Do you want to find the best whole house humidifiers?
Whole house humidifiers are a great way to automatically add moisture into the air so you can reduce allergies, dry skin, static electricity, and furniture degradation.
In this product review, I will go over...
- My #1 top choice of the best whole house humidifier
- Choosing the type of whole house humidifier
- The basics of installation
Let’s get started with this guide!
My Overall #1 Rated Pick
My overall top pick for the best whole house humidifier goes to the Aprilaire 800. This steam central humidifier is installed on your HVAC ductwork and it's highly effective at controlling moisture with steam. The Aprilaire 800 uses two sensors to automatically control humidity — an outdoor temperature sensor and an indoor humidity sensor. No cleaning is required with the Aprilaire 800, just replace the canister once a year and you're done.
1. Aprilaire 800
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2. Aprilaire 500
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4. Aprilaire 700
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5. Airecare Pedestal-Style
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6. Airecare Space-Saver
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Top 6 Best Whole House Humidifiers
My top picks for the best whole house humidifiers automatically add needed moisture throughout the whole home. My top whole house humidifiers are either connected to the HVAC ductwork or they are console (portable) models. Check them out below...
How To Pick The Best Whole House Humidifier?
One of the biggest steps in picking the best whole house humidifier is to choose between a furnace installed unit versus a console (portable) humidifier.
Portable humidifiers may do a great job for your particular home, but these console humidifiers really work well for smaller homes—or for a single home level. And depending on the size of your home, you may need to buy more than one to really get the desired humidity.
For larger homes, there really is no match for a furnace whole house humidifier. These units are installed onto the HVAC ductwork so that the humidity gets spread evenly throughout the entire home.
Choice #1: Furnace Installed Whole House Humidifiers
HVAC-installed whole house humidifiers are literally screwed into the HVAC ductwork, usually right above or next to the indoor furnace or heat pump. These furnace whole house humidifiers usually have a daily moisture capacity of around 10 to 30 gallons per day. These units are the best choice if you want to deliver humidity throughout the whole house. There are three main types of HVAC-installed whole house humidifiers...
The best whole house humidifier is the steam type. Rather than sending liquid water down an 'evaporator pad', steam humidifiers super heat the water using a heating element or electrodes which turns it into steam.
Probably one of the biggest complaints with whole house humidifiers is the difficulty of reaching your desired indoor humidity level. With steam humidifiers, it is usually far easier to reach your desired indoor humidity level because the moisture output is much higher than conventional humidifiers. Also, steam whole house humidifiers are much more energy efficient and use less water.
These units can even be used when the furnace isn't running (it uses just the blower fan) which helps you to control the indoor moisture to a greater extent. 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.
The bypass type of central humidifier uses a 'bypass duct' which connects the whole house humidifier to the HVAC main duct. Bypass humidifier models do not have their own fan, so they can only work when the furnace or HVAC is actually turned on.
The bypass duct siphons off some of the furnace air, and this air goes through the humidifier which sends moistened air back into the main HVAC duct—and throughout the entire home. A small stream of water down an “evaporator panel” or pad which is what gives moisture to the air when air blows over it.
The upsides to the bypass whole home humidifier is that they are simpler humidifiers (no power or fan) and less expensive. The negatives of these humidifiers is the necessity of a bypass duct that needs to be installed (if there is room).
These whole home humidifiers do not have high moisture output which may make it more difficult for you to reach your desired humidity. Basically, bypass humidifiers are less efficient than the fan-powered type or steam type.
The powered type HVAC humidifier 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 powered 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 fan-powered type is more expensive and will be costlier to repair.
Choice #2. Console Whole House Humidifiers
Console whole house humidifiers are also a great option for some homeowners. These portable whole house humidifiers have a high moisture capacity usually in the range of 3-7 gallons per day.
This is usually for less than furnace installed whole house humidifiers, but it may be sufficient for a single level or for a small home. If you have a larger home, these portable whole home humidifiers generally won't work well.
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 central home 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.
What Is The Moisture Capacity Of Whole Home Humidifiers?
Probably the second biggest consideration after choosing the type of humidifier is the water capacity.
Console whole house humidifiers have the lowest capacity, and usually put out only 3-7 gallons of water per day. As you can imagine, delivering the desired humidity throughout a large home with a console or portable humidifier can be a difficult task.
In contrast, furnace whole house humidifiers can deliver anywhere from 12 to 30 gallons of water per day. Of course, the down side is that HVAC whole house humidifiers are more difficult to install, and the overall cost can be much more mainly due to the labor.
Read Also: Can Whole House Humidifiers Lead To Mold?
Does The Whole House Humidifier Need An 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 installation kit.
Factoring what you need to buy to install the humidifier is definitely something to consider.
Drain Location For Whole House 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.
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 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 furnace whole house humidifier, it is more of a challenge. In general, installing an HVAC 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.
With some units, you will 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.
For most homeowners, I recommend hiring a licensed contractor to install a furnace humidifier since just the wiring is usually beyond the average DIY job.
What Is A Whole House Humidifier?
A whole house humidifier is a device that automatically adds moisture into your home's air to keep your home comfortable and healthy. Central home humidifiers are usually used during the cold season when the heat is turned on.
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 rather than temperature. However, some models such as the Aprilaire 800 also have an outdoor temperature sensor (in addition to an interior humidistat) which helps it regulate indoor humidity to an even greater degree.
Where To Buy The Best Whole House Humidifiers?
The most common place that homeowners get whole house humidifiers is probably through their HVAC contractor. But if you want to install it yourself, or if you want to save money and just pay for labor, then buying a humidifier yourself online is a great option. I personally recommend Amazon because it gives you several difference choices and you can read numerous customer reviews.
What Is The Best Whole House Humidifier?
Here are my full reviews of the best whole house humidifiers together with their pros and cons. Check it out below...
My #1 top pick for the best whole house humidifier goes to the Aprilaire 800.
This premium steam HVAC 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 with an amazing accuracy.
It also has a very high steam output, ranging from 11 to 34 gallons of moisture per day. Aprilaire literally invented the whole house humidifier back in 1954, and is the dominant leader of whole house humidifiers.
My budget friendly pick for the best whole house humidifier is the Aprilaire 500. This central furnace humidifier is rated for homes up to 3,000-sf, and it uses a 'bypass duct' to send moisture into the HVAC system.
It has a daily moisture output of 12-gallons per day. Made in the USA, Aprilaire is the original inventor of the whole home humidifier.
The Aprilaire 500 comes with dual sensors (like the 800) to monitor indoor humidity as well as outdoor temperature changes. These dual sensors allows much more precision control of your indoor humidity.
This powerful whole house humidifier by Honeywell is rated for homes up to 4,200 square feet of living space.
The Honeywell HE360 does not require a 'bypass duct' since it has it's own fan and power supply. It is great for furnaces that are multi-stage or variable speed.
This Honeywell unit can be installed on either 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. This humidifier does not have an exterior temperature sensor so you will have to adjust the humidity setting when the outdoor temperature drops.
This premium whole house humidifier si the Aprilaire 700 powered fan model. It has a capacity of 18-gallons of water per day, and it does not use a 'bypass duct'.
Without a bypass duct, this powered humidifier is easier to install, and it requires less maintenance. The Aprilaire 700 is rated for homes up to 4,200-sf, and this humidifier will help reduce allergies, cracked lips, and damaged woodwork.
Like other Aprilaire humidifiers, it comes with dual sensors, and indoor humidistat and an outdoor temperature sensor. The dual sensor system allows automatic control of the humidity relative to the outdoor temperature in order to avoid moisture problems (and possibly mold growth).
The Aircare EP9 Pedestal is a great looking evaporative (and portable) whole house humidifier that can humidify homes up to 2400 square feet, and put out 3.5-gallons per day. This console HVAC humidifier even includes a decorative 12"x12" tile that can be easily be replaced with a tile of your choice.
The Aircare EP9 has nine fan speeds so you can easily adjust the amount of moisture in your home. For maintenance, you will simply have to fill the unit with water when needed as well as giving it a wipe down to avoid any mold issues.
I also recommend using an anti-microbial tablet to help reduce the chances of mold issues. The Aircare EP9 pedestal unit weights 27-pounds and it will automatically shutoff when the desired humidity is reached (or if it runs out of water).
The Aircare space-saver whole home 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, has a 6-gallon fill capacity, and it even includes a refill indicator light.
The Aircare 831000 also has wheels on the bottom of the unit so you can easily move it around your house.
Due to the design of this unit, it requires less cleaning than other console whole house humidifiers.
It has three fan speeds so you can adjust the amount of moisture put out together with the humidistat.
My #1 Top Pick: Aprilaire 800 Steam
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.