Top 6 Best Whole House Humidifiers (*2020 Review*)

Would you like to learn about the best whole house humidifiers with top reviews? You are in the right place.

Whole house humidifiers are a great way to automatically add moisture into the air and reduce allergies and asthma.

In this review, I will go over...

  • My #1 top choice of the best whole house humidifier
  • The benefits of owning a central humidifier
  • The hazards of dry air in a home
  • How to choose the right whole house humidifier
  • Tips on installing a central home humidifier

Let’s get started with this guide!

best whole house humidifier

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

aprilaire 800 steam whole house humidifier
  • Steam humidification for homes up to 6200sf
  • Dual sensors (outdoor temperature & indoor humidity) for totally hands off control
  • Reduce allergies, asthma, and protect furniture
  • No cleaning required (just change canister once a year)

My overall top pick for the best whole house humidifier is the Aprilaire 700. This steam central humidifier is installed on your HVAC ductwork and it is highly effective. The Aprilaire 700 uses TWO temperature sensors to automatically control humidity --- an outdoor temperature and indoor humidity sensor. No cleaning required, just replace the canister once and year --- super easy.

What Is A Whole House Humidifier?

A whole house humidifier is a device that automatically adds moisture into your home's air so your indoor air quality is comfortable and healthy. These humidifiers have a humidistat which is basically a sensor for indoor relative humidity.

You can control the humidistat setting to let's say 45% indoor humidity, so the whole house humidifier will keep pumping moisture into the air until that 45% level is hit --- then it will automatically turn off.

It acts very similar to your HVAC system thermostat --- except it is detecting indoor humidity.

Console Type

In general, there are two types of whole house humidifiers --- the console and HVAC-attached system.

The console type of humidifier is a free standing product that can be used for smaller homes. It is usually rated for homes between 1500 to 3000 square feet in living space.

For larger homes, you would either need to buy an additional unit --- or buy an HVAC installed unit.

HVAC Duct Type

The HVAC-installed unit are humidifiers that are literally screwed into the HVAC ductwork, usually right above or next to the indoor furnace or air handler. 

There are three main types of HVAC-installed whole house humidifiers...

  1. Bypass
  2. Powered
  3. Steam

The bypass whole house humidifier sends a small stream of water down an “evaporator panel” or pad. A bypass duct sucks in warm air from the furnace (or heat pump) and blows moisture into the air duct system. This moisture is then blown into the home as part of the normal air flow of your HVAC system.

bypass whole house humidifier

With the powered type of whole house humidifier, instead of having a bypass duct and using the furnace blower fan --- it has it's own electrical power and fan. This type is installed on the supply side of the ductwork, and will turn on when the furnace is running.

powered whole house humidifier

The other types uses steam instead. The steam whole house humidifier uses electrodes to heat water, and through this process steam is created and blown throughout the entire home. A bypass duct is not used with steam whole house humidifiers.

Maintenance

For the console type of whole home humidifier, you will have to refill the water tank periodically. How often may be from a few hours, up to a day or two --- depending on the size of the console humidifier and how dry the air is.

Console humidifiers also have a filter that you will to change every 2-3 months.

For bypass whole house humidifiers, there is an evaporator panel or pad that will have to be changed every year before the heating season. It is also highly recommended to clean the humidifier of gunk and debris.

With steam whole house humidifiers, there usually isn't any cleaning required --- but you do have to change the console (where the electrodes are) once a year.

Read Also: What Are The Pros & Cons of Whole Home Humidifiers?

What Are The Benefits Of A Whole House Humidifier?

There are many benefits to having a whole home humidifier maintain a healthy indoor relative humidity. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is research to suggest that having the right amount of humidity in your home can decrease or eliminate bloody nose, cracked lips, and dry sinuses.

The moisture may also reduce the chance for fungi, mold, and even the flu virus to grow. In a recent research study by NIOSH, it was proven than up to five times more flu virus particles remain infectious after an hour when the indoor humidity  is less than 23% --- compared to it being at 43% or higher. So basically, having the moisture level in a home at a healthy level will help reduce your chances in getting sick.

Besides health benefits, a home humidifier can also reduce common nuisances associated with dry winter air. According to Stanford University, increasing your indoor relative humidity can help prevent static electricity, peeling wallpaper, and cracked furniture.

When the air gets very dry, it can easily crack wood and cause splintering. Dry air also increases the likelihood that your wood floors will squeak when walked on.

Besides all of these reasons for a whole house “cool mist” humidifier, it just makes the indoor living environment more comfortable.

Pro Tip: Remember to change the filter (or evaporator panel) each year and to thoroughly clean the humidifier. Otherwise mold and mildew may grow inside the unit and get blown throughout the home.

Read Also: Steam Vs. Evaporative Whole House Humidifier

How To Install A Central Humidifier For Your Home?

Operating a console type of whole house humidifier really isn't difficult at all. You simply fill in the water tank, set the desired indoor humidity, and turn on the unit. There are usually different fan speeds you can select as well.

For the bypass whole house humidifier, it is more of a challenge. In general, installing an HVAC whole house humidifier isn’t for a homeowner with little or no DIY skills. On average it will take someone about 3-5 hours to install a whole house humidifier onto ductwork.

If you don’t feel comfortable possibly doing some wiring and other DIY stuff, I suggest you buy the unit you desire, and then hire a competent handyman or contractor to install the humidifier.

This way you will mainly just be shopping for labor costs after you purchase the humidifier.

With some units, you will want to (or have to) install the humidifier into the furnace wiring and tie it into your thermostat. With other humidifiers, very little wiring is required.

HVAC home humidifiers are installed at the furnace (or heat pump) on the supply or return side. There are pros and cons as to which side of the air flow to install the humidifier, I suggest you follow the manufacturer recommendations.

Either way, a hole will have to be cut into the ductwork, and the humidifier will be inserted into the circular cut and fastened with some screws. Then the drain line will have to be connected to a condensate pump or to an existing floor drain.

How To Pick The Best Rated Whole House Humidifier?

The best whole house humidifier for your home really boils down to if you wish to have a console humidifier or a ductwork installed whole home humidifier.

Console humidifiers may do a very good job for your particular home. However, console whole home humidifiers are generally for smaller homes. For larger homes, it will be difficult to supply even humidification to the entire home.

HVAC Installed

If you want to add value to your home, and get the best moisture control --- nothing can compete with an furnace-attached whole home humidifiers.

With a ductwork-installed whole home humidifier, it is sending moisture into the air through the home's ductwork, so it can much more easily humidify your entire home quickly and accurately.

Bypass

The bypass type of whole house humidifier used to be the most common type of humidifier and I will find these as the oldest units in homes. In general, the most common type of humidifier I find is the powered fan type.

The upsides to the bypass whole home humidifier is that there are simpler products, and less expensive. The negatives are that a bypass duct will need to be installed (if there is room) and that they are less efficient. 

Powered Type

The power type is more efficient than the bypass because less moisture is lost from sending it through the evaporator coil and heat exchanger (it's on the supply side). A power fan type of humidifier can send about 1 gallon more moisture into the air in a day than the bypass type.

The downsides are that the powered humidifier is that they are more expensive and will be costlier to repair.

Steam

And with the furnace whole home humidifiers, the best is the steam type in my opinion.

Steam whole house humidifiers are much more efficient than bypass humidifiers, they can send more moisture into the air, and they can even be used when the furnace isn't running (it uses just the blower fan).

With bypass whole house humidifiers, it has to use heated air for it to work, and it is equivalent to running a sink faucet every time it is active.

Read Also: Top 4 Best Whole House Steam Humidifiers

Install Kit

Besides house size and humidifier capacity, another important consideration is if it includes everything you need to install the unit. Some products claim to have everything you need to install (which may only be partially correct) while other humidifiers say that you will need to buy a separate “install kit”.

Factoring what you need to buy to install the humidifier is definitely something to consider.

Drain Location For Bypass Humidifiers

Also, you will want to know where you are going to drain the humidifier if you purchase a bypass or powered whole house humidifier. Does your utility room already have a floor drain? You can then send the humidifier water to the floor drain.

If you don’t have a floor drain, you may be able to send it to an existing sump pump or to a condensate pump. The condensate pump (which may be right next to the furnace already) or the sump pump will send the water to the outside or possibly to a utility sink.

Where you drain the humidifier is something to think about before you buy a bypass whole house humidifier.

Read Also: Top 5 Best HVAC UV Lights To Prevent Mold

best whole house humidifiers use digital control

Where To Buy The Best Whole House Humidifier With Awesome Reviews?

At Home Inspector Secrets, we always recommend buying whole house humidifiers from Amazon because they have a large selection of products.

They usually also have very fast shipping — so you don’t have to run down to the big box store and deal with traffic. You can also carefully choose the one that is the best for you house in a no rush environment.

There are many reviews on the products, and you can avoid humidifiers with very negative feedback from customers.

Who Makes The Best Whole House Humidifier?

My #1 top pick for this product review guide is the Aprilaire 800. In my opinion, it is the highest quality whole house humidifier on the market. 

This premium humidifier is installed on the HVAC air ducts and is rated for homes up to 6200 square feet.

Using a dual sensor system (one temperature sensor for outside, and a humidity sensor for inside) it will automatically control humidity better than anything out there.

By the way, Aprilaire literally invented the whole house humidifier back in 1954.

  • Steam humidification for homes up to 6200 square feet
  • No cleaning or filling required (simply change canister once a year)
  • Set it and forget it (uses exterior & interior sensor)
  • Pricier than cheaper humidifiers

Our budget friendly pick with great reviews is the Aprilaire 500.

This central furnace humidifier is rated for homes up to 3,000 square feet in living space.

Made in the USA, Aprilaire is the original inventor of the humidifier for the furnace.

The product comes with dual sensors to monitor indoor humidity as well as outdoor temperatures.

  • An affordable price
  • Quality and reputation (made in USA, original inventor)
  • 12 gallon per day capacity — easily add indoor humidity for a regular sized home
  • digital controls
  • No warranty
  • Likely need extra install parts for the DIY install (separate install kits available on Amazon)
  • Moderately difficult install

This powerful whole house humidifier by Honeywell is rated for homes up to 4,200 square feet of living space.

It can be mounted on the return or supply side of furnace, and it is will put an end to the “desert-like” air in your home.

The unit comes with a regular electric cord so it can be plugged into a wall outlet.

  • Claims that it has everything needed for installation
  • Higher capacity (compared to Aprilaire 500)
  • Comes with a regular electric plug
  • May be an easier install than Aprilaire

  • Complaints about Honeywell not honoring warranty
  • Bad reviews in regards to customer service
  • Some owners have said the instructions are very poor

This premium model from Aprilaire has the highest capacity with 0.75 gallons of water per hour.

The humidifier is rated for homes up to 4,200 square feet, and will help reduce allergies, cracked lips, and damaged woodwork.

Some owners have had success wiring this unit with their Nest thermostat for wireless control.

  • Made in the USA
  • Original inventor of the whole house humidifier
  • High capacity for up to 4200 square feet homes
  • Moderately difficult installation
  • Will need to be buy extra parts for install for the DIYer
  • May take a week for humidifier to settle down if environment is very dry
  • No warranty from Aprilaire

The Aircare pedestal-style humidifier is a pleasant looking device that can humidify a home up to 2400 square feet.

Because it's so stylish, it acts as a piece of furniture in any room of the home. The 12" x 12" decorative tile can also be easily replaced to match any decor.

Reduce dry skin, allergies, static shocks, and creaking floors with this great whole house humidifier by Aircare.

  • High capacity humidification for homes up to 2400 square feet
  • Aesthetically pleasing appearance
  • Easy to start (no ductwork needed)
  • Not as effective as ductwork-installed whole house humidifiers
  • Humidistat may not be accurate
  • Will have to fill with water

The Aircare space-saver whole house humidifier is rated for homes up to 2700 square feet --- a powerful humidifier for most homes.

This humidifier can run for up to 70 hours at a time and it has a 6 gallon fill capacity.

It includes change filter and low water indicators and the humidistat is fully adjustable.

  • Humidification for homes up to 2700 square feet
  • Digital controls and low water indicator
  • Large 6 gallon fill capacity
  • High fan setting may be loud
  • Manual filling with water
  • Humidistat may not be accurate

My #1 Top Pick

Aprilaire 800 Steam Whole House Humidifier

1. Quality Build

Aprilaire invented the evaporative humidifier in 1954, so the Apriaire 800 steam humidifier is their latest and most premium model, a company you can trust.

2. Hands Off Control

No filling with water in the middle of the night, and no fiddling with the humidistat. Just set it to your preferred moisture level and forget about it for the season. It uses an outdoor temperature and indoor humidity sensor for unparalleled accuracy.

3. Easy Maintenance

The Aprilaire 800 requires no cleaning. All you have to do is replace the canister once a year.

I hope you enjoyed my article. If you have any questions or comments, please leave it at the bottom of this article in the comment box --- I promise to answer all questions. Thank you.

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Arie Van Tuijl

Arie Van Tuijl

Arie is the founder of Home Inspector Secrets, an online resource dedicated to helping people understand how homes work. He is a licensed home inspector in two U.S states and owns a residential and commercial inspection company (read his full bio on the About page). To ask Arie a question, please use the comment box at the bottom of the relevant article.

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Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home maintenance. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, and much more.