Buying Guide: What is a Whole Home Humidifier?
For all they do, whole house humidifiers aren’t terribly complicated. For the simplest explanation, you’ve got two major types of humidifiers that can assist in your home:
1. Strong portable units.
Portable units, not surprisingly, are movable humidifiers that can comfort homes up to 3000 square feet in size. The most common type is evaporative units that blow air across a wick filter. Water makes its way up the wick and evaporates as dry air moves over it. The wick moisturizes the air and does away with unwanted particles. The fan then pushes out clean, invisible moisture.
2. A unit attached to your existing ductwork.
While there are a handful of different types of these units, the principle is pretty much the same. Just like a portable unit, it’s going to put moisture into the air through a similar principle of introducing moisture from water and evaporating it into a warm air stream produced directly from the furnace. The difference, however, is that this unit works as a humidifier for the whole house using your ductwork, so every room that has an air vent is now putting out air with the right balance of humidity for comfort.
Each type of whole house humidifier is controlled by a humidistat, a device that can set to a moisture level that is comfortable for you.
Exactly which kind you need is really up to you and your circumstances. For most homes, a hot-air based system will cover everything you need because your system already runs through your home, thus your whole home humidifier can get to everything easily. If, however, your heating system doesn’t completely run through your house, either because you have added an extension or you just don’t prefer to use your system at all, you would probably have more luck with a portable setup.
While both units will cover the whole home, you may find that the portable unit is easier to reach and maintain, but it does require constant emptying of the tank, usually daily or every other day at the minimum. The cost for one is also less but you may find yourself looking for the proper placement for humidity to stretch throughout all corners of the home. Either way, both types will make your home much more comfortable, whatever the season.
What Are Benefits of a Humidifiers for the Home?
Because a home humidifier makes all the air in your home more comfortable, it takes care of a lot of problems you might not have ever considered before. As we brought up earlier, an environment that’s more arid will also allow certain viruses to thrive. What this means for you is that you’re going to be putting a lot more pressure on your immune system in two ways; the dry air allows the viruses to travel more easily, as well as keeping the helpful moisture out of your respiratory system to combat them.
In addition, folks living in big cities or other areas with particularly bad air pollution will feel the effects more in dry air than in other places. Without any moisture in the air to dilute it, pollution from larger cities can really contribute to respiratory problems like asthma and allergies, especially in young children.
Would you believe that a home humidifier can also make your home feel warmer, causing you to use your thermostat less? By mixing water into the air, a whole house steam humidifier can actually make the air around you feel warmer without the need to turn up a thermostat. Particularly in the cold, dry months, this can really add up to savings on your utilities bills.
Finally, having no moisture in your air can start to affect your home as well. Because the wood in our homes still depends on a small amount of moisture to keep its shape, being in an environment that’s too dry can cause the wood to warp and crack, as well as paint to chip.
While this can look bad and cause your older wooden furniture to show deeper wear and tear, it can also compromise the strength of your home’s supports and foundation. By introducing just enough moisture to let your wood keep its shape, you can keep your home standing strong for longer, without the need for costly repairs.
Check out the 5 Best Whole House Humidifiers on the market right now:
#1. Aprilaire Model 800 Automatic Whole-house Steam Humidifier with Digital Control
- The Aprilaire Model 800 Residential Steam Humidifier features truly automatic control, so there’s no need to manually control the humidifier – though it can be installed in manual mode, if desired
- Runs independently of your HVAC system to accommodate larger homes (up to 6,200 square feet)
- Delivers optimum levels of humidity control with the Automatic Digital Humidifier Control.
- Performs quietly and with simple maintenance. You only need to replace the canister.
- Has a capacity of 11.5, 16.0, 20.5, 23.3, and 34.6 gallons per day, depending on electrical draw.
- Uses cold water, which may be hard, soft or softened.
Pros: far superior to bypass humidifer, excellent design, instructions were easy to follow, it works with either hard or soft water, if the water is not used in 72 hours it drains it out, works perfectly, automatically adjusts the humidity level according to the outside air temperature, sound health, enjoying fresher air this morning, no more stuffy noses or sore throats in the mornings …
Cons: no problems but the canisters are expensive and need to be replaced every year …
#2. Aprilaire 700 Whole House Humidifier w/ Automatic Digital Control, 0.75 Gallons/hr
- Delivers up to 50% more moisture in comparison to competitive units
- Has an evaporation capacity of 0.75 gallons per hour, among the highest capacity humidifiers sold
- Humidifies tightly-constructed homes up to 4,200 square feet in size
- Provides vital service, temperature and relative humidity indicators in manual mode as well
- Performs quietly with simple annual maintenance
Pros: price and shipping were top notch, great customer service, great for keeping a dry house humidified, recommend this to anyone that needs a whole home humidifier, directions are clear and easy to follow, works flawlessly when installed, large humidistat desplay is a real plus, the sensor is pretty accurate at determining the humidity, the automatically adjusts with temperature feature is very cool, very quiet when running, solved the humidity problem in someone 2500 sq feet house with single furnace, has made a wonderful difference in comfort the winter …
Cons: the water seems to drip endlessly while in use …
#3. Aprilaire 400 Humidifier, Whole House w/ Auto Digital Control, 0.7 Gallons/hr
- The Aprilaire 400 humidifiers a 24 volt drainless whole house humidifier with automatic digital control
- The Aprilaire state of the art humidifier utilizes gravity to pull water in and disperse it into the air, utilizing 100 percent of water to add moisture to your air
- By evaporating up to 0.7 gallons of water per hour, yours never have to experience the discomfort of dry air again best of all, the wide ranging effects of this device can reach all rooms in a tightly constructed home of up to 4,000 square feet if you are all about water conservation or live in an area where standing water can become a problem, donrs wait another day to get the Aprilaire 400 whole house humidifier
- It not only recycles water cleanly into the air, but can help eliminate water where draining is not available
- The Aprilaire 400 humidifier does not require much maintenance at all
- You should visually inspect the unit every 500 hours, more frequently during heavy use
- Inspect the Plumbing and water lines for cracks or leaks and replace as needed
- The one item that does require to be replaced is the water panel
- The water panel should be replaced annually during regular use and every six months during heavy use
- Note: heat pumps: Aprilaire 400 model can be installed in heat pump applications
Pros: ultra-fast delivery, the instructions were well written, DYI install wasn’t difficult so anyone with some DIY experience should be able to handle the installation, it doesn’t require a drain line, outstanding handling, kept someone house about 37% in the winter months, does a great job of humidifying the air, circulates air in your home, no more wasted water like most similar humidifiers, automatic adjustment of humidity …
Cons: the instructions for wiring the humidistat weren’t very intuitive …
#4. Essick Air EP9 500 Whole House Evaporative Digital Pedestal Humidifier
- Looking for a way to rid your home of winter dryness, then look no more
- The EP9500 is a great winter companion, eliminating winter dryness quickly and efficiently – this humidifier is effective
- The EP9500 offers a large coverage area effectively humidifying 2,000 sq. ft. of space
- This humidifier provides enough moisture to rid your home of winter dryness completely
- The EP9500 offers a variety of speeds settings to meet your needs
- The EP9500 whole house humidifier is easy to maintain
- Offering an easy pour-in fill reservoir, keeping the water tank full is a cinch
- The EP9500 whole house humidifier offers a refill indicator
- This feature takes the guess work out of tank refills, no need to check it continuously to see if it needs to be filled, the indicator will tell you
Pros: shipped quickly, nice decor – looks nice, a great space saver, good whole house humidifier, economical, efficient, it kept the humidity about 45% in someone 2400 sq ft house, it runs very quietly at slower fan speeds, the fan blows air over the wet wick and disperses moisture into the air, provides noticeably more comfortable air in the house, no more dry mouths in the morning, love the large capacity water tank 3+ gallons hold a lot of water …
Cons: it is cheap looking brown plastic but it still looks pretty good, the noise at the higher fan speeds is disturbing if in a active room, difficult to see the water level …
#5. Essick Air MA1201 Whole-House Humidifier
- Console-style humidifier for a whole house up to 3600 square feet
- Digital humidistat automatically maintains your desired humidity level with digital accuracy
- Automatically shuts off when desired humidity level is reached or when unit is empty
- Easy to clean – evaporative wick traps mineral deposits
- Smooth operation – no belts, pulleys or wheels
- Assembled Dimension: 20.5(h) x 21.5(w) x 14.5 (l) in
Pros: shipped quickly, price was very reasonable, works fantastic and super fast, low maintenance, with a heat pump the humidifier keeps you comfortable, it kept someone 2,500 sqft house at 45-50% 24/7, perfect humidifier for your home, love the automated settings, it cycles on and off when set to automatic, love the automatic fan speed, fairly quiet on lower speeds, balanced humidity, has wheels easy to move around, easy to fill and refill, does not generate mineral dust …
Cons: complained about difficulty in loading the full water tank …