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The best humidifiers to combat dry indoor air: Kenmore, Crane and Safety First

Models from Crane, Kenmore, and Safety First were tops in our tests

Published: October 04, 2013 03:30 PM

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Retailers have started stocking up on humidifiers, ahead of the dry indoor air that's in store for many homeowners. We're also seeing more coupons and price cuts at places such as Target and Walmart. You have to choose wisely though. Consumer Reports' tests of more than 25 humidifiers found big differences in performance and price. One finding that might surprise you: the ones that look like toys deliver the most serious results.           

We tested tabletop models, which typically handle a single room, and larger consoles, which might be able to humidify a home's entire level. Tabletops outsell consoles by a wide margin, including one you've probably seen—the $45 Crane Penguin EE-865. The same humidifier comes in various kid-friendly designs, including a cow, duck, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob. Don't let the cartoonish looks fool you: this humidifier offers superb moisture output, and it's also one of the quietest models we tested, important since a humidifier is often running while you or the kids are trying to sleep.

By comparison, more expensive (if also more design-forward) models from Pureguardian, Stadler Form William, and Bionaire failed to humidify as much area as they claimed, sending them to the bottom of our Ratings of tabletop models.    

If you want a more grown-up looking humidifier, our tests found several other winners, including a $30 option from Safety 1st that, like the Cranes, uses ultrasonic technology to emit moisture into the air. These humidifiers tend to be more quiet than evaporative models, which use a fan to blow out moisture.

The two console models we recommend from Essick and Kenmore use evaporative technology, which helps explain their poor scores for noise. That dropped their overall score down significantly. But if they're not going to sit in a bedroom, or other room where noise is a factor, these models are an excellent way to humidify a large area. 

—Daniel DiClerico

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