's a small price to pay for the model's aesthetic qualities and excellent performance.

Note: A weekly cleansing of the whole unit with vinegar and water is a great way to prevent mold and other such formations.

Best Bang for your Buck
Check Price
The team that worked on this review
  • Adrian
    Adrian
    Senior Engineer
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Anton
    Anton
    Director of Engineering
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations
  • Michael
    Michael
    Creative Lead
  • Heather
    Heather
    Content
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor

Best Dehumidifiers

Read Next