How to pick a humidifier?

How to pick a humidifier? post image

So, you have decided to buy a humidifier? A great idea, if we may say so!

Humidifiers have, for long, been reserved to very specific uses around the house (baby bedrooms, garages…). While these uses are still 100% valid, attentive homeowners have been focusing on general purpose humidifiers, and brands have been following.

We now have the choice between many excellent humidifiers, which brings another “problem” – how can you choose the bast humidifier for your home? Say no more, we’re here ;).

Buying Guide

Well, it turns out that choosing the best humidifier boils down to very specific elements. Because some of these elements are a little technical, but that you still have to have a general idea of what they are, we listed them below, and explained how they are relevant to the choice of a smart homeowner.

So without further ado, let’s dive into it.

โ†’ Our criteria to buy a humidifier in February 2023:

  1. The type of humidifier lets you tailor your purchase to your specific needs.
  2. The humidification performance is an essential metric that influences the area of the room you can cover.
  3. The hygrometry controls to best meet the specific situation.
  4. The noise level to ensure your home stays a quiet, comfortable place.
  5. Maintenance is a crucial point to ensure the optimal functioning of your air humidifier.


The type of humidifier

There are different types of humidifiers on the market. The major differences generally lie in how they work.

The cool mist humidifier

A cool mist humidifier has three basic parts: a wick, a fan, and a water reservoir. To produce mist, the wick/filter absorbs water from the reservoir. The fan then sucks air from the room and blows it against the filter. The low pressure created on the surface of the filter causes some water droplets to get off and joins the moving air thereby creating a mist.ย ย 

This mist then is blown along with the air out of the humidifier and replaces the dry air in the room. The mist created using this method is ultra-fine and invisible and is quietly released into your environment.ย ย 

The main advantages of using this type of humidifier are as a result of the process used to produce the mist. Since the mist produced is cool, there are no heating elements involved. This means that they are safe and they can be placed anywhere including children bedroom without having to worry about their safety. Heating elements also add to the cost of running the humidifier.ย ย 

The only major drawback associated with cool mist humidifier is the high level of noise as compared to other types. The fan is a very crucial part in this type of humidifier. But as the fan run faster, they tend to become louder and they can be a distraction especially if you want to concentrate or sleep.

โ†’ Interested? Check out our Best cool mist humidifier page!

The warm mist humidifier

Unlike cool mist humidifiers, warm mist counterparts use a heating element instead of a filter to create mist. Basically, the heating elements heat the water to a boiling point. When the water boils some of it turns into vapor. Hot vapor is lighter and is thus moved out of the humidifier by convectional currents.ย ย 

Mist resulting from warm mist humidifiers are very soothing and creates a relaxed feeling in the room especially during the winter.ย ย 

Since the humidifier boils water to create mist, it kills germs and bacteria present in the water before they can reach to your skin or nasal passage. Bacteria and virus present in the water can result in flu/cold or aggravate allergies.ย ย 

The main advantage of warm mist humidifier over other humidifiers is that they are much quieter as compared to the cool mist humidifiers since they donโ€™t use fans. They only produce small hiss and gurgle sounds which are barely audible. They produce the noise level of as low as 30dB which is in the very low end of what you can get in the market.ย ย 

ย This type of humidifier is not safe for use in a house where there are small children. If curiosity draws them too much close to the appliance, they can get burnt by hot vapor as it leaves the appliance. They can also topple the appliance and cause hot water accidents.ย ย 

They also require more energy to run due to the heating element. As water evaporates, it leaves mineral deposits in the water tank and this makes it problematic to clean the appliance especially if the water used to produce the mist is hard.

โ†’ You guessed it: we have aย Best warm mist humidifier page!

The ultrasonic humidifier

Ultrasonic humidifiers use ultra-high frequency vibrations-generator to create mist from a water reservoir. They basically work by creating small ripples that agitate the water causing some fine droplets to get dislodged from the surface of the water into the air. The vibrations are very small they barely can be heard by a human ear. This produces a cool vapor.ย ย 

The emitted mist then is distributed evenly across the room and this increases the room’s humidity.ย ย 

Ultrasonic humidifiers are some of the best energy savers in the market. This is because the ultrasonic generators do not require too much electricity to run. The generators also run for long times without needing to change, unlike other humidifiers which require occasional replacement of elements and filters. This brings down the operation cost of the humidifier significantly down.ย ย 

However, if you are going to use this type of humidifier, you will have to make sure you use soft water or on that has been filtered to remove the minerals. Water droplets get dislodged along with the minerals and bacteria in the water which can cause sickness and lead to white dust settling on your furniture and walls making them look ugly.ย ย 

If your humidifier range is between 16k Hz to 22k Hz, it is possible your dog can hear it. This can be annoying to the pet as they canโ€™t relax and will make them hunker down or whine.

โ†’ Yes, we have aย Best ultrasonic humidifier page!

The UV humidifier

This type of humidifier uses Ultra Violet light technology to sanitize the water before it can be turned into a mist. This ensures 99.999% of germs, bacteria, and mold present air is removed and therefore the mist expelled is germ-free and healthy to breathe. UV humidifier can also use ultrasonic or evaporative technologies alongside the UV technology.ย ย 

The UV-rays technology coupled with other types of technologies can be a very powerful source of healthy and clean water that is free of germs and bacteria. This can be very beneficial to allergy and asthma sufferers as this reduce the growth of symptoms triggering allergens.ย ย 

This type of humidifiers is very easy to maintain and operate as the only thing needed to be checked is the bulb or any other UV source. The bulbs do not require a lot of electricity to operate which saves on the energy.ย ย 

The bulb, however, needs to be checked occasionally to ensure it is working correctly and make sure that the mist being produced does not contain bacteria and germs. Mist produced by this type of humidifier can be warm or cool depending on the technology used and this also means that some of them could produce white dust in the room.

The humidification performance

Different humidifiers produce mists at different rates. For example, while large, powerful humidifiers release 4 gallons of mist per 24 hour, smaller humidifiers

Some of this can be largely attributed to the settings of the humidifier as opposed to the type. Basically, unless you specifically alter the settings from the default, most humidifiers are set to maintain the humidity at around 45%. As the humidity nears this value, the appliance tends to reduce the rate at which it produces the mist to ensure a constant level of humidity is maintained.

The higher the fan-setting, the higher the rate of mist production and vice versa. Some humidifiers can produce as much as 5 gallons of mist per day depending on the conditions of the area to be humidified.

The missing link is therefore the room you need to cover! To give you a rough idea, a performance of 1 gallon per hour is sufficient to cover a room of ~100 square feet.

So what is the size of the room you need to humidify? In our compare table, we cover all of this, for each unit.

The hygrometer

A hygrometer measures the level of humidity of the air and this provides the user with insights on how the humidifier is working and they can either decide to increase the speed of the humidifier or opt to put it off depending on the conditions of the air in the room.ย ย ย 

Most humidifiers have a built-in analog or digital hygrometer fitted to give them info. Hygrometers do not control the humidity of a room.ย ย 

A humidistat is used with a hygrometer to give it extra functionalities such as setting the level of humidity you want in the house or setting a timer for which the humidifier will run.ย ย ย 

Operating a humidifier without a hygrometer can lead to excess humidity in the room which can cause problems in your house. Too much humidity can be bad especially for libraries as papers absorb the excess moisture.ย 

Noise level

The noise your item will make while operating should be looked into closely, as this will be one of the defining features that will keep your house comfortable.

Before you purchase a humidifier, figure out if it needs to have a completely silent operation (for instance, to use in a baby’s room), or if a slight buzz will not matter.

It is estimated that an operation under 60dB is silent enough to be used anywhere.


Before you buy, it is to ensure you understand which parts of the humidifier require regular replacements and regular tending. This varies, according to the specific type of humidifier that you are buying. It will be UV bulbs for Ultraviolet humidifiers, filters for cool mist humidifiers or heating elements for evaporative humidifiers. Make sure you are familiar with the humidifiers features so you can be able to search for a replacement part with ease. As a rule of thumb, cool and warm mist humidifiers are usually lower maintenance.

For your humidifier to last long, it requires regular maintenance to ensure the quality of the mist produced does not decrease with time. ย 

One rule of thumb for humidifiers is that if you use your humidifier daily, you should make sure you clean it at least once a week. This could vary especially for the different type of humidifiers but generally, hot water humidifiers require more than their counterparts. Ensure you have read and understood the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean your appliance.ย ย 

Disassemble the appliance carefully according to the manual and clean the water tank and using the scrub and a disinfectant. The scrub will ensure scales and rust that has accumulated over the time is removed and help maintain the quality of the mist produced.ย ย 

The type of water used also plays an important role in the lifespan of the humidifier. Using filtered water translated to few maintenance requirements and also means the appliance is less likely to stop working.ย ย 

Lastly, ensure your humidifier is always kept in a safe place to prevent burn hazards or water spillage. Make sure the nozzle is always facing in an open space.ย 


It is important you weigh the above different options before settling on a certain humidifier to prevent disappointment. Are you looking for a warm or cool mist humidifier? Is noise level a factor? How much area do you need to be humidified? What maintenance is required to run the humidifier?ย ย 

This basic checklist will help determine the type and cost of the humidifier you are going to settle on.ย  If properly taken care of humidifiers can help relieve dry skin and help manage various seasonal sicknesses. If you donโ€™t, however, take good care of them, they will not only not work optimally and potentially use too much electricity, but they can also be a health hazard.ย 

โ†’ See what the products we picked as the best ones this month on our Best humidifier page!