Heating & Cooling, Humidifiers

Best Whole House Humidifier: Portable & Furnace Picks (2023)

Photo of author

Hubert Miles

Updated on

If you’ve been dealing with dry air in your home, a whole-house humidifier solves your problem all winter. Like most homeowners, you probably consider your humidifier a one-season appliance.

The best large humidifier for home is the:

Dry air inside your home can make your house uncomfortable and is bad for asthma and itchy, dry skin.

Whether you need the best whole house humidifier to add the right amount of moisture to dry air in the winter, or you live in an arid climate and need adequate humidity in the air all year long, we can help.

whole house humidifier

The Best Portable Whole House Humidifiers

Looking for a large humidifier for home use? These portable whole house evaporative humidifiers can help raise the humidity by 1000 to 4000 square feet.

Best for Large Houses
AIRCARE Space Saver Evaporative Humidifier, White
$158.99 $127.99
  • Up to 2,700 SF
  • Digital Controls with Auto Humidistat
  • Automatically Shuts Off.
  • Trapmax Filter Technology
  • 2-Year Warranty
Buy Now on Amazon Buy Now on Walmart
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
09/16/2023 05:44 am GMT

AIRCARE Space Saver Evaporative Humidifier

The Aircare Space Saver Evaporative Humidifier is an excellent solution for humidifiers for large rooms. It features a digital control panel with an automatic humidistat and a timer. The humidity level can automatically shut off when it is reached or when the tank runs out of water.

The unit also has Trapmax Filter Technology which helps protect the filter from dirt and debris. This humidifier comes with a 6-gallon tank and has a runtime of 70 hours. It also has a 2-year limited warranty.

I like the Aircare Space Saver Evaporative Humidifier! I have used other evaporative humidifiers in the past, and this one is by far my favorite. I love that it has a digital control panel with an automatic humidistat. This makes it easy to adjust the humidity level as needed.

I also like that it has a timer so I can set it off automatically after a certain time. The six-gallon tank means I can run it for up to 70 hours before refilling it.

The main drawback of this humidifier is that it is somewhat loud in the highest setting. I didn’t find the system too annoying, but some customer complaints revolved around the noise levels.

Overall, this is an excellent evaporative humidifier, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unit that can humidify a large home.

Best Pedestal-Style
AIRCARE Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style Evaporative Humidifier (Nutmeg)
  • Up to 2000 SF
  • Blends into Home Decor
  • Automatic Shut-off
  • Easy Pour-in Reservoir
  • Refill Indicator
  • 3.5 Gallon Capacity
  • Runtime up to 60 Hours
  • 2-Year Warranty
Buy Now on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
09/15/2023 12:59 pm GMT

AIRCARE Digital Whole House Pedestal Style Evaporative Humidifier

Suppose you’re looking for humidifiers for large rooms that will keep your home’s air moist and comfortable and look great. In that case, this AIRCARE model is a perfect choice.

Made from high-quality wood that perfectly matches any home decor, this humidifier features an automatic shut-off function to ensure worry-free use and a refill indicator to make maintenance easy.

It’s safe, effective, and simple to use, with a water capacity of up to 3.5 gallons and a 60-hour runtime on one fill-up. A humidity level of 45% is recommended for optimum performance.

It also has a 2-year limited warranty from Aircare.

Best Console-Style
AIRCARE Valiant Digital Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier (Honey Oak)
  • Up to 4000 SF
  • Digital Humidistat
  • Displays Actual Humidity Level
  • Automatically Shut-Off
  • Refill Indicator
  • 5-Gallon Capacity
  • Up to 55-Hour Runtime
  • 2-Year Warranty
Buy Now on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
09/15/2023 12:58 pm GMT

AIRCARE Valiant Digital Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier

The AIRCARE Valiant Digital Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier is perfect for humidifying a whole house up to 4000 square feet.

Its new digital humidistat automatically maintains your desired humidity level, and the digital readout displays the actual humidity level, desired humidity level, or fan speed. The unit also automatically shuts off when the desired humidity level is reached or empty.

Plus, a refill indicator tells you when the tank built-in tank needs refilling. The 5-gallon tank has a 55-hour runtime and a 2-year warranty.

Best Mini-Console
AIRCARE MA Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier (Mini-Console)
  • Up to 1700 SF
  • Adjustable Digital Humidistat
  • Auto Shut-off
  • Refill Indicator
  • Check Filter Indicator
  • Easy to Clean
  • 2-Year Warranty
Buy Now on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
09/15/2023 01:09 pm GMT

AIRCARE MA Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier

The Aircare MA Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier (Mini-Console) is an excellent choice for easy-to-use and efficient humidifiers for large rooms.

The digital humidistat ensures that you can accurately maintain your desired humidity level. At the same time, the auto-shutoff feature guarantees that the humidifier will turn off when it has reached your desired humidity or is empty.

This humidifier is also easy to clean – the evaporative wick traps any mineral deposits, making it a breeze to keep this humidifier running smoothly. With a 2.5-gallon tank and the ability to cover up to 1700 square feet, this unit is perfect for medium to large rooms.

The Best Whole House Furnace Humidifiers

A large humidifier for home furances works with your current HVAC ducting to add humidity to your home lost from rapid heating in gas and propane systems.

Best for Smaller Houses
Aprilaire 500 Whole Home Humidifier
  • Bypass Humidifier Smaller Houses
  • Up to 3000 SF
  • 12 gallons/day Capacity
  • Outdoor Temperature Sensor
  • Indoor Relative Humidity Sensor
  • Digital Humidistat
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty
Buy Now on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
09/15/2023 01:19 pm GMT

Aprilaire 500 Whole Home Humidifier

The Aprilaire 500 whole house humidifier is a top-of-the-line product designed to deliver optimum humidity levels throughout your home. This bypass whole-house humidifier can cover up to 3,000 square feet in tightly built homes and has a capacity of 12 gallons per day.

The unit has dual sensors that monitor both outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity, allowing the humidifier to adjust its output automatically.

Additionally, the digital control panel displays the current % humidity level in your home, when to change the water panel, and when service is needed.

Perhaps most importantly, the Aprilaire 500 humidifier can help you maintain healthy humidity levels in your home, reducing the incidence of respiratory illnesses, infections, sore throats, and allergy/asthma symptoms.

Best for Mid-Sized Houses
Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier
  • Fan Powered Humidifier
  • 18 Gallon/day Capacity
  • Up to 4,200 SF
  • Outdoor Temperature Sensor
  • Indoor Relative Humidity Sensor
  • Digital Humidistat
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty
Buy Now on Amazon Buy Now on Sylvane
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/16/2023 05:44 am GMT

Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier

The Aprilaire 700 Whole Home Humidifier is a high-quality, automatic fan-powered humidifier that is perfect for larger homes up to 4,200 square feet.

It was designed and manufactured in the United States and comes with a built-in fan to pull heated air directly from the furnace. The humidifier also has a full coverage area of up to 4,200 square feet in tightly built homes.

The automatic humidifier has dual sensors to monitor both outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity, which helps it deliver optimum humidity levels 24/7 throughout the home.

The Aprilaire Humidifiers can help you maintain optimal humidity levels in your home of 35% – 45%, reducing respiratory infections, dry nasal passages, and symptoms related to allergies and asthma.

Aprilaire also makes a compact crawl space dehumidifier for tight crawl spaces and a basement dehumidifier to remove moisture in damp basements.

Best for Larger Houses
Aprilaire - 800Z 800 Whole Home Steam Humidifier
  • Steam Humidifier
  • Up to 6,200 SF
  • 6 Output Levels 11.5 to 34.6 gallons/day
  • Purified Water Not Required
  • Outdoor Temperature Sensor
  • Indoor Relative Humidity Sensor
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty
Buy Now on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Aprilaire – 800Z 800 Whole Home Steam Humidifier

The Aprilaire 800 whole house steam humidifier has electrode technology and made in the USA by Aprilaire – the inventor of the whole home evaporative humidifier and the leader in indoor air quality solutions.

It can cover up to 6,200 square feet in tightly built homes, has six levels of output, and does not require purified water to operate; electrode technology uses impurities in the water to promote the transfer of electricity.

Additionally, it has dual sensors to monitor both outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity, which allows it to deliver optimum humidity 24/7 throughout the home.

The hot water in its steam canister, pipes, and dispersion tube can reach temperatures up to 212°F (100°C), making it one of the best whole-house steam humidifiers on the market today.

Lastly, because Aprilaire Humidifiers help maintain optimal humidity levels indoors, which have been shown to improve your family’s health by reducing respiratory infections and symptoms related to allergies and asthma – this product could be an essential addition for those who suffer from any of these conditions.

Top Pick - Runner Up
Honeywell Home HE360A1075 HE360A Whole House Humidifier
  • Powered Flow-Through Humidifier
  • Up to 4200 SF
  • Easy Mounting
  • Reduces Maintenance
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Installation kit required (sold separately)
Buy Now on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Honeywell Home Whole-House Humidifier

The Honeywell Bypass Flow-Through Humidifier is a great way to control the humidity and comfort in your home. It is easy to install and maintain and offers optimized efficiency and water usage. Plus, the design flow helps reduce unwanted microorganisms in the unit.

The PerfectFLO distribution tray makes the humidifier more efficient and uses less water, which saves you money on your heating bill.

This humidifier is ideal for homes from 2000 to 4000 sq. ft. It works best for older homes up to 2700 SF or newer homes up to 4,500 SF. It must have access to a floor drain and full access to air ducts to work correctly.

This unit can be mounted easily on the warm air supply or return air duct of any forced-air furnace. The flow-through design helps keep the unit clean and decreases the frequency of maintenance.

It requires an installation kit sold separately and has a 1-year warranty.

freestanding humidifier

What to Consider When Selecting a Whole Home Humidifier

When buying a humidifier, there are some things you need to consider to ensure you’re making the right purchase to meet your humidity needs.

Absolute vs. Relative Humidity

Absolute humidity and relative humidity are two types of humidity measurement. You should be more concerned about the relative humidity in your house. 

Absolute humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, regardless of temperature. 

Relative humidity refers to the amount of moisture level in the air at a particular temperature compared to the maximum amount of water the atmosphere can contain. The capacity for water vapor in warmer air is greater than in colder air.

It is important to know this because your home’s humidity and how you feel are related. When it is winter, you have to heat your home, making you feel extra dry. The water vapor decreases when it becomes warm air, which is why humidifiers are used more often during winter months.

Types of Whole House Humidifiers

There are two main types of whole-house humidifiers:

  • those that connect with a home’s HVAC system like evaporative and steam humidifiers
  • those that are standalone console units, also known as portable humidifiers.

Evaporative and steam install on your central heating system. Standalone portable units are not connected to any HVAC system. Both types of humidifiers are regulated by a humidistat, which checks the relative humidity levels.

Furnace Humidifier for HVAC Systems

While installation requirements for whole-house evaporative humidifiers that interface with an entire home HVAC system differ, some moderate skills may suffice. Others, however, might necessitate the assistance of HVAC professionals during set-up. Once installed, these whole-house humidifiers usually don’t need much attention; they connect to a home’s preexisting electrical and water lines.

Evaporative whole-house humidifiers are further divided into two main types:

  • Bypass Whole-House Humidifiers are connected to the return of your furnace or air handler. They differ from other types in that they do not proactively push moisture into the system; instead, they are positioned, so that warm air from your heating system passes through them. The air absorbs moisture from the humidifier and continues its journey throughout your home.

Bypass humidifiers rely on being installed near the return airflow for their systems; as a result, they cannot work without an airflow source.

  • Power Whole-House Humidifiers have a blower motor that works independently from your HVAC system. This allows the moist air to be circulated into your ductwork. Otherwise, the technology is similar to a bypass humidifier unit where air passes through water and absorbs moisture. The humidified air will then travel throughout your home via the ventilation system.

The return duct’s damper is switched from summer to winter mode at the start of the heating season, directing the return air over the humidifier pad. Both types of evaporative humidifiers consume very little electricity. The heat from the furnace causes the water to evaporate. They’re also quite basic and have few moving components, making them less likely to break down.

Evaporative humidifiers convert only 20-30% of the water they consume into humidity while less expensive to run. You must remove the extra water. Also, to function correctly, evaporative units require a heat source. Otherwise, there would be no way for the water to evaporate.

  • Steam Whole-House Humidifiers improve the air quality in your home by releasing humidity in the form of steam. The machine heats water until it boils and creates vapor, sent through ductwork and into different rooms.

An evaporative whole house humidifier adds moisture to the air by blowing warm, dry air from your furnace across a humidifier pad that is constantly supplied with water. The air that blows across the wet pad evaporates and absorbs the water.

The steam humidifier uses a canister to store water instead of a pad. It electronically boils the stored water into steam when it detects low humidity levels and distributes the steam throughout your furnace duct system.

Power is the primary distinction between a whole-house steam humidifier and an evaporative humidifier. A steam humidifier has a separate power supply from the HVAC system. That means it can operate independently of your air conditioner, even if your furnace is switched on.

Another reason to choose a steam humidifier is that it is up to 90% efficient in water use. Not only does this save you money but also time because installing these models doesn’t require ductwork.

Comparatively, steam humidifiers will cost you more than evaporative types, but they provide steadier moisture levels.

Standalone & Portable Humidifiers

Whole house console humidifiers and portable humidifiers are both free-standing options. If you choose one of these types, measure the dimensions before making your purchase so that it will fit in the desired space.

For homeowners who don’t have ductwork, an independent whole-house humidifier can adequately moisturize their homes. These units use a fan to circulate humidified air instead of relying on any furnace system.

These portable humidifiers will work for your whole house if you have a radiant or ductless heat pump. Standalone whole house humidifiers have pros and cons that can be noisy, mainly on high fan settings.

honeywell whole house humidifier

What Size Humidifier Do I Need?

The size of the home determines the amount of coverage required. The power and coverage of a portable humidifier are typically less than that of an HVAC system.

A console-type free-standing humidifier can range from 2,500 to 4,000 square feet, enough for many homes. However, they may prove ineffective if you have high ceilings, closed-off rooms, or multiple floors.

Home humidifiers connected with HVAC systems can humidify up to 6,000 square feet. If you have multiple HVAC systems, you’ll need one humidifier per HVAC system and need to size each humidifier accordingly.

Airtight homes are homes that are well-insulated with thermal windows and doors. This means that the air cannot escape through the doors or windows. Often, older homes are not as airtight, are known to be drafty, and can lose much of their heating through the ceiling, walls, doors, and windows.

If a home isn’t well-insulated or is drafty, it will need a more powerful humidifier to work well. The homeowner can make improvements, like adding insulation, which means they need a less expensive humidifier that uses less energy, leading to lower utility bills.

What Humidifier Features are Available?

There are many different types of humidifiers. Some only keep the humidity level consistent, while others have extra features. If you want to use your humidifier in a busy area of your house, you might consider selecting a design-forward model that doesn’t clash with your style.

The following features with free-standing models include:

  • Adjusting the fan speed is extremely beneficial as it allows the user to boost humidity quickly or run the device more quietly.
  • Handles and wheels aren’t just for small portable humidifiers; they can also be found on larger models. These might be used in open rooms, guest accommodations, or office spaces.
  • Using digital controls to set proper humidity levels gives you more control over performance than with a manual dial.
  • Smart controls have advanced considerably, connecting to the popularity of mobile applications and integration with home management systems.

What About Installing a Whole House Humidifier?

There are a few more things you need to think about when choosing a humidifier. You need to know how much water the humidifier needs and what kind of fluid it needs to work.

Whole-house humidifiers that connect to your HVAC are best installed by a professional. On the other hand, consoles, pedestals, and other free-standing units vary in how often they need to be filled and how much maintenance they require.

For how to install whole-house humidifiers, see the below video for installing AprilAire Humidifier Models 400, 500, and 600 models

Water Tank Capacity and Runtime Considerations

Whole-house humidifiers connected to the HVAC system do not have a water consumption rating because they always get water. Console models are not connected to household plumbing and have water tanks that need periodic refilling. This affects how convenient it is to use and how long it can run.

How well the humidifier works, how much it needs to cover, and how dry the occupants want the air impacts how long it will run. A small humidifier for a 1,500-square-foot home might run longer than a large one for a 3,000-square-foot home when providing humidity over a smaller area. But if it is used in space beyond its intended capacity, it will empty more quickly.

Every air conditioner model needs to be checked to see how long it can run without needing a refill. Most models can last 24 hours or more, but this number may differ if the doors and windows are left open, or the unit is not properly insulated.

How Easy is the Humidifier to Use?

A built-in humidity sensor, usually called a humidistat, monitors humidity levels and activates the device on and off to maintain a constant level in most whole-house humidifiers. This saves water and electricity by reducing water use.

When looking for a whole-house humidifier, you should check reviews to see how easy it is to refill the water tank. Some units can be refilled on-site, while others will require filling from a faucet. It would help if you also considered how heavy one gallon of water is before deciding. Two small tanks might be more convenient than one large tank.

How Easy is the Humidifier Maintenance?

Unlike personal humidifiers, whole-house humidifiers don’t require as much regular maintenance to prevent mold and bacteria growth. However, you can’t set it and forget it.

Evaporative humidifiers need their humidifier pads replaced yearly to stop calcium buildup. You’ll have to change out the canister annually for steam units. Also, check both systems regularly to ensure water flows properly with no leaks or obstructions.

aprilaire whole house humidifier

Cost of a Whole House Humidifier

A whole-home humidifier costs $200 to $1200, depending on the type. you can purchase a freestanding or portable unit for $200 to $500.

A central humidifier connected to your HVAC system can cost up to $1200 plus professional installation. With professional installation, you can spend up to $2500, depending on the complexity of the installation.

Be careful when examining how much does a whole house humidifier costs when you are comparing models with similar features and installation.

The ranges mentioned earlier take whole-house humidifier installation costs into account. This is critical because many online calculators don’t include this, which leads to false information about the cost of whole-home HVACs. Installation fees can be a considerable expense for any homeowner, so it’s important to factor that in when budgeting for an HVAC system.

During the warmer weather, you may need a dehumidifier. Consider our post on whole house dehumidifiers.

Large Humidifier for Home FAQs

Are Whole House Humidifiers Recommended?

If you struggle with humidity levels of less than 30% in your home during winter or live in an arid climate, then a whole home humidifier is recommended. The ideal humidity range for your house and health is 45% to 55%. When heating, your furnace removes moisture as it heats the air, making it very dry. They can add moisture to the air to maintain indoor comfort and good indoor air quality.

Do Whole House Humidifiers Cause Mold?

Whole-home humidifiers can cause mold if they aren’t properly maintained. Models that contain standing water may end up with mold growing inside them, so it’s important to clean them regularly. However, any unit can be the source of mold growth if it pumps too much moisture into a cold house.

High humidity levels can cause mold to form on surfaces, leading to an infestation if left unchecked. This problem can occur anywhere in your home—even in hidden places like inside walls and air ducts. If you want to avoid mold, be vigilant and set your whole home humidifier humidistat to below 60 percent.

Mold generally grows in humid environments, so to prevent it, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that homes maintain a humidity level of 30 to 50 percent. Most humidifiers cover this range.

Where is the Best Place to Put a Whole House Humidifier?

To get the most out of your whole-house humidifier, place it in the middle of your home. If you have a portable unit, try different locations until you find one that distributes the moisture evenly throughout your living area.

Duct-connected humidifiers cannot be moved once they are installed. To install a central humidifier, locate your forced air system and place the humidifier there. Some are installed in the return-air duct, and others employ a bypass duct. So, see manufacturer specifications or contact an HVAC technician.

What is the Price Range for Whole House Humidifiers?

A whole-house humidifier cost will vary based on the type of whole-house humidifier you purchase. A portable humidifier might cost anywhere from $150 to $500. A central humidifier system costs $300 to $1200, plus the cost of professional installation by an HVAC contractor.

When Should You Turn on a Whole House Humidifier?

To keep your home feeling comfortable, use a whole-house humidifier with your humidistat set to 45% to 55%. A humidistat will measure the humidity in the air and turn your humidifier on or off as needed to maintain your desired humidity level.

Are Whole House Humidifiers Safe?

Yes, whole-house humidifiers are safe when installed and maintained correctly. When the heating system is on, your humidifier should only run based on a humidistat humidity setting. Running a humidifier continuously can increase humidity levels above 60%, causing mold to grow on walls, ceilings, and furniture.

Can a Humidifier Help with Allergies?

Yes, a humidifier can help improve respiratory issues like allergies and asthma. It can also help to suppress some types of viral and infectious diseases.

What is the Ideal Indoor Humidity Level?

The ideal indoor humidity level for health and home comfort is between 40 and 50 percent to help relieve cold and allergy symptoms while not making the air so humid that it encourages mold growth.

How Often Do Whole House Humidifiers Need Cleaning?

The amount of maintenance needed for humidifiers varies depending on the type of humidifier you have. However, most manufacturers provide a timetable to help you get the most out of your device. Some filters need to be replaced every three months. The steam chambers usually last six to twelve months. Most people change the pads on their humidifiers once a year.

How Long Do Whole House Humidifiers Last?

It’s impossible to estimate because many variables are at play, but portable humidifiers should last about five years or more. The life expectancy of HVAC-mounted humidifiers generally lasts about ten years.

Photo of author

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting professional home inspections since 2002. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Professional Inspector (CPI), Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
DISCLAIMER: The content published on HomeInspectionInsider.com is not professional advice. You should consult with a licensed professional and check local permit requirements before starting any project.
HomeInspectionInsider.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate programs with other affiliate sites. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.