A humidifier emitting vapor into the air.

Find the Right Size Humidifier for Any Room in Your House

The top-performing humidifiers from CR's tests

Got a scratchy throat or chapped lips? Dry indoor air could be to blame.

During the coldest days of winter, when air holds less moisture, humidity inside your home can drop to as low as 10 percent. The ideal range is 30 to 50 percent. A humidifier provides relief by pumping moisture back into the air.

When shopping for a humidifier, keep in mind that you should size it to the room where you'll be using it. If you want to put humidifiers in more than one room, you may need a smaller one for a bedroom and a larger one for a family room.

That differes from CR's advice for dehumidifiers, which is to buy the largest one so you don’t have to empty it as often.

“You don’t want to get the biggest one available,” says John Banta who oversees Consumer Reports humidifier tests. “Having too much moisture in the air is just as bad as having too little, and that can cause condensation on your windows or worse.”

Too much moisture can also cause mold to develop. That’s why we recommend buying a humidifier with a humidistat that shuts off the unit when it reaches a preset humidity level.

A Caution About Cleaning

Humidifiers can harbor bacteria, so routine cleaning is recommended. To keep germs at bay, many manufacturers recommend rinsing the tank and changing the water every day, plus disinfecting the tank each week. Some models are easier to clean than others, so give the humidifiers a good look before choosing one and then consult the owner's manual. CR includes ease of cleaning as part of the convenience score in our humidifier ratings.

How We Test Humidifiers

In Consumer Reports' humidifier tests, we group models by the size of the room they can humidify, based on the manufacturer's claim.

More on Humidifiers

In our humidifier lab, we measure the claimed moisture output—the number of gallons emitted daily per square foot. We also gauge how easy a model is to set up and operate. Our noise score is based on decibels when the unit is running on its highest speed. That’s important because you’re likely to run a humidifier in the same room you're in, like your bedroom. Finally, we calculate how much energy it requires for the unit to emit a gallon of water into the air. You may want to avoid models that do poorly on that test because they'll be more expensive to run.

How to Choose
To determine the humidifier size you need, measure the square footage of the room where you want it. You can shop an array of humidifier styles including cute models in animal shapes like those from Crane. In addition to Crane, we test models from Comfort Zone, CVS, Dyson, Holmes, Honeywell, Safety First, Vicks, Vornado, and Walgreens, among other brands.

Three humidifiers for every room from Consumer Reports tests.
From left: Crane Owl (small rooms), SPT SU-4010 (large rooms), and Vicks V5100NS (medium rooms).

In our tests, we group humidifiers by the size room they can humidify. To find the right size humidifier for a room, read on for reviews of our three top picks of small, medium, large, and extra-large humidifiers

Best Humidifiers for Small Rooms

Humidify 26 to 299 square feet

Price: $30
Overall score: 91
Ranking: 1 of 17 small humidifiers
CR’s take: You can find this CR Best Buy at your local CVS. It gets excellent scores across all our tests, including those for output, convenience, noise, and efficiency. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some humidifiers but you can’t go wrong for the price.

Air Innovations MH-701B
Price: $90
Overall score: 90
Ranking: 2
CR’s take: This unusual model resembles a smoke stack—the mist blows out the top—and comes in bright colors. The one in our labs is red. A capable performer, it costs more than the other two small models on this list but for the higher price you get a humidistat and the ability to program the humidifier to turn on and off.

Honeywell HUL520
Price: $30
Overall score: 88
Ranking: 3
CR’s take: Another CR Best Buy, the Honeywell also gets excellent scores across the board. It performs similarly to the CVS model and is also pretty basic.

Crane Owl
Price: $45
Overall score: 87
Ranking: 4
CR’s take: This humidifier is just too cute to leave off this list. In addition to owls, you can find the Crane Adorables in 20 other shapes from bees to hippos to a one-eyed martian. The Crane Owl runs quietly and with its excellent output and efficiency is a wise buy.

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