family sitting in living room with humidifier on

How To Choose The Right Humidifier For Your Home

Scott Steinberg8-Minute Read
March 25, 2021

What is a humidifier – and what do you need to know to pick the right make, model and unit for your home? The short answer is that it is a handy device for adding moisture to the air as a means of preventing dryness and respiratory ailment, and that many manufacturers offer a variety of options for every household need and budget.

Real estate owners (especially homeowners whose properties lack a whole-house central humidifier) may wish to add one as a way through which to help improve overall breathability – and help improve general wellness or overall comfort. At the same time, it’s also important to not to overspend on more features than you anticipate using and be aware of best practices associated with proper usage, so as to avoid the unwanted growth of mold or bacteria.

What Does A Humidifier Do?

There are many benefits of having a humidifier, especially from a health and wellness standpoint. That’s because reducing the amount of dry air in a home can help minimize health issues related to breathing and inhalation and help alleviate symptoms related to ailments such as colds, flus, or bronchitis.

In addition, a humidifier can also provide relief for myriad skin and allergy issues, minimize sinus congestion, and help stave off common conditions such as cracked lips or bloody noses. Owners often find that humidifiers prove a helpful addition to their home just for their ability to reduce dryness of the skin, nose, and throat alone.

Common issues that the heightened levels of humidity that a humidifier provides can help address include:


  • Dry skin
  • Dry throat
  • Dry cough
  • Nasal irritation
  • Bloody noses
  • Sinus congestion
  • Cracked lips
  • Headaches
  • Inflamed vocal cords

When Should I Use A Humidifier?

It’s important to be aware of when and to what extent that humidifiers should be utilized as incorrect usage or overreliance on these devices may breed mold or bacteria, or even potentially cause preexisting respiratory problems to become more pronounced. You may wish to use a humidifier if:


  • The current level humidity of your space is low
  • You’ve entered drier months or seasons
  • You need assistance growing indoor plants
  • You are prone to dry skin, cracked lips, or similar health conditions

Choose The Right Size Humidifier For Your Space

Picking the right humidifier for your home is often a matter of considering what type of humidification that you prefer, the size and scope of the space that you’re working with, and your individual living conditions. Thankfully, a variety of models and features are available for every household need and budget. 


A whole-house humidifier is designed to help spread moistened air throughout an entire home. It may be the right choice for you if you’re working with a large home, multilevel structure, or property that’s spread out across a significant number of rooms. Should you be looking to circulate air across a large area of square footage, it’s a fine place to start your search for a new system. 


On the flip side, a portable humidifier is typically designed for use in smaller spaces and for pick-up-and-go usage. You may wish to consider acquiring one of these (typically more affordable) systems if you desire to be able to relocate the unit from room to room as needed. For example, it’s not uncommon to keep a portable humidifier in the closet and break it out as necessary to help moisturize a child’s room or guest room. 


As for travel humidifiers, these road-ready devices are built to help owners who are on the move. You’ll find a number of models that can go along with you as you travel for work, or that can easily stow away for transportation to hotels or friends’ and loved ones’ houses.

The Different Types Of Humidification

Just as there are different types of humidifiers, there are different types of humidification that can be applied to your home. You’ll want to keep the following insights in mind as you go about researching which unit makes the most sense for you or your family.


Central humidifiers consist of systems that are built directly into your home’s dedicated air-conditioning or heating unit. Capable of filling an entire home with increased humidity, they are the priciest option on the list below, but also most effective for working with a large space. Note that unlike traditional humidifiers, central humidifiers do not emit steam.


Evaporative humidifiers produce humidified air by using a fan to blow air through a wet wick, moistened filter, or belt to evaporate it and turn this water into cool mist. Such systems tend to be more inexpensive and operate more quietly than other units, although they also require regular cleaning to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

Steam Vaporizer

Steam vaporizers are a form of humidifier that use electricity to heat up water then turn it into cool steam vapor which is subsequently absorbed into the air of your home. Among the most affordable and portable of humidifiers, you’ll find them readily available for purchase from many everyday retail outlets and drugstores. However, be advised that these systems can potentially cause burns.


An impeller humidifier is a relatively inexpensive type of humidifier that runs rotating discs at high speeds to break up water into tiny droplets and produce a pleasantly cool and soothing vapor mist. While they don’t produce the risk of burns, usage of these systems is limited to a single room, and such devices are both noisier than evaporative models and (if overutilized) can cause complications for those with asthma or allergies.


Ultrasonic humidifiers leverage ultrasonic vibration to produce cooling or warming mists. Although they’re available at a wide range of prices and a preferred choice for families when compared with steam vaporizers, these systems may cause fine particles of dust to accumulate in the air and on surfaces, potentially aggravating allergy problems.

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The Different Types Of Humidifier Mists

Just as there are different makes, models and types of humidifiers, there are different types of mists that these devices can produce, each with its potential benefits. 


Because water is superheated, war- mist humidifiers (especially warm-mist steam humidifiers) can help kill off mold and mildew. They also provide a popular way to kill cold and flu germs and provide heightened comfort if you find that you get chilly easily. 


Cool-mist humidifiers are among the most common and frequently encountered models and are often safer to use around young children than warm-mist alternatives. In addition, you may also encounter select cool-mist models that offer the ability to purify air as well as provide refreshing moisturization. 


Some hybrid models of humidifier can also produce both warm and cool mist options. You may wish to select one of these options if you live an area or region with multiple seasons, extreme climate conditions, or unpredictable weather patterns.

What Humidifier Features Are You Interested In?

Myriad features and options are available to you depending on the specific type or unit of humidifier that you wish to purchase. A few that you may wish to consider as you set about reviewing your options here include as follows:

Noise Level

As above, different types of humidifier units produce differing levels of noise. Be certain to consider the conditions you plan to use your humidifier systems before purchasing, for example in a child’s bedroom where a little one may be sleeping. 


A humidistat is designed to help a homeowner monitor and manage the humidity in their air. Using one, select humidifier units offer the ability to set the device to automatically maintain precise levels of moisturization.


The hygrometer is a tool designed to help you see the level of moisture present in any given room at a glance. Once this level has been determined, you can either program your humidifier to increase or reduce it if desired, or (in the event that only manual controls are offered) select from a handful of variable fan speeds to manage it. 

Water Capacity

Varying models of humidifier offer the ability to hold varying levels of water in their built-in tanks. Models that offer greater storage capacity can help you reduce the number of times that you must manually access and/or refill this reservoir.

Auto Shut-Off

Some units can also be programmed to automatically shut off once a certain level of moisturization in the air has been reached. You’ll wish to take advantage of these features both for convenience as well as safety and health reasons.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Humidifier

A variety of factors may impact your decision on whether or not to purchase a humidifier, and what type of humidifier to acquire. 

The Climate Your Home Is In

The climate where your home is located may greatly influence your decision to select and buy a humidifier. Residences in drier climates, or those prone to winter weather, may be prime candidates for a humidifier system. 

The Required Maintenance

Some water tanks hold less or more liquid. Others may be more difficult to remove, refill and carry. In any event, you’ll need to regularly empty and refill them, and routinely clean these reservoirs (as well as the base of your humidifier unit) to prevent bacterial growth. Certain models may also require you to change out filters from time to time for health and safety reasons. 

Noise Level

All humidifiers produce some level of operating noise. However, preferred options should offer multiple selections here (for example, a low or silent mode that you can pick from), especially if you plan to use the unit at night or in a bedroom. As a general rule, ultrasonic humidifiers tend to be the quietest type of system as there’s no need to heat and boil water.


Myriad factors determine how long humidifiers can run for between fillings. By way of example, these variables can include the size of the system’s water tank, general air conditions in your home, and what setting you choose to run the device on. Units with smaller tanks or that are run on higher settings may need refilling as frequently as every eight hours. 

Health And Safety Options

Numerous humidifier models are designed to automatically shut off when the water reservoir is emptied of liquid. Units that ship with hygrometers built into them also offer the option to shut off the device automatically when you’ve reached a preset level of humidity. You may also encounter humidifiers that use antimicrobial coatings or special UV light solutions to help kill bacteria.

How Much Is A Humidifier?

Tabletop humidifiers and floor model humidifiers can be had for as little as $15 – $20, and typically range from $30 on up to $500. Evaporative models also introduce extra costs in the form of replacement wicks, which can hover around $10. As a general rule, the larger the unit and more comprehensive its feature set, the more expensive it will be. For most everyday purposes, a $40 – $100 unit will suffice.

Should You Get A Warranty For Your Humidifier?

Be sure to research what type of warranty is offered with your humidifier, how long it lasts, and whether it covers a complete product replacement. Note that a 1-year warranty is common here (although select systems may come with longer warranties attached), and that it’s more typical to replace than repair these devices. In addition, you may wish to skip out on extended warranty upgrades, as replacement units are reasonably inexpensive comparatively.

The Bottom Line

If you live in an area where the air is especially hot and arid, or where winter weather frequently causes you to crank up the heat, it can cause the humidity level inside your residence to quickly dry up. These conditions can lead to respiratory complications, discomfort, and dry, irritated or cracked skin.

A humidifier can help you be more at ease and alleviate various health- and wellness-related concerns by releasing moisture back into the environment. However, humidifiers come in different shapes, sizes and varieties, each with its own set of features and capabilities, and advantages and disadvantages.

To learn more about homeownership, and how to improve your quality of life, be sure to check out more homeowner tips on the Rocket Homes® blog.

Scott Steinberg

Hailed as The Master of Innovation by Fortune magazine, and World’s Leading Business Strategist, award-winning professional speaker Scott Steinberg is among today’s best-known trends experts and futurists. He’s the bestselling author of 14 books including Make Change Work for You and FAST >> FORWARD.