Do you want to find the best steam whole house humidifier?
Dry air can cause physical discomforts such as seriously dry skin, nosebleeds, damaged furniture, cracked wood floors, and electrical shocks.
In this product review guide, I will go over...
- My #1 top pick on the best HVAC steam humidifier
- How a whole house steam humidifier works
- How to pick the best steam central humidifier
Let’s get started!
My Overall #1 Rated Pick
My overall top pick for whole house steam humidifiers is the Aprilaire 800. Aprilaire is the original inventor of whole house humidifiers and their steam humidifier is a very high quality product. It uses electrode technology that heats up the water to produce steam for your home. Filtering your water is not required and isn't even recommended.
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Top 4 Best Whole House Steam Humidifiers
Short on time? If you want to skip the entire article and get the skinny on the best steam humidifiers, we have done the research for you. Here is our list of the best whole house steam humidifiers...
What Is A Whole House Steam Humidifier?
A whole house steam humidifier is a machine that delivers moisture into the home's air ducts in the form of steam.
The traditional whole house humidifier (and room humidifiers) typically use the process of evaporation rather than steam. Evaporative humidifiers basically drip room temperature water over a filter media (called a evaporator panel or pad) and then a fan blows over the media --- sending moisture into the air.
Steam whole house humidifiers actually heats up the water to the point that steam is produced.
This super heated water is usually accomplished by two electrodes that are submersed in water. Since water is naturally conductive because of its mineral content, electricity flows between the two electrodes, and heats up the water in between --- producing steam. Other steam humidifiers may use heating elements submersed in water instead.
Just like traditional whole house humidifiers, steam HVAC humidifiers use a humidistat to control the indoor humidity. Typically, the indoor humidity is set between 30% to 45% and the humidifier will automatically turn on and off to reach that set level (similar to the HVAC thermostat).
Outdoor Temperature & Auto Mode
The best whole house humidifiers also have an outdoor temperature sensor---such as the Aprilaire 800---that is used in conjunction with the indoor humidity sensor (humidistat).
When the humidifier uses an outdoor temperature sensor, the whole house steam humidifier can better control the indoor humidity to avoid some of the common problems of too much humidity such as fogging windows and mold problems.
For example, if the exterior temperature drops significantly by 20 degrees, but you maintain the same humidistat setting at 40% relative humidity --- then excessive condensation may form on your windows and elsewhere in the home---possibly leading to mold.
But the Aprilaire 800 has an automatic humidity mode that adjusts based on this dropping outdoor temperature in order to avoid excess moisture problems.
What Are The Benefits of Steam Whole House Humidifiers?
In general, using steam (instead of evaporation) is a much more efficient way of increasing indoor humidity than the traditional humidifier.
Traditional (evaporative) humidifiers work by dripping cold water over a pad, and blowing air over the media.
In general, it takes 10-15 gallons of water to produce only 1-gallon of water vapor using evaporative whole house humidifiers. As an inspector, almost all houses that have whole house humidifiers use this older type of humidifier.
But with steam whole house humidifiers, it is more of a 1:1 ratio --- it can produce one gallon of steam for 1 gallon of water.
Reaching The Desired Humidity
Also, when the efficiency increases, it makes it easier for the humidifier to actually reach your desired level of indoor humidity.
One of the most frequent complaints among homeowners is that their central humidifier isn't reaching their desired humidity level. With steam humidifiers, you are unlikely to have this problem due to the efficiency.
The quality of the moisture output in the form of steam is also a higher quality than the water vapor produced by evaporation. Since the steam is produced from super heated water, it can operate at a wide range of air temperatures.
Evaporator whole house humidifiers won't work well if the temperature isn't so warm---which is another reason that it has trouble reaching the desired humidity level.
In addition, when you actually reach your desired humidity level, you will be able to set the thermostat lower and save energy costs. This is due to the fact that humidified air feels warmer.
How To Install a Whole House Steam Humidifier?
The installation process will be unique to each humidifier and the home, and hiring a qualified plumber is recommended.
In general, the installation requires a 220-volt dedicated circuit and outlet where the humidifier is going to be located.
You will have to connect a water line to the steam humidifier, as well as drain lines.
In addition you will have to connect the dispersion tube to the HVAC ductwork so that it can disperse the steam evenly into the duct system.
I personally recommend using Thumbtack to find a qualified pro to install the humidifier. With Thumbtack, you can read customer reviews, get price quotes, and message plumbers directly. Thumbtack is free for homeowners, you can check it out right here.
How to Pick the Best Central Home Steam Humidifier?
It’s best to have a checklist in mind before heading out and investing in a whole home steam humidifier.
Automation is never a bad thing.
Most homeowners want a “set it and forget it” solution, which is why automated features are important. Current steam humidifiers are made to be user-friendly and don’t require manual work. You can set them up and watch as they kick into action.
To do this, the humidifiers include a built-in sensor to see whether or not the moisture in your home is at a safe level. If not, the moisture-rich air enters your house and spreads until the levels are good again.
In this case, all you have to do is turn it on.
Water Reservoir Indicator
With a steam furnace humidifier, a water reservoir indicator is important. This helps understand whether or not the humidifier is in good shape. If not, you may not have enough water in the tank to run your unit.
With a change indicator, it’s easier to react in advance and ensure the tank has enough water to last. Modern units will include these indicators. Instead of guessing, it’s easier to look at the change indicator, determine what’s going on, and pour in the water.
No one likes having to go back and look at the water tank every day.
In a well-made steam humidifier, the water evaporates when it’s in the unit. However, this also means new water has to enter to keep things working as they’re supposed to.
Unfortunately, there are times when the water overflows. This happens when the unit doesn’t know when to stop accepting water as it’s entering. To make sure this doesn’t damage the humidifier, it’s important to have overflow protection in place.
Modern units include overflow protection by including a float valve. This valve ensures the right amount of water enters every single time.
Low Water Cut-Off
Research from the Armstrong Humidification Book suggests, the best humidifiers include built-in safety switches to keep people safe. With digital units, it’s become easier than ever before to have high-quality safety features in place.
Before buying, take a look at whether or not the unit shuts down when the reservoir is unfilled. A good system will always shut off to ensure running on empty doesn’t do damage.
Mounting frames allow for an easier setup process. You can take the brand-new unit, connect it to the ductwork and have it ready to go quickly.
This saves time depending on the unit and it’s design.
While most homeowners look at the features, it’s also important to consider a unit’s build quality. What materials is it made of? Will it last for as long as you want it to?
These are smart questions to ask before buying. You want to make sure the materials are corrosion-resistant and built to last. Anything short of this isn’t going to cut it!
How are Whole Home Steam Humidifiers Different Than Evaporative Humidifiers?
Evaporative humidifiers either submerse a drum inside of water which is an older style, or it drips water over a panel or filter and blows air over it.
With whole house steam humidifiers, water is quickly heated up and steam is released, which is then blown throughout the home raising humidity.
There are two main types of evaporative whole house humidifiers...
Bypass Whole Home Humidifiers
A bypass whole home furnace humidifier includes a separate water panel inside the ductwork. The air goes through this water panel before entering a room. This ensures the right amount of moisture is present.
Fan-Powered Whole Home Humidifier
The fan-powered humidifier is an extension on traditional bypass humidifiers. The unit requires a separate internal fan to push air through the ductwork. Once air goes through the ductwork, it also passes the water panel before entering a room.
Where to Buy the Best Whole House Steam Humidifier?
We believe Amazon is the best way to buy a new whole house steam humidifier. Amazon is wonderful because it’s a reputable online retailer, offers loads of reviews, and makes it easier to find a good deal.
What Is The Best Steam Whole House Humidifer?
Here are my top picks with their pros and cons...
My #1 top pick is the Aprilaire 800 Whole House Steam Humidifier. The Apriaire 800 is a high quality humidifier with electrode technology and well-rounded safety features.
No cleaning is ever required and you just have to change the canister once a year.
It’s lightweight, durable, and easy to use.
Aprilaire was established in 1954 and remains a highly reputable company --- the original inventor of the whole house humidifier.
Aprilaire continues to impress the home industry with it's quality products --- the original inventor of whole home humidifiers.
The 865 can be installed WITHOUT air ducts and is fully customizable for the amount of steam output (and water usage).
This humidifier uses a fan to send steam throughout the home thereby raising humidity levels.
My Top Pick: Aprilaire 800
1. Quiet Operation
The Aprilaire 800 runs quietly in the background once installed. It easily blends in with the rest of the components.
2. Full Coverage & Customizable Steam Output
A University of Michigan’s study on humidifiers suggested an output of 11.5+ gallons to maintain healthy moisture at home. This unit provides full coverage with adjustable settings between 11.5-34.6 gallons of moisture each day.
3. Fast Results
With built-in automation, this steam humidifier is able to regulate everything. This includes releasing the right amount of moisture within seconds.
4. Easy to Maintain
With the easy to manage design, homeowners can leave it on without worrying about maintenance issues --- no cleaning is ever required like with evaporative humidifiers. Simply replace the electrode canister once a year.